Friday, March 27, 2009

Past or Future?

AT A TIME when the props of the current literary system are collapsing, PEN American Center stands as a relic of American lit's aristocratic past. If literature is to survive, it needs to democratize everything about itself.

We don't live in a static universe-- yet the system of U.S. literature has remained static for decades-- increasingly irrelevant-- as the universe speeds in many directions around it.
There's a dividing line of history which we're fast approaching, between literary future and literary past. Can you see it? Which side of the line are you on?
IF the literary rebellion is to be the engine of necessary change it must keep advocating and advancing: always aggressive, always on offense, always dynamic-- and itself mutating, improving, changing.


FDW said...

Hey man how about putting up the mission statement the original directives of the Pen Foundation as constituted otherwise we're slipping into an opposition simply here, a confrontational reflex that only or at least to the perception spectacularlizes the dominant paradigm as THEY would want it.
Put up the naked corpse and lets dissect and exhibit the dead with the tools of our own exoerience and critical radical subjectivities as individual independent witers and poets to lend credibity to ones trip as unified across the associations of the literate public.

King said...

Say what??
The confrontation normally comes from the other side.
Any survivor of relentless class war waged (notably in the Midwest) against working people the past so-many years is kind-of used to confrontation. Like the strike I witnessed in 1995 when I saw friends of mine beaten by baton-wielding strike-breaking goons.
Was that confrontation?
What do you think?
The question is whether ordinary people are ever going to talk back to the aristocrats and monopolists who've been running things.
What we have now is a rare opportunity to get our voices out there.
This Protest against a major lit-world power center is part of that.
Re PEN's mission: I can put PEN's history and mission up all day, and step-by-step will.
What you need to know first is that it's a public charity, tax-exempt as a result. That's how it's listed.
Among its "charitable" acts is to give large sums of money to writers who don't need it, like famed well-hyped author Philip Roth. The same-old buddy system at work.
Does this fit with PEN's mission??
I don't know. I'll have to doublecheck.
Maybe their mission states "We hold swanky parties, pay substantial executive salaries, and give out funds to successful writers, under the guise of advocating for oppressed writers."
Believe me, I'll examine the nuts and bolts of the organization. Please be patient.
Imperial Rome wasn't burned down in a day.
To everybody:
Jump into the future!
The current literary system is a tottering house of cards, whose leading positions are manned by the well-connected and the inept.
It's analagous to the final days of the Soviet Union-- Kremlins loaded with clueless apparatchiks who forgot their original mission eons ago.
All that's required to topple it is one good shove.
Then our literature can be renewed.
(Sorry for being confrontational.)

King said...

p.s I'd like to "confront" the PEN people with a petition of 300 names on it. That would have major effect. I know there are many times that number of underground writers out there, many who speak often of society's ills.
In 2001 the ULA began with a more SIX writers-- and simply by speaking up, created major shock waves.
Could this happen again?
It can happen anytime we're willing to represent our ideas and our writings to the public-at-large.
Most important to me is OUR mission; the history WE create if we allow ourselves to be the renewers of a literature which has been stagnant for too long.