Thursday, December 19, 2013

Three Problems

I see three related problems with the established literary scene.

1.) CONFORMISM. As I’ve oft stated, from top to bottom in American literature there’s a herd mentality. No one will publicly buck the status quo and advocate for change. Everyone is infected with “go-along-to-get-along” disease. No one will point out the corruption and cronyism that does exist in the scene. Everyone prefers to look the other way. You’ll find scarcely one person of courage and integrity. I know this from experience.

2.) BUBBLISM. Most of today’s young literati are hipsters. Many of them have congregated in Brooklyn, or in similar Hipstervilles around the country. I’ve noted in my encounters with this crowd, off-line and on, that they can’t handle disagreement. Few of them have experienced the give-and-take of no-holds-barred debate. They rely on premises, assumptions, assertions that to them are laws, because everyone in their world accepts them. This isn’t a healthy situation for any art or intellectual scene.

They’re in fact thousands of Bubble Boys from “Seinfeld,” who’ve carried their bubbles with them. Those they interact with at their hangouts look and think exactly like them.

If you study the hipster phenomenon, as one would a variety of animal, you see they’ve adopted protective coloration to try to blend in with their new urban environments. Note the beards and gritty working-class garb; the thrift shop affectations. Yet only the outer surface has changed. They’ve brought with them their gentrified upscale tastes—as seen in the new chic menus, designer beers, and upscale prices at bars and bistros which have sprung up or redesigned themselves to cater to them.

As it affects literature, there’s little chance of converting them to new ways of approaching the literary art, when everyone of them flees and blocks their mind from the slightest critique of what they see as wonderful and safe.

3.) INABILITY TO SEE REALITY. An example of this is the unquestioning believe in a pagan nature myth like global warming/climate change, which is a variation of Eve-eating-the-apple: mankind punished for its sins and hubris.

The inability to see reality applies to their art. An objective observer flipping through their literary flagship, The New Yorker, and glancing at the month’s enclosed story, should see immediately that this is a bad product; a poor entry point for readers to jump into the joys of fiction. Long paragraphs of dense prose, of hardly any dialogue or scene. (Like this blog post!) It’s as if the stories are created to be intentionally offputting to those not of the proper breeding. It’s no way to expand an art—in fact for the past several decades such stories produced by the thousands have narrowed it. Yet when you read the opinions of literati, high and low, in prestigious magazines or on on-line websites, these kind of literary stories are portrayed as tremendous achievements. Well, maybe they are—if one could read them. They’re terrible models, terrible examples of what the literary art at its best can achieve.

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