The Timid Generation

A Rant

EXCEPT FOR A SMALL SEGMENT OF THE UNDERGROUND, this is the worst generation of poets and writers ever. An army of timid uniform stooges obediently scribbling their mimicries and similitudes of what everyone else is doing.

Except for a segment of the underground, never have there been so many writers satisfied to be loyally unoriginal, and unimportant, safely worshipping from a great distance models of the past without for a microinstant considering being models themselves.

Yes, celebrate Robbe-Grillet, or Ezra Pound, but while doing so don't tell anyone don't even whisper that these men were REBELS anxious to change literature and the world.

There was the case some years ago of the British Beat Poet who was a staunch admirer of Pound, mentioned the man on his blog, very daring, even flirted with literary rebellion himself-- until he realized the rebels weren't playing were actual shit-disturbers pissing people off while fighting with themselves kind of poets, you know, Pound-like, and the British Beat Poet blanched and fled immediately back to the safety of the academy or whatever secure-walled refuge from the turmoils of life had launched him, where he issued proclamations to the effect, "There are no street poets"; atoning for his rebellious thought-crime which might if he hadn't been so safely carefully timidly cautious have turned into something worse! Not Ezra Pound, in other words.

Yes, this is the worst of the worst.

Bukowski and Kerouac are admired by legions of writers with the proviso that unlike these two forceful figures the admirers inside the safety net would never consider living their art.

Kerouac was disgusted at the conformist world his entire life, loathed these people, ended drinking self-medicating himself to death while smoking cigarettes with his mother, in Florida, but the yuppies have lately produced books arguing this wasn't the real Kerouac. The real Kerouac is still living today with a two-car garage and an all-American family in the suburbs. The idea of Kerouac the nonconformist is to them an outrage. It's what caused Phillip Lopate to incoherently bluster at Miller Hall that Kerouac died without health care. Imagine! No tenure or pension. Rewrite that bio faster.

But they love Kerouac, they do, Literature's Loyalists, from tenured Columbia profs to conglomerate editorial servants to skyscraper power execs-- every one of them residing securely within the conformity of the unchallenging boxes of contemporary literature.

How did this situation result?

I've figured it out. Instead of dealing with the inconvenient independence of real writers, the Overdogs of Literature instead obtained a puppet catalog from the puppet factory, and ordered puppet writers, puppet editors, and puppet critics, who arrived special overnight delivery into New York offices in their puppet cartons-- a variety of types. You could have your older cranky Phillip Lopate puppet with perpetual frown, or your younger hipster Jonathan Lethem puppet, or blandly inocuous smarmy Jonathan Safran Foer puppet, or even a certified "DIY" Miranda July puppet with interchangeable hats and scarves.

Puppets, puppets, everywhere! Watch them speak! Watch them dare! Dance upon the cardboard floor; hope your fans will yell for more. Puppet audience, that's real cool, shipped direct from Ivy League school. Jump to borrowed hipster beat; puppet clothes that look real neat. Now we've reached the end of show. Politely clap and watch them go.

Goodbye puppets! Farewell, one and all.