Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Apparatchiks

WRITERS are afraid to acknowledge that the literary empire we live under is decrepit, like a rotted old structure falling apart; stray bricks and chunks of masonry crashing to the sidewalk.

What keeps the stagnation going is the apparatus of the System itself, a large machine whose wheels continue to turn, producing and promoting obedient writers then vomiting forth their carbon-copy books, with a sameness to all of it. The System supports mediocrity and turns writers mediocre. It produces not writers, but bureaucrats, those who've put in their time and paid their dues, conformed to the rules and upset no one while doing it. The stagnation of bureaucracy.

And so the content of Jonathan Franzen's novel, its oppressive relentless mediocrity, along with its word-clotted prose, didn't matter. What mattered was that it was produced, a hefty product of many pages containing the rough semblance of a novel, no matter how dead. And like functionaries in the Soviet Union in its last days, those part of the System and dependent on it heard the word and got in line, dutifully praising it. It was the "big novel" they needed to give credibility and justification for the entire expensive show.

Where are the great writers? What we're given from the machine-grinding schools and bureaucracies are pretenders. They pretend to be great novelists or poets and the apparatchiks pretend along with them. It's the machine which matters. The writers are the necessary evil to keep the machine operating.

(The dramatic days of literature are over. Instead we're given bureaucrats.)

The dead machine books are reviewed in the NY TIMES or elsewhere by lifeless obedient machine reviewers and critics. Readers glance sleepily at the machine review-- ho hum, another unexciting book-- a few dutiful readers dutifully run out to buy it, like last believers in the Soviet system with the walls of Communism crashing around them.

Saddest of all are the apparatchik authors themselves: Jonathan Franzen blinking stupidly behind his eyeglasses while being questioned on a talk show; pretending to play the role of a Fitzgerald or Hemingway but out of his depth, just a pretender: a bureaucrat; the culmination and epitome of a rusted corrupt machine slowly grinding to a halt, call him Brezhnev, Andropov, or Chernenko.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Karl, great orator, descendant of a fine lineage of dock workers, you have asked the question.

Where are the great writers? The truth is that Jonathan Franzen is a better writer than anyone in the underground.

Have you ever read through a slush pile? I have. What is in the slush pile? Abominable shit just like Word Riot which is really an online slush pile.

Do you know why people work on docks. Because they are too dumb or too lazy or too to do anything else.

Bill Walton

Anonymous said...


You're strangely obsessed with my little on-line magazine.

Kindly get off my fucking ass, you stodgey fool, or provide some proof of the alleged "shit" on the site rather than blathering away semi-coherently.

-Jackie Corley

Adam Hardin said...

John Steinbeck wheeled wheel-barrows full of concrete up small wooden planks to build Madison Square Garden Early in his writing life. 12 hours a day.

You couldn't find one Elite Writer today with enough fortitude to do that. Writers today are weak and lazy and comfortable, and the writing reflects that.

Anonymous said...

Bah! What is this talk of writers working on docks, writers carting bags of cement up Madison Square? In my homeland, there are no writers---no women either. Only thick, muscular men with hairy chest and well-oiled nipples.

If they will write---so what? We call them sissy-men to break them, then build them up from scratch!

This is what we tried with Chris Reeve. He wrote sissy book about being broken-man, from horse. There is no book! There is no horse, no broken man! Only living man, well-oiled man, with feeding tube.

We tried second experiment with Ken Caminiti. We give him strong throwing arm for Astro, give him big bat to thump us with and make us say "Ah, ah!" It was a failure, he drink and do drug, he quit baseball! Now, he is dead.

Demi-puppet is weak little cloth, i crush him in my fisted hand, then give good fisting job to puny American writer-head.

Evil Journalista

King Wenclas said...

Notice, Jackie, as you point out, that these people are unable to make coherent arguments against the points I've made. They point out their own bankruptcy. Bureaucrats! Isn't it scary to think that "Bill Walton" was once in charge of slush piles? He was programmed in some university or other and then put the programming to work in publishing, bringing with it the closed bureaucrat's mind. Why do my posts upset him? Because he identifies in total with the System which gives him sustenance. Beware of getting caught in one of those jobs-- by their nature (whatever the field) bureaucratic positions conform the mind.

(Walton makes a tactical mistake in attacking you, Jackie. he apparently doesn't know you're not part of the ULA, only marginally a sympathizer-- but he's well revealing the face of our opponents. p.s. Would you be willing, Jackie, to write a "Monday Report" for us sometime? If so, e-mail me amd Steve Kostecke.)