Shirely Dent looks a the importance of literary “cliques”, a word dear to my heart, but only for its Scrabble pointage. See, despite any level of success, some of us seem to have a problem fitting in to cliques and sometimes feel like the bum pressed against the restaurant window, or the kid with his face held down in the slush at the bus stop while his bully, named Danny Sutton, uses those big ski mitts with those sharp little metal clips on the side to stuff snow down the back of his jacket while the other kids laugh and laugh and laugh… … … Sniff. To all of us, I raise a glass here in our little e-salon and scorn everyone else. Wait-A-Minute?! (Can 5000-10000 people comprise a clique? I think of us more like a mob. Or maybe a “frique”. That’s a mob of outcasts. Niiiiiice.)
Surface appearances can hide the seriousness of cliques. Easy though it is to mock the outward trappings of the Pre-Raphaelites and their later cousins the Aesthetes (as George du Maurier did in his Punch cartoons of delicate petal dandies), they had serious and sincere literary and artistic ideas they wanted to experiment with. The fact is that taking on difficult, challenging ideas, getting it wrong and being told you’ve got it wrong, is a matter of simpatico. The Beats may have been intellectually a loose amalgam, but they shared an enthusiasm for experimentation coming out of and confronting the post-war world. This was counter-culture at a time when counter-culture meant something.
Such empathy of minds and attitudes necessarily excludes some people. Too bad.