Literature, Fiedler argues, begins innAmerica with Melville and Hawthornenand extends through Eliot, Pound,nFaulkner, and Tate. Literally and figuratively,nit has always traveled abroad tonstudy, while “pop literature,” despisingnEurope and European values, hasngone to school at home; and it is in thisnhatred, Fiedler believes, that AmericannJews and goyish American writers ofnthe “popular” school meet, as on nativenground. “It is our common revulsionnfrom the values of [the old] worldnthat makes the most authentic Americannwriters, WASPS that they are —nMark Twain, for instance, and WaltnWhitman — seem spokesmen for mynkind as well as theirs. ‘Sivilization’nTwain calls that rejected Europeanncultural inheritance. . . . And Whitmannmakes explicit that it is not onlynthe hierarchical class structures andnlimited freedoms of the Old World thatnhe, like Twain, abjures, but Christiannhumanism itself ‘Cross out, please,’ henchants, inviting the Muse to migrate tonAmerica, ‘those immensely overpaidnaccounts, / That matter of Troy andnAchilles’ wrath, and Aeneas’, Odysseus’nwanderings, / Placard “Removed”nand “To Let” on the rocks of yournsnowy Parnassus, / Repeat at Jerusalem.'”nIf Fiedler on the Roof is notablenchiefly for revealing a partially hiddennagenda based on ressentiment, thisnis not enough to discredit much ofnwhat Leslie Fiedler has written overnthe years concerning life and literaturenin America. Fiedler’s primary purpose,nit seems to me, has been not to praisen”pop literature” unduly but to discreditnthe Modernist agenda, whose aestheticsnhe has come to detest nearly asnmuch as he does the politics of many ofnits practitioners. The trouble is thatnFiedler, in his efforts to desacralize thengods before whom he himself oncenbowed, is tempted to misrepresent thenunbelievers who refused to climb Parnassusnbut contented themselves insteadnwith mixing among the hoi polloinbelow. This misrepresentation Fiedlernaccomplishes by a critical sleight-ofhand,nthe success of which is almostnwholly dependent upon his disingenuousnuse of the word “pop.”nThe trick becomes apparent whennFiedler, with distractive casualness, includesnthe Leatherstocking Tales, Un­ncle Tom’s Cabin, Huckleberry Finn,nTarzan of the Apes, The Wizard ofOz,nthe novels of Charles Dickens, WondernWoman comic books, and The Valleynof the Dolls under the rubric of “popnliterature.” Slyly, he allows “pop” tonemerge contextually as shorthand forn”popular”; when in fact ever since then60’s “pop” and “popular” have meantntwo distinctly different things — thenfirst represented by an Andy Warholnsoup can, the second by a work ofnNorman Rockwell or of FredericknRemington. Also by trickish oversight,nFiedler conveniently ignores the differencenbetween bourgeois culture in then19th century and mass culture in then20th, a ploy that allows him to makeninsupportable comparisons regardingnthe “popularity” of Poe, H. RidernHaggard, and Jacqueline Susann asnforgers in the smithies of their souls ofnthe uncreated conscience of theirntimes. The truth is, Fiedler knowsnbetter than that. “I am not suggesting,”nhe has written elsewhere, “that thensearch for standards be abandonedncompletely and that evaluation be confinednto noises of admiration or distaste,nthe simple ‘Wow!’ or ‘Ech!’nwhich seems to satisfy some of ournstudents.”nEssentially, Fiedler’s argumentsnagainst the formalism, bloodlessness,nself-consciousness, and “elitism” ofnmuch of “High Art” in general and ofnSHIPMATESnLIBERAL ARTSnModernism in particular are attemptsnat answering the question, “How intellectualnshould literature really be?” Tonwhich the answer, I suppose, is, “Itndoesn’t matter, so long as the intellectn—whether by its presence or its absence—ndoesn’t obtrude.” “Best ofnall,” Fiedler suggests in What Is Literature?,n”are those works which, likenSophocles’ Oedipus Rex or Shakespeare’snHamlet, satisfy both thenguardians of Aristotelian-Horatiann’standards’ and the mass audience,nwhich responds to the mysterious tertiumnquid which the former do not evenndeign to notice.”nAs for “popular” culture in thensense of mass entertainment, Fiedlernonly reinforces my suspicion that therenis a sinister quality inherent in it—anquality having less to do with the profitnmotive that reduces it to the lowestncommon denominator than with thenquest for an artificial homogeneity thatnperforms the same function in theninterest of obviating cultural, class, ethnic,nand religious ressentiments withinnour classless, godless, and multiculturaln”sivilization.” There is a sense innwhich contemporary popular culture isncreated by nobody for nobody, generatingnvast sums in ill-gotten gains innthe process of being sold to nobody. AsnEmily Dickinson wrote, “I’m nobody!nWho are you? / Are you nobody, too? /nThen there’s a pair of us. . . .” <^nAs the Associated Press reported last April, 36 crew membersnof the supply ship Acadia were pregnant and had to bentransferred during the ship’s deployment to the PersiannGulf. Though more than half became pregnant after thenship was under way, Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. JeffnSmallwood claimed there were “no indications” of impropernfraternization between male and female sailors. “Thesenwomen have a right to get pregnant,” he argued. “Thenconclusion somebody is jumping to is that the Acadia is anlove boat, and that’s not the case.” He said the 22npregnancies that occurred after the ship had left for the Gulfnwere the result of fraternization with foreigners while thenwomen were on liberty calls in Hawaii, the Philippines, andnother ports. There was absolutely “no evidence,” saidnSmallwood, that any of the Navy’s rules against relationsnbetween men and women while on duty had been broken.nnnAUGUST 1991/31n