Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Populist or Elitist?

The DIY zine scene, from which the Underground Literary Alliance was spawned, was by its nature populist literature. That’s to say, not imposed by mandarins from above, but a grass roots movement. As Jeff Potter calls it, folk art. Folk literature.

The robed defenders of elitist literature were the most intent on shutting out the ULA. But in so doing they were shutting out the world.

When Tom Bissell used the slur, “lots and lots of tombstones,” he may have been more prophetic than he intended. The tombstones won’t be for people, but instead for the relics of dead art. Elitist literary writing has been a near-corpse in a coma for decades, kept on life support by universities and nonprofits, unable to connect with the American populace, and so, an inauthentic representation of American culture.

Establishment literature has been a decayed and tottering castle waiting to be toppled. Now the approaching hordes of ebooks appear certain to accomplish the feat. Stale elitism won’t survive.

The only question is what style of new American literature will rise from the rubble?

The Underground Literary Alliance has always been the vanguard.

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