Friday, February 23, 2007

Hypocrisy and Manners

The established literary world today is dominated by hypocrisy and manners. All corruption, all venality, is allowed as long as the public image of those involved remains clean.

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.

61 comments:

jimmy grace said...

Crash all you want, dude. I crash things myself. (Akimbo pretty much crashed the sex tour.) I don't care about manners - I thought you wanted to tussle. Yeah, you like to barge in uninvited - but then you whine when you get thrown out. "Rolling Stone doesn't want me when I stop by their building! They're doody heads! Waaa!"

You're the one who cares about Manners. "I need to see a resume of a blog commenter before I respond to any arguments. I need my friends to sniff around and see who this guy is. His internet presence isn't enough for me. He's a filthy liar. Not one of us. Tut Tut Tut." You sound like Dorian Gray yourself. (Glad to hear you're not afraid of queer writers, though, you big macho man.)

I guess I should stop bickering with you. That's what my pals say. You don't want to tussle. You just want to post outrageous claims, and then comment on them yourself. (Look at your blog before I arrived - talk about pristine.)

Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) said...

You wanted us to find you. You're conflicted about your role in the culture.

I don't know any sure way out of the niche ghettos but I think you're not content with it either.

***

It's good for the culture to be reminded that Rolling Stone is just another big biz...they're not able to roll with anything. The ULA NYC exploration made for a dandy story. Do you think these ULAers are realistic and sensible? They're desperate and wild. Maybe someone in the underground can make appointments before a foray but not these maniacs. It's a circus with these guys. And their sex tour is in Philly this Sunday! No appointment needed! Hecklers invited!

Fran said...

Another good post. And let me add that the moderation tool can be a blog owner's friend, at least temporarily so that things can cool down some and persistent flamers lose interest. Then you can turn off moderation and turn it back on again when necessary, etc. (at least I've been able to do that). This way, you don't drain too much of your energy too often by going over the same thing over and over again for impenetrable brains.

jimmy grace said...

Hey, if King's too upset about my impenetrable brains, he can just ask me not to come round these parts. He says he loves debate, but if he's changed his mind he can just say so like a man, rather than through endless (false) accusations.

What is it, King? You wanna tussle with me or not?

LongIslandNation said...

So...is Jimmy Grace really Stephen Elliott or not?

King said...

Tussle with a ghost?
Anybody can be brave behind a phony name!
In fact, Stephen Elliott's friends (Eggers and Company) are right. His activity gives me a chance to bring up their corruption again and again. They may even get us to start looking into some of the finances of their operations.
Or this: a couple years ago I met a writer (now living in New York) who told me a story about how he created LitQuake in San Fran to be a grass roots reading series only to have it stolen from under by a collection of rich people. I'll have to find out what he's doing.
Of course "Grace" is Stephen Elliott.
By the way, Stephen, a question about your tour:
It was a celebration of prostitution. Did that include artistic prostitution as well?
(Another point to consider: "Grace" claimed to have left the tour-- right before it arrived in Philly recently. I guess he was a little concerned we might show up there to debate. Or see there was no "Jimmy Grace.")
Remember: Big Show this weekend.

jimmy grace said...

I left the tour because I had to go home and make money. SE's still touring, I think. To answer your question, no, I don't think drawing a bonafide audience (not just drinking buddies) is artistic prostitution.

But you didn't answer my question: are you up for tussling? Or do you need my social security number, home address and pre-approved list of fair topics?

Greg said...

Let's say Jimmy is Stephen Elliot--for argument's sake.

What then?

What does that prove?

Does it prove that the McSweeney's set is actively trying to undermine the efforts of the ULA?

Does it prove that the CIA is affiliated in some way with Eggers and Moody?

If the ULA is everything it claims to be, in terms of talent and authenticity and commitment, what possible threat could Stephen Elliot, appearing in the comments section of this blog under a pseudonym, possibly pose to the ULA?

And what about this: what if there's a large conspiracy of gay writers pledging secret oaths to destroy the ULA?

Do you guys even stand a chance?

LongIslandNation said...

Then who's "James Joyce is the greatest..."?

King said...

The Stephen Elliott matter is a point to be made-- that the trendiest most exclusive and in some ways richest collection of writers in the country are worried about the ULA.
Believe me, it's curious behavior to me also.
I think it's representative of the basic intolerance of mainstream literature-- of the idea of contrary ideas or noise opposed to the status quo.
We're not a threat to them so much as our ideas and our existence is. It points out the phoniness of their pose.
Elliott/Grace to me is basically laughable. His contortions are ridiculous.
Wow! He wants to tussle, under an assumed identity, with the most scorned and disconnected writers in this society. Many of us are half-a-step away from the street-- some have been there. I suspect one or two we haven't heard from in a while are there now.
There are corrupt millionaire writers in his own backyard who rest atop the pyramid, at the highest levels of this society.
And that's where sad part about Stephen Elliott comes in. He's concerned about us-- while assiduously networking the most connected Overdogs, like Mr. X from the grants analogy. Lap dog.
"Here, Fido."
No outsider artist would be posting here day after day (who just happened to be at the same events as-- Stephen Elliott! No mention of "Jimmy Grace" or Jimmy Anything on the tour's web site-- but there's Mr. Elliott, Friend of Eggers, Lapdog to the Aristocrats).
It's comical, really-- most of all Elliott's stupidity. His cover story is so flimsy one of his friend Snicket's five year-old readers should be able to see through it. SE keep pushing it anyway. Well, he is a fiction writer.
The point? The point is made in the main post on this thread. Those with power behave as if they have something to hide. The powerless post openly and honestly. We've seen this time and again. What do they hide? Their corruption? Their lack of character? It's strange-- but shows the essential weakness of the Insider literary clique, of which the Eggers Gang is an important part.
Their poster boy should be John Hodgman, the Man of a Thousand Lies, with no talent whatsoever but a lot of facile hype. Sadly, he's representative of the lot of them. I'm waiting for one of them to step from behind the curtains and prove otherwise.
(Don't miss our show Sunday!)

King said...

(Oops! There goes one those durned "personal attacks" from me. Frauds should never be called out as frauds. No one should ever be personally criticized. "Can't we all just get along?" Rick Moody pleads while gobbling up 99% of the pie. Thieves stuffing their pockets with grant money while demanding, "Don't point that camera at me!"
Forget I said the name "John Hodgman." Even JH would be unfair to him, because you might guess his identity. Let's keep the stagnant River of Literature flowing peacefully, people! No ripples! Well, not flowing, exactly. More like a replica of a gray and long dead Tiber. Smelling from pollution. The ULA clean-up crew was ready to save it but has been turned away. The stench increases. . . .)

Greg said...

So, let me get this straight:

what you're saying is, basically, that Elliott, Eggers, Hodgeman, et al. are engaged in nothing more than smear tactics--that point of "jimmy Grace" is to disemminate anti-ULA propaganda here on this blog?

Hm...a propaganda war: that's what we're talking about.

You've devoted all your resources as an organization to fighting a negative campaign being waged against you by a secret cabal comprised of John Hodgeman, Rick Moody, Dave Eggers, Handler, Elliott, and numerous other literary "overdogs" who might not want to directly implicate themselves in this campaign to repress...

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, I've yet to see one mention of the ULA in either (A) The Believer (B) McSweeney's (C) Stephen Elliott's website (not that they haven't said anything negative about you in any of those publications, King--it's just that, being a semi-regular reader of those magazines, I personally haven't come across a single mention of you in them).

In any event, if a cabal of repressive overdogs really is waging a negative propaganda war against you, they're going about it so subtly that it's virtually invisible.

That is to say, I, as an outsider, neither for nor against the ULA, am having a hard time seeing the evidence that they (Eggers et al) have lifted a finger to acknowledge your existence.

You, on the other hand, mention them in every other post.

Why is that, do you think?

jimmy grace said...

Sorry, King: still not getting your answer. You want me to stop posting? Can you not withstand the unbelievable power of one guy (who you think is part of an enormous power pyramid but is just a guy) commenting on your blog? You keep dodging the question. I know I've annoyed you, so you just tell me if you want me to go and I'll never post here again. On the other hand, if you want to debate, then stop your bitching.

fdw said...

VAMPYRES

You need to let
yourself
love somebody
who loves you.

In sudden death
how shall we game
having pruned from our slow dance
the thistle heads of folklore,
having not yet reaped
the night-terror we sow
now only a frozen embryo of feathers

The engine of my nausea stalled
the instant you sunk in.
Am I just injured, just itching to plunge
thru anonymous draperies
until a nerve is struck, must I be content to lie
in the bed I’ve made for myself and by others?

1982.

King said...

Debate? Let's debate for real, Mr. Elliott. (You seem anxious to leave all of a sudden. Where's all the crying you've done when I asked you to stop posting under a fake identity?)
The differemce between the ULA and the Overdogs is one of accountability. I allow people to take shots at me every day. ULA ideas are expressed and defended. (You'll find most of my posts are an expression of ULA ideas.)
How long would Mr. Eggers or Mr. Moody last in this way? A week? Two days??
Nice to see another poster, but again, another person apparently posting under a false identity.
Again, no accountability from the other side. They're hiding!
Oh yeah, Greg, keep those questions coming from your computer screen.
By the way, The Believer did do a story on us, in 2003, quite a long essay, 10,000 words at least, filled with inaccuracies. The writer of the essay, Tom Bissell, did not do even basic research
about us-- beyond a list of several mostly irrelevant questions e-mailed to one of our members. No interview. No meeting with any of us. A hatchet job.
Dave Eggers himself was caught red-handed, by the New York Times, posting anonymously against us on Amazon. (The story made the front page. I guess you missed it.) Oh no, they don't care about us at all!
Elliott/Grace here has already admitted that his buddy Daniel Handler makes personal attacks against me at his readings. For yuks.
That's the story. You'll have to ask them why.

jimmy grace said...

I'm not Stephen Elliott, and here's da proof: Check his tour schedule on stephenelliott.com. He's performing in NYC tonight as I'm typing this. (Thanks Ed for the tipoff.)

And you still haven't answered. You show a lot of bluster - "Debate? With a coward?" - but you just won't say whether you want to tussle. Afraid of comments? Say the word and I'm gone. You're right, I didn't say that before - but you're really on a paranoid limb now. And frankly, SE seems like a decent guy. If you thought I was some asshole I'd let you think so. But SE - that's just paranoid bullshit. So just ask and I'll go away and you can pretend I'm anyone you want. Or, debate me the next time you bring up some point. The choice is yours. A straight answer, please.

Greg said...

Sorry for the lapse:

I just found Bissell's piece online, as well as the NYTimes article you mentioned--these documents prove, irrefutably, that the ULA is both known and feared by Eggers and co.

In my defense, I did qualify my remarks by admitting that such articles might exist, and that I simply hadn't seen them. However, my knowing tone implied that I didn't believe that Eggers et al. were even aware that you existed, and for this dubious knowingness, I apologize.

Reading Mr. Bissell's article, I found that I was capable of seeing the ULA in a more sympathetic light than I was initially disposed to (all creadit to Bissell).

There's much I would like to write, much advice and help I'd like to offer, but, from what I gather, you guys aren't really open to suggestions, so I'll demurely keep my mouth shut and wish you the all the best.

Good luck to you.

jimmy the hyena said...

You really didn't have to go through all this just to put a link up to your stuff Stephen. Looks interesting.Ultimately I guess you know that the machine is just using you as a propaganda tool.

Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) said...

JG/SE: You'll have to do better with this proof thing. As in, anyone can post from anywhere, right? The coincidences are pretty ripe. C'mon, you have to agree that it's a good story: we follow your leads to their obvious conclusion and find: a niche-marketing success, an Eggers acolyte, Mr. LitPAC rich writer fundraiser and all-round politico from the wrong side of the tracks. We couldn't've asked for a better way to illustrate diverging approaches to a similar problem. The thing is that the ULA can include both sides. I work on ULA projects with indy bookstores all the time---these places also offer Eggers and niche stuff. I don't deny the niches. I say there's more. I don't sneak around about my projects either.

Greg:
"Let's say Jimmy is Stephen Elliot--for argument's sake.
What then?
What does that prove?
[ ]
Does it prove that the CIA is affiliated in some way with Eggers and Moody?"

***The blog-posts prove they can't stay away from us. But much of what they do to try undermine us obviously happens off the blog. The CIA thing, to me, is more of an illustration. Literary directions can be twisted from the inside. We don't know what really happened or is happening. The whole thing does hint that a true indy presence is in the public's best interest. The "don't listen to your professor (or the slick editor)" voices should feel free to turn up their volume a notch.

Greg: "There's much I would like to write, much advice and help I'd like to offer, but, from what I gather, you guys aren't really open to suggestions, so I'll demurely keep my mouth shut and wish you the all the best."

Uh, we're a free-range circus. Members do as they please. Supporters pick and choose as they like. It's up to you, not us. The ULA is an amplifier, that's all.

Do have have a history and our active members do as well.

But we're always happy to get input from folks who know what they're talking about. We'll consider vague notions but we know how those usually work out.

We tend to work best with tough, experienced folks who are already well on their way, who have audiences already, a lot of miles under their belts (as readers, writers or publishers) but who have found technical barriers (possibly with ideology components---it's complex!) and want to break thru them. They've put out good work in a hardcore way before and had it ignored, derailed, snubbed. The next time by waving the ULA flag as they charge they get more attention. It might not be all good, but they'll at least provoke alarm---what they do with the rest of it is up to them.

For instance, JG/SE has had niche-market success with sex products. I've had niche success in a few areas, too. There's a fairly doable/standard method for niche success. But the ULA contends that an indy voice is prevented from going further. So we're doing something about it on several specific fronts.

A ULA idea is that people who know the ropes of the indy ghetto and who've seen how the bigger game is rigged will do one of 3 things: 1*accept/enjoy/grow their ghetto, 2*get a job as an underling in the big game, 3*tear down the walls keeping them out. Choice 3 can include players in 1 & 2. But 3 tends to freak out 1 and 2. 3 is no threat to them, though: 3 is aiming higher. After the walls are breached, 1 and 2 will have more opportunity, thanks to 3.

If you have specific experience to add to, or revise or challenge this, I would pitch in!

But then you're hesitating at the start.

Did you see the Beatles movie "Back Beat"? --I think that was it. We're desperate. And we work best with other desperadoes. They're not going to be stopped but they want to have a better chance at being heard than they would otherwise.

I suppose we could use cautious, quiet people in some capacity. Maybe they could contribute. I don't see how it could work but, hey, we've always been willing to see how other approaches might work.

King said...

Uh, Stephen/Elliott, I've never asked you to leave. I HAVE asked you to post under your own identity. This you're unwilling to do under any circumstance.
Regarding "debate." I've been debating on this blog for a few years now; before that on various public forums or sites.
Again, I ask, why don't your friends Moody and Eggers "debate" or answer questions anyplace?
Why don't they put their ideas and reputations to the test?
I'll debate you publicly in a public venue for real. Streetcorner, park, bar, hall-- to me it doesn't matter.
If the McSweeney's Gang wants to have it out, all they have to do is contact us. Arrangements can be made; east coast or west coast.

Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) said...

HAVE A GOOD SHOW IN PHILLY, YE PIRATES!!!

King said...

THE ODDS
What are the odds that an underground graphic artist on the west coast, a non-writer, would stumble upon this fairly obscure blog; that of all the many thousands of artistic and literary blogs in the world, he would zero in on this one? That not only would he become a regular reader, but a regular poster, posting frantically day after day, month after month, with a passion for literature, and beyond this, a surprising knowledge about the lit world and its personalities? That this artist would be so involved, but more, that his attitude would be contentious toward the ULA viewpoint?
This is highly unlikely, surely. Possible-- barely-- but unlikely. The odds of this occuring-- that this person would be who he says he is-- would be slim.
BUT, what would the further odds be that this very same contentious knowledgeable unlikely person would be ON THE VERY SAME tour as Stephen Elliott, best friend to our foremost enemies; Moody, Eggers, and Daniel Handler? That our unlikely visitor would also be at the same reading as Stephen Elliott, at which Daniel Handler denounced the Underground Literary Alliance?
Start multiplying the unlikely possibilities by one another and the odds that "Jimmy Grace" is who he says he is, and not Stephen Elliott, become astronomical.

Pat_King said...

Aren't you assuming that there was only one such tour going on? I mean, yeah, the odds would be pretty low if you could somehow prove that this was the only tour of its kind floating around the giant U.S. of A. There are tons of underground art tours. I can think of two or three right off the top of my head. And Queer art/politics is a pretty damn popular kind of thing in the underground.

Yer off yer rocker here Karl. It started with that stupid CIA thing and this insane "outing of a demi-puppet" thing was the cherry on top of the ice cream that caused not just one but FIVE ULA members to quit the ULA in the past week and one potential candidate to withdraw.

We'll see. There's a chance, albeit a very slim one, that you're right on this. I guess me and my friends'll have to eat crow then, eh?

jimmy grace said...

"Again, I ask, why don't your friends Moody and Eggers "debate" or answer questions anyplace?"

I'm not Stephen Elliott, they're not friends of mine - even SE - and so I don't know. The proof I'm not SE is on the timing of this post. I posted at 9 PM on the West Coast - midnight in NYC, where Elliott was reading for a sex tour show. Do the math. It couldn't have been Elliott.

You want me to leave? Say the word. You wanna debate me, an indie guy who disagrees with you? Fine. Here's an idea how: you post ideas on your blog, and I'll comment on 'em. Oh, wait. Is that "an attempt to destroy you?"

fdw said...

Queer art/ policticks IS mainstream.
(Why the Eggers/ Moody KULT backs is backing. etc. -- the PC Neoliberal lie as a cloaking device the way it's used by the Buzghgies more and more today, and how SE/DG is being used by them here in turn.. poor devil!)
I doan now a single black nor met one who refers to themselves as a African American.
Nor a single Injun nor ditto that refers to themselves as a Native American.
The whole thing is insulting and is based on white guilt and controll of language. (the CIAKGB)
Then there is the queer art poiticks which is part of a SUBCULTURE, which is part of the underground not the other way around.
But these are were you'll find them that are artists first before anything else elevating irony of streotyping and affection to a high "popular" form of CAMP, in the true spirit of say vaudeville, burlesque, and even sideshow.
This is why w'all are reactionaries (yes there's plenty out there, but LESS TODAY IN THE ULA) to the degree, ie. outside convenient parlance, we accept the mainstream (spectacular times)/Establishment/ System "labeling" (underground) that is designed to keep "us" in our place in the capitalist propoganda/terror progrom. Why the point's been made that the so called "underground", the so called sub-culture too in fact is the CULTURE all the mainstream/ spectacle/ and NOW EXHIBITIONISM ((specific'ly performance) art as commodity instead of product), ie. KKKULCHOR: Syphilization!

Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
King said...

But we HAVE been debating with whoever wanted to debate on various subjects; where the corruption of the grants process, the takeover of CLMP, the divide between rich and poor, and other topics. After tomorrow's reading I'll hit you, SE, with a list of questions. Such as: About the quote about literary programs being dominated by rich kids. Do you agree with that? Etc.
The main point though is your refusal to use your own identity. Or why you're so eager to "debate" or criticize us to begin with. Motivation?
Only a Stephen Elliott could have that kind of incentive.
(Your debate comments are of course a deliberate time-waster. As I said, I'll debate you and your buds for real. We can determine the place.)

King said...

Re tours. There was only one sex tour in Tucson on Feb 1st, which "Grace" mentioned on this blog. "Grace" himself hasn't denied being on the same tour as Mr. Eliott. He's in fact admitted it.

Pat_King said...

Wow. We can all learn a lesson from Frank Walsh: If you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, do it with confidence!

Seriously, call me a counter-revolutionary or a reactionary or whatever you want, whatever helps you forget the real issue: nearly ten ULAers dropped out over the past month due to the silly baseless paranoia that's been the main focus of the ULA for the past weeks.

Pat_King said...

Actually, JG, after looking at the tour website, it says that the particular show you were referring to didn't start until 11:00 and your post was at 9:00.....isn't exactly irrefutable proof or anything.

King said...

No, five weak sisters dropped out the last two weeks. E.D. a few months ago, but he hadn't been active in a long time.
ULAers who've been through this before, like myself and Potter, aren't worried about it. Dropping the moderates will only make the team stronger-- addition by subtraction. We'll be what I've called for the last year or so: hard core; balls to the wall.
In 2001 when we were making strong noise, a few members of our then tiny group were thrown. It's what happens. Panic that we're pissing off people. It happens.
The alternative is to do nothing; to be a bland literary organization offending no one, like so many others.
After the reading, we'll be announcing a full reorganization.
We'll restate again what the ULA is about.
Any revolutionary group should always be in a state of flux; never static. With the beginning of the new year we kicked off a more radical campaign, our recent Monday Reports part of this. We're getting back more to the style of the original ULA. In my book we have further to go in this regard. This organization isn't for everybody. We've always realized this; always said it.
We don't fight with fellow undergrounders and ask them not to fight with us.
The campaign is definitely not stopping. The core team has been doing much discussing the last several days. We're more united, more committed than ever.
We're the only really exciting thing happening in American literature right now. Our fundamental strengths are solid.
More exciting days are ahead.
(I feel like my handcuffs have been taken off. We've left the reservation again and have put on our war paint.)

Marissa Ranello said...

"five weak sisters dropped out the last two weeks."

"We don't fight with fellow undergrounders and ask them not to fight with us."

Riiiiiiight.

Marissa Ranello said...

Actually stopped by to wish you guys a successful show tomorrow... but I didn't appreciate being referred to as 1/5 of the weak sisters. I think there was enough shit flung on the way out. Wouldn't you agree? I hope your show has a good turn out.

M.D.G. said...

There is a balance that only a female can bring, and there is a lot of testosterone being thrown around here right now. There should probably be some. Don't be so quick to dismiss this as weakness almighty King, the weakness is yours. I better go before you starts throwing chairs.

fdw said...

That's a chauvanistic remark.
Testesterone more like Xanax male order!
Marissa thanks I'll pass it on.
And please accept my apologies for any discomfort I may stupidly sent yr. way in the past.

fdw said...

Yeh, they dropped out the weren't throwed out. All for their own reasons and concerns.
For you to grind yr own axe in their name is insulting and in terms of the issues, uncouth.
If you can't let go or trust in yr own then maybe the problem is "potty training". No, really think about it.

jimmy grace said...

I posted about the tour from California, as your blog records should show that. As I said a million times, Akimbo tagged along for a few tour dates.
Ask me anything you want, King, whenever you want. Although it's curious that you still won't say, "Yes, Jimmy, comment here all you want," or "No, Jimmy, I'm tired of you."

Fran said...

...Sigh...another disappointing thread. Can't you people chill out on even the day you're having a reading event?

"No, five weak sisters dropped out the last two weeks....We'll be what I've called for the last year or so: hard core; balls to the wall."

The near-constant sexist remarks like these posted here are a main reason why I'd never apply to join; as I've said before, you sound like a macho boy's club. When members drop out, a female term is invoked; when members remain, they have "balls." Can your slant be more obvious?

Why can't you just be honest and say you're an all-male literary organization? See that German-in-the-movie example you yourself wrote. You could claim you're not an all-male/male-writer-focused organization all you want, but you ain't showing that in my opinion. Aside from the too-often sexist writings here, the writers from previous generations you laud are almost always MALES, and usually males particularly known for being macho and sexist. If you want to be REALLY radical, you should separate yourself from ideological dinosaurs and behavioral knuckledraggers. Many times you're too focused on the past; those days are gone, and good riddance to a lot of them, I say.

I don't expect a positive response. The last time I said some of this stuff to you, your response to me was: female members have to hang with the men. And this while in the next breath you ask me to submit an essay; I stopped reading here for a long while after that. No man or "men" is my superior or my boss. I won't "hang with the men," especially if those men behave like disrespectful sexist assholes. Either your organization is a literary organization made up of INDIVIDUALS with equal shares and common goals, or a person like me won't be interested. The world is unfortunately full of typical sexist hierarchies with the males on top behaving stereotypically sexist and a few token stereotypical females abetting the stereotypical males; the world doesn't need yet another one of those. It needs LESS, it needs antidotes to that fucking crap. And I think you need to make up your mind about what you really are, you need to do some serious self-examination.

Having said all this, that you're being accused of paranoia from your own members, what the fuck are these people talking about? As I said in that other thread, how is being suspicious of CLOAKED POSTERS paranoid, especially when they keep attacking this place? This is the web. If people aren't at least a little suspicious of most of the things being written on it and suspicious of posters' claims of their being this one or that one or NOT being this one or that one, THAT would be disturbing.

Maybe ULA members and former members know things outsiders can't see--I don't know. But, clearly, at least to me, you need to make some changes in how you operate here when your own members/former members display so much animosity toward you.

I think you're on the right track overall about literature, mainstream publishing, etc., but you must work harder on the details of how you operate--and be more open to change. If you're incapable of altering your language usage toward people, especially toward females, how good can your organization's writers be? Or maybe you're just unwilling. Or maybe both.

Fran

Pat_King said...

Ignoring the obvious humor in Karl saying he doesn't attack fellow undergrounders when above that remark, he says "No, five weak sisters dropped out the last two weeks," I have to point something out. My comment, my "attack," as you say, was a response to an attack by Frank Walsh calling me and some of my comrades reactionaries.

And so I responded with facts. Do facts equal attacks?

M.D.G. said...

It always does with the ULA Pat. Any negative remark equals an attack. Never to mention those who have been attacked.

Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) said...

I'm all for the strong sisters! : )

Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) said...

Of any gender! : )

Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) said...

Totally dysfunctional---lowest of the low!---AVAST!

Victor Schwartzman said...

Well, the cat is kinda out of the bag in these posts about recent resignations. Yes, I have resigned.

I've been called a lot of things, but never a "weak sister". I've been a fighter, I think and hope, all my life. At 61, though, I hope I've learned something about what battles to fight, and how to fight them.

People casually reading this blog might go to the New York Times article mentioned by King and not see any reference to Mr. Eggers' criticizing the ULA. The Times article has Franzen criticizing the ULA, but not Eggers.

There should not be confusion, as Eggers did criticize the ULA. Just go to the "Monday Report" from the time, available on the ULA website.

Whether the ULA deserved to be criticized in that incident, I honestly do not know, although King's style is not to be anonymous, so I doubt the "reader" postings on Amazon were from him.

It is ironic that the sort of concerns about the ULA posting anonymously are echoed here, with anonymous posts on this blog. The same concerns, seems to me, about "conspiracies" afflict both camps, if there are camps at all.

What a waste of time.

Instead of writing, back stabbing.

Is it not time to move on, and concentrate not on personalities, but on the real issues? Concentrate not on the personal lives of individual writers, but on the larger issues of why mainstream publishing is not better (a complaint that probably goes back a couple of thousand years, I guess--was it not Aristotle who moaned about the useless current younger generation?)

My own resignation from the ULA was neither done in panic nor because I was timid. I had thought about it for months. Some of my concerns are echoed in these postings: women and the ULA (both how many women are members, and the type of language used reflecting a macho posturing), the attacking of people on a very personal level rather than actually debating issues, and, in the end, not doing what I had assumed the ULA would do when I joined.

The original focus and goals of the ULA seem to have been forgotten, but that does not mean they will continue to be. If King and the ULA can get back on track, great. I resigned because I felt, sadly, the ULA would not get back on track. I hope I am wrong.

I acknowledge the ULA is all volunteer, and can only work with what it has, in terms of limited resources, everyone having a day job, and so on.

It's nice to see some apologies here. And, along with others, I wish the best o' success to the ULA reading today, and the best success to King and the ULA in general.

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

Revolutionaries are more formalistic than conservatives.
-Italo Calvino

Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny: they have only shifted it to another shoulder.
-George Bernard Shaw

Victor Schwartzman said...

Always afterthoughts:

I suppose I need to add that I wish the ULA the best success provided it does not continue to use the debating style of Anne Coulter, that it does not attack individual writers personally while ignoring the larger issues, etc.

There is an alternative between not criticizing and posturing as a "bad boy" (we're back to that macho language, eh). I wish the ULA the best o' luck and success if it can find that alternative.

Those thoughts are equally applied to the ULA's "enemies", whose attack style is no better.

The thoughts do not apply to many of the writers the ULA has attacked, who as far as I can see, never deserved such attacks--which is a key reason why I am no longer in the ULA.

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

The Believer piece was pretty fair. The ULA makes some solid points, but its approach is disastrous. It reminds me of when ethnic minorities will make a statement about their status is a society but then take it to absurd extreme. This is why it is actually falling off, where as it was getting some attention years ago.

Many writers, especially mid-list and under, have gripes about the publishing industry and the culture. But turning on writers is rather pointless. Very few writers, even top mid-listers are pulling in as much money, or wielding as much cultural capital, as their counterparts in music and film or even pornography for that matter.

I doubt the ULA will be much more different than Gerard Jones soon enough.

Once an organization dealing with writers starts to attack other writers then it actually weakens any cause. Yes, some writing is bad, I dislike a lot of it, but at the end of the day I know that no two writers have the exact same tastes and style. When I say something sucks I mean "I think it sucks, but someone else might not, but I wish them the best." I don't conclude that my aesthetic tastes are objective.

There are objective standards though: active verbs, reduce adverbs/adjectives, grammar in general, etc etc.

King said...

Sorry, but one can't attack corruption in any realm without naming the individuals involved in the corruption.
You can't put an entire system on the defensive, but you can go after individuals involved in running that system. I mean, how do you kill a rhinoceros? You have to seek a vulnerable spot.
I'm not going to debate what has been the ULA program since the beginning.
Don't like it? Start your own organization. There are plenty of other lit groups that do things in more polite fashion. Like-- all of them.
Re "weak sisters." Yes, I probably shouldn't have said that. Very politically incorrect, for one thing. And not accurate, at least toward some of those who left.
When have I not spoken my mind? When have I edited what I said?
One of the problems with literature today is that writers are constantly self-editing themselves in case they might offend someone-- one reason why most writing is homogenized and bland.
I'm too much a dinosaur to bother with any of that. I don't have a writing "career" to worry about, and so I generally say what I wish. If that bothers people, so be it.
Re the five who left. Probably a lot I could say.
This, for starters.
It's a maxim in commodity trading that one should "sell down to the sleeping point." If a trade, winning or losing, is stressing you out, then bail out. That's what happened with the four who followed J.D. Finch.
(Any move made during the psychology of panic is usually not a sound one.)
They were bothered that we were pissing people off-- and so maybe shouldn't have been in the outfit to begin with.
Though all five made contributions to the team-- some of them solid ones, like Patrick and Victor-- the team will be more united without them.
(By the way: Victor, meet Patrick. Patrick, meet Victor.)
A campaign like the ULA, at this stage of its history, can work only if every team member is on the same page.
The misconceptions of some of the five were amazing.
Did you know, other readers, that two of the five were not even communicationg with one another?
That one of them banned the other from the ULA forum?
That the other was upset that I didn't ORDER him to be restored?
Misconceptions all around.
No. sorry, I don't call the shots. I don't have the time or the energy. Or the inclination.
I do have the strongest voice in the outfit. The premise of the ULA is that the strength of the voice-- written or spoken-- can change the world. (Some awesome voices heard tonight, by the way!)
Here's the situation of the five. You judge their strength.
I've been saying for months that if any group of ULAers wanted me to step to the sidelines, I'd do so. I have my own writing, after all, which I could be pursuing.
Could the five have organized themselves long enough to do this?
Of course not.
Then one of them would have had to take responsibility for the team's progress, and articulate a plan.
They didn't like what I was up to, but instead of credibly fighting for control of the team, one by one they resigned.
The hypocrisy I'm seeing here is astounding. Always, undergrounders eager to attack other undergrounders. I don't see them going after the Big Dogs. In fact, they seem to be saying that I've been too mean to the millionaires of literature!
Know this: Things are going well for the ULA. We're getting our books into stores. Today's reading was a success. All those present loved it. The booking agent for the venue wants us back; said they did more bar business today than on Friday or Saturday night. The mention to the audience about the CIA in literature received a great response. Huge agreement. We're seeing positives all over the place. (It's particularly sad that Pat King wasn't at the event.)
What the ULA is trying to do is nearly impossible. The only way we'll succeed is to stay focused and to keep working, as we've been doing. I simply don't have time to note every bruised ego along the road.
I'll thank here the five for their contributions. I'm sorry they couldn't stick it out. That changes nothing about what we're doing. Carp and complain all you want, but nothing has changed. After tonight, we're more united than ever. We have a long way to go. We'll be continuing forward with our core members and with exciting new members who've seen our energy with their own eyes and know we represent the future of literature.

King said...

p.s. Right now most sorry to see Poldy of the five go.

fdw said...

Jessica's wortha a hundred of you fish.
No, the cat- fish is out the bag.
Yes you reacted and instead of responded to being called a reactionaries.
Anywho time to turn attention to promoting and selling
getting the word out on ULA publications and getting back to uncovering the "hydra" of the CIAKGB literary connection.
So use boyz and goils play nice looking for use balls now ya hear! I've got yer backs so doan fret. Keep da fate!

M.D.G. said...

Ah Hydra, the name of my new chapbook. But of course you knew that.

M.D.G. said...

And the lit buisness is just a head of the Hydra.

Marissa Ranello said...

Tsk Tsk...Talk about airing dirty laundry!

Re: "Did you know, other readers, that two of the five were not even communicationg with one another?"

Did you know, that one of the current members threatened to kill the departing members and their their mother if they leaked ULA information? (Other readers, true story! No names mentioned unless it's denied).

"They were bothered that we were pissing people off-- and so maybe shouldn't have been in the outfit to begin with."

Please be open-minded when you read this. I am not trying to critize you OR the rest of the ULA:

In my case, this was far from the truth, but you already know this. I was bothered that the anonymous posters on this blog became the focus of of all things ULA. THIS is the KW blog. As it is your blog, you're free to run it however you wish. You want to argue/debate/ignore comments - your choice. But I never once thought that YOU were THE sole voice of the ULA, hence this is NOT the ULA blog, but the King Wenclas blog. Opinions expressed here are your own. Some ULA'ers may agree with you, others may not.

"Carp and complain all you want, but nothing has changed."

Oh, but it has!

When Monday reports are less about this:

"Standing up for writers, exposing corruption in the publishing world, and working to create a fun & exciting alternative to the literary mainstream." (ULA Mission Statement)

...and more about this:

"Grace here has already admitted that his buddy Daniel Handler makes personal attacks against me at his readings. For yuks"

...your mission statement rings false.

"Could the five have organized themselves long enough to do this?
Of course not. Then one of them would have had to take responsibility for the team's progress, and articulate a plan.
They didn't like what I was up to, but instead of credibly fighting for control of the team, one by one they resigned."

What?!? Are you suggesting a ULA coup d'etat? We didn't overthrow you, so that makes us weak? Please tell me you're joking!!! WOW!

At least you admit, that you knew that we didn't like what you were up to...but it would be hard for any of us to take responsability for the team's progress when there hasn't been any real progress for the last 5 years (with the exception of a few excellent books published by ULA'ers) hence the glorified shouts of 2001 and 2003 on this blog. Well, I guess it depends on how you define progress though.

I still see literary corruption, I still see you arguing with anonymous posters, and I still see that half of the ULA's members are either in self-induced comas or they forgot they joined. Hmmm...I guess some things haven't changed in the last 6 years (yep, 2001 was six years ago now!).

Fran had an excellent post with a lot of valid statements. Two things she said really stuck out (at least to me):

1. Many times you're too focused on the past; those days are gone, and good riddance to a lot of them, I say.

Yes!

2. If people aren't at least a little suspicious of most of the things being written on it and suspicious of posters' claims of their being this one or that one or NOT being this one or that one, THAT would be disturbing.

I agree, but when that curiousity consumes you and takes your attention away from real literary corruption, promotion of underground writers or time for your own projects - you're no longer a 'watchdog group,' you're Columbo. Trust me, I played Nancy Drew on this blog too! Guilty as charged! But 3 years of 'Guess Who' became tiresome. This energy could be used more constructively.

But, hey, I don't write the blogs. I'm too noncommittal to engage in daily conversations with people who wish to 'tussle.'

Which reminds me, Jimmy Grace - Your timing still doesn't work out. If you're in Cali and you posted at 9 PM, it would be 12 AM EST.

But anyway, I'm glad that you had a successful show guys!

jimmy grace said...

I posted at 9, that'd midnight NYC, Elliott's show went up at 11 PM, so no way I'm SE.

Glad your show made you happy. Love to hear what kind of crowd you got.

And all the ULA insider gossip has been...revealing.

Marissa Ranello said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marissa Ranello said...

Okay...he just posted at 9:45, it was 11:45 here, 12:45 EST time.

Works for me.

If JG is SE, how could he perform and post a comment at the same time?

Victor Schwartzman said...

Yes, Marissa, talk about airing dirty laundry! I agree with your comments.

I thought we would keep all this quiet, but I should have known that would not be.

So a few more points, what the heck:

Karl, it is not that you are pissing off people, it is HOW and WHY you piss off people. You are smart, and I think you know the difference.

Second, there is no record at all of you offering to let someone else 'take over' or be the voice of the ULA over the past half year, or before.

There IS a record of me emailing you regularly since October, 2006, with my concerns. I raised those concerns on the blog, I raised them with you directly. The response was to reject those concerns in much the same language you use here: I was being weak, individuals had to be attacked and you were doing it right, and so on. You rejected any concern as, most often, something you had heard many times before. That you had heard it many times before had a significance you appeared not to recognize.

I never suggested you could not name names. Of course one has to pin personal responsibility. But to sink to the Anne Coulter level of attacking people based on their personal lives, what clothes they wear, who their lovers were...and in particular, for me, accusing them of having some responsibility in a personal family tragedy: all that was and is a personal vendetta. It has nothing to do with any revolution.

And the goal is to change things..is it not? As Marissa notes, nothing has really changed in six years. And therein is the problem. Some people would recognize there is an obvious failure in tactics.

By the way, dirty laundry-wise, I never 'ordered' you to do anything. Whereas you did order me to remove some posts from the book review blog--remember?

But enough is enough. I feel myself getting sucked into that grim vortex combining the past with personal.

Cheers!

fdw said...

Yeh, man! A great series of poems you have out evidently. How do we get some copies up here.
Was getting props together
outta the basement and found the "Hydra Is God", sign, that was used in the Tritone Reading with the HJ Band like what-- two years ago! Coincidentally.
Still have the gmail address by the way.

fdw said...

Maybe they couldn’t help themselves
going over to the other side
the lighting was pretty bad
there were so few places left to hide

A couple made it back in no time
like the present, while most
others couldn’t remember why
there is no place like home

because the door was left wide open
in the middle of the night you
tried over and over to call me
overly concerned, but I had been taken
away to a very special room reserved
for those with any inkling of escape.




5.08.03

fdw said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
King said...

Too bad we couldn't have gotten this kind of public noisemaking from members when they were IN the organization.
Sorry, Victor, but you've been trying to dictate to me what I should say and how I should behave in the part of the ULA I'm involved with-- this blog. I'm not required to listen to you.
Sorry, Marissa, but I don't have full responsibility for moving this team forward. This is a group effort. If the progress isn't swift enough-- look in the mirror.
I do what I can, the way I know how to do it.
Potter and I have been taking steps to get this team moving again. If you don't agree with the steps, that's your choice.
The team will be moving forward. We're well-positioned for the future.
Goodbye and good luck to you.