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Author Topic: A Tortured Pursuit of Voice
Edward Douglas
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In the end, I think "voice" is how you tell your story, and should not be confused with "hearing" or "seeing" or "touching" or "smelling".
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I noticed something that seems to be a very large omission in your model. It ignores everything outside of current list of approved academic literary taxonomies. Furthermore, those "movements" cited were in some instances small and irrelevant to the bulk of the reading public. It begs the question of how you can predict the next thing when the model excludes most of the literary world.

For example, the model does not mention the movements in pulp fiction in the early 1900's, popular women's fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy (when Tolkien submitted his stuff there wasn't really a fantasy genre). What about the rise and continuance of the thriller? More recently, it doesn't consider Rowling and the YA revolution. What about fan fiction? Nor does it address technology in mundane ways--what about cell phone novels (huge in Japan)? Or Magna? Or the rise of the graphic novel? Or how about the increasing tie between gaming, film, novel, music, etc.? Nor does it consider geographic factors that will become more and more important as English becomes more prevelant across the world and the market for books written in English in India and China, and their literary conventions, mix with those of the US?

It seems to assume the whole literary world moved lockstep through those phases. The truth is quite the opposite. Those were academic and artistic movements, some of which touched only a relatively miniscule portion of the reading public when they were at their height. Perhaps that focus was intentional. However, your opening statement seemed broader--"I was casting about for a predictive model to get a sense of where the next literary movement might spring from and what shape its conventions might take."

The next literary movement could come from a hundred different current and contemporary literature forms and approaches. Not just those you've listed. It could be driven by content, technology, or something else.

In fact, I suggest the idea of THE next literary movement sets up a false frame. There are many dominant and minority literary forms/genres in and impacting the Anglo reading world. There are those that are growing and diminishing. All of these "movements" are growing and changing and being reacted to right now in many parts of the world. Each of them is going to have a "next thing." There simply isn't going to be one next thing--there's going to be many.

[This message has been edited by johnbrown (edited January 16, 2010).]

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Here is a glimpse at the future novel.

She spotted Bob from da corner of her eye. (Puke emoticon) Not him again. (Sticking tongue out emoticon) Then Bob tripped ova his shoelaces, LOL.

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I did not overlook any of the above-mentioned other classes of literature categorizations in my deliberations, nor reject their contributions out of hand. They are not named in my summary of process, results, or conclusions for the very simple reason that they would have been too burdensome to include in my soliloquy. No deliberate bias, no intentional omission from the model, just omissions for clarity and brevity's sake.

A formula for modeling the complexity of a system: N^(N-1), where N is a set of discernible discrete elements. Plugging in a few numbers for N, say, beginning with 5 for Romanticism, Realism, Idealism, Modernism, and Postmodernism, yields a result of five to the fourth power, 625 possible permutations.

Any model that incorporates all that's known about a system is likely to have for N an exponentially large set of possibilities, on the order of approaching infinity. That would not have served my purposes and wouldn't have resulted in a useful outcome. Note that that formula for modeling complexity gives results that support the Overthink paradigm. At some point along a continuum of possibilities, accommodating for the number of conscious possibilities causes a cascading, persistent feedback loop and/or a paralysis effect.

By and large, the fantastical genres follow defined literary movements, in significantly large numbers follow the tenets of Romanticism, although there are strong traces of other movements throughout. Tolkien's work, for example, follows, not so neatly as might be desired, but nonetheless arguably follows the Romantic movement. His fiction could also arguably be considered epic poetry, as well as allow a very large number of any other credible class of interpretations. Pulp fiction, mystery, thrillers, amatory romances, Westerns, etc., follow Romanticism as well. And manga, graphic novels, and whatever else is in the vanguard of the latest and greatest literary innovations spawned by the emergence of new medias based on technology.

Familiar forms adapted to new emergences is a time-honored method for broaching resistance to innovation. In new technologies' infancies, combining new and old is all but universally planned as an industry best practices critical path for seducing consumers. I'll use an analogy to illustrate, from the dawn of humankind; Fire for cooking overcame resistance caused by the inherent dangers of fire, in the sense that heat restores the temperature of meat to what it was when it was freshly killed, recreating a reality by the proxy of fire. As it is before; so it is forward.

My intent wasn't to define The Next Literary Movement. I was casting about for a way to answer; We are here where now? Not to predict, per se, but to imagine a next category of literary movement by examining the way that literary movements arise, follow on, and appeal. Certainly, literary movements are reflections of society, cultures and societies within their groupings, contributors to culture as well as benefactors and citizens of society at large. I conclude that Polymodernism is not new, not innovative; however, for my purposes at least, it is a new way to perceive the cosmos. It is but one tool out of many for perceiving we are here where now.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited January 16, 2010).]

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