Tuesday, May 27, 2008


The biggest miscalculation I made when plotting the original ULA strategy was assuming that established literati, as writers, had consciences. I assumed the justness of our grievance would be universally recognized; that those who pay lip service to democracy and foul play would help us institute democracy in literature in reality. I assumed that our first target would return the ill-gotten grant we protested against, and apologize. Surely no one of his station could be that obstinate, that greedy, that selfish. We sought to remind him and his friends that they're part of a community of citizens, a community of writers which includes others beyond their own privileged clique-- that they had an obligation as members of that community to not always take all resources for themselves; they who least needed those resources.

He was that obstinate. His crowd was that selfish, and closed ranks in support of the wrongdoer. They dismissed the idea of community. They've been the alienators, not anyone on our side.

I've sought redress of grievances-- to force our literature, our America, to live up to its ideals. To open up the decision-making to all levels of society, and to ensure that resources set aside to remedy inequalities, not be stolen first by those who already receive more than equal treatment.

Literary rebels in this society have nothing to lose. Who cares who we alienate when they're alienated to us anyway!-- when in their circles of snobbery they've been alienated to our kind of writer from the very beginning?

Ever read Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Lodging for the Night''-- his take on medieval poet Francois Villon? The encounter at the end between the cold and hungry poet, and the old "noble," is the dynamic we face today.

The Rebellion has nothing; no status and no resources, existing penniless in the cold, yet at the same time it has everything on its side; the hunger and energy of the new-- while the other side, the old order of literature, exists in a holding pattern, marching nowhere, clinging to its exclusiveness inside boundaries of its own making.


Carl Hess said...

I'm so sorry that we're partial namesakes, because I find you and your incessant whining to be infuriatingly self-interested; hypocritical self-interest that parades in the well-worn guise of radical change. How dare you suggest that you and your group of literary hooligans should be given a place at the table next to the commercial and critical titans of the day. You've completely missed the point. Why would you insist on belonging to this club? The true revolutionary spirit is nourished by blood -- not by a comfy seat on the PEN board. I've been writing and publishing since the early 60s. I was apprentice to Jack Green. I assume you've heard of him with all your prattle constantly rabbeting on about blogging and zines. He was a real revolutionary. He gave everything up to speak the truth. He wouldn't have accepted a seat on PEN's board. He would have broken the chair over their pointy heads.

King said...

Never heard of him, and I can't see he accomplished anything if the domination of monopolistic media has only strengthened since his time.
What would make me a "real" revolutionary? gett6ing shot down in the street? THAT would accomplish many things!
FYI: Our rebellion began as a lobbying campaign. We are giving the literary establishment the option of reforming itself-- or face constant attacks, which I'm usually castigated for doing-- including by undergrounders. Nice to know I'm not doing enough! That will strengthen me with the underground, as I've usually been pushing us to do more.
I don't think any lit group has ever done the kind of in-your-face demonstrations that we have-- though I could be mistaken. We've pushed the envelope as far as we can, for a group of people who in the final analysis have no power.
What's our objective? Having representatives of our p-o-v has always been one of our objectives.
There are ample examples of this, by revolutionaries, throughout history-- Emilio Zapata being a notable example.
Obviously, if there were real democracy in this realm we're dealing in, there would be no need for the noise of our revolution.
Giving up power-- or sharing it-- is the mark of success for any revolutionary activity; whether the inclusion of political parties in Russia in 1917, or with our own American Revolution, which wouldn't have occurred if the colonists had been given a real voice.
This is what we've been pushing for.
There is no missing the point. Having a voice in a supposedly democratic society IS the point, my man-- so we can balance the decisons of the plutocrats you mention. I don't see them pushing themselves away from any tables, or declining a say, as you apparently are asking me to do.
Self-interest? I've hardly been following my "self-interest." This campaign has cost me in that regard, I think. Where are my many publications, perks, and payoffs?
(FYI: the "comfy" seat on the PEN board offers no compensation-- but would give us a voice as to what policies are pursued by that allegedly activist organization.)
What objectives, in your opinion, SHOULD we have?
How do you propose we go about attaining them?
I'm certainly open to suggestions, as our others in our various camps.

King said...

Re Jack Green. What I can find of him is that he was a 30's activist. Kudos to him. I have nothing against his kind of activity. I've been a union member, and a steward, in a past life. (My father was involved as a worker in UAW strikes here in Detroit, many years ago, in another time.)
This isn't the 1930's. Before poeple can be aroused to do anything, there needs to be an entire sea-change in public attitudes. This, to my mind, can be done only through seizing or changing the media.
In 1995 I witnessed first-hand the, yes, bloody Detroit newspaper strike. (I was bartending at a pro-union bar at the time.) The coverage by the monopolistic media was completely biased-- the real story never made the media, and so what had been a great tool for labor in past days could never be utilized to create public outrage.
The public, in fact, since the 80's, has been bombarded with propaganda from the other side.
I'm making my own noise in my own way. Sorry if it bothers you-- but at least I'm doing something, and will continue to.
Have a good day.

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