Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Seen a certain way, this is an already defeated position: apparently finished as an art form, the novel defends itself as mental hygiene, as the cruciferous vegetable of the language arts. The English novelist Will Self, in an article in the Guardian last spring, noted how unsatisfying the cognitive defense of fiction feels: The idea that novels exist so we can learn to “achieve deep and meditative levels of absorption in others’ psyches” sounded to him like a “circling of the wagons,” a last-ditch attempt, from within a culture ever more biologically reductive, to save a struggling form. If reading a novel is merely mental exercise, why bother?

- Nicholas Dames