Patricians vs. Plebians Cont.
The Overdogs have called their posts here a "bloodbath." They've stormed onto this blog while simultaneously a Petition blog I attempted to set up has been frozen. The sound you hear in the background is the patricians high-fiving themselves at the mansion.
Their actions work on several levels. The millionaires need to justify themselves to themselves. They need to defuse my arguments. They hope to discourage me or shut me up. Part of their thinking is to use me as example; as warning to other underground writers who might be tempted to call them on their machinations. The dissenter strung up.
What they really show is the reactionary mindset behind this country's literary aristocracy centered in New York. They control enough key intellectual centers of the literary apparatus, like PEN, to keep their influence dominant. As PEN's President they have Francine Prose, who in terms of theory and aesthetics is one of the more reactionary literary critics in America.
More pernicious is the Overdog being heard from on this blog, to whom everything is fine because for HIS sterling person everything is fine. To him the Beat movement lives, though its current practicioners are nowhere published, because he's met a few aging Beat stars in their last years and feels qualified, from his high station, to speak on the movement. HE decides if status quo lit is okay, and has decreed it is. To him there is an alternative in literature because his kind helped create that alternative, and stocked it with fellow aristocrats like William Vollmann. How intolerable then to witness the arrival of a real, organic opposition. How necessary to stamp it out.
The posts here from Overdogs and their demi-puppets are as much propaganda as the Susan Nagel book about the daughter of Marie Antoinette. The point of view is the same: the poor aristos in their Versailles palace being picked on. Woe is us! You resentful beggar. How dare you mention our eleven hundred horses!
Compare them. The similarity is obvious.
Conditions set for the aristocrats to be involved with their token tax-deductible programs to help people: that they be accepted as the great and generous liberal benefactors they imagine themselves to be. Watch them parade themselves at their black-tie "charitable" events while the bulk of money goes into their own pockets. If someone dares call these folks the a--holes they are in reality, the aristos are outraged.
What are my crimes?
1.) I've thrown a spotlight onto plutocrat writers robbing the grants process.
2.) I and my friends have enlivened a few staid establishment readings, waking up audiences at the kind of moribund lethargically dead presentations that have killed literature's audience.
3.) I've refused to kow-tow to rich Overdog societal parasites deluded into believing they're talented, so used to everything going their way they can't tolerate any criticism.
4.) I didn't get weepy (but hardly celebrated) when a much-awarded lit-Insider bureaucratic politician poet with absolutely NO talent-- none discernible whatsoever; example of everything wrong with System literature now-- kicked off.
Am I supposed to apologize? To who? The rich a--holes who've been coming onto my blog? I've worked enough shitty jobs in my life serving the plutocrats to know these are the most selfish most villainous most egregiously mendacious collection of mindlessly self-important jerks who've ever lived. Go choke on your hors d'ouevres and be happy there's not real revolution in this country, as will no doubt occur should current trends continue. I'm merely ahead of the curve.
RE CRIME #2
The Howl Protest was a good example. Those of us who stepped into the hall all agreed the atmosphere was that of a morgue. You had an audience of sleepy gentry and on stage were six or seven wax dummies in chairs. We woke one or two of them up. I guess at some point we offended blustery Lopate, outraged and outrageously lying about how tough it is to make ends meet on his six-figure tenured chair position. (Though compared to some other writers, maybe he could be considered "poor.")
Know what I thought sitting there? I thought, "Is this the best literature has to offer?" This tepid celebration of Ginsberg that had nothing celebratory about it? The celebrating and the real writers were outside! On the sidewalk.
The onstage folks write for museums. Their pretentiously wordy concoctions, despite a massive billion-dollar apparatus behind them, touch no one. Soulless artifacts. Lifeless furniture, indistinguishable from the chairs they sat on; Lopate a chair in more ways than one; his carefully-crafted Polonious essays as square and as wooden as a chair. Dead purveyors of a dead art. You should be glad we awoke you, you demi-puppets.
The dissenter being called disturbed or troubled reeks of the Soviet Union, where anyone who opposed the monolith had to be insane, by definition. I love that word, "troubled." The fact is I'm enjoying myself with this campaign-- hearing the dragon's death throes. I suspect some people in high literary places are "troubled" I'm conducting it.
I've alienated a narrow claque of trust-funders and their flunkies who don't give a shit anyway about anyone outside their greedy circle. They've got theirs and to hell with anyone else. What's to lose? The good opinion of Hiram, Francine, and Phillip? I never had it!
Meanwhile, the workforce in industries like automobiles and steel is a fraction of what it was thirty years ago; part of a huge nationwide shakeout in which wages have plummeted while cost of living goes up. Good-paying jobs for two-thirds of America have vanished. We've seen a massive wealth transfer from poor to rich. The great untold story of America is the economic destruction of an entire class of people. Who's writing about this? Instead, literary Overdogs erect thicker walls to keep the rest of America out.
Have I been unfair on occasion in my arguments and outrageous in my actions? Against a house deck of cards stacked against me and my kind 1,000 to one? Yes! I look for every opening and any advantage. But I also give opponents the opportunity to speak which they'd never grant me.
Funny how those who grab power in every form, so they control all the rules and every aspect of the game, and run up countless points on the scoreboard for themselves before the whistle's even blown, then ask us to "play fair." While on the football field they oppose out tiny clown car with a steamroller. "You're not playing by our rules!" they yell. No shit. I'm going to take your rules and your phony liberal poses of niceness and virtue; the smiling masks you wear hiding your Dorian Gray faces and decaying villainous hearts; and hit you over the head with them.
THE VILLAIN AS SYMBOL
Have I turned one of our rich foes, the ULA's first target, into a symbol; poster boy for our cause? I'd say he's turned himself into that symbol by remaining at the center of the apparatus which must be democratized before literature can move forward. He failed to take his own advice to "just write."
The absolute nadir for contemporary American literature was the National Book Award a few years back handed to a ridiculously bad novel about letters to Peru or such by wealthy blueblood author Lily Tuck.
Bullshit scribblings from a dilettante's bullshit life. Diary entries from a debutante. The National Book Award-- representative of the best America has to offer-- given to a narrow sideshow of a glimpse of a narrow segment of society's narrow outlook. Who made this award-- to what purpose? Was the book the sound of America-- of its farms, factories, roads, docks, offices; throbbing hatreds and raging loves; of our massive, vast, mad and madly beautiful country? Uh, no.
ON BEING HECKLED
Someone said I've never been heckled. I have. At open mics and at the ULA's own events-- have asked for it and welcomed it; have loved the interchange, the opportunity to show, "This art form is not dead."
THE JOY OF REBELLION
When Allen Ginsberg spoke of throwing potato salad, he was speaking to future generations. First, to us. He was affirming the necessity of dissent in literature-- dissent not frozen at 1958 in the Beat heyday as the Villains and Overdogs of literature would have it. Dissent ongoing, perpetual, for all time; the kind of unyielding artistic dissent which is the only thing which keeps any art form alive. Print out this rant and tape it to your walls as reminder that it's the artist's JOB to dissent-- to dissent first against power, privilege, complacency, falsehood, and unearned arrogance, which is all I've been doing. "My family! the black-hearted villain cries when caught in the spotlight. He means, "My station. My inheritance. My caste. My legacy of leverage and largesse in this society which I've drawn on again and again." He means the plutocratic nature of America itself.
Who's the oppressor and who the oppressed? The Rebellion's targets have been the most connected writers around, privileged of the privileged, scions of affluence tied to literary power centers which control hype, money, and influence. Targeted have been the roadblocks to independent writers, and barriers to the writer's independence. Aristocrats from their palaces would have us believe opportunity is equal for all, and those not allowed into the show simply aren't good enough. "Jeeves, fill out that Guggenheim application, could you?"It's a sign of their refusal to change, to alter the ways and means of literature to the slightest extent.
If the System refuses to allow outside voices into literature's argument, then backwardness and evil will have won. As the bureaucracies and monied manipulators extend their control even over organizations dedicated to the small press (see CLMP) or to dissent (see PEN), this tightening of artistic control and lethargy must be balanced, if the art is to remain relevant, connected to the nation-at-large. Remember, I came to this subject as a reader, one unsatisfied with what the literary machine was handing us-- well-edited beaten-down "dirty realism" or the continuous posing of rich kids. I believed we as a civilization could do better. I don't care if I'm "published." What does that matter to me? That's never been my goal. If I can knock over roadblocks to other writers, I'll have done enough.
A harpoon has gone into the white whale of corruption. The screaming you hear is the result. For a static art, this is nothing but a positive.
The literary Rebellion which reached a peak through the actions of the ULA has been a joyful rebellion. Its actions have been among the most thrilling in literary history-- actions of boldness and exuberance against the decay of the art form. Actions which have woken the slumbering mummies. Amazing events. Read the history. It's there as a potato salad example for everyone.