Friday, May 30, 2008

Seat at the Table?

Obviously, there would be no literary rebellion if underground writers and ideas were acknowledged by mainstream literature. Speaking for myself, I've never wanted to exclude anyone. The idea is to have underground writers INCLUDED in the discussion.

I started out as a newsletter writer in 1992 writing book reviews, but also discussing literature from a new perspective, questioning why it couldn't be more relevant to things that were happening in the world around me. (Such as: the destruction of the working class.) Subsequent encounters with the corruption of the literary establishment radicalized my attitude toward the literary world.

It was further hardened when the ULA was formed. We began to expose some of the corruption, and received a hurricane of outrage-- not least that we supposedly had no talent, were not writers, and so on. This came from all sides.

Would I like to see good underground writers published-- by anyone? Yes! Along with publication, I want to see them given the attention they deserve.

At the same time I recognize that the system HAS to change. No, giving one group of writers a seat at the table isn't enough-- but might be a starting point, necessary leverage, to allow our advocacy to begin to change the literary world as a whole.

The idea, though, is to give all writers leverage-- every writer-- which writers by and large, except for the very connected, don't have now.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Indy's Inspiration

UNSAID anywhere that I can find is a mention of a major influence for the "Raiders"/Indiana Jones series, 1959's "Journey to the Center of the Earth." (The famous chased-by-a-boulder scene is right out of this flick.) "Journey" has a few cheezy special effects, and, like "Raiders", is not without some cheezy acting, but is more intelligent, mysterious, and magical, with a classic Bernard Hermann score. Worth a look.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


have called the encounter 2,000 years ago between the ultimate bureaucrat, Pontius Pilate, and the ultimate rebel, a Galilean, "cosmic." It was a confrontation between legality and truth. Pilate asked, "What is truth?" because he didn't know. The little-known rebel lost the encounter, but that moment marked the beginning of the overturning of Empire: the known world turned upside down, as if the universe itself became broken.

The literary rebellion has had two such cosmic encounters in its short history, albeit on a much less important scale.

One was in 2006 during the underground's Howl Protest at Columbia University's Miller Hall, when Eric "Jelly Boy the Clown" Broomfield stepped unexpectedly onstage, and he and lit-Insider Jason Shinder stared face-to-face at each other. (An amazing happening.)

Before this, was my 2001 talk with George Plimpton at CBGB's gallery, in the aftermath of the ULA's debate with Open City and Paris Review. Plimpton allowed me to glimpse for a moment, as we talked over beers, the real person, tough and intelligent, behind his jocular facade.

He misread me, though; had no understanding of me whatsoever. Surrounded perpetually by sycophants, he believed there was no writer alive who couldn't be bought-- who wouldn't jump to his tune. The idea of an actual literary rebellion was beyond his understanding. It existed outside his complacent conception of the universe. He invited me to lunch at his house. I turned him down. He paused, then motioned to a flunkie for the money to pay for our beers, which he did with an extravagant flourish.

One afternoon in New York the aristocratic leader of the literary establishment met the beat-up leader of the literary rebellion; a signal turning point; the opening moment in one more revolution in the universe.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Opportunity

Given the choice between joining one million unquestioning people supporting a stagnating System, or being a lone rebel against it, I'll take the one every time. How many times does history offer that option? It's an opening that has to be taken.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Key Points

Here are some key points about what I propose literature needs.

MFA programs were intended to professionalize creative writing and increase the value of the individual writer. They've had the opposite effect, because what they in fact do is create too great a supply of writers (an artificial supply); moreover, writers who sound the same. These programs produce competence instead of originality; treating literature not as an art, but a trade.

The current literary products; novels. stories, poems; aren't good enough. They're not working. The audience for establishment stories and poetry in particular has dwindled-- their impact on the culture even moreso. The prevailing philosophy of what constitutes "good" writing is flawed.

The big publishing companies are dominated by a highly-educated elite out of touch with the vast bulk of the American people. The literary art has to be released from its bureaucratic prisons and returned to its roots, to become organic, authentic, and alive. This is what the zeen movement has been doing.

To strongly revive interest in literature, a break with the present is required. The new writer and new writing, revealed through new products, have to be different in every conceivable way-- look, sound, taste-- from the established mainstream.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Change and the Personal

The biggest weakness of the status quo mindset, starkly obvious, is that it wants to personalize everything. Therefore, criticisms of a system or bureaucracy must be happening for personal reasons. Criticism of Writer A can't possibly be for his corrupt actions. This is incomprehensible. It has to, somehow, be personal. In a society where the concept of altruism has been obliterated, the "real" motivations of the critic are then studied. What has he to gain? What has he gained? What are we missing? It couldn't possibly be ideas themselves which motivate the person. The system's apparatchiks operate on such a base, cynical level that understanding any larger concept, any greater force or historical current, is beyond them.

Which is their great weakness. To think of all things, all ideas, all happenings solely on the level of the personal is a giant handicap. But there it is. They give themselves away time and again. Their feeble mentality gropes for ways to understand what I'm doing. So devoid of sense of how ideas and events interact over time; so lacking in reading of business or history; they search for answers in characters from movies! "Oh, Rupert Pupkin." The dilemma in their brains is resolved. They can go intellectually back to sleep.

They stumble through a fog of their own arrogance and complacency. One can put an idea directly in front of them; one inch over their heads, in the form of a marquee sign, with neon lights, and they won't see it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why Zeens?

Because the nature of zeens makes them an active agent and promoter of literature, as opposed to blogs and web-sites, which seldom get their authors out from behind the computer. On-line literature will seldom snag people who aren't already interested in literature.

The successful zeen publisher is out in the world; selling, trading, promoting, marketing his or her wares. It brings literature TO the public-- more often to those not previously interested in literature. The demographic is broader.

Passive lit-blogs or active zeens?

Lit-blogs are written by and for the same folks who've studiously gone through writing programs; who buy their reading exclusively at B&N and Borders.

Anyone who's tabled at, or been to, a crowded Zine Fair knows that it's a true alternative to conglomerate dominance. Most lit-bloggers by contrast are unthinkingly supportive of the status quo.

The revival of literature depends upon reaching a much wider swath of the American public than it does now. Zeens can do that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Open Letter to Creative Writing Instructors

All art-- for that matter, everything in life-- is in a process of constant change. Art can survive only by continually questioning itself and opening itself to questions from outside, to become a willing participant in the fact and necessity of change.

You the instructor do your students a disservice if you close them off from contrary ideas regarding your art. This includes, and especially includes, the most radical and challenging ideas.

You'll find some of those ideas at this blog.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

About the Poem

The careers and works of Liam Rector and Jason Shinder show how establishment poetry has regressed over the years; how it's no longer even poetry, really-- the music gone from it-- but instead, cut-up examples of bad prose. Requirements of true poetic talent have been abolished.

The answer is simple: to get more people into college writing programs, paying large sums of money believing they're poets when they really aren't. The Ponzi scheme of writing programs is kept afloat for more years, sustaining paychecks and careers. All that's harmed is poetry itself.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Reverse Think

The tendency of the Overdog mind is to reverse everything. Power (their own) becomes weakness, and weakness power, or at least a threat.

Regarding the established publishing world, they insist, "You don't understand it." What they're really saying is, "We exist behind Kremlin walls and you can't understand it."

But the walls don't prevent me from examining them. They're on the wrong end of a one-way glass. They can't see out, so they think I can't see in. Their walls narrow and enclose their own viewpoint.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Why Change?

Why change literature? Why should you want to?

1.) It makes sense for the individual in any field or endeavor to be at the forefront of innovation and change.

2.) Once you see that literary change is inevitable, it makes sense to embrace it.

3.) Literary change is in its infancy. You can jump right to the forefront.

4.) When a field like literature is so skewed toward the privileged, change is moral and socially necessary.

5.) There is no art and has never been an art that does not change.

6.) Revolution, once begun, bounces toward the other extreme. Moderates, the Lafayettes, Kerenskys, and Pat Boones, are left behind.

7.) The longer change is delayed the greater the change will be.

8.) Those who require every question answered, every loophole filled, every guarantee given before they'll move their chess piece aren't agents of change. They're not makers of history. Change at its beginning demands a heavy portion of intuition and at least a partial leap of faith.

9.) Change is exciting.


Knowing the cycles of history is nothing more than understanding the yin-yang of the universe; being able to spot peaks and troughs; when a field or industry or stock or mindset is out of balance. In investing this is called contrary opinion theory.

When opinion is too far in one direction-- 99% agreement-- then it has nowhere to go but the other direction. In the face of extreme opinion-- or extreme stagnation-- it will flip over, almost overnight. This is called revolution.

Literature is at this reversal point.

Nothing to Lose

When you block all access points for classes of writers, they have no option BUT to seek new routes, new methods. Their obligation to their art requires them to find and use those methods. Or, blackballing doesn't work, but boomerangs on the blackballers.

Why You're Here

You're not here because you agree with me. You're here because you DON'T agree with me-- because this blog and my other blogs offer ideas you'll find nowhere else. Something inside your brain wants a new viewpoint; wants to be challenged. It's the only way your mind can grow.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Are You Satisfied?

Are you satisfied with the condition of literature in this country? Happy that novelist Philip Roth, a reminiscent and boring relation who peaked in 1960, is the face of the art for this mighty civilization; the best we can offer?

Are you happy with mainstream poets John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, and Louise Gluck? Do you sincerely believe their words can stir anyone?

We know that anonymous visitors to my blogs are satisfied, as are the legions of academy demi-puppets now burning candles to one of their fallen. The sycophantic phalanx of leading lit-bloggers, Sarvas, Maud, and Champion, are satisfied. Their encounters with the literary industrial complex issues from them an appreciative gush.

The "critics" at the National Book Critics Circle are satisfied, though their world is collapsing around them. The System's books, the way they're written, promoted, and reviewed, are all wonderful. These "critics" make no waves to disturb a public which stopped listening to them long ago.

The System, the bureaucracies and the bureaucrats-- the MACHINE-- is satisfied as long as it continues operating without breakdown. Placement in American culture alongside more popular activities isn't an issue, when one is content to merely exist, with a solid core of aficionadoes as insulated as the fans of opera, backgammon, or bridge. One takes no risks when the goal is to remain safe.

I know where established literary people stand-- but are YOU, the reader of this blog, satisfied? Or do you think we can do better? Do you envision a culture where writers and poets are as important as politicians, as popular as athletes, actors, and rock stars? Do you see not the current stagnation, but a dawning golden age of American literature?

I've seen it. Making it happen against a mass of negativists and naysayers is the challenge.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Kinder Approach?

How does one change the mentality of the literary establishment using gentle means?

Will New York, Vanity Fair, Vogue,, voluntarily cease their endless worship of money, their celebrations of snobbery?

Will the publishing companies, on their own, stop force-feeding young people snob-based garbage, to give them instead works reflecting this nation's democratic ideals?

Will American literature, by itself, with its novels, stories, poems, and criticism, return to its days of scope, relevance, understanding, compassion, and greatness?

My experience is that the minds of the Overclass which dominates our literature are made of unmoving concrete. I'd love to be proved wrong.

Jason Shinder and the ULA

The best place for info about the ULA's encounter with Mr. Shinder, during our "Howl" protest in 2006, is at Check the News archives and the Monday Report archives. One can't fault him too much for defending his literary milieu and its ideas, though they were misguided. He's a noteworthy figure in the underground rebellion's ongoing history.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


that I've allowed this blog to go off track, engaging in the kind of contention I'd rather reserve for my "Demi-Pupper" place. I therefore resolve to be easier on peripheral personalities, misguided though they may be. One of the difficulties in going after ingrained ideas of the conglomerate mainstream, is how to avoid hitting individuals who advocate those ideas.

Americans are being fed SO much propaganda through various streams, they're unable to see their own country beneath the multi-media noise.

If I'm to return to the original vision of this blog, I can't at the same time waste my time with the kind of perpetual anonymous attacks which have sidetracked me so many times. There exist persons of no character and extreme malice who make it their business to prevent all attempts at literary change.

How far do you compromise your principles in order to defend your cause against ruthless enemies who have no principles whatsoever?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day 2008

Most people don't realize that in 1919 the United States was on the verge of revolution-- that on May Day of that year four million working people went on strike in cities and towns throughout the country. There were demonstrations and riots everywhere.

It was an amazing day little covered by America's writers-- except, strangely enough, by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his great story "May Day." Even though he comes at the day from an aspect of privilege, he well captures the turmoil and mood which existed.

His story is also a good example of how the literary art has changed-- become increasingly narrowed. Notice his great opening paragraph which gives context and scope to his story-- making the reader aware that his characters exist WITHIN a civilization; are part of the sweep of history.

Fitzgerald, of course, though not a naturalist himself (though he kind of tried to become one in his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned,) had been influenced by the great naturalists, who at the time he wrote the story were still an enormous influence on our literature.

Compare Fitzgerald's story with the similar one by J.D. Salinger, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," which borrowed Fitz's ending, to see how the art of the story began changing around 1950, becoming more narcissistic-- a trend which has continued to now.

American Miseducation

Susan Nagel's book on Marie Therese is relevant to what's happening now (see my May Day post at because it illustrates the mindset of the most powerful members of our nation's intellectual class, centered in the heart of print media in New York.

The scariest part is that Susan Nagel, and one of her biggest fans, Maria Elena Vidal, are both college professors-- yet they've shown little dedication to history as a search for truth. (One could fill up an entire volume listing the historical inaccuracies and misconceptions in Nagel's book.)

On her blog (listed at a previous post) M.E. Vidal equates noticing the realities of this country with Marxism. The belief: "Oh, you said the words 'inequality' and 'class' so you must be a Marxist!" She shows an inability to think outside the standard boxes labelled "Right" and "Left" which have over the years become ever smaller.

Ms. Vidal should be reminded that the French revolutionaries embraced "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" without the influence of Marx. I don't think he was around! She should realize that there were once revolutionaries in this very country-- yes, believe it-- whose ideals were democratic and whose actions kicked out the royals and every touch of royalty, a royalty which George Washington himself abhorred.

Ms. Vidal and Ms. Nagel are big fans of Edmund Burke. They're reading the wrong text. They should be reading and teaching Thomas Paine's Rights of Man instead.

(Catch my full review of Marie Therese, Child of Terror at