THE BROOKLYN RAIL Interviews Lance OLSEN

Here’s an excerpt of John Domini’s engaging interview with Lance Olsen:

So-called experimental fiction teaches a fundamental political lesson over and over again, as much through its structural complications as through its thematics: that the text of the text, the text of our lives, and the text of the world can and should be other than they are.

In the case of Theories [of Forgetting], the formalistics of entropology reiterate the thematics of entropology, not only at the level of the biological individual, but at that of the increasingly impoverished planet. Like Spiral Jetty, our environment is not-so-slowly sinking into sand, wasting itself away, becoming, in a sense, illegible. A recent study sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center suggests we have a matter of a couple decades left before the convergence of strained resources like food and water, overpopulation, famine, the emergency called climate change, and the increasing stratification of society into über-rich and über-poor will lead us smack into social collapse.

This sort of news—because of its sheer magnitude—arrives as a kind of joke. It seems to exist at an existential stratum completely unconnected to, oh, I don’t know, running our sinks for minutes upon end every morning while we brush our teeth, running down to the gas station for another gallon of liquefied dinosaur. But that news isn’t a joke, and at least one role of the arts is to tap us on the shoulder regularly and whisper in our ear: this is what will happen if we’re not careful—and, um, we’re not careful.

In light of such almost inconceivable imminent catastrophic futures—in Theories a pandemic called The Frost has broken out, of which one of the protagonists is victim—genres like domestic realism strike me increasingly as machines built to whistle in the dark, modes of distraction tricked out in honest-to-god narrative gizmos and gimmicks designed to get us to not to think about very much at all, fabricated practices (and not theories) of forgetting who we are, where we are, and where we’re very rapidly un-going.

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

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