Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Reactionary Aristocrat

THE LITERARY ARISTOCRAT-- Rick Moody, say, or the demi-puppet "Harland," his alter-ego-- demands a literary system which is regulated and comprehensible; protective of, and beholden to, privilege. A world where privilege in the form of the casual and connected amateur (think George Plimpton) is the highest value. This person embraces the "little," the seemingly-but-not-really independent, as long as it follows rigid conditions.

Such overseers want an alternative literature which is controlled from the top; which mimics, in its words and ideas, establishment literature. This makes it no alternative at all. They have the puppetmaster's mentality, which is to connect strings to the most random and radical of endeavors; strings like CLMP, or Young Lions, or the nature of the 501c3 law, which in practice at a certain level demands that the wealthy oversee the enterprise and take control.

This explains the differing viewpoints of myself and them toward PEN-- whether PEN is to be run democratically by the membership, from below; or from the PEN office, through secretive meetings like the one outlined in the post above. It's no wonder that "Harland" wears a mask. He stands for the old, clubby and corrupt ways of the literary world. Yet why shouldn't the operations of PEN stand exposed, open to the world? Why the Kremlin walls?