Monday, April 07, 2008

Truths

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.

19 comments:

BradyDale said...

I agree with all of this, except I still struggle with this: what about making people feel bad? I am often most dishonest with other creative people that I know and like perfectly well, but don't think much of their work.

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought... though it's kind of out of left field... what about provoking change, or even a "revolution," by WRITING WELL rather than adopting paranoid modes of thought and advancing cartoonish conspiracy theories?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

Hey, it's me: Other Anonymous. How are you? I guess you already know the answer to your question. Paranoid modes are the only modes available, since functional literacy is apparently out of the question. Just take a look at the current post: "Our integrity is our strongest weapon. It can't be comprised." Surely Wenclas means “compromised”—the same way that dimwit Walsh says “penultimate” when he means “ultimate.” The presence of "integrity" is the tip-off. Examples of idiomatic usage—or clich√©—ready to hand are: “Job's wife is clearly admonishing Job to compromise his integrity and curse God in order to insure a quick death.” “Sgt. Benderman was given 15 months confinement for refusing to compromise his integrity.” As for what can or cannot be comprised: the whole comprises the parts; the parts compose the whole. "The Soviet Union comprised several socialist republics.” And, if anyone's still reading, penultimate means the last but one, the second to last: if there are ten items, the ninth is the penultimate. Walsh seems to think penultimate is the superlative of “ultimate”: ultimate, ultimater, ultimatest, penultimate! Think about it, man: Karl Wenclas has got to be forty-some-odd years old. He isn't going to get any more skillful than he already is. There's no hope. Cartoonish conspiracy theories are all he has left. The real question is: what the hell are we doing online poking sharp sticks into this fellow's cage? Don't we have something better to do?

Yours,
Other Anonymous

King said...

This boring academic example of linguistic hair-splitting is of course an example of why the literary revolution is necessary.
It also shows A.) the anal personality of the standard literary pod/demi-puppet; B.) an example of "Crimethink," in that all contrary opinions are labelled as "paranoia" and intellectually shut out.
Why are you here? Because you're receiving dissenting notions which you'll not receive from the established "mainstream." You can continue reading, thereby opening your closed mind a trifle to the prospect of opposing opinions, or you can close off yourself altogether, and regress like a thumbsucker into the safe and comforting. Your choice.
p.s. Thanks for pointing out my typo. I am running five blogs at once, you know. The occasional mistake will occur!

King said...

p.s. The constant mantra about "writing well" is much like the complaining that took place when roots music began to come to the fore in the early 1950's. Buddy Rich's classic statement about Elvis and his combo's first appearance on the Dorsey Show: "These guys can't even play their instruments!"
But who represented the future of the art form? Who revived it with the American public, so that right now it's probably the most dominant of all popular arts?
What Elvis and those like him offered was authentic emotion, not yet studio processed into slick artificiality (this would come, corrected over the years by attempts to get back to the roots, as with punk). Early Elvis represented the sound of America itself, as did Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Carl Perkins, and so many others originally scorned or ignored but now lauded everywhere. They initiated a musical revolution and in so doing reinvigorated the art-- and American culture itself.
After all, what does "writing well" mean? Does it mean following endless arbitrary rules? (Which Will Shakespeare more than anyone completely rejected in his own work.) Or does it not mean COMMUNICATING, in a visceral way, with the reader? Moving that person, stimulating him emotionally and intellectually, with rhetoric, polemics, pathos, madness-- by any means necessary?
To crawl into a corner of refinement is to admit literature's defeat. It's an act of surrender. The underground rebellion was begun by zeensters who in the 90's were doing the opposite-- we were taking our words directly to the public, reaching folks who'd not been reading anything at all. The trick now is to bring this literary revolution to everyone.
The various strands of this movement, whether the ULA, OW, Brady & Co., or myself, represent differing approaches to doing exactly that. It's a sign of the movement's health. We're burbling with activity-- yes, often fighting among ourselves-- but unlike so much of the established lit world our scene is very much ALIVE, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Elvis may have played his instrument differently, but he attracted an audience. The ULA has had years of publicity. How many people show up at your events? In the photos it looks like a handful of your friends.

Roody McDoody said...

Anon2: According to USSearch.com the King (Wenc, not Pres) is 53.

Old enough for AARP.

Even for reduced tix at some theaters.

Eight years younger than Hem when he signed off.

But that won't be the King's end. No siree.

Wal-Mart greeter. That's what's my money's on.

Rex Beach wept.

Anonymous said...

Karl Wenclas asks: What do you mean by writing well?
Well, if you gotta ask you'll never know. You and your rabblement of lemmings have not gone unpublished because a cartoonish conspiracy, because you're too innovative. You're not the victim of censorship, but of editorial judgment. I know this because I've bothered to read the work, and sadly that time is now lost to me forever.
Again, Karl Wenclas, "King," if you want to provoke change, try writing well rather than advancing cartoonish conspiracy theories.

Anonymous said...

"After all, what does 'writing well' mean? Does it mean following endless arbitrary rules? (Which Will Shakespeare more than anyone completely rejected in his own work.) Or does it not mean COMMUNICATING, in a visceral way, with the reader?" -- Karl Wenclas.

Shakespeare died at age 52. He left us, oh, I don't know, let's say his eighteenth sonnet.

And Karl Wenclas is apparently 53. Two weeks ago, on another blog, "Happy America Literature," he had this to offer:

"Suburban Ghetto

A POEM
I'm a hip-hoppin brat from suburban ghet-to
readin my poems even tho' they do blow
Want the motherfuckin' pimp-daddy pose and show,
hip-hoppin brat, suburban ghetto

I take my models from what I see
cartoon characters on my TV!
just like them is what I wanna be,
hip-hoppin brat, suburban ghetto

Want to trash the city and burn the 'hood
wanna be BAD, don't wanna be good,
as long as it's not my Daddy's neighborhood!
hip-hoppin brat, suburban ghetto

I spent my summer in Paris, France
smoked cigarettes, did disco dance
fucked all night when I got the chance,
hip-hoppin brat, suburban ghetto

Now I'm back in the USA,
readin my poetry night and day
Daddy's credit cards payin' the way!
For a hip-hoppin brat from suburban ghet-to."

http://happyamericaliterature.blogspot.com/2008/03/suburban-ghetto.html

This is the work of a fifty-three-year-old man?
La commedia è finita.

BradyDale said...

...and yet you all keep dropping by. anonymously, of course.

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Yes, what a lot of attacks-- ad hominen, personal, but scarcely addressing my points.
All anonymous, as Brady points out.
Certainly no one who's interested in my theme of integrity.
Wal-mart greeter? I've done worse.
Someone asked how someone like me knows about the rich. For one, because like so many Americans I've served them over the years in one capacity or other.
Just as prisoners in cells study their jailers-- or slaves study their masters-- I've studied, over the years, well, YOU.
I know this society better than any of you could, because I've worked through every part of it-- in its very bowels, in monstrous factories, on docks and in railyards. And in servile roles on occasion where I've encountered the very rich.
I've never stopped learning. . . .
Not skillfull enough? Wait a bit.
Meanwhile, what's "writing well"?
Writing like the standard pods being cranked out by writing programs-- the kind of writing which has failed literature?
Is writing well regurgitating your training, like Anon #2? He can give us the dictionary definition of "comprise" and "penultimate." Imagine the studious boy in front of the room, teacher beaming. We can be proud for him.
Well done.

King said...

p.s. Apparently according to the System's records-- who am I to doubt them?-- I've outlived the likes of Shakespeare, not to mention Raymond Carver, who played by the rules with the Overdogs yet was still abused by them. I must not be doing everything wrong. If nothing else, I'm a survivor; have lived a fairly tough life over the years yet I'm still around, a mad dog with a few kicks yet to get in against the world before I depart.
p.p.s. I'm reading a book sent me about the daughter of Marie Antoinette. The book is getting a huge push by NY Overdogs. Needless to say, it takes the aristocratic viewpoint.
Noteworthy is how the author can't understand the hatred of the populace for the aristocrats. Can't grasp it at all.
Yet I can. Figure that one out.
Could it be that the "common" people saw the posing of the privileged, at a time the state was bankrupt (parallels anyone?) as reprehensible?
What do you think?
What do you think my unedited opinion is of the demi-puppets? Care to guess? Those of absolutely no talent themselves, who only know how to repeat what's already been done, who defend the ancien regime with every blow of their silk handkerchiefs and close themselves off to anything different or new?
Would I ever care to become one of them?
Never!
I've had my disagreements with undergrounders-- such as poet Walsh, who knows more about the play of language than a hundred Louise Glucks-- but I'd take any undergrounder any day over the anonymous cowards who we see dropping onto this blog.
We await the deluge.
Have a great day!

Pat King said...

Yes,and of course the anonymous poster has also sampled the actual work of struggling underground artists and found it to be sub-standard.

I wonder where he was reading? They never mention where they read this stuff.

Even when Karl and I or whoever else really was disagreeing on, the one area of common ground was always that the work was important and worth supporting.

Here's a short list of authors to google. Ya'll might learn something:

1. Wred Fright
2. Leopold McGinnis
3. Jessica Wilber
4. Bruce Hodder
5. Cicily Janus
6. Emerson Dameron
7. Carl Robinson
8. Jen Michalski
9. John Dorsey
10. J.D. Nelson

Anonymous said...

"Yes, what a lot of attacks-- ad hominen, personal, but scarcely addressing my points.
All anonymous, as Brady points out. Certainly no one who's interested in my theme of integrity." Karl Wenclas.

Addressing what points? If I concede that America is bloodthirsty, wealth-worshipping, corrupt to its core, and in general plagued by comprehensive injustices, what will you concede in return?

-- that you have an odd Mantovani fixation?

“In the cloistered world of Literature it's the latest thing. ‘That Mantovani sure does rock.’ Refined stiffs snapping their fingers to Tony Bennett or Harry Connick.” Karl Wenclas, 6/13/06.

“If you compared Moody to musicians during Rock's early years, it'd be to slick corporate popular musicians of the era like Mantovani or Les Brown and his Band of Renown.” Karl Wenclas, 9/22/05.

“They're polished music critics discussing Mantovani while grubby pioneers beneath their recognition named Presley or Berry or Holly or Dylan in smoky clubs or on tacky stages create the relevant music of the day.” Karl Wenclas, 2/22/06.

Maybe you can explain to your audience how Mantovani's name came to be your go-to execration of the dinner-jacket set. That might be interesting: What is your earliest memory of Mantovani?

And it's ad hominem, brother. But I guess that's just another typo. Do your enemies stand around speaking Latin the best they can manage and listening to Mantovani "at a fancy Manhattan bistro ... while sampling jumbo-sized shrimp and sipping from a flavored martini"? It all sounds very complicated.

King said...

It's very simple, really. You should be able to understand it. If you could get past your own arrogance, you would.
Rock was the biggest cultural phenomenon of the last half of the 20th century. I've looked at when it took off-- when the tipping point for roots music (which had been ignored for decades by the mainstream) happened. I've pegged it atound 1955.
What were people listening to then? What were the accepted musical values of the upper classes?
Well, Leonard Bernstein, sure.
But also, near as I can tell, Manovani-- who anyway makes a good metaphor for what I've been trying to convey-- drawing an analogy to the tame boozhie writing of our own day.
Sorry if the name throws you so much-- that you had to go to so much trouble searching for every use I've made of it.
By the way, which "anonymous" are you? How we tell the lot of you spineless people apart?
I'd like to give "you" full credit for catching a misspelling.
("Victory!" the demi-puppet proclaims. "A misspelling!")
Such anal corrections seem to be your greatest achievement.
Pods indeed!
(I guess literary pods would be anonymous, wouldn't they?)

King said...

p.s. One could add other names to the list. Lawrence Richette, certainly. James Nowlan, whose ULA book contains some powerful and striking writing. Wild Bill Blackolive, at his best, certainly. (William Olive to you, Pat!) Cynthia Ruth Lewis has written some kick-ass poetry.
Joe Pachinko, an original at prose and poetry both, but who like so many undergrounders, may be too far out there for pod people.

jimmy grace said...

If it's too far out there, why do you crave so much attention from the fatcats? I never get this about you. Just fuck 'em, and make your art and reach out to the underground community and get attention from people you respect.

No underground artist I know gives a fuck about NYC galleries. No underground poet I know gives a fuck about the New Yorker. No underground musician I know gives a fuck about Rolling Stone. And yet here you are, complaining about fancyass book parties. Why do you care?

Wealthy schoolboy authors will never care about underground writing. That's why it's called, duh, The Underground. Why do you get your ass all clenched up about the mainstream, if there's no way they're going to like the writing you like?
You think Cex or dj rupture sits around saying, Mariah Carey doesn't deserve her press?

pat king said...

Wiliam Olive. Heh. Touche. Yeah, those were all just off the top of my head. But I can't believe I forgot to include Bill.

King said...

To "Grace": The question is why you get all bunched up about this blog!
Sorry, but we all live within a context-- this society. I believe the Underground is good enough to get attention from everybody. I certainly played things the way you suggest for many years.
To move OUT of the zeen ghetto, however, other tactics are called for.