“What do you mean, ‘Experimental Metafiction’?”:
In a phrase, it means whatever the hell you want it to.
Blues4Kali is written with deliberate disregard for certain conventions and trends that dominate the current vogues and marketing demands of the publishing industry, and for this reason, some readers may react with confusion, distress and outrage.
This is perfectly natural. Do not be alarmed.
In a way, all groundbreaking literature qualifies as “experimental metafiction,” until these techniques are adopted by a school of mainstream wordsmiths and enter the libraries en masse. Breaking the rules pushes the envelope, and makes the letter-stuffers of the literary world understandably nervous, for all the write reasons.
Satire, graphic language and symbolism, the irreverent treatment of taboos, and nonlinear story structure have an ancient and eternal place in the scriptures of all enduring cultural canons.
Nothing new about that.
With the ebbs and tides of fickle fate and fashion, the public rarely appreciates the avant-garde, being offended at the indecipherability and discontinuity of the text. Publishing companies, focusing on that bottom line, tend to favor mediocrity over innovation, formula over creativity, and production-line prefab plots to tales of exploration within the forbidden recesses of the mind and soul.
So this novel relies as heavily on “obsolete” techniques culled from the thorny side of social protest literature, as on questionable choices regarding structure and voice which venture beyond the traditional confines of modern Mcfiction.
The flexible first-person, present-tense stream-of-consciousness treatment of the narrative strikes me as the distinctive style feature which is likeliest to bother classicists, both professional and amateur.
Oh, well. Strict rules governing the creation and distribution of serious soulspeak annoys and bothers my Muses, and stern judgment has already been passed on the cowardly cretins running publishing companies into the ground and the reading public with them.
Hel awaits those who are relegating the fate of fiction to the mercies of a marketplace that made stupidity the number-one overseas export of the Murican economy. The parasites will pay. The question is: who? Certainly not the adventurous authors who go out on a limb to make the work of a lifetime mean more than next week’s Oprah segment.
To buy or not to buy. That is the driving meditation of these mind-deadening times. Shakespeare would shit bricks to see what they have turned his penny theater into. My mother, while beating me for role-playing as Shylock to my much wealthier goyicshe friends, once misquoted Polonius at me, as if the dark pronouncement were drawn from the Bible instead of the Bard.
What I mean to say is, she literally thought that, "neither a borrower nor a lender be," was actually attributable to a commandment issued by God to Moses at Mt. Sinai, instead of a droning pile of unwanted advice issued by a pompous bore everyone mocks. Look it up. And this from someone who theoretically held a Master's degree in education.
There is a legitimate push, among writers and audiences alike, for more comprehensible prose. The “reader response” school of literary criticism derives from common sense: what good is a book, if only the well-educated can grok it?
On the other hand, this play-to-the-Philistines attitude has created a twenty-first century that has already forgotten the dynamic twentieth. Cultural prejudice, social control, and censorship are back in high style, and many readers entertain the delusion that there is something more honest about reading “non-fiction,” (an account of an author’s opinions and impressions of verifiable events or ideas) than “fiction”(which is popularly identified with “lying”).
Metafiction theory transcends these artificial distinctions, emphasizing that truth, being subjective, can never be absolute. Observers can never truly comprehend the inner motives of others, no matter how skillful the analysis. So only through metaphor and example can the experience be justly portrayed, with no pretensions to truth or falsehood, but a steady diet alternating between them.
Just like life.
“Non-fiction” is itself an arrogant myth of frightening proportions, since the bulk of essayists and how-to technicians are expressing a private world view that is not only biased, but unabashedly so. Selecting a subject is the first decision that reveals an underlying motive, and if this motive is not merely money, then social or political change is generally the reason most of these works are ordered and delivered.
All art is essentially propagandistic, promoting the primacy of the author’s worldview, and this is true regardless of any ethic of objectivity that may delude the principals. We slant our perspective to accommodate our prejudices, unconsciously if not otherwise, and nothing could be more dishonest than denying this universal truism.
The modernist movement of realism is premised on this dogmatic and unsupportable theory, as put forth by Irish novelist James Joyce and his alter ego Stephen Daedalus: that art is and ought to be static, not kinetic. "Static" seems to me to be synonymous with "boring". Witness the state of modern "literature". Readers are obviously groping after something, and Left Behind ain't it.
With all due respect to the original quantum surfer of literature, James Joyce's Aquinas-loving ass can kiss my tuchus. What could be more useless than art which refuses to face the transformative nature of communicated experience? The world is never justly portrayed as eternal. Even genius, when drunk, proclaims self-deluded circular culture crap as the foundation of a New Age. Always has it been thus.
I boldly say, “bullshit.” All art is and ought to be dynamic, not static. Take that, you besotted whoremonger!
Time to revise the standards. Realism has played out, and the postrational revolution is Here. We’re just waiting for the public to notice. Quantum physics have made certainty a non sequitur. And Joyce himself would probably be right here saying so.
Every expression is opinion. No perception is verifiable to the satisfaction of a skeptic. And who cares? Proof is for those who lack faith. We can only agree to the truth of a proposition, we can never escape the taint of doubt.
So we must get on with the business of knowing, without being sure, just as we always have. Once again, we are called upon to take that Foolish leap off the cliff, in hopes that this time we will fly.
Poetry has already been widely dismissed in favor of song lyrics, and novels are steadily being reduced to cinema at a breakneck speed. The Faulkners and Plaths of this century are competing with the Aaron Spellings and Avril Levignes for the hearts and minds of a hypnotized public that places a priority on escape over enlightenment, and the effect of this narrowness is harrowing indeed for those who still attempt to think for ourselves.
Freedom of thought itself is on the line. Winston Smith is huddling over his diaries even now, penning sacred swords, bastard contemplations, defiant memories and declaring the primacy of Love. Big Brother is a fraternity prankster with a cruel sense of callous humor, who gets a big dick bigger watching us squirm under the gaze of his malicious voyeurism. Ha ha.
Twenty-two years later, what is most shocking is how well the Republicans followed Orwell’s script. He is not the only one violently tossing and turning in his grave.
Market economics has overtaken everything in our Kulture, so it ought come as no surprise that commercialism is dumbing down books as well. Plenty of fine writers are emerging in the recesses of underground poetry slams and all over the damn internet, but, as in music, the distribution network is terrorizing unknown talents, while corrupting the creative juices of those authors both talented and fortunate enough to have a package of stories able to attract the diminishing audience for truly original writing.
Even the greatest of these talents are suffering a steady decline, laboring under conditions that corrupt any artist. Second and third novels are being pumped out to satisfy contractual requirements, rather than artistic ones.
And fame is the game: to play we must subject ourselves to agents, slaving under the grueling itinerary formulated to exploit the fame and personality of an artistic community that traditionally values privacy and liberty from paparazzi nonsense more than our Hollywood opposite numbers can afford. Film, for all the virtues that medium contains, has been a devastating influence on budding novelists and readers alike.
Somehow, screenplay adaptability has become a literary virtue. Book club sales are more important than erudite reviews. And short stories, once again, amount to little more than promotional pap intended more to build a mighty name that will hopefully fill bookstores everywhere with Starbucks franchises and fan club meetings, than to provide a way for struggling writers to finance unprofitable artistic endeavors.
And with the advent of the personal computer, the field has gone from crowded to overrun. Mediocre half-assers are everywhere, and the occupation of “aspiring novelist” has a social approval rating somewhere between “porno actor” and “radical political revolutionary.”
As I say, for all the right reasons.
What a mess! My mother was right. I ought to have become an English teacher like she wanted. Too late now.
Blues4Kali was written to specifically avoid any compromises at all that address the unpalatability of printing books, like mine, which are ignored and suppressed solely due to unusual styles and subjects that represent radical departures from the mainstream. Deviance is the aesthetic premise of my work. Popularity is beside the point.
Therefore, to a critic who objects to inconsistent grammar, sentence fragments, unfleshed characters, and other crimes against convention, or decries the harshness of satirical pronouncements, or bemoans the use of “gimmicky” techniques, I can say only this: if you do not like these features, you do not understand them.
Feel free to disagree. I look forward to publicly burning your review and hanging you in effigy at my next black magic convention. My coven will haunt you. And you will eternally get what you deserve.
All seriousness aside,
Goddess go between you and harm in all the twisted caverns which lay ahead.
Read at your own risk. Don't say I didn't warn you.