Thursday, November 15, 2012

Where Are Literary Journalists?

WHILE all Americans await the standard thorough Lawrence Wright-style New Yorker think piece detailing what happened in Benghazi on 9/11, I'm caused to note the absence of mainstream journalism in other areas of American life. Such as in today's literary scene.


Take someone like Lucas Wittmann at Daily Beast/Newsweek. Journalist or cheerleader?

I'm told there is no literary establishment. Yet a Lucas Wittmann gives voice to the main ideas and major players of one literary viewpoint-- the "literary"-- such as that of Dave Eggers and the McSweeney's organization. Any such article by Eggers, depicting how wonderful he and his friends are, is followed by tweets from Wittmann himself pointing people to the article, as if he were a McSweeney's p.r. person. And who knows-- maybe he is.


What really happened in 2003 with Tom Bissell's Believer magazine essay is that the Underground Literary Alliance was engaging in actual literary journalism, covering a host of stories uncomfortable to mainstream literati. Some of those stories, yes, involved Dave Eggers and McSweeney's, or so-called Friends of Eggers.

The Believer, on the other hand, was instituted to shut down real literary journalism and literary debate, to create instead the Dave Eggers personal vision of an uncritical happy face literary scene. Which is what we have today.

Bissell's Believer essay was a flat-out propaganda piece designed to discredit the literary group looking hardest into the operations of the literary machine. The essay represented a clash of views and visions. For Eggers to have his peacefully lobotomized literary world, the ULA had to be destroyed.

Anyone care to deny this?


nitpicks said...

Good morning- did you see this?

I don't follow poetry and I know nothing about Franz Wright. Is this post characteristic of him, or just a fluke?

King Wenclas said...

Thanks for the heads-up. Interesting rant from Wright. Always good to see evidence of free-thinking writers.
(But, young writers should be making his points. Should have the spirit of Rimbaud.)
The one question the Rumpus stooge doesn't ask is whether or not what Wright says is true. This isn't addressed. What we get instead is the typical character assassination, with as outlandish an analogy as possible.
The mindset: "How can we tar this guy? I know! Let's compare him to Rush Limbaugh!" (Who more than anything is simply an entertainer, probably more surprised than anyone when he's taken seriously.)
What the Rumpus guy is actually doing is projecting his own "black-white, bad-good, us-them" way of viewing the world onto Franz Wright. It's not an intellectual argument. It's propaganda designed to shut down debate.
(Rumpus, of course, is little more than an adjunct to McSweeneys. Part of lit's Evil Empire.)

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