Monday, October 29, 2012

Why Restart the ULA?

For me the reason would be the same as the reason why I helped begin the original version in 2000. Namely, the realization that with established literature, nothing is there. A cardboard castle filled with posers and phonies. Am I surprised that the "great" Tom Bissell refuses to defend his smear essay? Not at all. He's a literary con artist, with the facade of substance but not the reality of it. Is he the best they've got? It's scary to consider how far American literature has fallen. Bissell has touchy-feely glibness, and is an artful propagandist able to fool the perpetually naive, but of any semblance of real intelligence he's lacking. Bissell is a herd follower whose ideas are guaranteed to consistently conform with those of the herd, allowing himself no variation, due to his limitations. He better than anyone knows this. In a fair discussion about his essay-- or literature in general-- the paper facade would be exposed for all to see.

Why restart the ULA? Because if we got a team together of kickass underground writers, and stayed on track-- instead of disintegrating from internal disagreements (or our own poverty)-- we'd rip through the paper established literary scene of today. Constipated arrogant personalities living in a make-believe world of self-importance, sincerely believing they're "great" writers and thinkers.

1 comment:

JeffOYB said...

I often question the wisdom of relying on writers to support our cause. Obviously, we need them -- they're the artists, the creators! But we need others to back them up. Working with indie writers in a group cause is like herding cats. Still, we obivously DO need the writers.

It might be neat to ask indie/underground writers today if ANY would be willing to step onto the public stage and, if so, who would they be willing to do so with. Would they debate? Is there ANYONE who they think they legitimately contrast with and who they'd like to speak out in contrast to?

It's worth noting that if they were willing to do this they might get more attention for their work and ideas than otherwise possible. Would such a pay-off be of interest?

Or, if they won't go as far as debate -- odd, that they might be so timid -- then would they like to step up and make some noise with someone as allies? Preaching to the converted seems a bit wimpy but at least it's something. Call it 'community building.'

This reminds me, again, of our old nemesis Dan H from alt.zines and wemakezines -- an alt-lit/tab guy who asserted that the indie world was big and fine as it was, that it was happy to leave the mainstream alone and build and serve its own world, that the market worked as-is. Alt-tabs serve a need by promoting niteclubs and Dan Savage -- we know this because alt-tabs get distro, sell ads, coordinate with popular events, and attract staff loyalty. Indie novels sell fine in their niches, too, said Dan. All is well, protest the war, march on the IMF.

The alt-scene back then created a couple roadshows that interacted some with the ULA. There was the Angry White Men Writers Tour, or some such. Also an exotic arts tour that Dan and/or an attacker of the ULA was involved with which sold well at niteclubs. I note now that neither Tour featured debates.

Could something like the famous/infamous Brinkley-Vidal exchanges happen today? Heck, Brinkley also brought out hippies such as Ed Sanders and treated them somewhat respectfully even as he did his best to nuke their views. He had those famous/infamous Kerouac displays as well.

It would be neat to see what might be done to create such dynamics again. Could the ULA ever find anyone willing to appear with them either as Enemy or Ally? If not, who would our enemies and allies LIKE to appear with?

Are public debates now gouche? Maybe even the idea of having views that one might contrast with others is unseemly. Style is just a choice, after all. What is there to say about detailed descriptiveness?

And maybe today's indie/underground writers are mostly MFAers anyway. Those tend to be shy, don't they. Very smart and clever, though. Would they even want an attention-getting forum? Why? Their writings say all they want to say. They are hothouse flowers. ...Designed to procure sinecures. Do cocktail/potluck friends even read each other's work? Is it meant to be read?

What do indie/underground writers want today, anyway? I don't mean to put words in their mouth. I'd like to find a 'safe space' where they'd feel free to let us know. (Then, if any happened to have a populist notion and were hard, reliable workers, I bet the ULA would like to know about them.)