Sunday, January 12, 2014

Telling the Truth

THE ONE THING which nobody on today’s literary scene seems capable of doing is telling the truth.

For instance, can’t everyone see that Jonathan Franzen’s novels are lethargically paced, the characters uninteresting? That in his thoughts and ideas, Franzen is an extreme mediocrity? Is the literary community that dumbed down, that universally stuporized? That incapable of knowing what real art looks and sounds like?

Workmanship isn’t art.

The great novelists have had touches of passion and madness. At the least, as with Dumas, a gut-wrenching intensity, a vision seeing not a monotone midlevel version of reality, but extreme highs and lows; pathetic deprivation to incandescent achievement.

The novel won’t return to its pre-eminent place in this society, in this civilization, based on blandness. It needs a spiritual cause; it needs to be intelligent—truly intelligent; not merely recycling the stale made-up myths of the day—and most of all it needs to passionately feel.

Friday, December 27, 2013

What the ULA Lacked

The defunct Underground Literary Alliance lacked the cohesion and discipline necessary to take down the tottering tower of mediocrity that represents today the literary world. Only if we’d been a tight, unstoppable unit—as we were in our early days—would we have had a chance of success.

The literary system has discipline. That’s what it’s about, from the winnowing process of MFA programs on up. The objective is to fulfill the system’s bureaucratic requirements. This it does ably.

Those who rise through the process, like Jonathan Franzen and Dave Eggers, are utterly ruthless bastards. That’s the reality. Anyone who works within a bureaucracy, or has worked within them, well knows this.

The creation of art is a secondary consideration. It’s the public justification for the machinations and maneuverings of those within the process. The true goal is producing apparatchiks loyal to the system, and to the system’s art. Conformity, from step one in a writing class, to the endpoint of bureaucratic position or lauded author, is the rule. No dissension and certainly no rebellion allowed.

The U.S. literary system today IS the Soviet Union, IS the Evil Empire. Understand this and you understand it all.

I see it as middle stage Soviet Union. Most apparatchiks still believe in their edifice of power. They’re blind enough, brainwashed enough, to continue to praise the shallow and mediocre works produced. More cracks will need to appear, more corruption pointed out—mirrors held up—and yes, also a valid alternate put in place—before anyone of them would dare flee, mentally and physically, the security of what’s already there. The cold safety of enveloping stone walls.

Do the major players really believe in their art? Do any of them have enough real intelligence not to? Does any one of them have the cynicism of a Stalin, to recognize that the stated ideals are fluff and nonsense; that ruthlessness is all?

I’ve previously identified Franzen as a Sholokhov type. Is there a Molotov? (Likely hundreds of them.) A Khrushchev?

Speculating about the tower of literary power can be amusing, if not fun.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why Is Literary Rebellion Needed?

The established literary scene is moribund but doesn’t realize it’s moribund. Its biggest flaw is its own insularity, cause of its complacency. The healthiest event which could happen to it is to be shaken up—challenged.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Intelligentsia

Here are a few revealing tweets from one of New York’s leading (pseudo) intellectuals, Keith Gessen, editor of n+1 magazine:

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Keith Gessen@keithgessen 15 Jul
Truly sad thing is that Zimmerman is not uniquely villainous, as prosecution claimed (and we have too). Just a standard-issue suburban male.
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Harvardite Gessen would have to explain what he means here by “standard-issue suburban man.” Zimmerman’s “suburb” was working class, a diverse, multi-racial community. Zimmerman himself of course is bi-racial. 

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Keith Gessen@keithgessen 15 Jul
 @tetzelny Right. It does seem that the prosecution based its case on Zimmerman being on top. He wasn't but it doesn't matter.
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Doesn’t matter? In some sense it doesn’t matter to Keith Gessen whether or not George Zimmerman is guilty, or what really happened. The script has been written, the accepted narrative set down. Keith Gessen is nothing if not a loyal follower of the accepted script. Think for himself? Try to find the truth of the matter? It’s clearly not what being an “intellectual” today is about.

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 Keith Gessen@keithgessen 15 Jul
Is following someone at night in a threatening manner illegal? I don't know. But it should be!
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Standard knee-jerk reaction. Something happen you don’t like? Pass a law! That’ll solve it. What does “in a threatening manner” mean? Could the proposed law be abused? Needless to say, the consequences and unintended consequences are never considered.

This is what today’s NY intelligentsia looks like. They view the world in a distorted manner. What they’re most adept at is creating distorted narratives. Their main imperative is to stay in step with the politically-correct crowd. Once a matter has been decided, no one questions it. The herd mindset at work.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Detectors Clanging Wildly

Ernest Hemingway sought to be part of a bullshit-free generation. With postmodern writers like Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace we get nothing but. I’ve shown that with some writers today, every line they write is bullshit. They’re not representative of their generation, of course, only of a corrupt and decadent establishment literary scene.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Is The New Yorker Undemocratic?

QUESTIONS ABOUT NEW YORKER MAGAZINE

Every time I glance at the background of a New Yorker staffer or writer, I find a graduate of the Ivy League. Harvard, Yale, and Columbia mainly, with a smattering of grads from other elite schools like Oxford and Stanford.

What percentage of The New Yorker’s staff consists of those from unrepresentative, ultra-privileged universities?

These persons and institutions claim to be democratic, they aggressively portray themselves as liberal and progressive, but their structures, their entire careers and lives, are undemocratic, even anti-democratic.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

At The New Yorker

THE MINDLESSNESS OF MAINSTREAM MEDIA

I notice that on February 14, The New Yorker magazine held a discussion, moderated by Amy Davidson, and including a panel of “experts,” on the subject of “Ethics and Drone Warfare.”

Think about that for a minute, because the very title of the subject is revealing. It allows the possibility that drone warfare could somehow, in their moral universe, be “ethical.”

Sell drones to us as a necessity for our survival. BUT, there is nothing remotely ethical about them. It’s an aspect of American Empire. There’s also something about them uniquely cowardly. They’re immoral. Neither do they achieve for the United States any moral benefit in the military sense of the word moral, which is akin to morale. Or: what kind of p.r. do they give us? Curiously, it was Obama who was going to change our image in the world.

(Were the atomic bombs dropped on Japan necessary? Possibly. Ethical? Were they not in fact a barbarous act, an instance of utter inhumanity?)

Which brings us to another question. All these staff people at The New Yorker suddenly showing questions about the Obama administration three months ago were giving him their slavish support. There’s likely not a person in the entire New Yorker building who didn’t vote for the man. It likely never occurred to any of them that there was any other choice.

After all, the argument goes: Mitt Romney would’ve been worse. We thus get a sense how the political game is played. Forget any talk about the Republican Party vanishing. They’re a necessity. They exist with the Democrats in a symbiotic relationship, because the existence of one justifies the behavior of the other. Any behavior. “Romney would’ve been worse,” the Amy Davidsons of mainstream media can argue—which justifies on the part of the Democrats in particular, and good liberals generally, anything. ANYTHING.