Sunday, January 06, 2013

Writers of Conscience?

Intellectually, Tom Bissell knows that his essay about the Underground Literary Alliance is filled with distortions and slurs (“lots and lots of tombstones”), and that it has spread malice against the ULA across the literary world. Yet he’s willing to have that Frankenstein’s monster of an essay represent him and his career. He’s willing to live with the fraud.

Tom Bissell’s friends and supporters should also know by now that the essay is false. Willfully, like stubborn children, they continue to support it.

The journalists and writers who applauded the essay, Garth Risk Hallberg, Maria Bustillos, and Johannes Lichtman among them, have been sent evidence that the essay’s narrative is false. Will they confront the slurs and misrepresentations, the distortion of truth? Or do they choose convenience over conscience?

If the writer has no conscience, who in society will?

The literary establishment has the power to close me off and shut me down. They’ve been doing it. It’s a victory for a clique but a crime against conscience. If not one writer has integrity or conscience, then the false narrative becomes accepted truth.

If it can happen in literature, it can happen anywhere.


JeffOYB said...

That's the shocking thing about Bissell's libel that the ULA was "Soviet" in its style. It's a complete reversal! The writing establishment behaves strictly in Soviet fashion, with Eastern Bloc-style reliance on credentials, blacklisting and revisionism. And we know who was best at unquestioningly obedient hierarchies during WW2. In total contrast we had the Zine Revolution -- ignored by the establishment. And the no-rules-but-forthrightness ULA. ...A voluntary league of writers and fans doing as they pleased, noticing that fresh, creative, original, helpful indie writers were being suppressed and stood up against it. And they dared libel us as tyrants! And they continue to get away with it just because they say so. Astounding.

I just finished Chris Hayes' book exposing the Meritocracy. It's interesting stuff. There's a flaw in the "winner take all" argument, isn't there. But today in the USA both overlords and underlings buy into it. "They deserve their total rule! They earned it!" His conclusion pointed to hope in: *leaderless Tea Party; *leaderless OWS. He notes the TP achieved more because they did focus more. But the ULA (past and present) is in this leaderless league. Well, we do have members who stand up more, who crow more, but it's decentralized, voluntary, and contributions, art and effort come in from any angle from which folks care to contribute.

King Wenclas said...

Jeff, Chris Hayes is himself a member of the elite. Is he going to disavow his Brown education and the connections obtained from it? Of course not.
I'll notice when these people allow outsiders to speak for themselves.
What have we always wanted?
Access! That's all.
I'll notice when one of these characters publicly speaks out against the blackballing of the Underground Literary Alliance.
The frustrating thing about it is that writers like Lichtman see us through a distorted, false narrative which has already been programmed into them. They don't seem to have the intelligence or character to question anything, even when facts are put in front of them.
The last few months I've felt like Hamlet, wondering which path to take.
All in for a revived ULA? We face daunting odds.
Sue the bastards? For libel? Uncompetitive business practices?
Or do I simply damn the bastards and do my ebooks.
Don't kid yourself. Characters like Eggers and Bissell are utter scoundrels. Eggers has wanted, in my opinion, the ULA destroyed for ten years. We can connect many of the dots. There remains much of the picture to fill in.
The established literary world is run by fear and ignorance. Not one person will speak up for truth. Not one. That's not what any of them are about.

JeffOYB said...

I wonder how often Chris Hayes mentions cultural figures from the hinterlands who should be noticed. That is, if he's in favor of questioning the dominance of the elites does he ever DO anything to help an unconnected person? He may have a general cause or theory that he's pushing but it would be best to see him actually call out those who LIVE what he's talking. (Hopefully he does! I don't watch TV.)

I'm also reading Hirsch's "The Deconstruction of Literature: Criticism After Auschwitz." He suggests it's no coincidence that the main postmodernists developed from within Vichy France! And even within the Nazis and SS! None of them lifted a finger for Resistance or freedom. In short, it's no coincidence that they expound upon meaninglessness. He also notes their endless attacks on liberal democracy in contrast to zero mention of gulags. And he emphasizes that these folks now "own" academia. It's essential to have dissenting voices like these! Where are they in Lit itself? Voices that LIVE against the PM vibe and who perhaps reveal its flaws in their art.

King Wenclas said...

That's only us, Jeff.
Sure, from Heiddegger to Paul DeMan (or going back to Nietzsche), the foundations of postmodernism is curious.
A favorite technique: "The Big Lie." Isn't that what Eggers does when he claims to be indie?
What's more, the gullible suckers known today as "writers" believe it. They question NOTHING.

King Wenclas said...

p.s Make that "are" curious. "Ranger Rick" strikes again!