Nov 2, 2010

Imitation ticks

Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves is not just a blathering of tics and twitches. You'd be forgiven for thinking it was, though, if what you know about it comes from the some of the fans of House of Leaves.

The novel experiments with typography, for example, and the visual grammar of the film and of the internet, and some, when writing about it, can't seem to help themselves, and seem to have to imitate it. I assume it's a compulsion. The other interpretation seems mean.

At Flak Magazine, for example, there's a little imitation-homage going on. At The Cult it really gets out of hand.

I suppose the imitations are, at least in part, efforts to show one "gets it," in the same speaking the language of particular subculture makes you a part of that subculture or imitating the style of a philosopher is often -- so very often -- mistaken for actually understanding the philosophy. Instead, though, it turns the work into something silly.

I was looking at this stuff online to try to find more information about Danielewski's next book, which is rumoured to be titled Familiar, and to be a 27-volume work about a girl who lost her cat.

Instead what I found was cloying.

Probably part of Danielewski's success, 10 years ago (!), though, is that what he does seems so obvious, after you read it, and so imitatable.

It turns experimentalism into tricks and stunts, though. It creates, of seems to me to create, this weird moment where those who love a work and those dismiss it agree exactly on what the work is, and do what they do for the same reason. The important things get missed, and the whole thing gets reduced to a few tics.

Maybe this is just a downside of experimental fiction.