The Erudite Art

Behind the perfection of a man’s style, must lie the passion of a man’s soul.

—Oscar Wilde

As one friend said recently, “Yours is an erudite art to say the least.”

Yes, I get verbose and off the wall at times, stylistic and decadent. My temperament moving in the literary rather than the academic and restrictive discursive practices, which is not to say they do not have their place. Which is truly what your first statement was reminding us of, that measurement in the strict sense is as you suggest a taking in of the strict limits of territory. The limits fascinate me not, it is the ever present horizon I seek out, beyond the barrier reefs of knowledge rather than the quotidian isles or natural inlets of the already discovered and known. And, of course, given my metaphoric over metonymic range of poetic prose I often move toward the hyperbolic rather than the truisms of word or statement. I just happen to choose to exist outside the prison house of acceptability and scholarly regulatory prose. I take after Oscar Wilde and Walter Pater in style… a strange thing in our time to say the least.

Oscar Wilde had often spoken of his belief that, in artistic matters, style outweighed sincerity or substance.  As such, in his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, his attention was therefore paid to form and the nuances of wording over the specific semblance of knowledge.  If the novel was an “essay on decorative art”, it was also a piece of decorative art composed of carefully selected phrases.  In fact, Wilde was so determined to have perfection in his works, when he was asked to write a story of a hundred thousand beautiful words, he complained that “there are not one hundred thousand beautiful words in the English language.”

Oscar Wilde had a phenomenal ability to incorporate aspects of both fantasy and realism into his works.  Through thoughtful imagery and realistic dialect, he successfully merged two contradicting genres into a fascinatingly morbid style.  Wilde also exceled in his use of imagery.  He vividly described people and situations with many types of literary devices though his favorite and therefore most frequented, is morbid imagery.  He commanded an astonishing mastery of the art of morbidity, describing in unusual detail images of corpses and blood and a murder that would rival anything in modern cinema.

Over and over I’ve heard my work described as exquisite but morbid. Exactly! There is no inferior / superior forms of statement, that too is an erroneous conclusion and a moral one, and a reduction on the part of many literalists of the imagination. I’m an a-moralist, a techno-pessimist, and a Dionysian mad litterateur, well read in sciences, philosophy, mathematics, history, sociology, literary and critical endeavors, etc. An autodidact at heart and an aphoristic writer in intent and scope. My writing is theory-fiction with a bent toward futurial forms of SF pushing the limits of aphoristic display into the techno-commercium that is being manufactured in our contemporary late capitalism.

Many people seek more traditionalist forms and separations of thought, segmenting it into the old categories of humanistic learning as if this were the way it had always been and will remain and to mix the categories or produce hybridity of form and statement as in a devil’s brew of the sciences with philosophy, or science fiction with theory, and even in pushing the hyperbolic tendencies within economic, social, and normative contexts to their logical conclusions was to step off into some abyss without recourse. I’ve always found such reduced and limited discursive practices to be find for experts, scientists, specialists, and academics who must – as Foucault showed long ago, work within the “discursive praxis” of one’s specialty using the linguistic markers and traces of that world are forever remain outside the confines of its codes unread and unknown, merely a footnote to some cognitive revolution happening elsewhere.

For me experimentalism begins and ends in writing itself, pushing the written word into realms otherwise left out of academic and scholarly prose due to the above restrictions of those very discursive practices. I have people ask me why I write such stylish prose. Why? Because I like it, why else? Does one have to have reasons for everything? Some will like it, others hate it. Does that concern me? No. Ones preferences in style and content varies, and as always been the case some authors will speak to you while others don’t, some will enliven your mind while others put you asleep. One reads specialist not because they are stylist but for the typical reason that they are presenting certain facts that one may need for one’s own ongoing project. Would I expect a scientist to write like a lawyer, or a philosopher to sound like a neuroscientist; although both could at times enter into the discursive worlds of the other but under other non-specialist terms and circumstances: as in essays, minor pieces, notation, notebooks, etc. The world would be a sad place if all writing was reduced to the same style as in the famed Chicago Manual of Style, which has its place but one wouldn’t want a novel written in this way, nor have Nietzsche’s works rewritten in a prosaic and restrictive measure. Now would we?

We live in a time of decadence, exposed to the too richness of a decaying and over-ripe society that in its decline is anxiously drifting into those excessive regions of both mind and heart. We are in flames, our apocalyptic imaginal and religious reductions exposed not so much in tribal worlds of ethno-nationalist transports as much as it is displayed in the morbid details of our political spectacles which remind of us some barbaric yawp in Whitman’s sense: a world replete with offensive discord and violence, a distempered realm of cinematic gore and verbosity of hate and bigotry. We are the barbarians at the gate of nonsense, unable to construct a civilized world we have reduced ourselves to the spectacle of pigs wallowing in the slime of democracies demise.

Grotesque and decadent to the core our society lives out its fantasias in the realist districts of an impudent impotence, a realm filled with the satiric spite of literalist of the imagination as shown by our current political stage-craft. As Guy Debord in the Society of the Spectacle in his moralise once suggested, we “like lost children live our unfinished adventures.” We exist in appearance, in the hall of mirrors that is our Reality Studio of TV and Cinema. Debord: “… just as early industrial capitalism moved the focus of existence from being to having, post-industrial culture has moved that focus from having to appearing.” Simulated experience rather than its actuality is our forte – fractured, sociopathic, insane we dance against the truth that we are as a species at a juncture and convergence. Like children who are awakened into a nightmare fantasy realm, delivered to the stark truth that our time truly is limited, that finitude is not just a philosophical concept but rather the end game of civilization itself. We are the players of an historical farce, the repetition of an end times game we’ve all dismissed as so much religious mythology.

And, yet, as many of our pundits have suggested we are no longer moving to time’s drum, rather we are in a circular enclosure and precinct of hellish delights, locked away in a human zoo dreaming of freedom but living its lie. Solitary and confined we seek a way out of this dark age and find no one who will or can lead us to the promised land. Not because such religious non-sense still harbors any illusive meaning for us, but because we lack the courage of our convictions secular or religious to do it for ourselves. We truly are the last of our kind, the victims not of some bland joke or demiurges hate, but of our own inability to reach across to our enemies and realize what we see in their eyes is our own hate staring back. We are the children of hate and bigotry and we live it out daily as if it is the “other” not us who is to blame… and, yet, there is no other, only this sick and decadent animal, homo sapiens. Born of time and necessity we will end in time under the auspices of Ananke’s dark charm.