Tuesday, December 09, 2008


For all their supposed differences, the McSweeney's and N+1 gangs intersect at the literary power center of Columbia University, which serves as a base for both camps. (The Believer's staff was/is dominated by Columbia grads, with relatives on the faculty.) What the two groups represent are different masks for the same literary establishment.

Will the mock-revolutionaries at N+1 look into the Paris Review/CIA story? Of course not! One of their sponsors is Robert Silvers, co-founder of New York Review of Books. (Originally a creation of Random House, according to Richard Kostelanetz. See R.K.'s Crimes of the Culture.) Silvers was a good friend of George Plimpton's, and for a time an important Paris Review editor.

These various literary groups, so alike in members, demographics, temperament, and voice, will go through contortionist philosophical analyses of the intellectual import of trendy issues like global warming. Will they analyze the workings of the literary machine; the wheels of literary culture? Never! That would be to shine a flashlight upon themselves.

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