Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On James Linville

My communications over the last few years with former Paris Review editor James Linville have strengthened my belief in the Richard Cummings article. Mr. Linville sometimes appears to border on the unstable. He has a penchant for sending out hysterical e-mails (such as those sent to me and to a couple ULAers this weekend). If the New York Times deals with him for any length of time they'll realize this also. (I suspect they already have.)

It's James Linville who seems to lack any semblance of common sense. He has no perspective toward who myself and the ULA are, and what was important and newsworthy in the story we posted, and why we posted it. It's Linville who has behaved, since the Matthiessen story broke, like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off; bombarding people with scattershot e-mails; not even getting the names and roles straight of the ULAers to whom he's been sending them.

THE CONTEXT
The ULA has posted its "Monday Reports" with a belief in Thomas Jefferson's famous motto: put all ideas on the table and the truth will win out.

The ULA is not the New York Times. We don't have an army of paid fact-checkers. What the Underground Literary Alliance has been, through its history, is a mere handful of rabble-rousing truth seekers who work shitty low-pay jobs and pursue lit activities during stray moments of free time.

Unlike James Linville, I don't have the means to fly back and forth across the oceans to pursue this odd detail or that one. In truth, it's not what the ULA has been about.

THE OFFER
I notified James Linville before we ran the Richard Cummings article in 2005. J.L. refused to publicly deny Cummings's contentions, would not confirm or deny the central premise (which presumably he already knew to be true), and couldn't give me, and has never given me, a straight answer about anything. From Linville all has been vagueness and obfuscation.

As the piece ran on our site, I offered James Linville the opportunity to give us his response. He could've denied the essay, politely or with outrage. Linville could've attacked a particle of it or all of it, in as many words as he cared to utilize. For almost three years that offer has been open AND CONTINUES TO BE OPEN to James Linville. He has never sought to take advantage of it.

CREDIBILITY
If I've formed a question about the credibility of anyone in this affair, it's James Linville himself. Throughout he's behaved in ways cryptic and mysterious, acting-- bizarrely enough-- AS IF he were a secret agent; after the Matthiessen revelation flying back and forth from England on a moment's whim; arranging sudden consultations with Paris Review editors; behaving toward Richard Cummings-- whose essay, opinionated and foolhardy or not, was an act of bravery-- in a manner akin to stalking. Likely Linville isn't a "secret agent," but he sure enjoys playing one.

THE PROPOSED MEETING
Linville forwarded to me copies of many e-mails he sent Cummings, in which Linville was trying to arrange a meeting, alone, with Cummings, during which he wanted to "ask him one question." What the important and mysterious question was, and why he couldn't ask Cummings via e-mail, was not revealed. The request for a meeting was interspersed with bullying insults, attempts at intimidation. I'm sure I still retain copies of those e-mails. Cummings would've been crazy to meet the man.

THE PARIS REVIEW
Throughout, The Paris Review, to my knowledge, has never denied one iota of the substance of the Cummings article. Their current editor, in fact, has acknowledged the key point, saying this was "common knowledge" among the TPR staff. (Matthiessen's connection with the CIA was surely NOT common knowledge among the reading public.)

Several months AFTER the ULA ran the Cummings piece, I met with a representative of The Paris Review, Jonathan Dee, who wanted to interview me for a supposed book on George Plimpton. We met for lunch at McHale's in New York City. During the entirety of our taped conversation, Mr. Dee never once mentioned the Cummings matter. I eventually broached the subject myself, in a light-hearted way. He said nothing, did not seem to want to discuss the issue, so I moved on. Obviously, there was no apparent animus at that time toward me from the magazine, and no eagerness to question me or the ULA about what we were doing or saying regarding the CIA. They had pronounced uninterest in the story. So has it remained.

Many, many questions of course remain.

18 comments:

Patrick @ LitVision said...

If anyone cares to take a look, here are links to the archived Cummings Monday Report, and the NYT story from last year...

Richard Cummings May 2005 ULA Monday Report, Part One

Richard Cummings May 2005 ULA Monday Report, Part Two

January 2007 New York Times article

FDW said...

Funny and no doubt a coincidence Karl and I discussed me going up seeking out Matheisson and having me interview him for the ULA (he was "retired" to a Bhuddist Monastery (since I was and still am a "buddhist-- having taken refuge in the Triple Gem-- in Maine or was it Nova Scotia, not sure ),and no more than a day latter the Karl mentioned that these referred -to emails started coming and kept coming from Linville.
There were other less coincidental events related to the ULA having it would seem raised the issue of the CIA connection in 2006 and into 2007!

King said...

Many issues remain to be resolved in many areas-- including those I have with the ULA, which I don't plan to address until after a long break. I resolved a year ago not to waste any more of my time on senseless internal debates-- this latest bout was the last time.
It cost me at least a month of writing and activity.
Either undergrounders trust what I'm doing or what I ask or they don't-- if not, goodbye.
For now, I'm enjoying my break from the organization. . . .

jimmy grace said...

I know I'm nothing but an asshole in these parts, but can someone explain to me what exactly this issue is?

It seems to me that playboy rich kids went to France, started a magazine that ten intellectuals gave a fuck about, and hit their Yale buddies up in the CIA for extra cash by spying on commies. That's trash behavior but not exactly surprising.

You seem to be saying that this proves the CIA was controlling the Paris Review which was dominating literature. Is there any sign of this in the magazine? I've only read the thing a couple of times and found it stupid and boring. Is that serving CIA interests?

FDW said...

As it is mentioned in King's previous post
inquiring mind should also check out trianglation of Harold Humes in the ULA's Monday Report(4/23/07)
by GPSolomos, publisher of Zero Press (UK).

FDW said...

Gracelamb,
How convenient that you didn't mention you were embroiled in the long winded blowup on this Blog back last year when the whole skinny went down about the CIA being involved in literature during the cold war and were and still are involved in the suppression/ manipulation of underground literature and the contest for the public american mind.

jimmy grace said...

Embroiled? I remember that your Highness wrote a piece accusing me of being Steven Elliott, and said nasty things about his father, and then it turned out I wasn't Steven Elliott, and people quit. What that has to do with the CIA I have yet to understand.
The Paris Review publishes lame lit. Gotcha. The Paris Review guys got money from their pals in the CIA. Gotcha. That makes them assholes. Gotcha. But it makes the CIA controlling literature? Bullshit.

FDW said...

Your right I think from years of leafing thru it that, at least the poetry, was hynotically pretty bad. What I called in the 70's "flat toned".

I'm just mentioning the general period of time you're for one refering to-- what was going on all around you instead of you just looking thru the peephole at how felt you were at play in that time.
You and the readers should simply go back to the pertinent archives on King's blog and refresh your memories and the readers at least can make up their own minds.
While have alredy assumed the posture and furthermore as usual have already had yours made up for you.

jimmy grace said...

Last I heard there were going to be exciting updates...research was continuing...evidence was growing...

FDW said...

I'm just mentioning the general period of time you're for one refering to-- what was going on all around you instead of you just looking thru the peephole at how felt you were at play in that time.
You and the readers should simply go back to the pertinent archives on King's blog and refresh your memories and the readers at least can make up their own minds.
While have alredy assumed the posture and furthermore as usual have already had yours made up for you.

King said...

Well, first, we don't know who "Grace," is for sure, only that he's a phony. (I'd still make Mr. Elliott the leading candidate.)
I'll be discussing why those ULAers left. We've already looked on this blog at some of their own statements.
We actually have the opportunity to connect the dots on the entire question of whether the political ideology of firm Cold Warriors like Plimpton, Robert Silvers, Irving Kristol, et.al. affected editorial policy. My opinion is: Definitely!
Thanks to you, "Grace," and to Linville for introducing this topic again, because it's crucial.
I'll be showing on this blog and my other one that American literature took a wrong turn beginning circa 1950, and it happened for ideological reasons.
Stay tuned.

King said...

p.s. Back to the ULA:
I suspect that what I'll be negotiating is not my remaining but my departure, which I want to be on terms of amicability.
Not that I don't have great respect for writers like Frank-- and expect to continue working with such on a reciprocal basis-- but everything is telling me it's time to move on.
The ULA right now is a good fit for Frank and for the other leading members-- but it's no longer a good fit for me.
Part of it is the nature of the beast with a collective-- no one member can stand out too far without facing unconscious attempts to rein him in, back to the pack. I've subsumed myself for a long time for the good of the team.
I hope when the dust clears I'll continue to play a role as an informal advisor, but that will be up to the ULA.

FDW said...

Man o man! Karl are you tempting fate or what!

RBS said...

um, seems as if that elusive JL did respond. a little cryptic, but a couple of times...

http://themainpoint.blogspot.com/2007/03/paris-review-2.html

RBS said...

that said...

"Out of focus ideology/Keep the masses from majority/ Experts brainwashed, tumble dried/ Left to bleed whilst vultures glide."

-- "The Man Don't Give a Fuck"

FDW said...

"all things are amoving, achanging,
sage Heraclitus sez
but a tawdry cheapness shall out
live our days"

-- Pound

"with usura hath no man
a house of stone"

--Pound

FDW said...

“What’s happening in the world of the media is that the techniques of image mongering are being perverted to distract, divert, obfuscate, exactly the opposite of what the poet does—It’s kind of a battle of language that’s going on. This presents a real problem for the poet, because the poet—being the first enemy of the tyrant—is stuck with the task of unraveling this perversion of the use of language.”

-- Harold Hume


Well "stuck" makes sense and assigns the idea of, if so poweful as is claimed here and not only that that by the other operatives, poets are too hung up in what goes without out saying to turn their attention to the agecies of their own repression.
And it doesn't put food on the table unless they're mad cap academics.
Also didn't Timothy Leary also go over to the darkside?
Which Linville are we knocking around here by the way?
James or James Scott or both?

Thanks RBS and thanks for the good poetry besides! Whoever you are.

RBS said...

huh, looks like maybe after all. in any case there was something more on this-- Paris Review, Matthiessen, CIAKGB, etc... also the magazine's co-founder, Harold L. Humes, in the New York Times, a Book Review essay entitled "The Paranoiac and the Paris Review." Better add this to the links here.

Also PR's Linville's response, at themainpoint.blogspot... under the ULA label.

What do you say to THIS jimmygrace?!