Junot Diaz and the Sensitivity Police
SENSITIVITY TRAINING FOR ALL NOVELISTS?
(NOT the Sensitivity Police.)
I DISCUSSED the matter months ago in the latter part of my second post about the Junot Diaz controversy. The rules and standards the writer must obey, and the lines he or she must never cross, expand by the day. Maybe the hour.
The writer’s personal behavior is subject to scrutiny in the new Orwellian literary world. But as important is a person’s writings. Fiction is no longer regarded as fiction. It will be used in judging you.
Case in point is this essay by Lyta Gold from the precocious characters at Current Affairs which appeared on May 8th. (I’ve covered Current Affairs before at this blog, including here.) Note how, referring to Junot Diaz, Lyta Gold has “strongly suspected, from his prose alone, that he’s a virulent misogynist.” Quite a leap. (Was the character Popeye in William Faulkner’s novel Sanctuary based on Faulkner? Who knows!)
The atmosphere of Gold’s essay is not that of literature, but religion. Current Affairs‘ peculiar pseudo-Communist/Social Justice religion.
The giveaway line is when Lyta Gold says, about Junot Diaz’s writing, “his work was presumptively taken to be flawless and free of sin. . . .”
Free of sin? Is this how writing is being judged?
Lyta Gold further says that “no writer . . . gets to be validated by invisible particles of virtue.”
Well, yeah. But is this the standard? Is this why Junot Diaz was validated to begin with?
(Literary awards– for virtue?)
Or because of his writing? Why are writers published? If all that will be accepted, after thorough personal screenings and background checks, are virtuous writers, the art of literature will be in even more trouble than it is now.
(Current Affairs staff, from their website.)
PART of what’s happening, ironically enough, is the imposition of bourgeois morality. The Current Affairs staff, like many such staffs, is completely bourgeois in background and sensibility. When expedient– in feeding their own selfish needs and conveniences– they’re as egoistic as Ayn Rand. In the case of Current Affairs, ambitious careerist ladder climbers. Harvard grads, most of them.
The happenings which Junot Diaz puts into his stories and novels are outside their experience. Not surprising, then, that they’re thrown by them. Which doesn’t justify an easily applied label like “misogynist” (a clinical term). If we start judging writers by their musings, their fantasies, and their fictional characters, we’re all in trouble.
This could be the future, if the Sensitivity Police have their way. A kinder, gentler literature– innocuous, harmless, and irrelevant.
Comments are welcomed.
-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit NEWS