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.


Anonymous said...

I don't like mainstream lit and I still think you're an idiot.

--a reader of your blog

Anonymous said...

It's funny that you differentiate between the literary establishment and the readers of your blog. I see nobody who comments on your blog who agrees with you. (See above.)

Where is this reading public, who are unsatisfied with literature and think your approach makes sense? With the publicity you've gotten, why don't you have any fans - any at all, as far as I can see - who stand up for you? Has nobody stumbled across your site and said, Yeah, this guy is cool? Most other blogs I read at least have a couple of die-hard fans - you got nobody.

It certainly appears that you've only attracted the same audience you mock. The "readers of this blog" are only people who disagree with you.

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

A have a decent-sized audience. All opponents? It's possible.
It's true that the public-at-large is dissatisfied with literature. Or not so much dissatisfied as not interested.
For an increasingly large amount of people, it doesn't exist.
Most depressing is that those inside the lit world-- its advocates and practitioners-- are in fact satisfied with where literature is at, as you indicate.
Which indicates no vision and no ambition, but also what could be called the GM syndrome.
General Motors was satisfied for many years to be exactly where it was at. In many ways it's still satisfied. It's inflicted with a creative inertia, a disinclination to do anything radical or take real chances, which borders on paralysis.
This is the case with the literary world.
And so, all several hundred readers even of this blog, and beyond, the thousands and thousands of others in the literary biz, at all levels, are wonderfully completely satisfied!
Everything is great!
The mediocrity, the regular sameness of the stories, poems, and most of the novels doesn't trouble them at all!
It's not even noticed!!!!
And you wonder that I call you people pods.

Anonymous said...

So we have two options: either we agree with you, or we're satisfied with the current state of literature. How about the option where we'd like to see you admit that you can barely put a sentence together because your eyebrows are dragging on your keyboard and that you AND Philip Roth should get out of the business? If you see the state of literature as analogous to the failure of a large corporation, you're clearly too stuck in capitalist modes of thought to have any idea how to get beyond them. Your brain is completely colonized by the military industrial complex. You're like a child molester who thinks looking at kiddie porn is a good way to keep the real children safe. Give up, sucker. Go start another new blog and call it "Failures of the World Unite."

--another reader

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Ah, a spark of energy from someone.
Yet here you are chastizing me, and not said conglomerates.
Will they go away by themselves?
Don't we have to try to compete with them-- to show them as failed?
What's your solution? To get away from them?
But I tried to get away from them-- lived five years underground, removed from the regulations and systems and credentials.
It's nearly impossible to do this now-- though some do this.
One has to still live in the world. YOU may walk around with a helmet over your head shutting out what's around us; a helmet with built-in blinders, and ear muffs.
Did you remember your nose plugs?
This monopolistic world has a pronounced stench to it.
I wouldn't want you to notice.
You might have to then write about it!