Anti-Consensus Theory Applied to the Literary Game
FOUNDATIONS OF 3-D WRITING
THE PREMISE of the 3–D Short Story and the New Pop Lit project is that literature can become not only better, but way better.
We humans are at a primitive understanding of most worldly things. Including the nature of art and the waves and flows of cultural history. Yet expected consensus on this issue or that one is the rule of the day. We’re expected to agree– even if agreement is impossible. Because total knowledge for us is impossible. It’s usually one side attempting to impose its unique perspective on another side.
The classic work addressing the pack mentality is The Crowd by Gustave Le Bon. (Much studied by creators of the Madison Avenue ad industry.) Itself a primitive work, for all its insights.
We can reach a consensus on some things, sure– that the earth is round. That planets revolve around the sun. As often as not a consensus is wrong. Especially if accompanied by arrogance or complacency.
The classic example of that is brainiac Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and his team of the “Best and Brightest” who blundered into, then misfought the Vietnam War. (Replayed forty years later in Iraq.)
They had their charts and computer models and “experts” generating reams of data– kinda like the FiveThirtyEight crowd in the last big election– and broke the fighting of war down to a matter of graphs, statistics, and body counts. Then were outfought or at least outlasted by impoverished bands of guerrillas. The lessons of arrogance.
The lesson is that one needs to continually search for counter narratives. Other sides.
Sometimes statistics are the counter narrative. Sabermetrics was a leap ahead in understanding the well-regulated game of baseball. But other leaps await, even there.
We need modesty about our understanding of anything. The kind shown by Chinese Premier Chou En Lai in 1972, who, when asked by Richard Nixon his opinion of the French Revolution, said “It’s too soon to tell.”
IN THE ARTS we can assume the current consensus is wrong. Art has always been about cultural change. Change, and more of it. Mimicking the nature of the universe. An art reaching moments of perceived perfection– then throwing the moment over in the interest of discovering an entirely new way of viewing things.
We should strive for the imagination of a Nikola Tesla, who circa 1880 imagined fantastic happenings– who conceived then the world we live in now. The trick is to look beyond the moment, the “now”– what’s directly in front of us– to envision new ways of thinking and creating.
-Karl Wenclas, New Pop Lit NEWS