The A.I. Challenge

CHATGPT AND THE FUTURE OF LITERATURE PART ONE


The sudden emergence of the ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence device has raised a host of questions about what effect it will have on writers, and on literature itself.

To attempt to plot out where we’re headed, one has to look at both extremes of reaction– not just to A.I., but to the contemporary world itself.

TRUE BELIEVERS

Over the past thirty years new technology has become a religion. Its entrepreneurs and advocates see it as a solution to all problems– and are blind to its many downsides. On social media, apologists for A.I. and for everything digital are everywhere. For them, the Internet IS the world.

In the arena of art and letters, the thrust of their arguments is that A.I. allows greater, or at least easier, creativity. Much time is spent defending against accusations of plagiarism and copyright violations– which are not the biggest issues with A.I. technology.

THE REFUSAL-TO-CHANGE CROWD

At the other extreme are writers and literary critics who can’t conceive of any change to the refined literary art they know and love. Their essays overflow bemoaning the dwindling status of “serious reading,” as they look back fondly at past “avant-garde” innovators such as Virginia Woolf, now safely dead.

How will they react to an invasion of ChatGPT novels into an already-saturated publishing market?

One can expect they not only won’t attempt to use the device (well, some of them will if the wind blows strongly in that direction), they also won’t try to change the art to put it more in step with a changing world– as a way to ward off the A.I. threat. Instead they’ll retreat further into their bunker and their canons of the past. In this instance, classical music is the model for what will happen.

THE FUTURE

What are the real pros and cons of A.I. technology applied to writing and literature? What’s the best strategy to follow: to embrace the technology, or find ways to defend against it? I’ll address these questions in a future post.

In the meantime, what do you think?

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-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit News

A Happiness Assault!


WITH CHRISTMAS and the other holidays upon us, we plan to finish the year with a campaign of pure happiness. Well needed when everyone seems stressed out and beaten down from the craziness of the world around us.

Our antidote to the harshness of the world comes in the form of a simple print publication: a Special Edition of our latest zeen, Fun Pop Poetry. Amazing words and colors to brighten up anyone’s day– from artists Monica Morgan and Alexandria Root, and poets Blixa Bel Grande, Scott Cannon, Emerson Dameron, Wred Fright, Courtenay Schembri Gray, Craig Kurtz, Christopher Landrum, Dan Nielsen, John D. Robinson, Joe Santi aka Tarzana Joe, Chrissi Sepe, Ellsworth B. Smith, Richard Stevenson, and S.F. Wright.

That’s a lot of talent in one slim and artsy poetry booklet!

Order your smile at our POP SHOP— red cover or yellow. Do it for yourself, (or purchase two and give one as a gift).

What Is the Literary Future?

THOUGHTS ON NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH


WHERE are we all of us– editors, writers, readers– headed as a literary community? An artistic community?

These are questions that will be addressed during our one-hour appearance at the Trenton Veterans Memorial Library, 2790 Westfield Road in Trenton, Michigan, for National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo. New Pop Lit editors Karl Wenclas and Kathleen M. Crane will be prepared to discuss all things literary.

THIS COMING SATURDAY, November 19, beginning at 2 pm.

All are welcome.

(You can register in advance at 734-676-9777.)

Thanks!

The Short Story As Pop Song

ANALYZING THE SHORT STORY FORM

OUR CURRENT feature story, “True Survivor” by Greg Jenkins, is a good example of how a short story can be artistically successful by following– unintentionally or not– techniques used to find success in the music business.

Foremost among them is the story’s opening, which does two things done by the famed British pop group the Beatles and others in order to stand out from the musical crowd.

1.) THE ATTENTION-GETTER

First, the attention-getting first note. First done by Ludwig van Beethoven to open his Third Symphony. A more recent example is the opening chord to “A Hard Day’s Night,” the title song to the Beatles’ first film. Think of how it must’ve sounded coming from large speakers in a movie theater, accompanied on a giant screen by an image of the four young musicians being chased down a Liverpool street. Attention: caught.

Greg Jenkins does the same thing with his story’s opening sentence, consisting of a single word, each letter capitalized: “SULLIVAN!”

2.) START WITH THE CHORUS

The second technique used by the Beatles was to in effect start the story with the chorus. Or, if it were fiction, in the middle of the narrative. Like opening in the middle of a song.

A famous example of this is one of the rock group’s first hits, “She Loves You.”

Which ensures opening with a bang. The Beatles did this again at least one other time, with similar success, with “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

What’s the goal? To grab the listener– or reader– by the collar, lift the person out of his or her chair and not let go until the artistic experience is over. Part of the creation of Beatlemania involved hitting the record buyer with immediate energy.

With a different art form, Greg Jenkins starts his story in the middle of the action, then goes back to explain what led to the conflict. (Jack London does the same thing with his classic short story, “Lost Face.”)

MORE POP

The most extreme musical example of this technique came a bit later in the frenzied history of the so-called British Invasion of America, in 1965, when Herman’s Hermits had a Number One hit by eliminating a song’s verses altogether– to a 1911 music hall ditty, “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am”– and singing only the chorus, repeated three times. The result was not exactly artistic, but it was effective with the intended audience.

Could this be done with the short story– taking technique one step beyond? Stripping down a tale to its barest essentials and depending upon pure pop energy and enthusiasm to carry it?

We don’t know, but in our New Pop Lit LABS we’re not above trying every trick possible in our quest to reinvent literary forms, and in so doing enliven literature itself.

We also look for writers, like Greg Jenkins, who use innovative techniques. Know any others? Send them our way!

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-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit NEWS

Editor’s Podcast Appearance

NEW POP LIT‘S Editor Karl Wenclas made a recent appearance on the estimable Contra Mundum Media podcast, which is dedicated to exploring new ideas in the culture and the arts. The host of the podcast is Christopher Laurence.

Take a listen:

Mid-Century Modern Movies

DESIGN VIBES

I’ve identified four movies which epitomize the apex of mid-century modern thought and design. They are:

1.) Forbidden Planet (1956).

2.) North by Northwest (1959).

3.) Bye Bye Birdie (1963).

4.) Point Blank (1967).

The important point is that all of these films are visually designed to be ultra-modern, so the design itself enhances– or really, expresses– the story or the theme of the story, which are themselves ultra-modern.

1.) THEME: The future is us. ALTERNATE THEME: The future as nightmare.

2.) THEME: Ad man as quintessential American hero. SUB-THEME: Discovery and rescue of the soul mate.

3.) THEME: Pop culture as American Dream.

4.) THEME: The modern world as duplicitous hellscape.

Design is the quintessential American art. All four of these movies can be watched for their styles, clothing, colors, and designs.

-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit NEWS

Prototypes

MAKING CREATIVE CHANGE PART V

ONE OF the first steps in creating the New is development of a prototype. That which can hint at innovations to come. As Henry Ford did with his first prototype, an automobile constructed largely from bicycle parts.

A prototype is a demonstration model intended to serve two purposes:

1.) To show potentials of the design or concept.

2.) To reveal flaws when ideas become reality.

By definition a prototype is not a finished product, or the ultimate expression of the intended product. But it should point a direction– a new path for creators to follow.

Prototype of first Tesla Roadster c/o Tesla Motors.

We’ve developed prototypes of new kinds of literary journals (see them here). But we’re also working on what we call the multidimensional or “3-D” short story.

One of the simpler ones we’ve released to date is “The Perfect Candidate.” Note how the opening is intentionally disorienting– the idea to disorient readers then quickly reorient them. (“Where am I? Who’s speaking?”) The narrative in this one is linear– but the changing viewpoints allows the writer to hint at what he wants, obscure what he wants, and reveal what he wants.

The story is designed-– as designed as a modernist skyscraper or the layout of a glossy New York magazine. The goal: a more rounded version of reality. The idea behind this story, this prototype, is to point to the endless possibilities of the well-designed story.

THE NEXT STEP is looking upon the short story– or the nonfiction essay– as part of an entire aesthetic.

THE CHALLENGE

The objective is to put the literary world into a state of flux, where change becomes constant– the only way to diminish the built-in advantages of an institutionalized, monopolistic status quo. Then– to stand out among the innovators.

Timing is key, as it was for Henry Ford. No one remembers the other tinkerers and pioneer automobile innovators, the other hundred-or-so fledgling car companies in the first couple decades of the Twentieth Century.

No one will remember this project unless we achieve artistic breakthrough.

Our First Contest Winner

WE’RE HAPPY to announce the winner of our first contest, Tom Ray, for the story “What He Thought Was Right.”

The original Announcement.

The winner:

The prize ($$$) is on its way to Mr. Ray.

The winning story will be published some time during the month of April. We’ll briefly discuss then why it’s an excellent story which incorporates multidimensional viewpoints. OR: You’ll be able to read the story and see for yourself!

REMINDER: This is just the first of several contests with monetary prizes. Soon: one involving our Open Mic feature.

DON’T MISS ANY OF IT!

The Board

NEW POP LIT ANNOUNCES ADVISORY BOARD

DO WE have all the answers? Not at all! As we move forward, we’ve decided to enlist observers for advice and input, laying the groundwork for improvement and growth. Therefore: an Advisory Board.

We start with five individuals who’ve all been published at our site or/and our publications and are supportive of what we’re doing. They represent a range of ages, writing styles, thought patterns, experiences and viewpoints. The idea is to have this project looked at three-dimensionally, while maintaining an overall positive vibe, which is critical for the success of any endeavor– especially one as ambitious as ours.

(We intend to add more names to the Advisory Board, as this project moves ahead.)

The five are:

NICK GALLUP: Accomplished short story writer. Among his several feature stories for us was “Just Another Silly Love Song.”

CHRISTOPHER LANDRUM: Literary historian, essayist, and theorist. His feature story for us was “The Age of Insomnia.”

TOM PREISLER: Talented musician and poet. Tom’s poetry feature for us was “Love Poetry/Prose from Tom Preisler.”

CHRISSI SEPE: Novelist, story writer, and memoirist. Chrissi has written for our zeens ZEENITH and Literary Fan Magazine. Her online story feature for NPL was “We Love to Watch Zee Cockroaches.”

FRANK D. WALSH: Long-time Philadelphia poetry icon. Frank’s poem “Spectre of the Rose” was excerpted in Extreme Zeen #1, and also here at our site.

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(Again, we’ll be adding a few more names– more input, more viewpoints on what we’re doing.)