The death of the novel

was proclaimed by a few pretentious college students a few decades ago. Strangely enough, they were probably right. Forget the ‘brilliant characterizations’ and all that crap. Every character in every novel not based on actual people is some aspect of the writer himself. Let’s drop the pretense of ‘objectivity’. It doesn’t exist. The only thing we know, if we indeed really even know that, is ourselves, our lives, our perceptions. Esse est percipi. The only real novels are the non-novels, reality bubbling through the filter of consciousness. Nothing really good’s been done since the Beats liberated the ink from the pen. Automatic writing is the best kind. If that’s ‘typing’, then this is word processing. Poetry is an inside joke, and as if it’s not bad enough, that the best modern art has to be explained in words to be appreciated (thank you, Tom Wolfe), then imagine the irony of poets having to hang their words from Christmas trees to be noticed. Forget dangling participles. Modern poetry closes a stanza with a dangling subject and starts the next with its almost-forgotten predicate, and loves every minute of it, almost reveling in the total and deliberate obfuscation of meaning, as if there were something quaint and entirely too old-fashioned about that.

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