Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Real Point

The real point I'm making about the global warming issue (see "Global Clowns" below) is that it illustrates the inability of literary writers to think for themselves. It's like they sit helplessly in a room waiting for word from the "experts" before they know where to stand on an issue. Oops! Here comes the bulletin now, read to the group. "Global warming is a fact." Happy to have any conflict resolved, the uniformed writers march out in a line like robots.

One has to admire the thoroughness of their training. It's like a dog told to sit and wait. You leave the house and return eight hours later and there the dog still sits, at the same spot, tongue out, waiting obediently.

There is no questioning by these well-trained writers. It's how N+1 can publish a truly awful Euro-chic "story" like "Your Name Here" (in issue #6) which is deliberately hostile to the reader; solipsistic to an extreme degree. Not one of their editors had the sense to say, "Hey, come on guys. This is garbage."

The higher education system is geared toward producing conformists who can't think, who are most comfortable when they don't!
Understanding this was Dave Eggers's great insight. McSweeney's presented the atmosphere of higher education-- footnotes, jargon, disclaimers, charts-- mimicking the academy. Eggers constructed the illusion of intelligence and thought without requiring his readers to actually think. He recreated the herd of academia around his journal; returning to each herd member the comfort of the acolyte. Proof of this can be found in the books of John Hodgman-- wildly popular among McSweeneyites-- which are set-up to look like reference books or textbooks, but are filled with nonsense.
It's easy to expose the foundations of the two trendiest U.S. literary movements of today as being aggressively ANTI-intellectual.

What's left?

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