It took me a long while to realize what I was dealing with in my attempts to budge the literary mainstream. Winning arguments doesn’t work with them. I’ve won 95% of the arguments with established lit folk I’ve engaged in. During my days in the ULA, after we beat the Paris Review in debate at CBGB’s in 2001, they refused to engage us—except behind the scenes under false identities.
The established literary scene is a herd which judges works and writers based on their conformity to what’s already in place. The ONLY thing they respect is strength. The ULA made headway when we exhibited strength. The minute we moderated and relied on reason and argument, which was all on our side, we were no longer an unstoppable force and our fortunes declined.
The professor engaging me in the comments on the previous thread is upset because I don’t buy into his/her view of literature. I hold a different view. This is intolerable. I’m supposed to like THEIR books, to laud THEIR icons, to agree 100% with THEIR taste. They hold the cover of Time magazine—itself a relic—so they must be right. Yet the reality is that literary mandarins offer a distorted version of American literature not applicable to the times and the broader society. Their philosophical and aesthetic foundation is skewed, and so the castle of art they’ve built upon it is slanted and tottery. Their chief god, David Foster Wallace, had many strengths, sure, but his idiosyncratic work isn’t fit to lead an art form seeking to compete in this hectic society. That lit folks can’t immediately see this is a sign of the depth of the problem. But then, they believe only in what the herd tells them to believe.