Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fighting Literary Reactionaries


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.

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