Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Shootout at Sundown

Underground Literary Army.

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.)

www.literaryrevolution.com

29 comments:

jimmy grace said...

I called the President an asshole the other day and he hasn't responded. What a coward.

King said...

??? Still apologizing for the status quo?
Are you saying that established literature is as insulated and out-of-touch as the Bush White House? A revealing remark.
(Let's see: Did you call the Prez that with your real name or your fake one?)

jimmy grace said...

You hit it on the head, King. Most mainstream lit speaks to a small group of elites - like Bush. And your relationship to mainstream lit is like mine to the White House - you hate 'em, and they don't give a shit.

My challenge still stands for you to find a single quote of mine defending the status quo.

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

I wouldn't say it has anything to do with backbone or lack thereof. Fiction writers, unlike say many of those who write for the screen, tend to be solitary and not prone to movements. You really are focusing on a small sub-set of a small field (lit-fic) in a somewhat small industry (fiction). A look at the New York Times Bestseller List reveals far more about publishing and the book reading public than niche literary fiction. Actually, the sales say a lot about it. It's hard for a revolution to affect something no one cares about. It's like coming to America to preach revolution in relation to a small island with a population of 25,000.

The writers are not at fault. The demand starts with the public. All a writer can do is write what they want (be it litfic are commercial) and hope there is demand for it. There is little demand for street stories or tales of the down and out.

The failure of "Lad Lit" is a perfect example of what liteary movements amount to: market failure.

Men don't read that much. I believe upwards of 70% of the fiction reading public consists of women. And out of that most are reading romance.

There will be no way to get the public to buy into litfic, there never was. Henry James, William Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Woolf, most of the greats did not sell well. The public reads a certain type of fiction and they don't all think like writers, which is something writers are prone to forget. They don't have this overwhelming love for the industry or the process anymore than I have a love for the Fishing industry. I like fish, I like to go fishing. I don't care about the debates currently going on in the fishing industry. Even when it comes to art, I don't care about playwriting, although I will watch a play here and there. And I only somewhat care about Hollywood.

I am a consumer of literature, but if I wasn't a writer, I can definitely say what happens behind the scenes would only be relevant if I were taking a class that involved literature. The public just doesn't have the time to care about these things or the desire. Television is a prime example. For all the people talking about how crappy sitcoms are (and I agree) there are 20 million people tuning in each week to watch the top ones.

Now Hollywood is actually an industry where access means anything. Top sitcoms cost 5-15 million dollars per episode. Ad space must be sold, actors hired, it is a process. Anyone can write a book or a short story, and promote it online. Anyone can use lulu.com and get there work out there. If it is good (or rather, if it appeals to the public) word will spread and then the book will be judged on its merits.

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

there should be "their"

King said...

??? The first post on this thread is a defense of the literary status quo. What else would you call it? Why else did you post it?
Every time you say "No one gives a shit" about CIA infiltration of literature you're defending the status quo.
Has anyone cared about the ULA exposes since we started out? Nobody? Not one person? No concern at all? Gee, I wonder why everyone was talking about us at NYC parties (see Page Six) and exchanging flurries of e-mails wondering what they should do? How did we ever get all the press attention we did, if no one cared about our criticisms. A very curious phenomenon. The fact that we're banned from linking to most lit-blogs and lit sites means nobody cares-- though our profile is much higher than 95% of the blogs etc which ARE linked.
Yes, I'll have to reassess. No one cares at all. Completely apathetic. Brain-dead Eloi one and all. I guess I'll just fold my tent then and go home. NOT!

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

It isn't a big deal. The public, at least segments of us anyway, is already cynical. The Paris Review is not a culturally relevant source. I would say many blogs (i.e DailyKos) are more relevant. The Paris Review is a medium sized fish in a small, obscure pond, in a forest, thirty miles away from a major city.

If the Paris Review consisted of government shills that would have been different. They were not exactly on par with the National Review.

It's the past, it's something that won't move the public. The Iraq War can barely get the public to do anything that requires more effort than filling out a ballot on a computer screen.

The answer to improving the status quo is not revolution, if the 20th century taught us anything, it is that. It can be improved rationally, but the overthrow of the system can't happen because there is no system. This isn't the entire publishing industry, but a irrelevant part of it.

Now the publishing industry, 80 percent being owned by 7 or 8 international conglomerates, has a problem. It isn't a conspiracy so much as it involves the profit motive. Hence, commercial fiction to the end.

King said...

To "Joyce." Again, you're speaking nonsense. The opinion makers in the mainstream print media are a relatively small number of people, as you say, yet they have enormous reach, leverage, influence.
This should be obvious to anyone with an understanding of how this society works.
Literature IS important because what there is of an intellectual community in this country avidly follows it. The editors and readers of The New Republic, for instance.
Do I really have to bring up the example of the neo-cons, a relative handful of writers grouped around two or three small circulation magazines. Their influence on the politics and even the culture of this society has been enormous.
Few people have ever heard of Irving Kristol or Norman Podhoretz-- but again, their influence has been enormous.
In any society, ideas matter! This campaign the Underground Literary Army has engaged in is a battle of ideas.
(Change-- even revolution-- is created at the start by a handful of people. The mass stay on the sidelines to see how things turn out. What does this have to do with the ULA? We're beating your side up across the board. Across the board. Doesn't it say anything to you that not one of your number will engage us under his/her own identity? That those who did-- notably Plimpton and his staff when they debated us-- got their heads handed to them? No brag, just fact. Ask THEM what happened to the Maysles Brothers footage of the event.)
Yes, most writers are solitary and won't get involved-- which leaves the matter to those who WILL get involved, those few; the writers in the ULA on our side and any defenders in the other camp. If there are any. Maybe, like Montezuma, they're intellectually weak, waiting for their world to collapse, with no faith in their stars or in themselves. If that's truly the situation, as you allege, our campaign will be easier than we thought.
People are attracted to confidence-- not to jellyfish, and right now it seems jellyfish are all you have to offer.

jimmy grace said...

Gosh, you're right. My first post really does defend the status quo. I mean, the President owes me a response for calling him an asshole. All people in power owe responses to all insults and opposition, no matter how tiny. In fact, I'm positive he's read this comment, and he's still not responding. I must be a puppet if I think there's any reason for that other than fear.

Look, mainstream art is full of assholes and corruption. It's unsurprising. Good art can still get through, if you work hard.

The fact that you brag about years-old, occasional media attention only proves my point. Funny that you don't brag about how many readers this blog attracts - don't you get a tally? - or the number of comments you elicit. (Me, Joyce, a few ULAers, maybe two more anonymous folks when you allow it.) Or the crowds your readings draw. (Pigeons.)

I don't think you should fold up your tent. I think you should make art. If you believe in underground lit you should plaster it all over this site. But you'd rather complain....and then complain again that nobody responds to your complaints.

King said...

re the publishing industry.
Again, you're speaking nonsense, Joyce.
Does Morgan Entrekin matter in the publishing industry? Any influence? What do you think? Or the many other publishers and editors who've been involved with Paris Review and take their cues from it and a couple other literary magazines like it?
I'm talking about literature-- not talking head political books. Our campaign is aimed at literature. If you truly think it has no value, abandon it. The fact is that literature has enormous value; always has, always will. (Which is incidentally why the CIA invested enormously in it.) Anyone who says different is conning you.

King said...

But "Grace"-- shouldn't YOU be making art right now? You don't see me posting on your blog. Yet here you are assiduously on mine.
Right now this blog IS my art. Ideas and revelations you won't find anywhere else-- which I suppose is why you're here.

King said...

Re pigeons: You seem to be floundering, "Grace," or your sophistry is getting more transparent. Don't you get it? The ULA is grass roots and down-to-earth. No snobs in our outfit. We're not too good for anybody. If you can't recognize that as a strength you're truly lost; beyond hope.
We'll read anywhere, spreading the word.
February 25th it'll be at an actual venue!
The day after it'll be somewhere else. Our kind are all over the place. We're omnipresent.

jimmy grace said...

I can't make art at a stupid dayjob. (what do you do all day, exactly?) Someday I hope to make enough money to make art all day, and then I'll spend less time ranting online. In the meantime, my CIA check hasn't come, so I work.

Not too proud to read for pigeons, Christ, I don't even know what to do with that.

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

To "Joyce." Again, you're speaking nonsense. The opinion makers in the mainstream print media are a relatively small number of people, as you say, yet they have enormous reach, leverage, influence.

There is no monolithic mainstream "Print Media" The American Conservative, The New York Times, The Nation, Newsweek, are quite varied and different. Americans aren't stupid, at least by birth some choose to be, people gravitate towards what they want and the print media exists to serve the American Public.

Literature IS important because what there is of an intellectual community in this country avidly follows it. The editors and readers of The New Republic, for instance.

SOME intellectuals. I've seen no evidence suggesting most intellectuals waste their time on literature. Politics, Economics/Business, Science, Psychology, Social Sciences, Public Health, etc are all fields where intellectuals flock and have influence to varying degrees. Very few people (relative to population) read fiction, and even fewer amounts read litfic. There are no ideas being put forth in literary fiction that affect society. It is no different than millionaires hanging out with each other and having conversation. Now with magazines that actually engage in politics such as the National Review or those mags with smaller circulation, we can see an effect, slightly. This is because they typically hang out with power players in Washington. Higher-Ups in the Federal Government are not hanging out with Dave Eggers and the mostly liberal writers that populate literary fiction (with the exception of Tom Woolfe I can't name a single conservative literary writer that moves units).

Do I really have to bring up the example of the neo-cons, a relative handful of writers grouped around two or three small circulation magazines. Their influence on the politics and even the culture of this society has been enormous.

1. The Neo-Cons are not FICTION writers, they are involved in something relevant: Politics.

2. They became part of the Bush Administration. They were no about seeking to appeal to millions of people in the name of revolution. This has been the case from time immemorial. Intellectuals inform policy. Every Presidential administration has economists to help inform them on policy. Economists publish in peer-reveiwed journals which are for them, however they also seek government jobs.

There is a difference between obscure literary journals and obscure journals populated with people seeking government jobs. Just as there is a difference between the New England Journal of Medicine and Paris Review. The NEJM is where the latest in peer reviewed studies can be found. Fiction is a hobby.

King said...

"There are no ideas being put forth in literary fiction. . . ."
Duh! you're making my case for me, Joyce, in arguing that literature once again needs to be relevant. Dickens, Hugo, Zola, London, Norris, Dreiser, Steinbeck-- do I really need to once again go through the names?
Instead of relevant fiction and poetry ("Thou Shalt Not Kill" by Rexroth) we get homogenized "well-crafted" nothingness; MFA "literary" stories and poems so generic and solipsistic they're interchangeable.
Give people fiction and poetry with life and blood to it and people will read it.
In the meantime, I suggest you read Norris's essays on art. He makes the case for strong writing better than I could.

King said...

p.s. "Joyce" is by temperament and training a Negativist. He has no hope in the possibilities of his own profession. To any argument made to him he'll sniff, "It can't be done!" His like has been found throughout history clogging the road of renewal and progress.
"People read? Why, I don't think so. The statistics are against it. I tell you, old chap, it can't be done! Indubitably not!"
Comfortably placed in his armchair, like a barely animate plant; filling his pipe before returning to his newspaper, as he sits at the Club, fretting over noisemakers outside the thick walls whose antics are disturbing his peace and quiet.
A Relic.
A dust-covered dinosaur whose existence might be explained by a time warp, but it seems he's been in that chair all along.

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

Dickens, Hugo, Zola, London, Norris, Dreiser, Steinbeck-- do I really need to once again go through the names?

Once again, all from the past. This is like saying "Religion needs a new innovative thinker like Augustine." Certain historical factors are always at play. There was no television, and leisure time was less diverse. Not to mention most on your list wrote for money and were closer in spirit to today's mid-list commercial writers. You aren't arguing for artistic integrity as much as you are arguing for a new commercial movement. I.E MONEY.

Dickens wrote long novels because he got paid by the word. He was a professional writer. He wouldn't have much impact today because one doesn't have to turn to fiction to know their are ghettos.

Really, I think you are about an hour away from equating starting a religion in 2007 with standards and styles from the year 1 B.C.

BTW, there is a reason Dreiser and Steinbeck are little read. Tastes have changed. The only reason why their names are mentioned is because they belong to academic curriculums.

2007 is not the 19th century. 2007 is not 1930.

Folk songs are not Rock N Roll

The theater is not Hollywood

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

p.s. "Joyce" is by temperament and training a Negativist. He has no hope in the possibilities of his own profession. To any argument made to him he'll sniff, "It can't be done!" His like has been found throughout history clogging the road of renewal and progress.

I'm not a negative. I prefer rationality over emotion and realism over fantasy. I don't care for revolution as this is art not government. The idea is to connect with readers, and there are all types of readers. I do not erotica or romance, but there are millions who read it. I don't care to be accepted, I do my thing and let others do theirs.

The publishing industry needs to catch up with the times, but I understand that it is a business. Utopianism is dead, because it killed so much where it rears its head.

I write middle of the road literary fiction, set in urban areas, featuring characters fighting to be individualistic when an overbearing society seeks for them to conform in a sundry of ways. Death, death and more death in my work. Not exactly the most marketable of works being produced. I don't complain about not being accepted by most lit mags, because I don't have appeal to their readers, hence it doesn't make sense to be published there. I find most of the writing to be sterile crap, but clearly there is a small demand for it. I have more fun with commercial fiction anyway and exhaust myself mostly on classics (Finnegans Wake is a lifetime project)

King said...

"Not, not, not, not. Can't be done. Don't attempt it. Go back. Go back!"
God, you're depressing. I'm glad I don't have you on my team. Whatever the business, whatever the endeavor, whatever the art, people like you are death. The eternal pessimist.
Excitement comes with taking the plunge-- with daring to change an art form.
It takes faith in humanity, which I have. It takes belief in the power of literature-- the greatest force in human history. The power of words to stir the soul!
There was no reason for me to love Dostoevsky, when I was reading books in a railyard twenty years ago. An entire other time period; different culture. But I did. Great literature is universal, if it's good.
"Harumph! Not, not, not, not!"
The Relic has spoken.

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

"Not, not, not, not. Can't be done. Don't attempt it. Go back. Go back!"

I didn't say that. I'm simply being realistic. As an artist, as long as one is not engaging in violence or theft, I am not one to attempt to actively deny someone in such a manner.

God, you're depressing. I'm glad I don't have you on my team. Whatever the business, whatever the endeavor, whatever the art, people like you are death. The eternal pessimist.

Realism is not pessimism. Timeless art is rarely produced by the cheerful anyway. Those hoping for some grand unifying movement always end up fighting a losing cause, because such things are unnatural in art. Even movements such as Modernism which remained viable was able to do so as a reaction against mass society. Art cannot appeal to the masses (i.e. commercialism) and attempt to be authentic in the same breath. Dickens barely makes the cut, but he wrote for the literate, i.e. mostly middle classes.

Excitement comes with taking the plunge-- with daring to change an art form.

This is not film. Literature is a solitary art, in creation and enjoyment, hence the beauty of it. I like film, but even there indy movements are typically enjoyed by an intellectual crowd (I write screenplays too, which is I make a lot of Hollywood references).

It takes faith in humanity, which I have. It takes belief in the power of literature-- the greatest force in human history.

Faith in humanity? Talk about the death of art. Literature is not the greatest force in human history. Forces simply used the written word in the past. Religion and Politics are the most potent and powerful forces. Some may say the Bible is fiction (not me). People wern't even literate for most of history which pretty much cancels it out as a potent force.

I like Bukowski, but the last thing he had was faith in humanity, hence his appeal.

There was no reason for me to love Dostoevsky, when I was reading books in a railyard twenty years ago. An entire other time period; different culture. But I did. Great literature is universal, if it's good.
"Harumph! Not, not, not, not!"
The Relic has spoken.


Do you know that Dostoevsky would be identified as litfic today? He did not write for the masses, was hella pessimistic, and highbrow. See Tolstoy's What is art?"for the criticism of Dostoevsky as obscure and geared towards the elites.

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

Edit: which is whyI make a lot of Hollywood references).

ULA said...

Grace,

We do have ULA writing plastered all over the place. Go to the main page and click on "Literary Adventures." That's where we plaster it. Karl's blog, obviously is for a different purpose.

Best,

Pat King

Victor Schwartzman said...

Jimmy: re art and the day job. The only way I was able to afford writing full time was to be off work on medical leave for half a year, due to high blood pressure. You should try disease sometime as a writing aid, at least if you have a day job with benefits. In the meantime, it is truly fabulous that you have a day job which allows you to read and post on blogs all day long. You gotta admit that is very unusual.

And "James Joyce"...why is it that you have so much time to post very lengthy comments on Karl's blog, but no time at all to post a single comment on your own blog? Inquiring minds would like to know.

And, "James", you are so wrong about who reads what etc., I don't know where to start. You appear to be a pretty hardcore elitest in both your literary tastes, and your opinion of anyone else who reads. You may want to not simply look at sales for mainstream novels, which is all you seem to do. Look at sales for magazines, for zines, and statistics for online reading. This blog, for example.

I would agree that The Paris Review is generally irrelevant. So is most "literary" fiction. However, it has symbolic importance. Grant money goes to it. "Prestige" goes to it. Lines of copy go to it. What should be symbolic in our literature is not The Paris Review but Cometbus. What should be symbolic in our literature is not naval gazing poetry but Todd Moore's stuff.

I find it interesting, "James Joyce", that you have chosen that as a pseudonym. "James Joyce" is one of those novelists people say they read, but don't. That's because Ulysses and some of his other works are, if the horrible truth be told, almost unreadable. In that sense, Joyce is a key example of elitest art that means little to most people, but is pushed by those favouring "literary fiction" because it is all style and little content. Is this heresy? For some yes.

Judging by what you have written on this blog, "James Joyce", I don't think you actually do write fiction. You have so little use for it.

Personally I would never agree literature is not important, and that literature can not change the world. It has before. have you really read Zola or Steinbeck? The problem is that the mainstream publishers today are not really interested in changing the world, just selling to it.

I have a lot more respect for "Jimmy Grace", whoever he is. He does not pontificate, he's pretty direct, whether you agree with him or not. But you, "James Joyce", strike me as all pose and no substance.

As for most of the comments taking up space on this blog, coming from two or three people, I suggest Karl establish a thread called "Endless arguments about the same topic." My Dad and Uncles Max and Benny would love to join (if they were still alive). They were all communists, and loved to talk anyone to death. Of course, all the talk distracted them from accomplishing anything....

Got the message, "James"?

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

And "James Joyce"...why is it that you have so much time to post very lengthy comments on Karl's blog, but no time at all to post a single comment on your own blog? Inquiring minds would like to know.

I don't have a blog. I believe blogger.com assigns one when one signs up for an account, at least I couldn't figure out how to sign up without it giving me one. I do not post to my own blog. I do write full-time though.

And, "James", you are so wrong about who reads what etc., I don't know where to start. You appear to be a pretty hardcore elitest in both your literary tastes, and your opinion of anyone else who reads. .

I'm not elitist just realist.

You may want to not simply look at sales for mainstream novels, which is all you seem to do. Look at sales for magazines, for zines, and statistics for online reading. This blog, for example

If the stats are good why the hubub about being accepted by another niche?

I would agree that The Paris Review is generally irrelevant. So is most "literary" fiction. However, it has symbolic importance. Grant money goes to it. "Prestige" goes to it. Lines of copy go to it. What should be symbolic in our literature is not The Paris Review but Cometbus. What should be symbolic in our literature is not naval gazing poetry but Todd Moore's stuff.

Grant money goes to it, because rich people want it. I don't expect a commie rag or KKK weekly to do as well, because it isn't to thier sensibilities. It isn't their fault that the rich tend to support their art more than the "working class" There are a handful of journals, mostly leftist, dedicated to "social" art, and they perform poorly. They mag other lit journal circulations look herculean.

I find it interesting, "James Joyce", that you have chosen that as a pseudonym. "James Joyce" is one of those novelists people say they read, but don't. That's because Ulysses and some of his other works are, if the horrible truth be told, almost unreadable. In that sense, Joyce is a key example of elitest art that means little to most people, but is pushed by those favouring "literary fiction" because it is all style and little content. Is this heresy? For some yes.

James Joyce requires effort. Joyce is packed with content, a man doesn't spend 10 years on a book (Portrait of the Artist) 10 years on another (Ulysses) and 17 years on his final one (Finnegans Wake) unless he is dedicated.

Some of the modernists were elitists, but you can't paint them into a corner. Virginia Woolf's comments about James Joyce were in a similar vain, they were too working class for her tastes. James Joyce can be called elitist, but he was one that dedicated his life to his art and he died poor. Some people who are into good literature don't like him. I happen to like Nabokov and Joyce after the effort. I've put effort into great books that I didn't connect with. Nothing wrong with lovers of literary fiction disagreeing. It is not film, it is private.

Judging by what you have written on this blog, "James Joyce", I don't think you actually do write fiction. You have so little use for it.


I write it, but I don't pretend as if it will start a revolution. I wouldn't want it to anyway. I write about the human condition as expressed through individualism and alienation. I loathe groups and cults of any stripe.

Personally I would never agree literature is not important, and that literature can not change the world. It has before. have you really read Zola or Steinbeck? The problem is that the mainstream publishers today are not really interested in changing the world, just selling to it.

FICTION does not change the world. Zola did not change the world, he engaged in real life political activities. Steinbeck did not change the world, and is read mostly by High School students. Steinbeck's fiction is seen as it was, cloying garbage, but it had some appeal during its time like a lot of midlist fiction. He set a stage, but every era offers up a writer who wrote evocative portraits.

Now "The Jungle" was a book that had an affect, but not because it detailed the "plight" of the working class. It had an effect because people don't like their food being prepared in unsanitary conditions. And of course Upton Sinclair was a politician. Not just an artist.

Politics can change things. Economics education can too. The social sciences, health industries these are people that are changing the world. I have no illusions about that. People don't need fiction to survive, despite the cliche romantic notions that pervade narcissistic writers.

I have a lot more respect for "Jimmy Grace", whoever he is. He does not pontificate, he's pretty direct, whether you agree with him or not. But you, "James Joyce", strike me as all pose and no substance.

I respect Jimmy too. He is an artist doing his thing and has a realist worldview.

fdw said...

The real is a fantasy concoct by rationalists who have issues with things as they are.
things are they are are not beliefs niether are they not not beliefs, ditto with ideas and especially rationalizations.
To equivocate fantasy (a limited process of diminishing emotional/ mental complexes to satisfy a psychic motive)with realism (a phenomenological effect upon perception). Two unlike kinds of concepts. They are not even in the same domain of discussion!
There is supra- realism if you put two and two together and can creatively intuit the order of the operation.
Reason trumps rationality. Rationality excuses the most horiible violence and the most pathetic submission.
Prefer Imagination to fantasy and both to "reality" as the imagination both underlies and supercedes the real at the same time. The same time is timeless!
When money has "real" value. ie. the currency of exchange appends a culture of/ with virtue, worth monetary and otherwise is given virtue and vision. There the social prophet/oracle, the literary art among the others (the creative as product not commodity) value to that society is reflected by the price the PEOPLE are willing to pay to share in the work which is in itself the sharing by the producer/artist of the creative overflow. In other words all art but especially literature is rooted and caused by social connection. Nothing has any meaning if the artist is not coindependent with the people of his/her culture. The meaning is with the people. The signifcance is with the writer. This is the way things are on this account though those days of the above situation are apparently over.
"All things are amoving, changing sage Heraclitus sez but a tawdry cheapness shall outlive our days." That's what you'll find at the heart of the rationality of these educated but mis- understanding spooks: Social nihilism and relativism. They don't like other people.
Negativism, nihilism, cooption!

King said...

Interesting comments here.
"Joyce" is not a realist so much as a rationalizer. He can come up with endless rationales for remaining in his armchair.
Can fiction move people? It's certainly moved me! The great works of the past gave my life meaning when I encountered them. Dickens, Hugo, Tolstoy, London, Steinbeck (who holds up well in most of his work because he usually wasn't pretentious) and so on.
A story I've told before: in 1998 I took a job managing a broker office in the import/export game along Detroit's riverfront. Tough office in a tough setting. Most of my employees were ghetto types-- east-side Detroit ghetto, which means toughest on the planet, with possible exception of Baghdad. (My brightest but also unruliest worker, Jakayla, carried a small pistol in her purse.)
This was a 24-hour office with low productivity. I knew from personal experience that workers manning the off shifts tend to goof off. One of the first things I did was go through drawers and hiding places throwing out all books and newspapers.
To my surprise, I found Dickens's "Tale of Two Cities."
WHO possibly of my crew could be reading that? (No college students among their number; most had barely passed high school.)
I read it myself-- manning an off shift because I'd fired someone for being having a whiskey bottle in his pocket. I was amazed at its excitement. But who was reading it?
It turned out to be a guy on the night shift.
Before I left I turned the office into number two most efficient of more than twenty at that border crossing. My workers' potential turned into reality. My biggest (only?) real accomplishment in life.
Oh, I have a lot of faith in humanity. It comes from personal experience-- not just my own life but the lives of people I encountered. Only a snob could believe that people even on the lowest levels of society aren't capable of enjoying real literature. To the snobs, I suppose, these AREN'T people, though in reality, Joyce-- your "reality"-- they're no different than you or me.
(I had to be intellectually humbled a few times to realize this-- such as when I belonged to an inner city chess club and was only the fourth or fifth best member of the team. Went to one tournament!)
What do I do now? I'm a telemarketer, which leaves me free to set my own hours. This is the slack part of the season-- not a lot of sales available.

King said...

Btw, the ULA site (www.literaryrevolution.com) and this blog don't have a huge number of readers, but they're quality.
A recent look at on-line writing, in a long article on the Guardian's blog, referenced three main lit groups "across the Atlantic." The ULA was one of them.
I guess someone is reading us!

jimmy grace said...

Oh, so you attract quality rather than quantity.
Nope, that's not elitist.

fdw said...

Hey, "Dimmy Grease", howz it hang'n'.
Speaking of which "it's not so much how deep ya fish, but more so how ya wiggle da worm!"