Saturday, December 26, 2009

Supply and Demand

There's a huge oversupply of both writers and books, along with dwindling demand for them in the culture-- which means the value of the writer has plummeted.

The only way to solve this is through extreme measures: Extreme presentation, promotion, and products. As important is to separate oneself from the mass in as many ways as possible, in order to change the supply/demand fundamental.

This is what early rock n' roll did on both counts. Rock began with a mere handful of acts notable for their extreme look, presentation, and music. Think Screaming Jay Hawkins. (Due to overexposure and oversupply, the rock model has been destroyed.)

The idea with literature, in the projects I pushed, was always to be different, and corner the market on that difference. This is the road to success.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Going Forward

is whether there's a desire among underground/unconnected writers for a new literary movement-- to be a "new avant-garde" as espoused further below; or if instead writers truly believe they can have success by following the "mainstream" crowd.

with this blog right now is to present arguments in favor of such a movement. Surely, it would have to be much different a movement, in conception and look, than the "rebellion" which made noise a few years ago.

Do there exist writers capable of writing "pop" stories?

Moreover, a new kind of literary art would be only the first step. That new art would have to be accompanied by theoretical/critical justification for it. A new movement would be two-track: A.) Exciting new stories on one track; B.) Quality essays and reviews about the stories on the other.

Watch for a prototype "pop" story of my own upcoming-- more stripped-down than my "Death of a Drug Dealer" (now up on another blog), which itself is in a pop mode.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pro and Con

A Lit Movement?

There's not a doubt in my mind that those in charge of our literature are wrecking it. Whatever their successes, the art is being marginalized. They're not giving the public what it wants. Literary products are badly flawed. We're a long way from a golden age of American literature. This leaves openings.

For myself, I wonder if I any longer want anything to do with the art. I'd be better off selling cars.

The problem is writers themselves. I can't begin to express the depth of my disappointment when I was trying to promote some of them. By and large-- with exceptions, of course-- writers are egoistic, self-defeating, timid, undependable, unimaginative when it comes to marketing and with no conception of how business works in the real world but considering themselves experts regardless. (Mainstream writers, utter phonies to a person, are worse.) Good luck to those who attempt to work with writers!

One example of what I mean is that many of the writers I was strenuously making noise for and about had complete scorn for me. A host of them considered me "not a writer"-- from Ann to Finch, Grover, Noah, Tim Hall, and others. (A great motivator for my own work!) I'd rather do p.r., but, er, I'm also a writer.
(See )

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Writing

in the post two down from this one is that our writing-- the underground's writing-- isn't good enough. We all need to pick up our game myself included. Our writing, as well as our ideas, needs to be nuclear. It needs to jump off the page.

It all should be a "brand"-- instantly recognizable; almost a genre unto itself. That's how we'll stand out.

We're only as strong as our weakest link. If/when we again make real noise, we have to be selective in what we put forward. Only our best.

One of my many mistakes with the ULA was believing we could do what the Beats did in the 50's-- when the climate in 2001 was very different. As it's very different, more difficult, now than it was nine years ago.

STILL, one has to be optimistic based on what the literary establishment puts out there.

1.) I browsed through the 2009 "Best American Stories." The readability factor of each one is very low. They're hard to get into. They're accomplished in workshop fashion, which is also their flaw: Too Much Information. Where's the story? The essence of literature-- narrative and character-- is buried under the attempt to write well.

2.) Check out this link:

The neurological novel? What a dead end!

These people are abandoning the playing field and inviting writers like us to take it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


What the underground lacks, to give it the ability to compete with the established literary machine, is its own infrastructure. I'm not talking about websites and blogs, which are lost in a sea of internet websites. I'm talking about magazines and review publications to give validity to our writings.

The establishment has its tottering flagships like New York Times Book Review and the New Yorker. The Eggers crowd has The Believer. We, likewise, need noise outlets-- not limited to print outlets (a radio show would be nice!), but as many substantive noise-making avenues as possible. It's one area where I and the ULA dropped the ball.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Avant-Garde II

The first question is whether a new literary movement is needed. I've argued strenuously that it is. That's what my "attacking" of Demi-Puppets and Overdogs was about-- making the case for an entirely new American literature. If you don't agree with the premise, then it's useless for you to read what follows.

We're so marginalized, so at-the-bottom of today's literary pyramid, there's nothing to lose by crashing out of it.

The next question is what our new literary art will look like. I avoided this question when fronting the Underground Literary Alliance. We allowed underground literary art to speak for itself. Much of it was good and most of it was adventurous. Yet, in hindsight, this wasn't good enough.

Should new writing be neo-traditional-- clear writing; a return to the "stuff" of literature: character, structure, and plot? Or should it be a new avant-garde, escaping in an entirely new direction?-- if so, what would that new direction look like?

I'll be arguing that new literary art can-- MUST-- be both.

"Literary" fiction has been stuck in ruts promoted by MFA programs:
1.) Overly detailed static workshopped stories.
2.) "Minimalist" lobotomized static workshopped stories.
(Both of these types, whatever the setting, present a narrow and timid view of the world. Novels of this kind are in fact heavily padded short stories whose viewpoint scarcely advances. See Lorrie Moore. Genteel subtlety is the overarching quality.)
3.) David Foster Wallace-style postmodern verbiage, presenting mountains of endless long sentences of insane solipsism.
4.) Eggers-style cutesiness; a toned-down, less intellectually crazy version of #3.
5.) Variations and hybrids of the four accepted styles.

But wait! A new phenomenon in the reading experience has been the rise of the graphic novel-- whose genesis was the popularity of the "Dark Knight" Batman comic books of twenty years ago. Curiously, leading status quo postmodernists like Jonathan Lethem and Michael Chabon are big fans of this genre-- even though graphic novels represent the opposite of their own word-clotted art.

What is the graphic novel art? (The superhero/detective versions.)

1.) Plot, in the sense of ceaseless narrative drive containing hyperbolic action.
2.) Writing stripped to its essence. The "Keep-It-Simple" sales maxim of engaging the customer/reader.
3.) An artsy, impressionistic "look" in the panels, which equates to stripped-down description; or, description cut down to its essence. The hint; the impression; the glance.
4.) Melodrama: every remaining ingredient exaggerated. Exaggerated character, personality, dialogue, emotion, and plot.

How is this traditional?

Many 19th-century giants, in some of their works, were already doing these things. Think Dickens, Dumas, Hugo, even Dostoevsky. This was done more in over-the-top popular French fiction like Leroux's Phantom of the Opera and the serial Fantomas, which were indirect influences on the early, darkly melodramatic "Batman" style comic books. The cycle of life and the world: Everything comes back to its start.

Graphic novels without the graphics, if done right, can convey more, in character, narrative drive, and emotion, than the graphic novel itself. The graphic novel IS the substance of fiction-- all unnecessary postmodern/literary garbage taken out. Can we do this using only words?

To do so would be the ANTITHESIS of status quo literature now.

Other undergrounders may have different takes than mine on how to create non-graphic graphic novels. I'd like to see the underground's best writers-- Wred Fright, James Nowlan, Pat King at least think about how to do it. In different ways, they have talents (Wred's "pop" qualities; Nowlan's darkness) which might be put into play toward this goal.

One thing I know: we need a more unified aesthetic-- theory put into practice-- if we're to create a more coherent, cutting edge movement.

To be successful, new art-- a new avant-garde-- will have to blow readers out of the water. We as writers have to imagine new writing, then CREATE IT. It will have to be both simpler, more basic, more exciting and more colorful than "traditional" novels, taking the core essence of the art and exaggerating it.

I don't know if this is possible. It's an open road.

These are my ideas. What are yours?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Striking to me is the lack of knowledge, by everyone involved with the literary game, of the recent history of the art-- how American literature (including its writers) has been placed over the past sixty years more fully within a set of rigid, interlocking institutions. The art has become imprisoned: static.

This mirrors other historical phenomena. For instance, the way Bolshevism in Russia over the course of seven decades became bureaucratized and stagnant. A better analogy might be the history of Christianity, which began as a charismatic happening whose sole focus was the "proclamation" or message, only to be gradually institutionalized within church structures. Historian Schuyler Brown called it "the emergence of orthodoxy and the concomitant process of institutionalisation. . . ."

This happened to what's widely accepted as literature in this country. That the literary art has hardened into "set formulas" is why it's lost its excitement.

We can understand, then, the fear and hostility, by those who support, and are sustained by, institutional lit-- from PEN to Media Bistro to HarperCollins-- toward upstart literary undergrounders who exist OUTSIDE any institution; who are instead part of an uncontrolled charismatic movement whose focus is not on set formulas for creating writers or their artworks, but on the intent, the passion, the message: the PROCLAMATION of literature; the rebirth of the art.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Finding the New Avant-Garde

is to herald the new; to recognize the real talents of his day-- particularly those who exist outside the walls of the status quo. To always seek a new direction for the art.
For me, pushing the envelope in any art form means reaching new levels of emotion.

I was thinking this after viewing the classic Western movie "Shane" at a public library several weeks ago. The film is very much art, in that it pushes and pushes to new emotion, right to its very end, with the shadowy climb of a wounded rider matching the risen level of emotion of the audience.

I was thinking later about the difference between talent and genius; how Madonna is supremely talented, much moreso than the Britney wannabes who followed. Yet for all her pop masterpieces like "Beautiful Stranger," another singer exists on an entirely different level: Bjork, creating the undefinable; reaching new levels of what Bjork herself calls "emotional landscapes."

Are there writers doing with stories or poems what Bjork does with songs?

At the peak of the zeen scene in the late 90's, and since, I've read several striking talents whose absence of prescribed craft allowed art and emotion free reign. The underground writers who were brought to light inside and outside the ULA never really fit my needs, my espoused doctrine, but on their own they were busting aesthetic barriers. (What's Jack Saunders if not a new form of Dada?) A few of them at times have approached levels of undefinable genius; writing that can't be controlled or quantified. This is what any new avant-garde has to be about.
1.) Marilyn Monroe: "The Misfits"
2.) James Cagney: "Angels with Dirty Faces"
3.) Marlon Brando: "On the Waterfront"
4.) Audrey Hepburn: "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
5.) Lana Turner: "The Bad and the Beautiful"
6.) Richard Burton: "The Robe"
7.) Al Pacino: "Scarface"
8.) William Holden: "Bridge on the River Kwai"
9.) Winona Ryder: "Girl Interrupted"
10.) Errol Flynn: "The Adventures of Robin Hood"

Monday, July 13, 2009

The PEN Raj

In the realm of American literature, Manhattan is a Britain-like island dictating the standards for literature throughout the "empire." Centralized and hierarchical, it's an outmoded model. "I say, old chap." In some cases, like David Haglund at PEN, the administrators of literary empire have literally, not just metaphorically, attended Oxford.

The official "small press," evidenced through outfits like CLMP, is a token opposition used to forestall dissent. Even Dave Eggers-- now standing at the center of Imperialist literary power-- was a tool; his McSweeney's embodying fake change which was no change at all, but instead a reaffirmation of the status quo. The establishment becoming its own opposition started with him.

American writers as a whole represent latent strength, like an undeveloped India or China ruled by a handful of Imperialist administrators. Writers are powerless because they allow themselves to be powerless.

An organization like PEN helps grease the wheels of literary empire. Worldwide it connects upper-caste writers across the globe, from the U.S. to India, while fitting itself into the dominance of the multi-nationals. In America it's one of many tools used to control the direction of literature.

The resistance movement has centered around two main outfits: one run by a few feudal turf-conscious chieftains feeding off the carcass of past glory; the other an unmotivated mass unsteered by a silent, secretive, and apparently inert politburo. Yet the Rebellion has always worked best when it's been free-floating outside any real bounds or handcuffs, like rebellious Cossacks on the steppes in Taras Bulba or With Fire and Sword.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Art or Truth?

THE DECADENT CLASS in their gilded palaces forge not literature, but "art." It's the effluvia of literature; the ornaments, baubles, and squigglies, so that eventually all that remains is ornament, with nothing behind it. Which is fine for their class of affluent narcissists listlessly drawing circles in penthouse sandboxes. Greater society is something they stay safely positioned above, behind barricaded walls monitored by unthinking guards.

What literature needs is more anger, more polemics, more passion; raw gutter outrage at the conditions of life as civilization collapses. This isn't a time for dessicated "art" positioned in airless museum boxes of plexiglass. The boxes need to be shattered.

The Real American Voice

has come up as to what's the "real" literature of this country.

What should be obvious is that what's presented as our literature by the insular skyscraper world of New York is incomplete and inadequate.

Fifty years ago one of the largest figures in the cultural universe-- one of the world's giant personalities-- was a writer. Ernest Hemingway had a greater and more influential persona than any pop star. Movie stars like Gary Cooper and Ava Gardner clamored to hang around with him. HE set the cultural tone.

Today, the death of a pop music star is cataclysmic. The greatest establishment novelist died this year and garnered not a fraction of the same attention or emotion. Or was it this year? Or last year? Who was he again? We've forgotten.

The Caretakers of Lit-- they're nothing more than caretakers-- have failed with their stewardship of the art. They've failed to connect with the soul of the American public.

The good news IS the literary underground, the sound of America's streets; an unfiltered noise that's raw and authentic.

That its leading practitioners are outcasts shows the movement is the new avant-garde. The diversely original writers inhabit uncoopted literary territory; a plot of independent ground. Neither their writings, nor their attitude, are acceptable to the caretakers of status quo. Check the names at
This is the sound of America now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Literary System

It's absurd to argue that there's no established system for creating and promoting literature.

For part of my life I worked on the margins of the auto industry in Detroit, and witnessed how separate parts of the process, run by separate companies, interacted to create a living and breathing whole. By this I mean from the steel unloaded from ships at docks, to the very many parts suppliers creating goods from bolts to glass windows to foam rubber, the many warehouses, trucking companies, the gigantic factories into which all roads eventually led; the automobiles belched out and trucked or trained to independently-run but very dependent dealership showrooms. (We're now seeing this organism in collapse.)

Literature was once a free-booting enterprise, but over the last fifty years became a giant machine itself; fed, as with standardized parts, by regimented and standardized writers from writing programs, with all the many other pieces of the machine ostensibly independent but in fact dependent on the rest of the whole; in symbiotic relationships with other parts of it; from agents to editors, to the sustained awards foundations which serve as a kind of religious order conferring legitimacy onto the entire mess; to mainstream journalists, so many of whom in New York feed at the foundation-conglomerate trough. When they attend PEN parties it's not to report on them, but to indulge in them as accepted members of the club.

This machine, even as it jealously strengthens its power, is as obsolete as General Motors, and as likely to eventually fall.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

2nd Wave

anticipated the current severe recession, probably because its generators came from Detroit, which nine years ago was already in severe recession. (Through most of my lifetime Detroit has been in severe recession.)

THE FIRST WAVE of literary rebellion was a Detroit-style baseball-bat attack on the literary establishment. We made noise, broke some literary glass. The real kick-off point was TV images of Seattle, December '99, so metaphorical broken glass was apt.

The Second Wave of Literary Rebellion will be more subtle, more focused on ideas and writing-- more literary-- albeit with no less excitement than Wave One. Though the Next Wave's scheduled kick-off date isn't until next year (February, most likely), its first step, the Petition to PEN, is happening already.

The Petition to PEN is also the final step-- at least my final step-- of First Wave activity. The Petition is grabbing the loose thread of a cloth curtain covering the current literary scene as if in front of a stage. It's pulling the thread and watching the curtain slowly unravel until it reveals, behind, the naked corruption and obsolescence of American literature today. The actors behind the curtain are naked. They're clowns-- real clowns-- but they're also naked. Their stage set is bare of all but a few naked props. The stage furniture is made out of cardboard. When we hop onto the stage set later-- next year?-- we'll examine the cardboard furniture and laugh about it. "That's all it ever was," we'll say, as the furniture collapses like soggy newspaper in our hands, and one of us pushes forward a trash bin.

Then we'll look further back, deeper, into the shadows of the stage, into the mists, creators of illusion, because that's the future of literature-- OUR future-- the new, scary unknown into which we must plunge; an entirely new theatrical presentation: a daunting, newly-experienced new literary world.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Looking Ahead

PEN doesn't represent most writers. It doesn't represent most of its OWN writers, who are window dressing for its actions. Who, then, does PEN represent?

As far as I can tell, it represents the multi-national book companies.
PEN American Center is an example of the NYC-based literary whole. Most undergrounders know this system doesn't represent them. The question is whether most writers of all kinds, including thousands of MFA-degreed wannabes, yet realize this.

New York-based outfits like PEN (and journals like N+1) are moving away from the concept of American literature, and by extension, American writers-- which is why it's imperative to construct new alternatives untied to the literary monopolists.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Club

PEN American Center, behind the progressive window-dressing, is like a private club, to which a select group of members have the special key to gain entrance to a small room, very poshly decorated, with a large table at the center of it. The members have place settings at the table, from Toni Morrison at the head, to others like Jonathan Lethem further down the line. Being able to enter the room is the point.

We watch a series of scribblers walk in with grins-- the Elect-- each holding in his or her hand the special gold key which says, in more ways than one, they've arrived. Yes, the relevance of the key has lessened, as the quality of American literature has declined, and as literature and the Club itself have lost standing-- new structures labelled "Movies," "Music," and "Sports" towering over the three-story brownstone-- but for those who carry the rare gold key none of this matters. The key itself is the prize.

The Club is a metaphor for this country, and how it's been run in recent decades.

The Petition to PEN is a metaphor for changes in American literature, from collapsing conglomerates to vanishing newspaper book review sections-- which nobody reads anyway-- to print-on-demand books, blogs, and zeens bringing new kinds of writers, unscreened and unapproved, to the forefront-- changes which will make the Club a memory of bygone days before literature took exciting new paths toward relevance and revival.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

For Writers

The Petition to PEN is for writers, by working to open up an organization which is supposed to represent our interests. For most of those reading this, the Petition is for YOU.

This Petition is one step in opening up the instruments of exclusion which have constricted the expression and dissemination of literature in this country; which have kept literature bottled-up as a societal force.

I've been told that I'm not good enough to be represented by PEN; or more absurdly, that I'm not even a writer. (The same attitude is held toward all outsider writers.) Remember that I began writing as a zine-maker; as part of a movement that says anyone can be a writer; that EVERYONE has the right of expression through the art.

We live within the context of a vast and mighty hierarchical civilization in which the Popular Voice is skewed, co-opted, or overwhelmed by mighty machines of noise-- global publicity engines-- controlled by a relative few. The objective of the few is simple: the retention of power.

The art of literature will become healthy again when all writers are allowed to flow through the literary bloodstream; when unnecessary and arbitrary clots which kill the art are broken apart.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


of an antidote to the problem illustrated in the post below can be found by joining the list of petitioners at

Monday, March 16, 2009

End of the Pods

THE LITERARY REBELLION has caused real anxiety among Overdogs because it represents real change-- a reversal of enervation and phoniness. Its task is to reconnect literature with actual human beings.

How did we get from Jack London and O. Henry to Francine Prose and David Gates?

The battle between pods and human beings can be traced back to Shakespeare's "King Lear," in which riotous Lear and his riotous friends are banished from the castle by his two uptight daughters, Regan and Goneril, who like suburban boozhies today, can't handle the noise and the mess. (Presumably, beer bottles all over the place.) For Lear's friends, think of the characters in a novel by Wred Fright.

The plays themselves at the Globe were riotous events-- across the street from bear-baiting shows and whorehouses. Genteel literary affairs? Hardly! The crowd smelled of beer, sweat, and piss. Did they heckle? They not only heckled, they threw fruit and peanuts at the players. Interchange between the actors and audience was expected. Note the plea for tolerance at the end of "Midsummer Night's Dream"-- "Those of you who've been offended, think of this, and be amended. . . ."

Quite reminiscent of ULA affairs!

Yes, yes, I know. Today's genteel literary audiences prefer to sit quietly and politely listening to the oh-so-quiet patter of words about sleepy vacations to Tuscany. This has been affirmed by posters on this very blog. What further proof be needed that the world of literature has been stolen by pods!

Shakespeare's plays were banished altogether when England's Puritans took power. Appropriately, Puritans were the forebears of a few prominent literary Overdogs of now.

The years since in England and America have shown the continual gentrification of society. Of literature: homogenization and hyper-regulation. Dictionaries and style manuals have proliferated, their intent to squelch individuality. Smoothing out the rough edges of writing, the personality quirks and politically incorrect prejudices, results in creative writers sounding alike.

The 1950's were the tipping point. From 1953 on there's been a deliberate attempt to make literature noncontroversial and irrelevant, with further emphasis on refinement. Literature became stripped of social commitment, of passion and emotion. This was of a piece with the boozhification of American society-- Dylan Thomas and Kenneth Rexroth transformed into John Ashbery and Louise Gluck: the wild angry human voice to the voice of a pod.

The Ray Carver case is the classic example of the podification of writing; the talented man put through writing program after writing program, his innate frustration and anger squeezed into a tiny hint of a kernel of influence in his stories-- then in a final last laugh Random House editor Gordon Lish made the pod process complete, turning Carver's art into gutted memories of stories.

Smooth blandness became the ideal. Polished nothingness. Which means: go through a writing program and as a writer, if you're successful, you'll be turned into a pod.

99.9% of the literati can't relate to the underground's noise or our cause. That someone is questioning the system of literature is unheard of. It's not done. It's beyond tolerance; can't be imagined or thought. There's an overwhelming mass of pods at every level of literature, except in the underground. In New York City one sees them exit the towering office buildings like well-dressed robots. Their mask-like faces devoid of expression match the polished smoothness of their glass skyscrapers.

The outcome: contemporary stories express feeling instead of emotion. The tragic sadness of being a pod.

Miranda July writes a bullshit story about giving swimming lessons in her kitchen to a pair of underclass folks. She's the pod trying to relate to human beings. Everything is sadness. Unarticulated sadness. How can you discuss being a pod?

It's not sadness so much as THE MEMORY OF EMOTION, emotion now forever gone. Apt that so many of these stories and novels end in suicide. For them it's the only way out. Life for them is an Ice Strom. The emotional coldness of an Ice Storm, present in every sentence, on every page.

A raging King Lear character? A madman on the subway. Beyond understanding. To such an exhibition, literary or otherwise, they can only blink.

Now it's time for the lit reading at the Manhattan bistro or chain bookstore or coffee shop. Bliss and Binky and Boo and the rest of the gang will be there. They dress carefully in their well-washed pod clothes. (No Jack London or Jack Kerouac human odors, thank you!) In the mirror they look stylish and hip and, well, pod-like. No trace of a flawed real human being. They view this with satisfaction.

Our pod writer jumps into a taxi to-- where? Aha! To Housing Works bookstore, the ultimate pod hangout. Other pod writers reading tonight will arrive in limos, but for you, a taxi will suffice. Keepin' it real.

As you exit the taxi a last remaining Manhattan homeless person still stupidly existing in Disneyfied Podland tries to hand you a scrap of paper containing his scrawled poems. He's grungy and smelly. "I'm a real poet," you say as you brush past him into the store. After all, "poet" is a designation which must be earned through proper certification and approval from above. Everyone but this character knows this.

At the podium you gaze out at the packed pod audience filled with fellow pods who attended similar pod Ivy League universities as yours. You're following tonight several pod readers who did a thoroughly unexciting but adequate pod job, earning perfunctory pod applause. One read a description of sex without love (love an archaic and rather gross concept). Another read a work about a tree-- a story to which, needless to say, all could relate. The previous pod at the pod-ium read a humorous story about a candy bar! It earned snickers from the audience. It was humorous because, well, because it wasn't. That was the joke. Call it irony. They were all ironic. Pod people could only be ironic. You could laugh at a story about a candy bar which wasn't funny because it wasn't-- that was the irony of it. It was the ultimate "in" thing which separated the pods from the human mob.

Now it's your turn and you want to read a poem about the absence of being human. As you stand there waiting to deliver in the usual genteel pod monotone, you see, instead of the audience, flashes of the pod mansion you were raised in, your seldom-there fake-smile pod parents, the European nanny, your hours on the computer, your subsequent classrooms, your pod training leading to this pod point as a well-lauded New York pod writer; you see the cold world outside and the beggarly homeless guy with his archaic "poems," then you see snowflakes-- inexplicably a tear appears in your eye, a trace of a mechanism, of a memory that you're not really a pod after all-- the shocking truth-- so you bolt from the podium in horror your pod conditioning incomplete writing career over to the reality of the blackness the streets the sky outside to vanish like a dropout like an undergrounder into the unknown.

Friday, February 20, 2009


One of my frustrations in this campaign has been trying to get the ULA's current #1, Tin Pot, to understand and live in the 21st century. Far more important than attaining space on bookstore shelves is gaining space in people's HEADS. This is especially crucial to a writers group with few resources. It makes no sense to expend enormous energy fighting for an infinitesimal percentage of bookshelf space-- 0.0001%-- when you can more cost-effectively have as big a media/perception profile as that of gargantuan industry book conglomerates.

Yes, books have a role to play. They're great as a secondary tool in the overall cause. But only that. As I've oft-stated, create a large enough cultural profile and the books will take care of themselves.

Writers of all kinds have the mentality of children. They hold a romantic 19th century belief in the magic power of a book. If they can only get published! Why, like Youngblood Hawke, all legendary benefits of fame, drink, riches, and women will automatically follow. But in an age when everyone is published, the published book itself means little, other than as way to prove to Mom and Dad, Aunt Ethel, Uncle Fred, and Fluffy the Cat that, yes, you really are a writer.

Exponentially more important today than the book is its accompanying buzz.

(Watch for other posts on this topic up eventually at

Friday, January 30, 2009

Two Movies

I expected to like "Frost/Nixon" better than "Doubt." The reverse happened.

Possibly it was because Frost and Nixon were unappealing characters: self-absorbed schemers. "Doubt" had greater resonance because each of the three main characters was on a journey-- seeking each's greatly different version of the "good."

The priest and the school principal (Philip Seymour Hoffmann and Meryl Streep) were two unrealized halves-- progressive and conservative in battle with each other; each with as many flaws as strengths. The set-up was as if Streep were necessary to keep well-intentioned Hoffmann in balance. Contrary to what one might think, all is not doubt in the movie, for an answer is provided in the character of the third main character, a young nun, Sister James, who is farther along the spiritual path than either of her elders; exhibiting unselfish goodness.

"Frost/Nixon" tells you what to think about the story; a liberal pat answer that Nixon after all was a crook. In asserting this the pure liberals in the plot feel superior. In "Doubt" none of the characters feels pure or superior. The viewer is not told what to think-- but keeps thinking about the movie after leaving the theater.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A New King Wenclas?

As I'm forced by circumstance to retool my strategy, it may be a good time to assess and alter the King Wenclas brand. I'm not quite the fire-breather many believe. What I have are fresh ideas for reviving literature-- and unshakeable belief in those ideas. (This more than anything throws people.) My task is to show writers from top to bottom that these ideas are timely and that they'll work.

To do that I plan to alter my tactics.
1.) More emphasis on this blog, for it to be the on-line focus of the ideas I offer. (AttackingtheDemiPuppets will be retained for exposing corruption and answering opponents.)
2.) Better clarity in explaining what the underground cause is about-- why we represent the true mainstream of American literature.
3.) An off-line newsletter, if I have time for it, focused on ideas. This is a return to my roots-- "zeening"-- my original outlet for writing.
4.) An oft-made but seldom-kept promise to myself: producing more of my own fiction and poetry.
5.) I leave open the option of promoting writers-- would love to discover and announce great new talent. Joint ventures between King Wenclas Promotions and others aren't out of the question, as long as my work is protected.

In conclusion, I believe we're entering an exciting time for literature. Change is upon us. I hope to be part of it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More Trilling

In 1940 Trilling said of V.L. Parrington's Main Currents in American Thought, that Parrington's ideas "are now the accepted ones wherever the college course in American literature is given by a teacher who conceives himself to be opposed to the genteel and the academic and in alliance with the vigorous and the actual."

. . . (the book) "has had an influence on our conception of American culture which is not equaled by that of any other writer of the last two decades."

If the ideas were once accepted and influential, they no longer are. It's time to update Parrington's book and bring the ideas back!

Folks, the pendulum swings. We are at the beginning of a sea change of literary attitudes. If you're a writer who agrees with what I say here, you're at the very forefront of that change.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The New Curriculum

The literary Rebellion has drawn on the DIY movement for foundational principles to create a vibrant, vibrating cultural philosophy within a structure of beliefs so that our movement will be unchanging and ever changing; conservative and radical; all at the same time: the DIY University. My task has been to apply this to one art, which is literature. My two main blogs (this and are blogs of ideas because they represent a movement of ideas.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lionel Trilling

A QUOTE (1945):

"The novelist of a certain kind, if he is to write about social life, may not brush away the reality of the differences of class, even though to do so may have the momentary appearance of a virtuous social avowal. The novel took its rise and its nature from the radical revision of the class structure in the eighteenth century, and the novelist must still live by his sense of class differences, and must be absorbed by them, as Fitzgerald was, even though he despise them, as Fitzgerald did."

(See also Trilling's essay "Art and Fortune" in The Liberal Imagination for his rejection of "poetic prose.")

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Voice

WITH the voice of literary change has to come as well a fundamental change in literary mindset and philosophy. Pomo posturing-- garbled intellectualism from trendy salons or the antiseptic halls of academe-- can scarcely speak to where the American people are RIGHT NOW.


With the economic crisis exposing the gaping fissures of this society beneath its glittering face, the time is right for the authentic change represented by outsider lit groups like the ULA. No one else is as well-positioned to know and speak about what's really happening. After all, we're writers in a struggle for survival. Who better to represent the American voice?


The literary underground is much better positioned, with our ideas and writings, for these changing times-- much moreso than the elitists, who look more and more anachronistic by the day. Events and the times will move toward us.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The New Way

The literary establishment is part of the New York City-based corruption of plutocracy which has bankrupted this country.

By contrast, the literary rebellion represents a roots-based alternative.

The choice is obvious.

Monday, January 5, 2009


This new movie about German resistance to Hitler was better than I expected. It speaks to the literary Resistance of now in that it's about a conspiracy against a conspiracy.
Parallels abound. American literature was highjacked in the 1950's; its great history distorted and its path diverted.

In October 2000 a tiny band of underground zeensters-- the most shut-out of writers-- plotted to recapture American literature. What was amazing was how much we accomplished against enormous odds.

Given the more peaceful field of conflict, our opponents were as ruthless as Nazis (I'm being marginally hyperbolic), led by a cult-like figure receiving unthinking obedience from his followers. American literature today is dominated by a well-selected Overclass which propagates, through journals like McSweeney's and N+1, jargon-filled bureaucratic writing so intentionally hostile to the public it could be written in another language.

All members of the literary Resistance, past, present, and future, should see "Valkyrie" for its lessons about rebellion: That once action is begun it must be carried through in organized fashion without hesitation, with no turning back, if there's to be a chance of success. The lesson of the film is that even if resistance ends in defeat it must be carried out regardless, to show that not all were obedient automatons. For writers especially, for this period of lit to have relevance, we must show we weren't sheep; that some of us believed the art could again become purposeful, relevant, and democratic.