- Who's In? Who's Out?
In: mobile media app criticism, push-button auto-remixing, and intersubjective meta-tagging as social media criticism-cum-art. It will look something like Twitter but with more vernacular video and aestheticized glitch. Probably a heavy dash of celebrity "aura" too. Think James Franco or Ryan Trecartin.
Out: All jargon-ridden forms of traditional scholarly production. Actually, that's already out, but I mean really dead, not theoretical zombies.
A new era of constructionist criticism is here thanks to the widespread adoption of eminently hackable electronic media.
With our ability to appropriate and then alter, adapt, and update, postmodernist intertextuality has been supplanted by inventextuality. We no longer end with a text and look back at its clever literary references and supposed meanings. Now, we start with the text, and, leaping forward, we build from it proleptically. With the text reduced to an analeptic artifact, we reconstruct it in our image. Shit becomes shoot, complaints morph into compliments. And for those who remain appalled at this new concept, we point to the fact that truth, like all great art, is a plastic medium.
Besides serving our various agendas, the constructionist style of criticism further blurs the deconstructionism between author and reader. Eventually, in layers of alteration, the author, and any (putative) meaning, disappear. In other words, the bloom is off the rose as it becomes any name we choose. Whereas old style critics would do hatchet jobs on works they didn't like—now we just have to hack into them and rebuild from the salvageable parts.
In the past, disturbing books were burned. Though playing with fire can be dangerous, as those who have found themselves computer-balled can attest to, we certainly can all agree that is it much more civilized to merely kindle books electronically.
Ten years is a long time in publishing, but a short time for the Digital Age. New advances in technology will change how we read and process data (what quaintly used to be called sonnets or novels) in ways that, even if I knew, I'd be a fool to divulge so that everyone could make money off it.
While I'd like to think that Gordon Lish and those he's influenced will burst into flames suddenly and very publicly, it's more likely he and they will continue to write the same anemic stuff, as will jazz poets whose lines you'd never want chiseled into the tombstone of a loved one.
Whether or not he takes his own life in this new decade, the Contract Writer who loiters around the halls where the publisher of Status Novels gets proper recognition will have his latest novel published, resulting in the usual folderol and hoopla, as mediocre novels are always matched by mediocre reviewing. Yeah, mediocrity will still be in, as will plot, for God's sake.
The writing that's already going out? Properly proofread pieces. What will gather more steam will be minor poets reviewing their colleagues in luvvy-duvvy terms. Semiotic criticism and critics will be even more recherché than the use of French tags. But hopefully criticism that takes a stand for some things and against others will get more confrontational.
If we must explain not only the past but the future in terms of what is most powerful in the present, then I believe we must predict that the divide between fiction and nonfiction, while remaining firmly in place in theory, will continue to be widely breached in practice. Whether the result is memoirs or novels, each category needs the other. We see this in examples ranging from countless "historical" novels by younger writers to the recent...