SUBCULTURE AND MEGACULTURE aka “GET ME IN CONTROL OF ABC FAMILY AND I WILL FUCK THIS COUNTRY UP by Chris Dankland
Chris Dankland has his head in the clouds. They surround him. Why this is the case is complicated. It probably has to do with smoking. Or he could be really tall in the Earth’s atmosphere. Whatever the reason Chris Dankland is a venerable alt lit institution. His work on Metazen has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Poetry prizes don’t get classier than Pushcart. So clearly Chris knows what he’s doing. This makes his epic essay fascinating.
He’s right. Alt lit gets paid zero dollars. Despite what people say, nobody lives on zero dollars a year. That’s unsustainable. For those fortunate enough to break into the echelons of the publishing world, they really need to lift up some of the alt lit writers. Every alt lit writer has multiple hats. Alt lit writers have day jobs generally speaking (with a handful of exceptions). Many alt lit writers have families (Greg Santos) or travel around the world (Jacob Steinberg, Willis Plummer). Some live in mystery and may be well-adjusted members of society (Frank Hinton, Beach Sloth, xTx). It is impossible to say. Wherever an alt lit writer is on the spectrum they do their writing out of love.
There are those who write hard despite the complete lack of monetary gain. Love can be felt from these people. Lucy K Shaw and Stephen Michael McDowell are two people who embody this work ethic. In fact they were so prolific over the summer that an entire week’s Beach Sloth posts consisted almost exclusively of their work. Yep that’s a level of dedication that’s admirable. More people work on similar giant levels of output (Steve Roggenbuck or Daniel Alexander). Others work on large tomes of work (such as Jacob Steinberg’s epic ‘Cityscapes’).
Books are important to Chris Dankland’s life. Those who read books will never die. Mega-culture ensures this will happen. Protected by books the book readers can find refuge in their paper-clad items (or PDF format, that’s been hip lately). Here Chris discusses the concept of alt lit writing for alt lit. Signs point to such a thing occurring. Built into alt lit’s DNA is a sense of community, of inclusion as opposed to exclusion. While this is something to clearly avoid as writers writing for writers is never a ‘turn on’ this doesn’t appear to be a particularly large problem right now at least.
Overall at the turn of the year alt lit grows ever stronger. People are engaged to a ludicrous degree with alt lit. Various ‘shit-storms’ show off this ability to simultaneously interest and deject those on the sidelines. However as alt lit grows larger, taking up new spaces, new continents, countries and cities it’ll continue to expand focus. More voices means new perspectives. This is a good thing. This will continue to happen until alt lit becomes simply ‘lit’. One day alt lit will become so lit that Chris Dankland will bring others to rise up into the heavens with him, to Mount Olympus where prolific alt lit bloggers reside.