Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blinkered Towers

“Soviet writers, far from reflecting the vital processes at work in the social context during all these years, have continued to behave like dusty engineers of musty minds. The country has passed them by. . . .”

--Giovanni Grazzini about the state of Soviet literature in 1971.

THE QUESTION is the health of the American literary system. The American literary art has been frozen place for forty or fifty years. Today’s avant-garde is yesterday’s avant-garde. Which means, it’s not an avant-garde at all.

The inhabitants of the system are complacent. All is okay. Many insist there is no literary system, though they have their costly MFA degrees  just in case. The apologists of the status quo, of literature-as-is (see Francine Prose) are utter mediocrities hailed by other mediocrities (see B.F. Myers) in the system’s collapsing organs.

The literary elite peer out from blinkered towers with fissures in them, hostile to alternate sources of literary activity but confident that the New Yorker New York Times walls will remain against approaching storms.

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