Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Lependorf I

The spread of empire is always rationalized.

Jeffrey Lependorf's remarks (below) sound reasonable enough-- but, strangely enough, they're the point-of-view of the monopolists.

What do small press people themselves think? I'd like to hear from them.

I'd think it's like owning a small diner, and joining a cooperative business group to lobby for the cause of small business-- then at the first meeting everyone is settled in their chairs and the Vice-Chairman from McDonald's steps to the front of the room.

I'd think it's like joining an upstart political party intending to offer a different voice-- then discovering the small party is in fact run by the Republicans or the Democrats.

Lependorf's words sound reasonable-- but one catches glimpses of ridiculousness.

Note the reference to "real" literature. This man KNOWS.

Or, the comment that writers seek publication only with the big guys. (Not true. Even my mailbox is often jammed with unsolicited manuscripts and books.) To Lep's mind, they do so because of their "illusion" about achieving "fame and fortune."

But maybe, Lependorf, they want to make a living at their craft. Maybe, for those who actually have something to say, they seek to reach a wider audience.

He's right though that for the writers and poets who'll be buying the book, publication with the big guys IS an illusion, as it's a rigged game through and through. Which the author of the foreword surely knows about. (Curious that, to solve this fixation of "fame and fortune" by writers, Lependorf is going to put a model of fortune and fame at the front of the book.)

Contradictions everyplace. What Lependorf's remarks reveal is HIS attitude, and that of the monopolists.

"What can we do?" he explains. "Everybody loves us."

Call it the Wal-Mart Syndrome. Monopolies exist because they're good. People would rather shop like cattle in a mile-long warehouse, part of a mob. It's a matter of choice! "People love us," Wal-Mart says, forgetting that everybody else has been underpriced, or that their customers are economically hurting and need any discount they can get (for most the ONLY reason they shop there); or that all the small-town downtown business districts which used to exist are shut down and there IS no other choice.

Apparently there's no other choice for the small press, when they see the Big Fish swimming toward them, than to be swallowed up.


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