THE COMMITMENT TO TRUTH
For an underground literary rebellion to succeed it has to be better than what it seeks to replace. This means better art, better performers, better ideas. Most of all it has to offer INTEGRITY-- an alternative to the lies and corruption of the established lit-scene.
As I've refused to accept falsehoods and non-accountability from the so-called mainstream, why would I accept them from the underground?
The most important component of the literary rebellion when it began in October 2000 was its search for truth; its commitment to truth. This was embodied in our initial protests against the grants-awarding process, and in many actions since, most notoriously with the Paris Review-CIA story.
Dedication to truth has two components.
1.) HEARING THE TRUTH.
This is difficult for anyone, myself not excepted. Established literature fails this test miserably, suffering from the "cognant dissonance" of bureaucracies; the refusal to hear unpleasant things. In the novel 1984, George Orwell used the term "Crimethink" for those truths which were unacceptable to people. "No, don't tell me! I don't want to hear! Stop saying that! Shut that person up, please!" One has to vigilantly fight this tendency. If the underground adopts this mind-closing behavior, then it's lost its fight.
2.) SPEAKING THE TRUTH.
The flip side of hearing it. You can't have one without the other. There has to be a willful struggle to speak honestly, and to be accountable for one's own statements. I never pushed a campaign I didn't ruthlessly believe in. To intentionally lie, to ignore contrary proofs or refuse to correct mistakes, to be unaccountable, has no place in a revolt whose foundation is integrity. Our integrity is our strongest weapon. It can't be compromised. If I've been inflexible on this point it's for a reason. A new movement, representing change, has to be built on a solid foundation.