I can relate intimately to the many excruciating aspects of this procedure: the humiliation of having to credit your own work, the bluff confidence required in a cover letter, the endless fiddling with the language of that cover letter, unsure what pose to strike because you’re unsure what the cultural gatekeeper on the other end wants from you, (which of course is a way of protecting yourself from the fact that they don’t want anything from you); the humiliation of knowing that you don’t know the right people, so this probably isn’t going to work; the humiliation of knowing you’re one of those people who doesn’t know the right people, and so has to blind-submit; the humiliation of pretending to believe that maybe it will work, even though you know better; and of swallowing your disgust while “making sure you cover every base.” The exhaustion and nervous fatigue occasioned by such forced optimism; the bitter, bitter, steeliness of learning not care that your stuff will probably be thrown out; of regarding your work—reproductions of your work—as frontline soldiers in a war of attrition, cannon-fodder, whose sheer numbers will eventually—hopefully— overwhelm the opposition and swarm its walls. And there is the awful taste of complicity in acknowledging that it will be thrown away, and of trying to game that.
09 September 2009
I am busy editing the next issue of Cultural Politics for Berg. There are some interesting things in it. Here, for example, is a paragraph from an article by the American artist David Levine, which I found myself taking personally (because the first 50 pages of my
baby novel are currently in the hands of a literary agent):