Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Winner Is. . . .

The Most Egregious Smear or Blatant Distortion in "Mr. Empathy" Tom Bissell's essay on the Underground Literary Alliance is choice D. Here's the entire passage:

"There are good, needed, and necessary revolutions, and then there are revolutions that upon successful completion require a new flag and lots and lots of tombstones. There is little doubt which type of revolution the Underground Literary Alliance has in mind. . . ."

Bissell then gives a lengthy history of the Soviet Union's treatment of writers under Stalin, hammering in a point about the ULA that has no connection to reality. Note, incidentally, a common trick of Bissell's: to set up a false and exclusive choice to lead the reader toward his preferred conclusion. In this case, two types of revolution; a good-bad, either-or proposition. I'd argue, incidentally, that the ULA's was a good and needed revolution, in that literature has lost its preeminent place in American culture, in large part due to its insularity and irrelevance. The literary establishment is collapsing and will collapse regardless; we wanted to help things along, and in so doing, direct the outcome toward a positive solution. But given our marginal position and lack of resources, our actual objectives were extremely modest: Getting a minimal attention toward the ideas and plight of populist writers. We did hope, sure, for truly sympathetic commentators, and found very few.

Tom Bissell's analogies in this essay go beyond any I've seen from any commentator in unfair exaggeration used to discredit change agents. For instance, the cries of President Obama as extremist or socialist haven't used images of "lots and lots of tombstones." Tom Bissell's statements about the ULA go beyond hyperbole into the reprehensible.

Can you believe that Tom Bissell signed the Occupy Writers petition? He did. Which only shows his utter phoniness.

Tom Bissell to Ed Champion: "I don't think that's a particularly mean essay at all."

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