27 May 2004

Quote for the Day

I would like to make it clear that the innovative never replaces the engendering paradigm of the old, but only its weary imitations. The paradigm, it will be obvious, was, when it appeared, innovative. What the innovative replaces is the fetish of a stereotyped process, a process so well known by its practitioners, so predictably implemented, that it could not produce anything fresh or new were it to have a hundred years in which to do so. There is, in other words, nothing "wrong" with, say, the Charles Dickens novel, but there is something very wrong with his forms and inventions as they may be revealed in a novel by a contemporary author. And yet this absolute lack of nerve is weirdly seen, by more people than one cares to think about, as "the furtherance of traditional values." How "traditional values" may be furthered by exhausted methodologies remains a mystery. In point of fact, a work presented as a wholly recognizable construct of conventionalized tropes and structures has a hard time resisting being read or seen or heard as anything but parody. Far from being an attack on tradition, innovation is a rejuvenation of tradition. One might say that were Dickens alive today, he would not be writing "Charles Dickens novels".

--Gilbert Sorrentino
"What's New?: The Innovative Act"
in Something Said