In case you missed it, Recursive Occlusion, aka the Logopolis book, is out. It’s $15, and available exclusively through the Createspace store.
Over on Tumblr, I randomly banged up a thing and called it “The Golden Age of Adolescent Literature: A Manifesto for an Aesthetic Movement.”
0. It is better to go too far than to be boring.
1. We must embrace the hubris that characterizes other great aesthetic movements. But as the great aesthetic movements of the last century have already laid claim to the future, we cannot. There are no further footholds to be found on that terrain. Instead, our hubris will have to be historicized. We will not be the future. When we lay claim to the phrase “golden age,” the purpose is not self-promotion, but a demand to ourselves that we live up to the promise of that title.
2. Just as the Golden Age of Children’s Literature is a specifically British movement (albeit one with American practitioners), the Golden Age of Adolescent Literature is ultimately American, embracing the grand cultural tradition of disaffected loners just as the Golden Age of Children’s Literature embraced the grand cultural tradition of portals to faerie.
3. Adolescence must necessarily be fetishized, but we must be clear on what we fetishize. The appeal is the certainty of one’s alienation, the complete rejection of aesthetic or moral compromise, a sense of identity largely untainted by the notion of “work,” and an incandescent focus on the present moment.
4. Adolescent is an adjective. We fetishize adolescence. We do not fetishize adolescents. (Indeed, there is no intrinsic reason why adolescent literature needs to feature adolescents as such.) We leave adolescents to their own devices, for they are better at being adolescents than we can possibly be.
5. Adolescent literature is not made by adolescents. Inherent to the movement is a sense of loss – a desire to recapture our own disaffection. This is the central appeal of adolescent literature to the present moment. Adolescence is defined by a propensity to take radicalism and extremism seriously, and thus adolescent literature gives us a license to contemplate the rejection of basic premises of the world.
6. A rejection of naturalism, whether subtle as with magical realism or emphatic as with outright sci-fi and fantasy, is a strong tool in adolescent literature. It is going too far to say that adolescent literature cannot be naturalist, but naturalism is not a default assumption.
7. Adolescent literature must be queer literature.
8. Adolescence is not about coming of age. If characters come of age, this must be understood as emergence from a chrysalis and as transformation, not as growing into a role that has already been prescribed. The only thing for which growing up is an acceptable metaphor is death.
9. The Hero’s Journey, with its embrace of the return home, is fundamentally a reactionary structure that must be emphatically rejected.
10. Nostalgia is not the enemy. But its purpose is to uncover what has been forgotten about the past. One is not nostalgic for the tombstone, but for what is buried beneath it. Our default cultural images of past moments are prisons from which we must liberate our fellow revolutionaries.
11. The 1960s, rock music, digital utopianism, quirkiness: however fertile the soil might have been, these grounds are now barren.
12. Offending your parents is a prerequisite, but it is not an end in itself.
13. The text itself is worthless. The only aura that matters in a work of art is that which is generated by the experience of consuming it. Value is generated by the act of getting off on something.
I am open to suggestions for further points.