May 14, 2012

ARYAN KAGANOF – Hyper-Literary Fiction: The (meta)Poetics Of Digital Fragmentation

Filed under: kaganof,literature — ABRAXAS @ 3:58 pm

When we think of literature’s future, we always mean the destination it will reach if it keeps going in the direction we see it going in now; it does not occur to us that its path is not a straight line but a series of curves and tangents, constantly changing direction. August Highland’s Hyper-Literary Fiction is one of these tangents. It is a possibility of literature. Hyper-Literary Fiction and its associated genres, Microlinear Storytelling, Next-Gen Nanopoetics and Genre-Splicing – all originated by Highland – are by nature intransigently unfinishable; the process could, in theory, go on and on. Hyper-Literary Genre-Splicing is a practice of diluting, of hemorrhaging the subject in a fragmented, particled language diffracted to emptiness. The atomic unit of Hyper-Literary Fiction is not the sentence, but the fragment, the clump, the volatile conglomerate. Granular, dense and stuck together. Division of this fragment occurs only to produce still another irreducible cohesion.

Genre-Splicing is precisely that act which unites in the same labor what could not be apprehended together in the mere flat space of linguistic representation. Hyper-Literary Fiction reminds us that the rational is merely one possible system among many others: it suffices that there be a system even if this system is apparently illogical, uselessly complicated and curiously disparate.

Next-Gen Nanopoetics has the fundamental characteristic of a denial of development. All one can do with it is to scrutinize it, not to solve it as if it had a meaning, nor even to perceive its absurdity (which is still a meaning). Microlinear Storytelling’s accuracy obviously has something musical about it (a music of meaninglessness and not necessarily of sounds).

Hyper-Literary Fiction never describes: its art is counter-descriptive. A collection of literally “untenable” moments which constitute themselves as nostalgia for the future.

Genre-Splicing constitutes a space of pure fragments, a dust of events; this is because Hyper-Literary Fiction’s time is without subject. One might say that the collective body of all Hyper-Literary Fiction is a network of mirrors in which each mirror reflects all the others and so on to infinity; without there ever being a center to grasp. In Hyper-Literary Fiction, what is abolished is not meaning, but any notion of finality.

In Microlinear Storytelling density of texture frequently obliterates the contours of the original syntactical line. Joyce’s technique of verbal fragmentation provides the essential background to any understanding of the art of the Hyper-Literary Fiction. As in Joyce, fragments, often chosen to represent salient features of the source material, develop a strikingly individual resonance in isolation and combine to generate new and unexpected meanings.

In Next-Gen Nanopoetics, isolated phrases can give rise to new semantic affinities. August Highland poeticizes the grammatical image by emphasizing its musical values (chromatic compositions, assonance and compositional rhyme). Semantic stuttering (loops) galvanizes the source material into nervous life.

August Highland compounds his audience’s estrangement from the structural relations of the source material by presenting different fragments simultaneously, forcing them to grasp at momentarily comprehensible gestures within the general language/vision overload. Thus Highland is fascinated with working at the very limits of coherence.

Massive clusters, dynamic contrasts, aggregate rhythms, layered imagery, chromatic quagmires, major linguistico-visual dislocations: these are the characteristics of Hyper-Literary Fiction.

August Highland is very much like a draughtsman whose aim is to represent all the inter-relations between things. Working on reading Microlinear Storytelling and Hyper-Literary Fiction – like work on philosophy in many respects – is really more a working on one’s self, one’s own interpretation, one’s own way of seeing things. Genre-Splicing ought really to be performed only as a poetic composition.

Next-Gen Naonpoetics is not based on a historical truth; here you have a narrative, don’t take the same attitude to it as you take to other historical narratives. Different interpretations must correspond to different applications. A Genre-Splicer has constantly to ask him/herself: “but is what I am Splicing really true?” – and this does not necessarily mean: “is this how it happens in reality?” Yes, you have got to assemble bits of old material. But into a building.

Wanting to Genre-Splice is one thing; having a talent for Genre-Splicing is another. One’s style of Splicing may be unoriginal in form and yet one’s images and sounds may be well chosen; or, on the other hand, one may have a style that’s original in form, one that is freshly grown from deep within oneself – (like August Highland’s).

A true example of Hyper-Literary Fiction is best regarded as already existing before it has been composed: with editing as the act of deducing its entirety from a single key phrase/sample/fragment that swims into the Genre-Splicer’s mind. August Highland’s literary projects as a whole are called Metapoetics Theatre and therefore have an auto-hypnotic function.

The prime characteristic of the Genre-Splicer is that he does not tell a story. The Genre-Splicer discards with the subject; there is no “I” for the reader to I-dentify with. Hyper-Literary Fiction may be likened to a hall of mirrors, endlessly reflecting its anti-eschatological celebration of form for form’s sake.

Where, then, does the Metapoetics Theatre idea lead us?

This, of course, nobody knows, but it is fascinating to speculate about its ultimate fate. One can imagine a vast network of future Hyper-Literary Fiction covering an ever increasing range of natural phenomena with ever-increasing accuracy; a network which will contain fewer and fewer unexplained features, deriving more and more of its structure from the mutual consistency of its parts.

Hyper-Literary Fiction seeks but does not possess the meaning and substance of the one truth. For Genre-Splicers, truth is not static and unchanging, but endless movement into the infinite. Truth in the world is in everlasting conflict. The literary projects of Metapoetics Theatre carry this conflict to extremes, but disarm it. Hence Hyper-Literary Fiction does not become a creed. It is in continuous conflict with itself. Genre-Splicing makes us fully aware of the various forms of our dependence, but in such a way that, instead of remaining crushed by our impotence, we find, from the vantage point of our independence, the road to recovery.

Hyper-Literary Fiction is the classicism of digital literature: that is, the one formally perfected style which digital literature has elaborated and from which all modern abstract digital literature art that is valid has derived.

A great deal of nonsense has been written about the creation of the Metapoetics Theatre, connecting it with relativity physics, psychoanalysis, and heaven knows how many other complex and remote things. The fact is that the group of digital artists who created the Metapoetics Theatre (August Highland, Cynthia Rice, Paul Mayer, Adrian Ross, Nicole Bloomfield, Pornalisa, Teddy Warburg, Hannah Frank, Akira Gorman, about 60 others) were creating Hyper-Literary Fiction and nothing else. Certainly they were not dealing in ideologies.

The Metapoetics Theatre evolved in a succession of perfectly logical steps out of previous stages of pre-digital literature editing, out of Cubism and Cezanne, and it raised a series of spatio-temporal problems that had to be solved within the medium of digital literature and by digital literature artists working strictly as Genre-Splicers – that is, upon the sample as such.

With the advent of Next-Gen Nanopoetics begins the process of detachment from the object which is the hallmark of modern digital literature art. Even though Hyper-Literary Fiction is a classical and formal style, the writer nevertheless cuts up and dislocates fragments (samples) as it pleases him for the sake of the picture, which is now no longer held up to us as a linguistic representation but as a chrono-visual image with its own independent value alongside that of nature.

The flattening of chrono-pictorial space that is achieved in the Hyper-Literary Fiction is not an isolated fact, true only of digital literature art, but is paralleled by similar changes in pre-digital literary techniques. There is a general process of flattening, three chief aspects of which may be noted 1) the flattening out of all planes. Near and far are pushed together. Past and present are represented as occurring simultaneously, upon a single plane of time. James Joyce’s Ulysses, TS Eliot’s The Waste Land and August Highland’s Hardcore Fiction Collection are examples. 2) More important perhaps is the flattening out of climaxes. In Highland’s alphanumericlabs, a work of power and dullness, beauty and sordidness, comedy and pathos, where the movement is always horizontal, never ascending towards any crisis, and where we detect not the shadow of anything like a climax, in the traditional sense of that term. It is, in fact, the banal gritty thing that we live that Highland gives us, in comparison with which all other digital literature is indeed fiction. This world is dense, opaque, unintelligible. 3) The last and most important aspect of what we have called the process of flattening in the Metapoetics Theatre is the flattening out of values. For Hyper-Literary Fiction breaks with the whole tradition of western sensibility and western aesthetics in showing that all experience is potentially transcendental.

Hyper-Literary Fiction, instead of a mere theory of literature becomes a vision transcending the realms of thought and language; leading out of words and into the world of acintya, the unthinkable.

(A note on methodology; I did not write one single sentence of this article. Every sentence was appropriated from an existing source. Plundered if you will. The idea to compose a theoretical work based entirely out of existing material of others comes from Walter Benjamin who imagined writing a novel in this way. Of course Gertrude Stein and Kathy Acker were inspirations, particularly with respect to the noun replacement system that gives this piece of writing cohesion – a subject. I thought that this method would be more appropriate for the groundbreaking work of August Highland than a traditionally written “review.”)

aryan kaganof

this interview is published in donga, edited by alan finlay and paul wessels, published by bleksem and dye hard press
isbn 978-0-620-52779-8

3 Responses to “ARYAN KAGANOF – Hyper-Literary Fiction: The (meta)Poetics Of Digital Fragmentation”

  1. cherry bomb Says:

    this is, in a sense, a cento, which has been around since the time of ancient poetry… there is nothing new under the sun…

    “[Echo] arranges it so that, in repeating the last syllables of the words of Narcissus, she speaks in such a way that the words become her own.”
    ~ Jacques Derrida

  2. cherry bomb Says:

    this is, in a sense, a cento, which has been around since the time of ancient poetry… there is nothing new under the sun…

  3. cherry bomb Says:

    also reminds me of this…
    “[Echo] arranges it so that, in repeating the last syllables of the words of Narcissus, she speaks in such a way that the words become her own.”
    ~ Jacques Derrida