Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Stepping Outside the Box

THERE WILL BE NO PROGRESS in the standing of literature as long as writers are unwilling to step outside their box, to see the art as the non-writer sees it. They're as enclosed in their wonderfulness as were the executives at General Motors before their crash, assuring themselves of how good were their products. Within the world of literature, Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace are great writers, even though their art is designed for writers, for critics and professors, not the public. The standard of value, and the entire package of "literature" within which that standard is placed, are wrong.

I heard a commercial on radio this morning which mocked the supposed dullness of opera. At its best, opera is an amazing, wonderful art-- but its branding, its image, has become so staid it turns off the general public. This is the situation literature is devolving toward. Being enclosed within the academy, not knowing how to create a truly exciting product, is part of that.

Those writers first to break away from the mindless pack will transform the business and the art.

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