I was startled recently to find myself described (in response to my review of Alan Williams’s novel Ockham’s Razor) as acting like a gatekeeper for Mormon literature. Partly this was because I had seen my comments mostly as definitional rather than exclusionary: Ockham’s Razor is a book of type X, as opposed to type Y. Mostly, though, I think it’s because calling me a gatekeeper seems to imply a level of power I don’t see myself as having.
The question of who gets to define Mormon literature, and what is good and bad within it, is an area where it seems to me that this kind of conflicted perspective is common. We here at A Motley Vision don’t see ourselves as a center of power and authority in the discussion of Mormon literature: rather, simply as a place where some of us get to hang out, shoot the breeze, talk about things that interest us (and that usually have nothing to do with our day jobs), and spout opinions that generally encounter as much disagreement as agreement from other posters (as witness the reaction to that same review). But to others, we are a bastion of The Establishment in Mormon literature — or so I suddenly perceive or guess. It is (would be) to laugh, if it were not also such a sad commentary on the state of Mormon letters.
Continue reading “Gatekeeping and Power in the Mormon Literary Community”
In the spirit of egalitarianism and celebration and self-promotion and just plain awesomeness, I bring you my personal favorite posts from each AMV contributor as of right now but subject to change based on the whims and vagaries native to the benevolent dictator that I am and in alphabetical order by first name because I can’t be bothered to remember who joined when or maybe it’s so I can have the final word although really when do I not have the final word, and also there’s no reason to read too much in to my selections because see the use of the words whims and vagaries earlier in this sentence so if I were to do the same thing next week it could look totally different, and you never know — maybe I will:
- Admin: Bradly Baird on the artifacts of LDS memory
- Anneke Majors: Minerva Red
- Eric Russell: In Defense of the Critics
- Eric Thompson: Half Faked
- Harlow Clark: Gadianton The Nobler, Reflections on Changes in the Book of Mormon, Introduction to Textual Variants Part IV
- Jonathan Langford:
- Katherine Morris: “Bread of Affliction” and Cultural Self-Consciousness
- Kent Larsen: Why we need Mormon Culture
- Laura Craner: Beware Brother Brigham (a review of the book by D. Michael Martindale)
- Mahonri Stewart: Of Prophets and Artists: A Household of Faith Or A House Divided?
- Patricia Karamesines: The Rhetoric of Stealing God
- S.P. Bailey: The Things We Bring Home
- Theric Jepson: The Hero’s Journey of the Mormon Arts
- Tyler Chadwick: The Tragic Tell of Mormon Morality, Part IV
- William Morris: Damn you Norman Manea!
Feel free to get all nostalgic and hagiographic in the comments. To peruse our archives by date or category, click on the drop down menus over there on the left. Or to see what each contributor has written, click on Contributors and the “posts” link next to his or her name.
So by now, most of you probably are aware of the origins of the name A Motley Vision. But the excerpt there is only part of Whitney’s description of the Grand Canyon, and because I wrote a senior thesis on it (and other instances of red rock poetry), and because I’m also (slowly) working on a Mormon-themed critical essay on it, I have the full description in my possession. Here it is. Enjoy!
Excerpt from Love and the Light: An Idyl of the Westland
by Orson F. Whitney
Chief among the sights compelling
Mingled awe and admiration,
Far along a great gulf opened,
Monster-jawed, as though devouring
In its wide voracious vastness,
In its Saturn-mouth, unsated
As the hungry deeps of Sheol,
Storm-stuck, down-hurled cities, temples,
In its fell maw crusht and crumbling.
Cleft and sundered Earth there yawning
O’er abysmal dark Perdition!
Fancied so the spelled beholder,
Halting on the marge precarious
Of that ghoul-like gulf appalling.
Savage scar on face of Nature,
Weird and terrible as Hades;
Gaping wound in God’s creation,
Awful, dread, beyond description,
Beggaring imagination. Continue reading “Weekend Poetry: excerpt from Orson F. Whitney’s “Love and the Light””