Ripley Under Ground
any thoughts on louis menand’s new yorker article on mfa programs?
Any old asshole with a guitar. Any old asshole with a laptop. Singing to the mirror, writing for the bottom drawer
“Vanity projects.” Vanity is a very bad word in America.
The myth of the big break. It’s not that breaks don’t happen; it’s that the criteria don’t make sense. The terrible person who perpetrated the keyboard cat on YouTube? The bar band that’s been touring California for fifteen years? The nature photographer’s gallery shows? If not why not? Money changes the nature of some things, but not this; nor does it change after some threshold of mentions in whatever burg killed and ate Williamsburg to take on its power. It’s not that dialogic.
But the shame is real. Do it at night, with the curtains closed.
Without a trusted source of patronage there’s only the market, and prestige structures homologous to markets. Vanity remains vanity until enough people are convinced that investing their attention will yield returns in cultural literacy. No one wants a system of state censorship, but censorship projects did historically have to stop somewherethey couldn’t colonize you all the way in.
Louis Menand is doing his job as a New Yorker critic-at-large, which is to write breezily about someone else’s argument. I’m not done with Mark McGurl, though. I’ll get back to him inside another vanity project, after nightfall.