Below are two images that I grabbed recently that double as writing on the wall and indication of what the people of publishing have wrought, which is three-fold: 1. They have killed off the act of reading 2. They have made it so that no one in the world can write well and 3. They have made themselves obsolete.
As we've seen time and again, the last thing that the publishing industry is about--or even remotely concerned with--is quality writing.
You have broken, twisted, talentless people who have formed a gatekeeping club. It's a subculture of sickness. There is no interest in the consumer. Consumers are non-factors.
The publishing system exists so that evil people can be evil with no impunity, no sanctions, no witnesses. In order to be able to get away with being that way, the publishing industry had to remove all potentially prying eyes. All possible checks and balances. In other words, anyone with talent and integrity, and consumers. People who would actually care.
When no one cares and no one is watching, you can do anything you want. Or so these people think.
As we've also seen time and again, none of these people have any ability. Virtually none of them can write anything that anyone would actually care about, and virtually none of them would willingly put forward something that was not done by someone just like them, who represents their ilk.
They have no knowledge. They then teach each other--such that it even needs to be taught--how to do the same formulaic meaninglessness.
That formulaic meaninglessness prevails from The New Yorker to the Alaska Quarterly Review, to presses in high places and low, such as they are. It's fiction and nonfiction.
Awards and plaudits, Guggenheims and genius grants--now there's a laugh if there ever was one--and clout and support and deals the like are handed out based upon who is whose friend, who is what skin color, who is what gender, who went to that school, who had those connections, whose dad was who, who is every bit as meaningless and mediocre as the people banded together to decide these things.
That last criteria is crucial: because it's what allows weak, broken, talentless people to feel unthreatened by anyone else, because that only surround themselves and support people as weak, broken, and talentless as they are.
Sick birds of a feather. And not one of them can fly.
People have more options than ever for what they might consume. The last place most of them will look is to the publishing industry. A lot of the people in that industry are independently wealthy. They have money because they come from money. Thus, making money means little to them. Power means everything to them. That is the real coin of the land for most publishing system people. At the pettiest, most childish, basest level. Being able to hold back anyone that they don't deem like them means everything to them, because to put forward the latest robot drone version of themselves is to pat themselves on the back. It's to self-credit.
That's how they build self-worth. And with blind hatred of anyone with abilities they don't possess. It's not real self-worth. But they don't have any viable reason to possess healthy self-worth. So this is what they do as a substitute.
This is what their "work" days are entirely about. This is what their entire lives are about. This is who and what they are. There is virtually no variation from one of these people to another. They got into this line of work because of everything they're not. And also because of how toxic and limited and stunted they are, and here within this system they could get themselves off on being those things.
They were free to be the biggest asshole they could be, and no one would do a damn thing about it. Nor did they have to possess knowledge, talent, intelligence. No thresholds, no standards. No positive requirements. The title would do. The same as the name of the venue or press. That they could call themselves something and expect others to cower, to kneel before them, to praise, to kiss the ass of if they wanted anything, even just a chance. Without actually having to be anything legitimate. All pretend. And with no one ever challenging how fake and wrong all of it was.
A system based on being like this. What of any value could ever come from that? How hard would it be for something of value to make its way through this gauntlet of tyranny, pettiness, stupidity, clannishness, envy, ignorance, incompetence, and hate?
It's not a love of literature that brought these people together. They couldn't care less about literature, or what one can call writing with a purpose and with value for people. I would dare say that no virtually no one cares less about literature than the people of the publishing system. If you haven't read a book in your life, you still don't care less about literature than these people do.
People who never read don't care less about literature, because if you gave them literature that is replete with magic, that is special, that they can connect with, there is the real chance that they would care about it. These people read less well now than in a long time, and maybe ever, since it became the norm for most people to be literate in society. Publishing took care of that, because when there's nothing new worth reading, people aren't inclined to read at all, and they get worse at reading, which is a skill, an ability.
Reading is like exercising. If you never exercise, you're going to struggle trying to run any amount of those stairs. When we don't read things worth reading, we think less well. We know each other and ourselves and the world less well. We're less equipped to understand ideas or to come up with and develop ideas. You cannot overstate the role that the publishing system has played in this. But all the same, a special work of writing, the most human works of writing, can still get through to those people. Still have their deep resonance. Still thrill. Inspire. But those people have to know that they're there, and they have to feel like there's a reason to do this thing they otherwise never do.
Whereas the people of the publishing system care about their petty egos. They're simple, insecure. And so arrogant, which also comes from their understanding--which is the lone form of understanding they have--that in the grand scheme of things, they're nothing. They won't do anything about that. Save behave worse. Because they can. They are only feel like they're not nothing--and it's a bastardized version of this feeling, a corrupted version--when they are exercising their pettiness and need for control for control's sake, for ego's sake, and never a greater good, never on behalf of literature, a valuable, productive, exciting, inspiring reading experience, and with never a thought for consumers, for readers.
It's all about them. And it's all about these things about them.
Only they can't keep going this way. This journal is part of that reversal, as is this artist, this force. What these people have done for decades now means that they're going to be replaced, and writing is going to be replaced by AI. It's happening as we speak. AI grows stronger by the day.
Before too long, there will be one human writer left in the world. Because anything these people write--whether that's the MFA-machined story in American Short Fiction put forward by straight-up system bigots like Rebecca Markovits and Adeena Reitberger (honestly: how could an app fail to write something better than this robotic, formulaic, nothingness called "A Century Ends" by Chaitali Sen?; and the world has never invented anything emptier than a Laura van den Berg story, but she's as one of them as you can be, so those stories are taken sight unseen by the likes of such bigots as Markovits and Reitberger, no matter how awful they are, and they are awful), or that pretentious, blue-blooded, wank-narcissicism in The New Yorker's fiction section that has less life in it than a dead fish, or the puff piece music profile--can be written, and written better, by AI.
It's all so interchangeable; it all exists on a boring, bland surface. Perfect grist for the AI mill.
No one reads anyway--why would you read any of the crap that people write right now?--and AI will take over.
I am the only writer whose work cannot be replicated or mirrored by a computer. It's too boundlessly human and unpredictable and versatile. It's too alive. It's always different. It never repeats. And I'm going to be all that remains standing between a world where humans create with words and a world of total AI takeover in terms of written content and product.
But these people in publishing are so obtuse--again, if you're the exception, you're the exception, in which case you should endeavor to be a part of a solution, because you are vital and needed--that they don't understand that they've made themselves obsolete. And it's not like you can just all of a sudden learn to get great at writing. It's not a decision. You can't throw your money at it. You can't play your race card and your gender card and your flavor of the month author card and your crony card and your nepotism card and truly write well, truly create work and stories that matter, that connect, that go straight to the heart and soul and through all the chambers of the mind of a reader, such that that reader feels this surging life-force as it illuminates and super-charges their past, their present, their imagination, their sense of wonder, their awe at human possibilities and human to human resonance, to have it accompany them--or return to them--in their future.
You had to have been born with an ability that you then worked for years and decades to master. And this system would have put an end to you early on, even if you were born with that ability, unless you had a fight and a will in you that very few people who have ever lived have ever had.
What we have instead, are all of these people of the system who can't contribute anything, and never could. That's the talent pool, as such. And they're why no one really cares at all. The only way forward now is to blow it up and start again.
AI is getting closer to the day where it does a lot of that blowing up itself. This is real. It's coming.