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September 16, 2007

Notes from the Underground

We are all familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. Everyone must strive to meet the basic biological requirements: food and water, a place to sleep. Once those conditions are satisfied, our nature is such that other demands then emerge. And so, when satisfied, our requirement for thriving as human beings rise to higher levels.

One of the most basic is, of course, the need to complain.

Among some litbloggers, it appears that the need to complain about the National Book Critics Circle is very nearly organic. Were it not met, they would sicken and...I don't know, complain about something else, maybe. It's hard to say. (The situation as such is not so much hypothetical as practically unimaginable.)

Returning from NYC where I spent part of Thursday and Friday at NBCC events, I find among the 3000 items waiting for me in Bloglines -- and no, that is not an exaggeration -- a post that says, among other things:

The NBCC would have a lot more credibility talking about how litbloggers should behave if, say, they had any active independent litbloggers taking part in their self-celebratory discussion series this weekend...

So what am I, chopped liver? I was on a panel the first night. (There wasn't anything "self-celebratory" about it, nor was the NBCC horn self-tooted in any very audible fashion at the two on Friday. But let that pass.)

Although "blogger" would not be placed very high on my resume -- if, you know, I actually had a resume -- the fact is that I have been blogging for about four years now. It would seem as if this would qualify me as one of the "active independent litbloggers," if the whole "active...blogger" formulation did not seem faintly oxymoronic.*

It's true that I make a living, such as it may be, from writing. But not from blogging. Arts Journal does not pay me a cent to do Quick Study. I asked and they said no. Nor does any money change hands at Crooked Timber or Cliopatria. So, yes, independent.

Now, I have complained more than once about the litblog bashing indulged by some people in NBCC, and will continue to do so. And my comments at the event on Thursday night ran somewhat against the current -- insofar as I don't think new media are some kind of creeping rot destroying serious culture, or what have you. (A point made here, for example.)

So some complaints by litbloggers about NBCC are perfectly valid, and I make them myself.

That said, I have to add that there are complaints about litbloggers that seem no less understandable. Some of the hostile email directed at NBCC people is only slightly saner than some guy with a tin-foil Viking hat hurling polemics at the Illuminati.

* As a blogger, I take the whole "guy in his pajamas in the basement" thing as literally as I can even though we don't have a basement.

Posted by smclemee at September 16, 2007 3:19 PM