THE DECLINE of an art form becomes apparent when the art on display has become generic.
In today’s literary scene we have the generic literary story, produced by the hundreds every year by university MFA programs, all competent, some better than others but all of a type. Most of them interchangeable.
In the underground literary world also the writing is becoming generic. Long masses of unbroken text in the style of Pynchon postmodernism, full of intellectual insights but little structure and negligible plot.
WHEN has an art form not been generic?
Examples can be found in the music business, such as in the 1950’s when rock n’ roll burst on the scene. Maybe a dozen acts fully “got” it and could plausibly create the explosively fast style– Little Richard, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino and Carl Perkins among them.
Material to fill out their albums was limited. Few songwriters were creating the new style. Elvis filled out his albums with old country-western tunes, pop standards, and archaic ballads.
Covers were the norm. Here’s an example from a young country duo who turned into rockers, the Everly Brothers, covering a song penned by a penitentiary resident named Albert Collins that was first recorded by Little Richard–
When three rock stars– Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper– died in a 1959 plane crash while on a low-rent tour the talent pool was diminished. Many believed the fledgling genre was over.
Only when a UK band The Beatles fused the sound of Holly, the Everlys, Little Richard and a handful of others did the genre genuinely take off. Eventually the rock market became saturated with performers and product until rock bands were in every corner of every city and town and no one stood out.
Is anyone in the literary business creating the non-generic?
YES! We are.
Right now there exists one released “3-D” multidimensional short story. We have several more on the drawing board. NO ONE else is creating the new form.
The potential for artistic growth is enormous.
Exciting times are ahead.
-Karl Wenclas, New Pop Lit NEWS