Monday, June 19, 2006

Demographics: Facts About America

25% of whites and 50% of minorities don't graduate high school. 75% of adults don't have four-year college degrees. Over 90% don't have advanced degrees. (Over 99% don't attend Ivy League colleges.) When these facts are considered, even the ULA might be somewhat elitist-- though far less than today's lit world as a whole, which is focused on a few percent of the populace.

Literature belongs to everyone. The ULA's ultimate goal is to appeal to the public at large. The building blocks we're putting in place, "Miss ULA," Whino the Cat, Jelly Boy the Clown and all, will allow us to do so.

For Keith Gessen to think there is anything inaccurate about my letter to n+1 shows the totality of his and his friends' cluelessness about their own society and about themselves. I wonder if he's read his own essay.

Gessen writes articles about Soviet-era samizdat for snob journal The New Yorker, yet is willfully ignorant of samizdat in America. Nowhere is it mentioned anywhere, by anyone, in n+1's Symposium. Gessen has no knowledge of the many thousands of zeensters who exist throughout America; of rough-hewn journal writers like Wild Bill Blackolive, Ammi Emergency, and Urban Hermitt who write not out of concerns over career or social status but because they have to. In his essay Gessen discusses publishing with the given that the conglomerates are the only choice. Writers outside this world don't exist, are "total fakers" unworthy of notice.

Gessen's objection isn't with me-- but with himself. Keith: Take it up with the guy who wrote your essay! Confront him on his inaccurate statements, his concerns with "social position" and the like. HE said he didn't know any writers waiting tables. I didn't say it.

I'm not here to play the game of "I'm Okay, You're Okay" by validating your feel-good-about-yourself liberalism. Because you have a few Lefty articles in your issue doesn't give you a free pass about your main topic. Your Symposium, the attitudes expressed by you and your colleagues, and by lit folks you admire like Jon Franzen and James Wood, well show you're an embedded part of the literary status quo; part of the elitist nature of literary culture, every bit as much as the precious black-tie characters at New Criterion. They're just more up-front about it, is all.

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