“Gary [Lutz] was the first writing teacher I had who showed me that the sentence was capable of art. He would underline good sentences and interrogate bad ones. Verbs would be circled and Gary would ask ‘inevitable?’ And no, the verb was not inevitable, and I’d never considered that concept before, inevitability. It smacks of the eternal, a text beyond the writer to which the writer submits.”
Dylan Nice, “An Interview with Dylan Nice,” interview by Rachel Yoder, Bookslut March 2013

[See Vladimir Nabokov and William Gaddis.]

A Thing in the World

Gary Lutz, interview by Dylan Nice, Wag’s Revue 7 Fall 2010

I try not to trouble myself all that much with meaning. A sentence of mine is a layout of language. What the sentence might be about is of no permanent concern. I’m mostly drawn toward art that resists exegesis. Donald Barthelme, paraphrasing Kenneth Burke in an essay published in 1964, wrote that “the literary work becomes an object in the world rather than a text or commentary upon the world,” and a year later, Susan Sontag, in her essay “On Style,” made an eerily similar statement: “A work of art is a thing in the world, not just a text or commentary on the world.” Both writers eventually backed away from that position, but I buy it.

Literary Hauntology

Lars Iyer, “Outside Literature: The Lars Iyer Interview,” interview by Tim Smyth, The Quarterly Conversation 31 4 March 2013

In Vila-Matas, we find a humorous recapitulation of Blanchot’s sense that a certain way of literary writing is at an end, and that a new kind of writing, one which registers this end in some way, is beginning. Andrew Gallix has much of interest to say on the topic of the various “ends” of literature that have occurred.[2] In one sense, I want to say that literature is always ending! The end is eternal. It will go on forever. There can be no “apocalypse” of literature. And for that reason, there will always be more hot tubs, more lists, more distractions! But I also want to insist on the specificity, on the singularity of this end . . . I believe in it . . .

Let me risk pretension by putting as follows. Historically, any simple avant-gardist idea of a new literary practice necessarily reconsolidates the traditional institution of literature that it claims to critique. A literary practice that is ostensibly “outside” literature posits an “inside” of literature. By disobeying the police who maintain the borders of literature, they simultaneously confirm the role of those police; avant-garde practices depend on them. But what happens when the police leave their posts? What happens when no-one mans the border — when the sanctity of literature becomes a matter of indifference? There can no longer be an “outlaw” avant-gardism, because there is no law to transgress. But nor is there a literature self-certain enough, secure enough, to arrest, domesticate or tame its “outside.” The authority of literature has vanished. The house of literature is deserted. Granted, that house is haunted. There are such things as literary ghosts, even a literary “hauntology,” as Gallix calls it.