Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I Can't Do the Writers' Workshop Essay

My instinctive response was that something about the whole controversy was absurd, since two of the major reasons for the existence of writing programs, as far as I can tell, are for affluent white people who don't know what else to do with themselves to pretend to be engaged in a serious and prestigious pursuit, and for the colleges who run them to collect fees from these people. Of course nothing is absurd to people who are involved in things, and my sense of the less than brilliant dynamics and results of writing programs doesn't mean that they are not too white, or that they are not successful in some way that it is too subtle for me to discern. Still, it struck me as picking a fight over something that is not that desirable to infiltrate or emulate.

The social atmosphere at the writing camp that I went to, admittedly a small sample, did not strike me as suffering from excessive and rampant male heterosexuality. I was surprised by the number of energetic New York lawyer/doctor/finance types looking to break into the crime fiction market. These people did project masculine confidence, though as the origin of this was outside of their literary prowess or thorough domination of the humanities, it had the effect of being alien in the context of the conference.

The one thing that always ensnares me in these racial debates with regard to literature is that it seems to be almost implicitly assumed that there is a body of literature written by underrepresented groups that is almost as large as, and equal in quality to, that of the major national literatures of Europe, of which obtuse people like me, much to their detriment, are wholly, wilfully, embarrassingly, shamefully ignorant. My general feeling about this is that the people pressing these kinds of arguments, especially if they are enraged in some sense, can't possibly have enough of a grasp of European literary history, or much affection or respect for literature in general, or even reading, for me to have to take them wholly seriously. However I have long established that I don't see anything, whether hidden in shades of meaning or sitting out in plain view, that it would be useful for me to see.

I am falling behind on my movie notes. I wanted to keep those up to date.

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