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.