THE FIRST WAVE OF LITERARY REBELLION
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.