(Note: This is a revision of a previously published edition.)
If literature were a person, it’d be in a vegetative state. Nothing new is said, nothing new is to be learned, nothing new is offered—the appearances might change but the forms remain the same.
A cliche persists in our culture that if you want to change the system you must first become part of the system. This is an illusion meant to persuade people to embrace the system; it’s designed to inculcate conformity.
Like our culture, literature itself is homogenized while taking on the appearance of heterogeny.
In an image-obsessed culture, appearances are everything.
Another cliche with which we’re familiar warns us to refrain from judging a book by its cover. In reality, we should judge a book by its form. Form should supersede appearances. But in accordance with our species, a peculiar mammal with the cognitive ability to process and model information linearly, the form remains the same while the appearances change.
In an age of movies and television, video games and the internet, things must change. Literature cannot excel at telling linear stories the way visual media can; instead, literature should transcend the simulacrum and represent new and alternate ways to experience simulated or emulated realities.
And that is what literature does: it emulates or simulates realities. Contrary to early Wittgenstein, language does not picture reality; instead, it provides instructions for your brain to construct models. (more…)
I’d sort of be lying if I said it started with a single picture, but that’s when it really became concrete. That’s the moment I can pinpoint. I’ve been drawing and writing since I was a kid. The dream was to become a comic book artist. But as I grew up, I fell more in love with books, and comics started to take a backseat. I started writing poetry. I began learning to play the guitar and bass. All those poems were songs in waiting. Eventually, some friends and I started a band and we kept at it for almost 8 years, with two albums under our belt.
Those things came to an end. Not so much because I hated music, but as soon as I got close enough to the music industry to see behind the scenes, I wanted no part of it. Then one of the members died, and that was the nail in the coffin for me. At some point in my mid-twenties, I had a chance encounter that led to me trying to shop a screenplay I’d written called Beer Run of the Dead. That fell through but a couple years later, I converted the thing into a book. By age 26, I’d written the dumbest novel on the planet that basically asked the question, “What if the cure to a zombie bite was booze?”
Years of partying essentially wrote the book. I’d been trying to write it since high school, but the lack of actual living always left me with something hollow. (more…)