Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Money and Poetry

There's a long article in the new issue of The New Yorker by Dana Goodyear about Poetry magazine and the influence its $200 million endowment is having on it.

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.


Bruce Hodder said...

Charles Plymell told me the New Yorker ran an article about Allen Ginsberg and some event or other in which Plymell was involved which was full of factual inaccuracies. CP wrote to them informing them of the errors and they sent him a thank-you note but didn't publish the corrections. Which may relate only tangentially to what you're saying, but it shows you how much they care about the truth in these matters.

matt5709 said...

money always hinders artistic value


jimmy grace said...

A-fucking men to Matt.

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

money always hinders artistic value

How so? It seems the one's saying such things are always the one's wanting money. Shakespeare, the king of all things art according to the Canon, is a moneybank to top all artistic moneybanks. Art can't function without money. From Jack London and Twain to our current conceptions, are needs money. Lest one things production and promotion just happen out of the blue. In which case, one's complaints would be voided since the production and distribution can be preformed without money.

Why protest the moneyed producers if they aren't producing real art? Or are you just an elitist, i.e. a liberal, who believes the masses are stupid and simple accept what they are fed?

King said...

Artists need supporters, sure. Plenty of great art was created without money.
But I think you miss the point, "Joyce," probably deliberately. When the only art given recognition is dominated by one class of people, the art will reflect the values-- or lack thereof-- of that class. This isn't the time of the Medicis. This country is SUPPOSED to be a democracy.
Are you saying it's really not?
More like an aristocracy?
(Truth from a demi-puppet.)
I think the relevant point is that the people with the money today are backing utter mediocrity.

King said...

And-- an important point to make is the hypocrisy of the aristocrats, who love to pose as progressive, democratic, "liberal," etc etc etc. But of course, they're not in any way.
They're either pawns of very rich people or they ARE those rich people.
Drop the friggin pose!

jimmy grace said...

If it's a democracy, then the people should be choosing what art they like.
When you give a reading in public you just attract pigeons.
Sounds like the people have spoken.

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

SUPPOSED to be a democracy.
Are you saying it's really not?
More like an aristocracy?

Art has business being a democracy, political democracy can barely sustain itself. Art is highly subjective but there are standards. According to democratic visions of art, Dean Koontz, Crichton, Dan Brown, et al., are the true artists as they all have messages and accessible writing.

You keep pointing out a group that is ignored by the masses because they have no interest in reading such things, that is a niche. It's like saying liberals can't find a place in country music. It's somewhat true, but not because of a grand conspiracy, but because of those who consume the art.

It's not surprising that the upper classes are bored by stories from the street. Likewise, it is understandable why literary fiction sells terribly. It has limited appeal. Even within LitFic there are stark contrasts. Cormac McCarthy is is a different, and better, league than Dave Eggers and the trendy hipsters. Toni Morrison and Annie Proulx is quite different from William T. Vollman and David Foster Wallace. I read them all, I read commercial fiction, middlebrow, genre. I like to read.

Art doesn't replace art. Artists produce, and possibly people may want what is produced. In the age of the internet, few people are going to by the theory of the closed off industry. Yes segments are, but that is universal. LGBT themed stories, excessive urban stories, rural tales, genre defying commercial work, all of it has trouble being published because there is little market for it.

As with all problems in democracy, the problem is with the masses.

King said...

You're a relic of the past. Everything you say is fossilized. Skeptics once said, in 1963 in this country, there was no market for British rock n roll and that bands were passe. You're an embarrassment. All you know is what is, this minute. There is not a trace of vision within your head. And, your perspective is obviously with the upper-classes you reference.
Give the masses you scorn more than junk and they'll respond.
(From a business standpoint you're an idiot. God, no wonder literature is dying in this country. Do you know that a single new player, who was different, Tiger Woods, expanded the market for golf, the pie, two or three-fold? Would you have predicted that? The pie for literature should be several times what it is now. people like you have marginalized it. Your ideas have put it into a tiny corner in the house of culture. We will blow right by you-- even without resources. Watch.)

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

1. Literature and Music are two different art forms.

2. It is a fallacy to use the argument of "Some X held such an opinion in Some time period (p) and that was historically invalid." The music industry is littered with one hit wonders, has beens, and never weres. All a result of faith that they would achieve some sort of greatness.

By the way, British rock has somewhat died out, at least in its past form.

3. This is not 40-50 years ago. The internet, and technology in general, cut out the middle man. Indy Bands are selling directly to consumers and there is no such thing as a monolithic music industry. Once you get past Pop Music and heavily commercial stuff, the "industry" is mostly niche.

Let's not forget almost everyone listens to music in some fashion. Most people don't read fiction for pleasure. Music is less limited in its appeal.

4. The early British bands sought commercial success. Are you indy or seeking fame and fortune like rock n' roll stars?

King said...

We can do both, my man. I don't care about money or material things-- they have no meaning to me, frankly-- but I want my ideas to be read. It's why I write.
Our goal is to reach the populace yet at the same time control our art-- DIY-style-- with no hierarchies; a cooperative horizontal movement. Writers in charge.
I don't see any way to find agreement, as your mind is completely oriented toward the status quo, to things as they are, trapped in a box, while I look for possibilities for change and growth of the art.
I'm extremely optimistic about what we can do.
I'd rather be me than you.

chilly charlie said...