The Shoulders of Giants
As with any generation, we’re in a state of evolutionary flux, moreso with our art than perhaps anything else. It’s no coincidence that the greatest writers of all time have drawn inspiration from the titans that bounded around the mythical mountaintops before them.
There’s a whisper of Robbins’s off-beat flamboyancy in Franzen , Vonnegut-esque hints of alien existentialism in Robbins, the hand of Joyce in Vonnegut’s work, and so on back into the cuneiform days.
In fiction, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that there are two primary categories: fluff and further. Fluff has it’s place, much like taco-bell in the fast-food lineup. Every once in a blackout-drunk we’ll treat ourselves to the non-meat biohazard sour cream buffet. After all, we’re not dying nearly quick enough, right?
There’s no judgment here; I wouldn’t wish a life devoid of cliché erotica and moody vampires on anyone. My question is this- How healthy is it to fill our frontal lobes with filler for every meal?
Levity and dirty sex and dubious spy capers find their way into furthering our literary evolution sometimes, but I suppose I’m a damn snob.
More than any specific criteria, books that I read move me and change me most when I can hear their words echo down the long hallway of human passion. This is the “further” category.
There’s something to the ghosts of lost writers being superimposed on the page that gives me a communion with not just the fellow (or madam) whose name graces the cover, but with the collective consciousness of the once-trail-blazers who’ve passed their energy entirely into the new breed of interior explorers.
Look at your to-read pile and ask yourself how many of the on-deck tomes stick their noses out another inch or two into the future, and maybe try to focus a bit more on those. It’s our job to climb and give a better view for the oncoming usurpers and arrogant upstarts that’ll rule our old stomping ground tomorrow.
Perhaps our progeny of readers and artists could be better served than looking down upon idiotic celebrity memoirs and hallucinatory conspiracy theories. Not an unreasonable position, I don’t think, but feel free to tell me otherwise.