Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
To understand what happened last week, one has to understand the context. The literary world today is dominated by reactionaries. Just because they're rich and glamorous doesn't mean they're not reactionary-- as the Kennedys in the 1950s, Jack and Bobby, for all their glamor, were also McCarthyite cold warrior reactionaries.
Though the ULA is non-political, we're American literary radicals akin in personality to Sam Adams or Tom Paine. We seek change, now, today.
Many literati are as averse to us as John Foster Dulles was to Communist China. We're treated as China was treated by the capitalist west in the 1950s. There's an ongoing attempt to isolate us; to behave as if we don't exist! Our actions, no matter how historic or dramatic (the Howl Protest) aren't acknowledged by the literary reactionaries. The vast bulk of them refuse to link with us, which would be to recognize us.
The glamorous liberal millionaires of literature like Dave Eggers who posture as literary JFK-style saviors are more reactionary than conservatives. Our existence as radicals can't be tolerated, because we take up space on the spectrum of newness they wish to occupy.
A few weeks ago I was informed by fellow ULAer Jeff Potter that one of Eggers's lieutenants, Stephen Elliott, was the "Jimmy Grace" character disputing with us on this blog. Simultaneous with this, I received a Feb 1 e-mail from Elliott's friend Daniel Handler (millionaire ULA-hater), falsely accusing me of crank phone calls. In a response, I denied the accusation. Knowing about Elliott as Grace, I offered a truce to Handler and his cronies. Handler dismissed the idea.
Jeff Potter and I then went ahead with our Monday Report on the www.literaryrevolution.com site. (It's not as if there were a line-up of other essays waiting.) The ULA's J.D. Finch (I believe under pressure from reactionaries) immediately resigned. He quickly unlinked his blog to the ULA-- a sign that he'd joined the wall of isolation against us. This was not the action of an individual who liked us, but a sign of obedience.
A quick shake-out of ULA moderates followed, which had the appearance of a stampede of panic. The steadiness of Patrick Simonelli on our internal forum held the line. The overall result couldn't be pleasing to reactionaries. We didn't collapse. The resignations left the ULA a more united organization. The position within the team of hard-core radicals like myself and Frank Walsh has been strengthened.
As with China in the 1950s, tactics of reaction and isolation, the denial of reality, won't work and never work. The world's a much bigger place than a few snobby literary cliques. The Underground Literary Alliance is a credible organization representing underground writers across the country, talented authors like Wild Bill Blackolive. We speak for the interests of countless other writers, not in our ranks, like him.
To established east coast literati we're so alien we may as well be from 1950s China. Our writings and ideas (a rediscovered stream of Americana) seem to tops-down literary conformists unfamiliar, unorthodox, strange. To them our campaigns against corruption are frightening. Today's literary climate is so reactionary and McCarthyite that anyone who publicly recognized us would be themself isolated.
We'll continue strengthening our campaign. We have many arenas in which to devote our energies. As we do so, we humorously wait to see if even one brave demi-puppet is bold and imaginative enough to cross the divide.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Everyone was in top form: Wred Fright reading from Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus had the crowd in hysterics. Jelly Boy the Clown did some sword swallowing then read from his journal. (Zeen writing at its best.) The Idiom Poets (www.walkingenglish.com) turned out to be five young attractive enthusiastic poets from New Jersey, one of the nation's best young troupes.
Jessica Wilber (formerly Disobedience) was a revelation, both when reading at our event and at our afterglow party at a restaurant down the street afterward, when I recited a few lines from Shakespeare and she came back at me with Puck's speech at the end of "Midsummer's Night Dream," said with great verve and emotion. Jessica is one of the most talented young writers in America. If you've never seen her read, you should.
Yarrow Regan's presentation was hilarious. Before a quick smoking break, Toussaint St. Negritude, musician and poet, played and read a tribute to Coltrane. Toussaint has just moved to Philly from the west coast. We're fortunate to have his poetic talent in our town.
After the break was a hilarious interview, conducted by Yarrow, with both "World's Greatest Poet" Frank Walsh, wearing cape and sunglasses and looking overconfident, and with the manager/creator of the SuperPoet, Dr. Malerkus, with the SuperPoet glaring and occasionally yelling insanely from the rear of the stage.
We put on two more quick readers before SuperPoet's medication wore completely off, St. Slippy de Croix, a late addition, who quickly wowed the crowd, then "Experimental Writer" Mark Sonnenfeld, who more bemused, confused, frustrated, and enlightened them with his play of words. Both were effective.
Then, the Main Event!
In Round One both poets were off a bit. Frank Walsh took the round by moving into the crowd while reciting "The Thing that Wouldn't Die." The audience was thrilled, or amazed, to have "The World's Greatest Poet" suddenly in their midst.
In Round Two The SuperPoet came right back at Frank, mocking his actions by disturbingly closing himself in the bathroom with the microphone and reading from there (the genetically-engineered poet was unpredicatble throughout, as if there were a flaw in his wiring). He read from inside the closed room a parody of Walsh's famous "Gas Man" poem-- something of a low blow. Though Frank recited one of his better poems, about the MOVE bombing, the SuperPoet's stunt edged him out. The SuperPoet stole the round.
Round Three: the contest up for grabs. Both poets came out with their best stuff, like heavyweight boxers exchanging blows. SuperPoet read a postmodern piece, with voice changing intermittently from soft to loud, which caused the audience to have sympathy for him, making himself, this Frankenstein-like hulking figure, into something of a tragic character. It was kind of a low tactic in itself, saying lines to the effect of "I'm sick," said with surprising pathos. Would the Ivy League creation of science and money steal the event?
Not to worry. Frank Walsh closed with "Reagan's Brain," which has prevailed in all settings in the past, and did so again now. I consider it (seriously) to be Walsh's masterpiece. Music, meaning, comedy, tragedy, that single poem has it all. Seeing Frank read it is alone worth any admission price.
We had a good crowd considering a snowstorm was going on! The venue was perfect, a real cool-cat style underground club. We plan to be back. Those who weren't there missed the most exciting writers group on the planet, along with some dynamic friends. Thanks to The Underground and to all involved in making the show a success.
We'll use this opportunity to streamline the ULA vehicle a bit further-- in the coming few weeks will be asking member supporters to affirm their support. Those who remain will want to be here.
We're well set-up to move ahead-- are in a better position than we've been in months. The Guardian mention emphasizes to us that we have a role to play in this culture. We'll live up to it, as we did yesterday at our event. NO ONE in the literary world is more exciting than us.
WHY THE ULA?
This is an organization for the self-motivated. No one is going to pat you on the head and treat you like an invalid. We're from the DIY movement. The ULA provides a name, a framework, and a focal point. Members have freedom to pursue underground noisemaking and creative acts within that framework. At the same time, don't expect to tell me how to act or behave. That's not what the ULA is about.
Our requirement is simple-- that you promote the umbrella name along with your own projects. It's a two-way street. We don't want just names on a list.
Some of us in the outfit have strong voices, but there is no boss. I'm no one's boss-- I don't want the responsibility of being anyone's boss. I'm not going to order members to get along with each other, for instance. I'm busy enough. We want no servants or bosses, only equals.
(Which means, I'm no one's servant.)
(Which means, no wimps allowed. We're a thundering wolf pack.)
EARNING YOUR COLORS
The more you do for the ULA and the ULA campaign, the bigger voice you'll have in the outfit. We expect or hope ULAers "earn their colors" in the outfit, through activism; through active battles with proponents of mainstream lit, on-line, or debates in public. We want our members to advocate for US, to be on our side. Our opponents have enough voices, enough attention, enough connections, enough flunkies and lawyers and mouthpieces, to advocate for them, for their failings toward literature, and for their moldy ideas. We're writers without power in this society, underdogs, going up against some of the most powerful individuals in America. This is the context in which we operate. I hope people remember this.
We're creating an alternative literature. We've made slow but unstoppable progress. Our new ULA Press books are finally out. We put on exciting shows and actions and will be doing more of this. The future of literature is there for the taking and we're ready to fight for it.
Friday, February 23, 2007
The question: What went wrong? Why the rumors that all did not turn out as planned? That lab workers have been killed or frightened to death when encountering him? (Not to worry-- the ULA assures all audience members that ample security will be on hand for this event. We're waiting for a call back from a local "Rent-a-Cop" company.)
The show will be this Sunday, 3 pm, 40th at Spruce Streets at The Underground cool club in Philadelphia. Don't miss it. Anything can happen.
The Stephen Elliott matter is an example of this. He can attack the ULA insurgency relentlessly on this blog, month after month, day after day, and this is fine according to Overdog etiquette, because he does so under a fake identity. If I turn off comments, I'm "stifling debate." When we point out that Stephen Elliott was on the same tour the fake identity was on; that Elliott was at the same reading as his alter-ego; that Elliott is best friend to those who've attacked us previously, our major opponents; that there's no one else he could credibly be, this is engaging in "personalities." It's gauche. It's not done.
Reality is turned on its head. In the eyes of the privileged, underdog writers become the bad guys. The pristine faces at the front of the castle have been cleaned.
One should never get "personal." The ULA has been condemned for getting "personal." Our examinations of corruption should be sanitized:
"Mr. X, scion of wealth, who lives on the most exclusive private island in America, X Island, has received an XYZ grant. He also sits on a XYZ panel giving taxpayer money to his rich buddies, unnamed."
This, in fact, is exactly how literati want it. Everything is fine as long as no one is named. A little more polishing to the glowing faces at the front of the building.
Manners have to do with class and dominance. When you enter the mansion, dear writer, do so obsequiously, with hat in hand. Never for a moment imagine you're anyone's equal. The entire system of producing literature is built on the premise of the writer-- the artist-- existing in a position of inferiority. (Submit your manuscript to the phalanx of agents at the front of the lobby. Do so politely. Make sure it's clean. Take a number. LEAVE THE BUILDING.)
Which is why an organization like the Underground Literary Alliance, where the writers themselves are the decision makers, is thought so dangerous.
We're crude and loud. We tramp into Faulkner's mansion with muddy boots. We dirty the carpeting and the furniture of the rich people who have all the power and own everything. We don't ask politely. We sit down at the table without invitation.
In everything we do we're upfront and honest, which is a sign of strength. Like us or not, you know who we are and where we stand. By contrast, our powerful opponents skulk around like mice. It's been the standard practice of the rich and powerful for centuries: let others do your dirty work so you keep your hands clean. Even if it's done by the other side of their monstrous personalities. A bit more retouching to the faces.
Established literature today is a line-up of clean hypocritical faces, while in the closets behind them are the portraits of Dorian Gray.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Which of the three movements will prevail?
We have the least resources, connections, credentials, and are scorned and hated by demi-puppets and Overdogs alike who control much of the print media.
BUT, in many ways we're better positioned. How would you rather be viewed? As "smart" like the n+1ers? One conveys images of cardigan sweaters and tennis courts. As pretentiously self-important narcissistic Columbia grads like the evil McSweeneyites? Or as rebels, brigands, outlaws, and pirates, like those of us in the ULA? The attacks you see against us are based on pure envy. The fakers know we're the real thing.
Meanwhile, the literary mainstream has thrown away opportunities. In other times, before our nation's intellectuals had turned into obedient pod people, there would have been a scramble to follow up on the CIA-in-Literature revelations. Today, in 2007, the literati are ignorant, complacent, or afraid. They leave the field wide open for us-- they leave room for we lowly renegades to square off against secrecy and corruption. They give us the opportunity to prove our fearlessness and integrity. We'll take it.
Thank you for the invitation to judge the 'read-off' taking place on Sunday, February 25, 2007. Unfortunately my schedule does not permit me to attend.
Again, thank you for the invitation and best wishes.
(Word is that the SuperPoet is highly upset that she won't be judging. Imagine! A contest involving the Ivy League that's not rigged.)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Who'll replace the pretentious insularity of the Eggers-led Church of the Undead? The ULA or n+1?
The n+1'ers are themselves too much of the status quo to represent much of a difference. The ULA is far broader based. This will be seen at Sunday's Philadelphia show. The creme de la creme of the underground are gathering for the event, from all over the country. Just added to the card: mail art maestro "Experimental Writer" Mark Sonnenfeld.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Eric "Jelly Boy" the Clown at the Conde Nast Building, seat of empire, during our recent excursion.
The Emus invade New York!
Both Eric and novelist Wred Fright will be featured players at our Feb 25th Philadelphia show. (See www.literaryrevolution.com
for more info.
Monday, February 19, 2007
The blunders "Jimmy Grace" made are many. I've already touched on a few of them on this blog. He was an obvious fake from the beginning.
1.) The hostility toward us from this supposed underground artist (who confused "DYI" with DIY) was baffling. Our campaign has always been well accepted by genuine undergrounders of all kinds. We have in our ranks such folks; artists, musicians, and actors.
2.) "Grace" claimed a group of Oakland poets scorned us, but couldn't name them. In fact, we've been well accepted by Bay area poets and writers. I've been on good terms with local icons like Violet Jones and Aaron Cometbus. Among the key underground poets of the area are Christopher Robin and Joe Pachinko. They both happen to be ULA members, and are totally supportive of our campaign. WHO then was "Grace" talking about? There is one group of writers in the Bay area who both know about us and scorn us: the McSweeney's Gang.
3.) "Grace" kept claiming that nobody cared about the Paris Review, about the CIA in literature, about the doings of literary Insiders. Yet he knew of the personalities involved. The Francine Prose matter was just one example. She's an Insider's Insider yet unknown by the rest of society. I doubt if anyone in the ULA outside myself had ever heard of her. Yet this supposed graphic artist Jimmy Grace quickly weighed in with an opinion of her, and about similar matters.
4.) From the beginning, "Grace" went out of his way to insist he was "not a writer." He emphasized this again and again. "I'm not a writer!" He wanted this clearly and specifically known. Why? Obviously, as he knows a lot about books and the literary world, he's done some writing. (And not just on this blog!) The ULA contains many undergrounders who, as I said, are artists, musicians, actors, and also writers. This anonymous poster Grace didn't want to be associated with the word "writer." Why not? Sherlock Holmes would figure it was because he was one.
"The Visitor": A Movie circa 1940, in black and white.
Setting: A neutral country in Europe.
NARRATIVE: A stranger comes into town. He looks like a German, and speaks with a German accent. "I'm not a German!" he insists, before anyone asks him. "I'm Swiss. Swiss! Not German!"
Soon enough tanks are rolling in; the Gestapo taking up positions. The stranger appears among the worried townfolk. "I assure you! I have nothing to do with them. Now tell me where the town's firearms are hidden."
By the end of the movie of course he's goose-stepping around the town square in full Nazi regalia, the insignia of a colonel on his lapels. The townspeople might complain about this, but they're already in concentration camps or dead.
5.) "Jimmy Grace" mentioned he attended a reading in San Francisco at which Daniel Handler was putting down myself and the Underground Literary Alliance. Grace also strongly backed Handler's discredited version of the fake letter matter (check this blog's archives), all evidence to the contrary. On this blog he's been an outspoken supporter of the guy. A little checking shows that Daniel Handler and Stephen Elliott are the best of friends; that Elliott has not only been at Handler's recent readings, at a place called the Make-Out Room, but hosted them. (Most recently January 8th, but also at other times.) This makes a second direct connection between "Jimmy Grace" and Stephen Elliott. The cause for "Grace"'s postings here is now obvious. All other points and questions about "Jimmy Grace" and his actions are now explained.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Maybe we'll have to go overseas to break the blackballing. We know this blog is being read in Somaliland, for one thing. I say, the next ULA show should be in Somaliland!
Apparently folks are also watching our activities-- which are historic and relevant after all-- in the United Kingdom. We were presented by the Guardian as new upstarts, along with the n+1 crowd, as major competitors to the McSweeney's outfit. (You know them: Church of the Undead.) This when describing literary activity on this side of the Atlantic. Imagine! No wonder the ruthless Eggers Gang wants to destroy us.
I now say: Next ULA show should be in London!
(See http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/02/surfing_the_new_literary_wave.html to read what I'm talking about.)
Wred Fright from Cleveland.
Toussaint St. Negritude from the West Coast.
Jessica Dis aka Edna Million from Chicago.
Patrick King from Baltimore.
Yarrow Regan from Queens NY.
The Idiom Poets from New Jersey.
Frank Walsh and Eric Broomfield from Philly itself.
The Super Poet from an Ivy League genetic engineering lab.
Why are they gathering?
For an afternoon of underground poetry, meaning, theater, and noise.
Don't miss it!
It will be a great show.
Sunday Feb 25th 3 pm at The Underground.
The underground literary movement is for real.
See www.literaryrevolution.com for more details.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
The ULA is more radical than the Beats dreamed of being. We examine the system of literature from top to bottom. All those moderate commentators who love lauding safe pets like hip East Village icons of the 80s and 90s (Mary G and Tama J); safely embedded themselves in institutional settings of conglomerate or academe; seek the moderately radical to celebrate; the properly safe. As with everything today, the pose is more important than the reality.
Here's the real breakdown of literature today:
This consists of the Eggers Gang and their acolytes. Throw out their progressive noises, which are done for grants and tax breaks. The aesthetic and style they push is thoroughly Thermidorean; in tone exclusive and upper-class; decadent gilded prose matching their gilded posturing-- which is why they've drawn around them the effete of the wealthy elite. (Most lit-bloggers by the way have adopted the Reactionary style. "The Smart Set": the new literary aristocracy.)
Moderates are products of the system and exist thoroughly within it, but from their cozy offices, or typing on laptops while gazing out the windows of jet-set airplanes, they give an occasional nod to dead rebels of the past; or even in their minds today imagine they might someday do something mildly rebellious themselves, though they haven't imagined yet exactly what. (Perhaps writing about 19th century Russian samizdat.) Class in this category n+1 to Meghan O'Rourke to occasional writers for Village Voice or The Nation.
The Underground Literary Alliance.
Their words and attitudes contain no passion for literature, no faith in its future, no belief in its ability to move people. In their personalities is no sense of adventure, no vision of endless possibilities-- what the writer, if anyone, would be expected to have. There's no feeling for the throb of life or the throb of art; art as a living thing. They live in a rigidly static universe. They might be automatons.
One of them believed that when I spoke about pigeons that was all I meant; so detached from the living world he entirely missed the point.
Ultimately, if they don't believe art can move or change people it's because they're incapable of being moved themselves. Art is merely an occupation to them, the creation of cost-analysts and focus groups, and monolithic institutions; a dead matter; a lifeless ritual which like priests of an outmoded religion they continue to perform without remembering the purpose behind their actions.
I suppose it's a difference between how we view the world. I see it, despite its brutal hardships, as a magical changeable place of adventure where empires can be toppled. I'm not sure what they see. A sheet of metal; a concrete slab? A computer printout? Something inanimate, surely. Nothing which can be engaged.
These are writers? They're writers like so many of their number are writers; which means, they place words on pages and the words are dead, enlivened by no ideas, no vigor, no vision, no imagination, no hope. Writers? They're not writers. They're stale reproductions of writers, Xerox copies, and the original which once had value seems to have been lost.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
We're the answer to the problems and corruption of the literary establishment. We're the truth-tellers and shit-disturbers, fearless and involved. We have voices and verve. The February 25th event will be historic.
The Literary Future Has Arrived.
I'd like to say we're the hottest thing in literature right now, but in many ways we're the only thing. The only writers with backbone.
The established scene with its legions of demi-puppets are hiding behind their parapets, hoping someone among their number will march outside to deal with us. Someone, please! Make those awful ULAers go away. Not one brave brightly arrayed knight will sally forth from the castle to joust. (Inside their gleaming armor and silk finery they're terrified.)
Most especially, The Paris Review. We've been very patient with them (watchdogs and attack dogs that we are); parleying with their representative; awaiting a public statement that would reveal all.
Does anyone ask: Where is that statement?
If Paris Review was NOT founded with CIA money; if George Plimpton had no knowledge of CIA involvement, no steady connection with CIA employees through the years, then where is the statement?
There has been no answer to allegations posted on Paris Review's Wikipedia entry. Why not? What happened to PR's many supporters, to their Very Important billionaires and high-priced lawyers? Where's been a murmur even from the law firm Plimpton's father founded?
Secrecy: Why the secrecy? Why is everyone hiding? From what? Why does the realm of writers-- writers-- which should be the most open of all worlds in this society, consist of closed doors?
The ULA idea is that literature can redeem this society; by the people for the people. For this to happen the present structure needs to be overthrown.
Established literature has become a vampire. We're driving a stake directly through the heart of it.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
One effect we know for sure the money has had on the publication: It's caused The New Yorker to write about it.
Goodyear seems very "Tsk, tsk," about the entrance of Wall Street and its attitudes into the world of poetry. Yet how is The New Yorker any better when its attitude toward literature is invariably "tops down"-- the Goodyear article strong evidence of this?
Are they covering grassroots American poets who give great readings across the landscape? (An exciting event here in Philly on the 25th.) Of course not! Neither are they exposing the presence of Wall Street elsewhere in the literary world, as in the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, or the board of The Paris Review, which is loaded with billionaires and investment types.
Hypocrisy runs all through the Goodyear article, with no acknowledgement that the upper-class attitudes of The New Yorker, Conde-Nast, and writers like Goodyear are themselves also part of the problem.
Does it matter all that much to me if the CIA issue is fully exposed, as it properly should be?
Not really. The ULA is doing all it can do in the cause of truth. If it isn't enough, so be it. We're leaving a record establishing our integrity on the issue.
The big losers in the matter will be the sheep of the literary world, who by their silence are completely discrediting themselves. This includes those who used to work at Paris Review and might be expected to have an opinion on the matter. It includes especially the current names on the Paris Review masthead, whose credibility, by their inaction, will be forever tarnished.
"Well, Ms. Cipher and Mr. Blank," history will ask. "Everything you did in the cause of literature and new ideas was well and good-- but where were you when it counted? Why did you not stand up when it was time to stand up?"
Friday, February 09, 2007
At the forefront of our noise will be ULA poet Frank Walsh. Frank is steadily underrated by people who've never heard him read. At his best, he truly is "The World's Greatest Poet," and will show this in the Read-Off against the genetically-engineered Super-Poet.
ULA voices will knock the doors off the place. You'll want to be there.
The ULA = Fun and Rebellion.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
The point is that this is a matter which should be examined, not run from. Until then, we don't know if the CIA was a "Ministry of Culture" or not.
Important literary figures like George Plimpton, over the past decades, created what's known and accepted (and acceptable) as American literature now.
One thing we know for sure: that certain kinds of writing (Tony Christini's "Social Lit" for instance); anything smacking of crude social realism, a strand of American lit and thought widespread in the 1930s; is today practically prohibited by the established literary world, by common agreement. It's not considered "literary" and scarcely considered literature. Since the 1950s official American literature has valued style over substance, craft over content; esteeming the "well-written sentence," often to the exclusion of all else. The focus of fiction and poetry has drastically narrowed-- matching the narrowed position of letters in our culture.
What role Paris Review played in this is worth looking into.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
An example: www.cia-on-campus.org/columbia.edu/columbia.html,
a 1970 report which shows the massive extent to which the CIA had infiltrated one American university.
(Note the mention of Francis T.P. Plimpton, George's father.)
The question is whether the CIA ended these associations, or if they continue. Do massive bureaucracies voluntarily give up the scope of their reach and power?
The question is to what extent the CIA, Homeland Security, et.al., are embedded in American universities NOW.
Unfortunately, unlike in 1970, no one is looking into the matter.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
-Michael P. Rogin in The Nation, June 12, 2000.
The same might be said about The Paris Review.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Recall I said I'd received about a hundred of them over this matter (not hundreds) over the past two weeks. For the most part they were relatively polite, an attempt to persuade me there is nothing to the CIA Paris Review story beyond what the NY Times reported. I treated them as an opportunity for dialogue, and responded to many of them, and received replies to my responses. The sense I had was that persons were trying to get a sense of what the ULA does or doesn't know. In turn, I asked questions designed to broaden my information. Not real cryptic-- but the fact remains that a great deal of time is being devoted to having us drop the matter, which was my point in mentioning the e-mails. The e-mails going to Cummings, on the other hand, have not been polite; have been insulting, abusive, and in my opinion, bullying.
Once I engage with people by e-mails, I treat them as off-the-record conversations. I'm no journalist, but I do want people to feel free discussing these matters with me privately.
Yesterday I had an exchange of e-mails with a Friend of Eggers, who seemed to be accusing me of something. Am I obligated to post those e-mails here? Of course not.
Is the Paris Review matter at all important? Paris Review over the years has had-- more than any other literary journal-- what all cultural entities crave: access to media. Access to media is power in this society. The chief reason no one votes for political parties like the Libertarians, for instance, is because they don't hear about them. Such parties have no access to media.
Through this access, George Plimpton was able to make literary "stars" out of nonentities like Jay McInerney. Plimpton also of course had connections to other kinds of star makers, from his good friend William Henderson at Pushcart Prize to editors and publishers at big publishing houses.
The creation of Paris Review was also important because it set the tone for other lit journals to follow. The tone is in William Styron's remarks upon the magazine's founding; that they wanted the "non-axe-grinders." This has been the prevalent philosophy of the literary world since. Any hazards that radical ideas might infiltrate themselves into literature were squelched.
The idea that Paris Review was not founded with CIA money is not plausible. Matthiessen used the journal as his "cover," yes-- but it's not as if it existed before he came to it; before he founded it. His joining it and its creation were simultaneous.
The idea that George Plimpton, son of Francis T.P. Plimpton, didn't know of the CIA connection from the moment he joined the magazine is not plausible. No other individual so fit the CIA ethos as George Plimpton, as I'll be writing about. That his pro-establishment concerns didn't stay with him through the course of his long tenure at Paris Review is not plausible. He was what he was, very much so.
In the past, Paris Review hasn't hesitated to speak up or threaten legal action to protect its reputation. At least, that was the case in 2005, as shown in an item on the 3/28 Galley Cat blog. Paris Review's then-Managing Editor Fiona Maazel told them, "I'm sure you do not delight in libel" in the context of a piece Galley Cat had run which had called Rick Moody a "financial backer" of the magazine, and discussed his resignation as a contributing editor. A minor issue, really-- yet enough to get Paris Review angry.
Strangely, in light of this example, for two years, about the CIA story, we've heard from Paris Review and its high-priced lawyers: Nothing. Not even a standard-issue threatening note on legal letterhead. Why not? Obviously they want no one looking into the matter.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
(p.s. Comments will be back shortly, when I figure out how to moderate them.)