Monday, December 28, 2009

Whatever Turns Your Crank

This dirty cyclocross crank has nothing to do with what I have to say today, other than, like everybody else, I enjoy doing whatever turns my crack and I’m not ashamed to look at my crank for long periods of time – without touching it even!

A few years ago, I was wandering around the internets in search of the aforementioned and I found a blog – on MySpace, I think – written by a cookie-cutter-style literary asshole who teaches creative writing at a university and has published a couple of books that nobody’s ever read and whose reputation as a writer and a teacher exists solely on the tremendously positive, encouraging force of his personality. He’s the kind of guy who may hear the name Linda Letterwriter in conversation and he’ll say, “She’s a wonderful human being. Truly special.” Or you could mention the new collection of short stories by E. Masculated Weenie and he’ll say, even if he hasn't read it, which he probably hasn’t, “Certainly, that’s the strongest work E has produced to date.” This guy is a frequent visiting writer (on the one-night/1500-dollar plan) at universities all around the country, and never a summer passes when this guy doesn’t attend at least one weeklong writers-colony event, where he is paid well, fed well, and is well liked for his calm conversation, his appreciation for all points of view, and his selfless determination to promote literature and to foster a friendly, helpful creative-writing environment in which everyone can have their say and nobody will bristle at it. Sure enough, everybody loves the fuck out of this guy.

So when I found this blog of his, I was not surprised that he began his daily encouraging words something like this: “A number of people have been asking me to blog on the subject of narrative in the modern novel.” Now, if a person wants to blog on whatever subject, that’s great; have at it; whatever turns your crank. What rankled me then and now is that he included the number-of-people-asking part. 1) How many people were in that number? 2) Why would they ask this guy in the first place? Because he’s kissed everybody’s ass in the American college creative-writing circuit? Because he’s always pleasant? Or because he really knows something? I will allow that he might. Lots of folks know something. But he doesn’t know more than anybody else. The respect he is accorded has nothing to do with his knowledge but instead it has to do with his demeanor, which is as pleasant and unflappable as a McDonald’s vanilla shake.

This is probably nothing new in the world. You kiss ass; you get ahead. You bitch a lot; you turn people off, unless you find a number of people who agree with what you’re bitching about (this method works well on Fox News, I guess). In creative writing, the university form of it, probably because literature itself is dying in the face of new technologies, dissent is not allowed. You must say, “Everyone’s shit is wonderful. I love all books. I want everybody to take creative writing classes.” The consequence of this is that dissent itself may well vanish from the literature and without dissent, is there a literature?

Or maybe not. Maybe what pissed me off about the guy’s blog is just that he’s arrogant enough to preface his remarks by mentioning how many people wanted to read what he had to write. I want to tell him, "Dude, if you have to suck your own dick, do I gotta watch? I’m trying to eat a sandwich over here."

Fuck it. I should quit pondering this nonsense and go for a bike ride.

By the way, I think you’re wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. YOUR'E wonderful.
    i love reading your writings.


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