Monday, March 03, 2008

"The 300"

No, not the 300 Spartans. Anything but. I'm referring to the ULA's original Protest back in 2001. Remember it? We advocated against a large grant of money from a tax-shelter foundation to a very rich writer. The Protest had been signed by 40 zeensters. We mailed it to 300 prominent literary people, including the biggest names in the bizness-- Mailer, Updike, Sontag, and the like. 300 names. Not one signed it-- though many of them talked about it afterward at parties, as "Page Six" verified.

300 sterling names! Not a single example of conscience or backbone among them.

Is it any wonder I have no respect for these people?

I was actually surprised. I hadn't realized things were so bad. I was reminded of the first time I saw "The Hustler" on TV as a kid. At the end, the Paul Newman character is blackballed, and Minnesota Fats-- the great pool shark Minnesota Fats-- sits there submissively and does not intervene. Surprising. It was the first indication to me that something is more powerful than fame or talent; something lurking behind the scenes. Such is it with the literary industry.

The John Updikes of literature are mere show; the play of marionettes, pretending to speak with authority. With "authority"! The Great John Updike! Yet he has no authority at all. After all, he and others like him are merely puppets dancing across a stage; wooden-headed concoctions with no independence or integrity, and mean nothing.

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