Escribir en el siglo XXI / Heriberto Yépez

Writing in the 21st Century

The 21st century writer faces the danger of seeing his aesthetic critique vanish because of the common laws of government, market, readers, academia and Internet.

The order of these powers varies according to country. But all of them control the literary writer in this new century.

Literary writing distinguishes itself from others by taking control of the art of heterodox form, of aesthetic verbal pleasure, of the difficult link between tradition and innovation in the ludic word.

The writer who’s at the pinnacle of the art belongs to the present, is a contemporary of his era and, simultaneously, belongs to other times.

When a writer belongs only to the past he doesn’t offer anything to literature; when he only belongs to the present, he almost doesn’t belong to literature.

The writer should be unfaithful to yesterday and unfaithful to today. But, above all, he should love the art, which is the sensual project of inhabiting a more intense temporality.

Facing the dead, the artist would seem frivolous; facing his contemporaries, a solemn figure. The artist, in any case, is a traitor to tradition and a traitor to the now.

A writer who agrees with his society is failing.

The writer is a critical innovator. He artistically proposes more complex and less repressive forms —a two-sided impertinence— than those of the social present. A writer always ends up revealing how consensus is mistaken.

For art, even the truth is insufficient.

The writer used to distance himself by means of the book or, at least, the text; but today the artistic book and text are felt to be anachronistic or they’re not identified as being different from any other media or text.

The (e)reader doesn’t care about the aesthetic particularity. For him, everything is text, everything is opinion, everything is media.

On the screen, everything is judged by the same criteria. News, posts or PDFs are consumed by the same set of rules.

Literature is now merely a branch of Publishing.

This uniformity of judgment has impoverished the senses.

But the greatest challenge for the writer happens when he faces himself. On the one hand, to speak of a challenge against oneself implies a paradox in the Telephysical Era of the selfie so that others might see you (as you see yourself... for them). On the other hand, the challenge is to overcome the consensus without falling into ego-morphism (thinking that everything takes on the form of the I) and believing that all form is a signature.

Being in solidarity with the 99 percent from the radical dissent of a 1 percent.

And the writer should know that everything he does will be 100 percent processed by spectacular reactions. Writing in the 21st century is writing within the spectacle.

Everything a writer does today is “read” by the criteria of the world of the spectacle, exercised from the labor market, social media, publishing houses or institutions.

The 21st century is the first century in which literature is a zone within the spectacle.

Starting now, leaving the spectacle is the writer’s greatest challenge.

{ Heriberto Yépez, Archivo Hache, Suplemento Laberinto, Milenio (México D.F.), 7 February 2015 }

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