The hardest part of the ULA's campaign to democratize literature is asking other literary persons to completely re-think their positions and detach themselves from their preconceptions. For demi-puppets, it's a shock to the system, like going off drugs.
A lit-blogger sent me an e-mail claiming I "hate" other literary people. Hate? No, in truth I love literature and by extension all writers; all those who attempt the art. By pointing out the corruption which does exist, I'm trying to save the art. I have nothing personally against anyone-- not even a Rick Moody, who wasn't a particular target until he accepted a grant which should have gone to someone else.
All the ULA asked from him was that he give the funds back. He clearly didn't need them. We asked him to acknowledge the existence of writers in this society who are struggling to have their work published, struggling in many cases simply to live-- who the money would have better gone to. If he wants peace now, I'm sure we'll settle for less. Let him demonstrate his principles, on what side he's on, and come out publicly against the transformation of CLMP's board.
The ULA campaign is based on the premise that I and my compatriots understand what's wrong with literature today-- that we understand better than others what's wrong. That we know more about literature and what it can and should accomplish than the well-schooled. Our confidence is based on our reading, our independence, and our LIVES-- if anything should be a reflection of life and the reality of our times it's literature.
Those who dispute our attitude and our claims had better engage us. Relying on the fact you have a degree from Harvard or Princeton or Brown, and expecting us to bow to your credentials, isn't good enough. We're in a new world now. If that degree-- or those connections-- have meaning you'd better show it.
But, if you can't contest our ideas with reasoned words and coherent arguments-- then how good are you?