Aesthetic Insanity (or insane aesthete)?

by rsbakker

Icarus

 

I’ve been trying to force myself to think more in marketing terms, as I’m sure some of you have noticed. It makes for odd bedfellows, pitching free book giveaways one post, then eliminativistic interpretations of observer effects the next. Truth be told, I like the way it jars, the way it renders sensible the boundaries between cultural ingroups. If accusing people of “selling out” doesn’t amount to an ingroup shame mechanism, I’m not sure what does. The same goes for accusations of “pretentiousness” coming the other way. In each case it amounts to shouting, “Objectionable communication!” Personally, I think anyone who wants to write literature—fiction that actually jumps the rails of ever tightening buyer-seller relationships—needs to be perched in some uncomfortable, easy-to-spoof spot like this. You need to find yourself places where others aren’t sure you belong, otherwise you’re simply one of the likeminded writing for the likeminded, and simply pretending that people have been challenged and/or appalled. It’s all ‘genre’ in the pejorative sense, otherwise—algorithmically managed no less!

A commenter mentioned the ‘insane ambition’ of The Second Apocalypse on the previous thread, and that got me thinking about how one would go about estimating the ambition of a literary project. The thing is, I’ve always had an easier time selling the ambition of the project than I have the project itself. The problem with this, of course, is that the world is drowning in grandiose ambitions—I’m pretty sure I only manage to identify myself as a probable manqué when I do this. But what if I could say that The Second Apocalypse was one of the most insanely ambitious literary projects ever undertaken? Does anyone know how a project like this fits in the greater scheme of literary ambition?

Is this worth telling my publicist to use?