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dusted off in read-only

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posted 27 Oct 2005, 22:10 by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

Think about it in these terms. Imagine that you could describe an individual's preferences as a circle. If you compared that individual's preferences with those of another, you would find that their circles would overlap to some degree. Their circles could be almost identical, which is to say they could have almost identical tastes, or their circles could be almost entirely disconnected, which is to say they could have very similar tastes. The point is, the area where the circles overlap, no matter how big or how small, would represent those tastes they have in common. Now imagine sampling a million different people and superimposing a million different circles. The more people you sample, the smaller the space of maximal overlap - the preferences held in common by all one million people - would become. Since selling to more people means making more profit, the primary incentive for corporations is to aim for that band of maximal overlap. There's a powerful disincentive to experiment, to stray outside the 'slot' - if you forgive a hockey euphemism. Think of McDonald's, or Romance novels. Now this analogy does a good job, I think, at explaining a number of different tendencies in mass culture. Why paper's aim at a grade eight reading level, just for instance. In other words, it does a good job illustrating what is the assumed antithesis of literature. Given this, you would think that it would do an equally good job at explaining what's at stake in works we're told count as 'literature.' But it [i:1t4me2dg]doesn't[/i:1t4me2dg]. In fact, the literary mainstream, it seems to me, is just as invested in 'finding the slot' for their readership as is any other genre of fiction. Literary writers by and large write for literary readers - end of story. They're in the business of satisfying consumer expectations, no different than McLiterature, and they're every bit as dismissive of those things that fall out of their slot of maximal satisfaction. Now what I'm talking about is a [i:1t4me2dg]different[/i:1t4me2dg] kind of literature. Take our million circles sketched across our sheet of paper, and add a third dimension - add depth. Now if you look at them head on, you'll see the same thing you saw when they were two dimensionally represented. But if you move your head to left or to the right, or whichever way, you'll quickly notice what might be called [i:1t4me2dg]angular slots[/i:1t4me2dg]. These would be roundabout ways in which preference sets that seem to be antagonistic when mapped two dimensionally, actually possess reconciliatory paths when navigated from a different direction. This is pretty much what I'm trying to do by writing genre fiction. Now as far as I'm concerned - and I realize that this is a self flattering rationale - this is what [i:1t4me2dg]true[/i:1t4me2dg] literature does: it takes issue with preferences, not out any bankrupt formalist commitment to 'deconstruction' or rule-breaking for its own sake, but for the [i:1t4me2dg]sake of expanding perspectives[/i:1t4me2dg] - to warp the circle, perhaps, but to [i:1t4me2dg]expand[/i:1t4me2dg] it certainly. Genre, I'm saying, is the next great frontier of literature, because what we presently called 'mainstream literature' has exhausted its audience. They're simply too well-trained for the situation not to devolve into a McLiterary one. It's the writing that cuts across preferences that will be remembered, mark my words! This is also why I take the love it/hate it response my books seem to incite as an indicator of artistic success. As soon as people who obviously never encountered anything like my books before stop posting one star reviews on Amazon, I literally think I'm starting to fail. It's the stranger's hand I'm most interested in shaking. view post

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