THE QUARTERLY CONVERSATION Interviews Lance Olsen

Here’s an excerpt from Luke Taylor’s interview:

Luke Taylor: In a lecture you gave on your latest novel, Theories of Forgetting, you said that you are as interested in the politics of structuration as you are in the politics of thematics in a text. Can you say more about what the politics of structuration can involve and how you address these?

Lance Olsen: The politics that occur at the level of architectonics—from narrative structure to how a sentence misbehaves—are less visible than the politics that occur at the level of thematics, and hence potentially more insidious.

Let me put it another way. We have been taught to read for, say, character and action. So it’s really easy to see and discuss the politics of the papery people and universes that comprise texts. But structure frequently works on us almost without our knowing it. Take conventional sitcoms, for instance, which teach us existential complications can be solved in 22 minutes plus commercials. Now up the ante: imagine the narratives that not only our entertainment industry but also our government and academic ones repeat for us so often we begin to believe they must be the truth—e.g., weapons of mass destruction, say, certain versions of history.

One of the many goals of innovative fiction seems to be to rattle those received narratives, which is to say rattle those received structures. It does so, not simply to have fun (although there is almost always an element of the joyously ludic at play in the innovative), and not merely to examine its navel (although there is almost always an element of serious self-consciousness at play in the innovative), but rather to remind us that there are always profoundly important alternative ways to tell ourselves, our lives, our experiences of experience.

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

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