Monday, March 25, 2013

Contradictions of the Literary World

Regarding this article about Russian poet Kirill Medvedev in the New York Times by Dwight Garner:

I don’t get it. How can individuals like Dwight Garner and Keith Gessen (or Garth Risk Hallberg at The Millions) be strongly for cultural democracy, dissent, and freedom in Russia but not in the United States? If anything, they’re apologists for the literary status quo in this country; part of the monolith; supporters of the kind of crony capitalism a Kirill Medvedev would loathe.

Do these establishment journalists actually believe the political, economic, and cultural systems in both countries are dissimilar?

The difference is that the corruption, lies, and propaganda—the political and media games in the United States—are vastly more sophisticated. In Russia, the magician plying his trade is a crude amateur. The audience glimpses the rabbit in the hat before it appears. In the United States, the magicians are slick professionals.

If the principles of a Dwight Garner or Keith Gessen aren’t honest, aren’t transferable to our own shores, or their own field, then what are these highly placed apparatchiks up to?


King Wenclas said...

The hypocrisy in Dwight Garner's article is astounding. Much of what he says about Kirill Medvedev applies just as well to the Underground Literary Alliance and our actions in this country. Garner says Medvedev is "a shrewd and irritable observer of the petty (and not so petty) corruptions of the Russian literary world." "Either way, silence is assured."
What happened to the ULA??
We exposed corruption in the U.S. literary world, and were silenced.
"Mr. Medvedev turned to the Internet . . . to distribute his writing."
That's what I and compatriots of mine are reduced to doing.
When Medvedev pickets a theatre production, he has a scuffle with a security guard. Eerily reminiscent of what happened to the ULA when we set up a zine table OUTSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES building in January 2007, and for our efforts, security thugs tossed us and our table into the street.
Why do the Times and Mr. Garner defend literary protest in Russia, but not in their own country?
It's also curious that, amid the "Big Six" monopoly media books usually given attention in the Times, they make a rare exception for a small press book.
Why is that? Serving some foreign policy purpose?
If you have principles, they should be exhibited first in your own country. To do otherwise comes across as mere posturing.

JeffOYB said...

I wonder how much has been written comparing our literary system to the Soviet one. Seems maybe worth some PhD study. One could try to flesh out Orwell's Thesis. Not a bad goal, eh? Heck, how about tracing the evidence of CIA/MI5 involvement in art, lit and culture? (Might have to ask Wikileaks for help there, but some players have talked -- Matthiesen -- and I'm sure there are plenty of hints worth corraling.)