Ginsberg and Corso would never
have dreamed of the unlimited possibilities for self-dramatization contemporary writers enjoy. For all the accusations that Ginsberg became a "pop-star", "was eaten alive by the entertainment machine", etc., his writing still looks, at least in its middle mature years, like the work of an introspective, somewhat alienated artist.
Eggers and others almost seem, at times, to have one eye on a kind of literary Nielson rating scale as they write. It is not that commercial gain, self-regard and unlimited self-promotion ( Sinclair Lewis called it "auto-boosterism")seem the only engine at the center of their "creative" selves, but that the whole case for separation between writing as a commodified "product" as opposed to a solitary and unique "voice" bringing a new viewing angle to the world, has blurred.
The reading ( and tv-watching) public assimilates the new trends ( in fact, dotes on them) so rapidly, demanding a new "fix" with such frequency that any new writer with estimable success ( such as Eggers) must find it increasingly hard to resist marketing lures. These ("promotional opportunities") so often form around new works ( novels, say) so rapidly that they become a kind of exoskeleton more visible than the work itself.
Through this process, the vampire books of Anne Rice sell millions and her poet husband, Stan Rice
( recently deceased), a fine writer and one of the founders of the San Francisco Poetry Center, remains relatively unknown. At most, he is sometimes mentioned in passing as "Mr. Anne Rice."
Very good writers like John Nichols ("The Milagro Beanfield War")and Antonio Cisneros
are thereby overlooked while Pico Ayer and his ilk fill up the print queue.
And thanks for the link to the article, Sha.