Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Real Failure

The noteworthy point about the literary establishment is its utter mediocrity. This is something I realized as far back as 2001, when at CBGB's in New York the Underground Literary Alliance destroyed the preppy Paris Review staff in debate.

Even when the System tries to be imaginative, as with HarperStudio, it's dependent on time-serving ticket-punchers-- apparatchiks-- who've made careers out of being unimaginative.

In its various aspects-- including HarperStudio; including PEN-- when encountering hard criticism and whistleblowing the System knows only how to stonewall, only how to exclude and block; to put tape over its eyes and cotton in its ears, black paper over its windows, to ensure it sees, hears, and knows nothing. "Don't tell me!" is the prevailing attitude.

Stonewalling-- the unwillingness or inability to engage-- is not the sign of a dynamic establishment but instead of a stagnant and frightened one. NONE of its bureaucratic occupants, from the highest Francine Prose/James Wood critic to the lowliest Murdoch HarperCollins staffer, is able to debate, which means having to think. They've lived in an airless room for so long without questioning or dissent that to let questions in now-- fresh air-- would turn the lot of them into dust.

DIY change is coming and coming fast. Some of the apparatchiks recognize this-- and so the desperate grasping of DIY language by desperate outfits like HarperStudio desperate to hold onto their control over writers.

If authentic DIYers were better able to network and work together they'd bring the house of cards down now.

The real failure lies with media watchdogs like the New Yorker; too part of a corrupt system to cover the corruption-- or stagnation-- at places like HarperStudio or PEN. And so these media giants risk their own Soviet Union-style collapse when the tidal wave of change finally hits them.

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