System versus Zeitgeist

TWO SIDES OF THE JUNOT DIAZ BOOK WORLD CONTROVERSY

Butler_Library_Columbia_University

I SAID at the outset of this examination the conflict was taking place within the established, New York-centered literary world. A narrowly exclusive yet still-powerful tower of connections, money, and power. The conflict has little effect on writers outside that world.

The impact, however, on those writers existing within the established system, and those who aspire to be there, is potentially enormous. The questions become, “How politicized is the literary world?” and, “What is the correct stance to take?”

SYSTEM

View_to_One_World_Trade_Center
Junot Diaz made his way as a writer as a creature of the established system, with all that entails. Compromises and rewards. Involvements with long-time flagships of status quo American literature like the Pulitzer Prize committee and The New Yorker magazine. When accusations against him arose, he looked for resolution and support from the institutions which sustained him. Chiefly, Boston Review, where he’s Fiction Editor, and MIT, which employs him as a professor. That those two substantial entities cleared him should have been enough. But wasn’t.

The matter was never going to be resolved by institutions, but within the court of public opinion and by media. It’s not an institutional struggle, but a PR battle.

The maneuvering continues– Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great attempting to overlap the other’s lines.

ZEITGEIST

lightning_over_the_city_20171218_1848356786
Junot Diaz’s main accusers placed their faith in the ongoing zeitgeist animating today’s established intellectual community– the political spirit and emotion existing inside institutions but also outside them. The #MeToo wave energizing journalists and writers across the nation. The Junot Diaz defense is static. His opposition, dynamic. Which puts him at a disadvantage. That he has long been himself a key part of the ongoing cultural revolution– the zeitgeist– only served to tie his hands when the rules of ideological judgement changed and the winds of correct thought and behavior shifted.

IDEOLOGUE AND APPARATCHIK

mbandlililoof(Monica Byrne and Lili Loofbourow.)

EVEN THOUGH her history of making shaky allegations was quickly exposed, accuser Monica Byrne didn’t flinch, confident in being on the correct side of the issue. Her instinct has been to follow the larger intellectual herd– more, to get in front of it, as she’s capably done the past several years, with hardly a misstep. The idea being that emotional outrage is a stronger force than evidence, facts, and truth.

So, also, is having the right politics. Interesting that Byrne’s baseless allegations one year ago about Melania Trump– about which she cannot give the slightest detail about how she was in a position to receive such information– has protected her from the scrutiny of the press. Not even the Boston Globe, which Byrne has accused of enablement, will discuss those unsupported allegations, or the rest of Byrne’s history.

Byrne’s chief technique in the Junot Diaz matter, as one year ago, has been the spread of gossip and rumor.

It creates hysteria for your side.

Reading this, who would not be worked up into a frenzy against Junot Diaz?

*******

Monica Byrne finds supporters everyplace.

One of them is Lili Loofbourow, whose Slate article I examined in my last two posts. If Monica is the full-bore ideologue, Lili is the media apparatchik whose ability to write articles for a variety of establishment publications depends on her knowing the zeitgeist.

That the commissioned article carries a slant is a given. Objective journalism is an extinct species in the realm of establishment media. Everything from a person’s writings and life can be thrown into the mix to paint the picture of villain. The emotion becomes so strong, readers don’t notice or care about the absurdities in the piece.  Notably when Loofbourow concludes it with, “Everyone is guilty.”

Everyone? Are we talking about collective guilt– or a secular version of original sin?

What, then, is the solution to the stated problem of collective patriarchy? Destroy society from top to bottom? Eliminate men? A matriarchal society with test-tube babies? Loofbourow never says.

But does she really mean what she says and implies? Or is it posturing? Following the zeitgeist? Loofbourow herself, by all accounts, is in a happy monogamous relationship with (gasp!) a man.

ANOTHER BUREAUCRAT

adam morgan
ANOTHER typical example of herd follower is Adam Morgan of the Chicago Review of Books, who has announced on Twitter his support of the accusers of Junot Diaz. Just so everyone knows. “Chicago’s premier literary critic,” Morgan, like Loofbourow, knows which side to be on in order to sustain his career. He has the bureaucrat’s talent for spotting the ascendant power, and accommodating himself to it.

An example is this article on “5 Books That Changed My Life.” For Adam Morgan, all five life-changing books were written by women. After he tweeted out a link to the article, his next tweet gave the game away: “Honestly, these were the first 5 that came to mind.”

Honestly. Adam Morgan didn’t expect anyone to believe his selections, because he didn’t believe them himself. (Glancing sideways as he sends the tweet to see if he’s fooled anybody.) He knows how the game is played. Jane Austen said, “In every power, of which taste is the foundation, excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes.”  Not in 2018!

THE MOB
Have we reached the point of what this old movie trailer calls “vigilante bloodlust”? Or a better question might be, “Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?”

****
NEXT: Conclusions.

Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit News

Flash Update on the Junot Diaz Matter

Question-mark

HERE”S part of an exchange I had yesterday with Monica Byrne about the Junot Diaz alleged sexual harassment controversy. The conversation was initiated by Byrne. The context is the previous New Pop Lit News post.

Do tweets go viral that quickly? I guess.

It remains curious that many of Junot’s defenders won’t mention the scurrilous allegations Byrne made one year ago. Did she choose an approved target?

As you can see, our twitter conversation concludes with Ms. Byrne declining to answer questions about those allegations.
*******

Jigsaw_puzzle_(detail)

Last evening New Pop Lit‘s editors had dinner at a quaint Italian restaurant with a train set running along the walls and had too much to eat. Afterward I had a crazy dream in which two of the pieces of the Junot Diaz puzzle came together. I’ll discuss that MONDAY.

-K.W.

Monica Byrne: Who’dda Thunk It?

FIFTH IN A SERIES ON THE JUNOT DIAZ BOSTON REVIEW CONTROVERSY

AS ANYONE following the Junot Diaz/Boston Review controversy knows, sci-fi author Monica Byrne has been one of his main accusers– describing on her Facebook page his alleged bullying of her at a literary event, while also citing McCarthy-style a list of 38 unnamed names with similar accusations. (“I hold in my hand. . . .”)

Anyone reading her description of what happened had to be immediately sympathetic. It’s only that Diaz defenders have aggressively looked into the matter that another side of Ms. Byrne is emerging.

Namely, that making unsupported allegations seems to be her stock-in-trade.
*******

HERE’s a photo of Monica Byrne taken from her blog, Branding While Female, dated November 4, 2015:

Monica Byrne photo-on-8-25-15-at-10-05-pm

The caption accompanying the photo reads, “That time I trolled Donald Trump with a bloody middle finger.”
*******

NOT TOTALLY SURPRISING then that in June 2017 she was the source of unverified rumors that Melania Trump was having an affair with the head of security at the Trump Tower lobby. You might remember the story– it ran in quite a number of media outlets, including these:

http://perezhilton.com/2017-06-02-melania-trump-donald-affair-head-security-tiffanys-tower-years-monica-byrne-report

https://www.someecards.com/news/politics/melania-trump-cheating-rumors/

https://www.lovebscott.com/oh-really-melania-trump-reportedly-affair-head-security-tiffany-co-trump-tower-lobby-years

https://www.inquisitr.com/4271083/melania-trump-affair-rumor-first-lady-mocked-on-twitter-over-alleged-cheating/

https://us.blastingnews.com/news/2017/06/man-melania-trump-is-allegedly-cheating-with-has-photo-shared-on-social-media-001749225.html

BUT AFTER ALL, it was only Donald Trump, right? Everybody hates the guy. No blowback to speak of against Monica.

Apparently emboldened, Monica Byrne this year joined the chorus of accusers against Junot Diaz. Did she, as some claim, smell the opportunity for easy publicity?

AT THE MOMENT things don’t look good for the anti-Junot Diaz side. (Carmen Maria Machado already fairly well discredited.) We’ll have to see how this finally plays out.

(p.s. I’ve taken a lot of heat from Junot defenders for not immediately disbelieving the accusations against him. As I said in the second of the posts about this issue, I was not about to rush to judgement either way.)

STAY TUNED!

-Karl Wenclas on the New Pop Lit News beat.