Thursday, June 14, 2007

Well, yes ...

... Authority of a New Kind.

Does Gorman really believe, along with Andrew Keen, that “the most poorly educated and inarticulate among us” should not use the media to “express and realize themselves”? That they should keep quiet, learn their place, and bow to such bewigged and alienating confections as “authority” and “authenticity”? Authority, after all, flows ultimately from results, not from such hierophantic trappings as degrees, editorial mastheads, and neoclassical columns. And if the underprivileged (or under-titled) among us are supposed to keep quiet, who will enforce their silence—the government? Universities and foundations? Internet service providers and media conglomerates? Are these the authorities—or their avatars in the form of vetted, credentialed content—to whom it should be our privilege to defer?
Well, Gorman was president of the ALA when this occurred and when this letter was sent.
Here's a different take (we link, you decide): Lost in the Hive Mind.
I am surprised that so many seem unaware that authority is the weakest form of verification, that it needs to be corroborated, that something is not necessarily so because some guy with a big name says it is. The antidote to what Gorman and McHenry are compaining about is critical thinking, not submission to authority. An agrument is good or bad based on its structure and its grounding in fact, not by virtue of the letters appended to the name of the person advancing it or the title that precedes that name.


  1. This sounds good in theory, but the fact is that those personages with titles next to their names dominate large institutions backed by large sums of money. They control access to large-scale publication and the control the engines of large-scale promotion.
    It's how the literary system works.
    One can't be a critic, or a journalist, or whatever TITLE lit people care to give to themselves, without understanding the context within which writers and literature are placed, which by said "critics" is consistently ignored.
    Uncredentialed writers IN FACT are cut very little slack by this society, especially if they have independent voices and a unique point-of-view.
    Ultimately, the only conclusion such writers can come to is that the present system must be overthrown. (It's already collapsing on its own.)
    I waste my time, needless to say, even stating such truths. I should be focusing entirely on introducing literature to new segments of the population now ignored.
    Don't think for one moment that fossilized groups like NBCC know how to reach those people, or that they're capable of generating new ideas, when they relentlessly flee from them. Contrary ideas are anathema to today's lit world. But they won't forever be able to keep them out. Literati can hid in their castles but then the flow of literary history will merely bypass them; they'll be left as decaying, isolated castles, increasingly meaningless to the public at large. Not all the billions from all the conglomerates will be able to save the rotten structures.
    Watch it happen.
    It's happening now.

  2. But one has to be careful not to commit the same error that some of those posting on the NBCC blog have been committing - alienating natural allies. And there are things one can do. In fact, I just did one: Bring these people to the attention of the public and point out the absurdity of their position. Gorman clearly is an apparatchik for whom an original idea would be indistinguishable from a headache.