With the advent of technology our whole world has speeded up. A small click and we can make purchases, view photos, listen to music, watch videos and much more. Our senses have been, perhaps without us noticing too much, receiving a considerable stimulus to seek feedback in a way that perhaps found us unprepared. At the same time, it is interesting to note that communication has seen a strong and decisive impulse to contract, to shrink, to become telegram like.
This subject has been the center of some blog posts in the past. This time, the focus of this post is not on the struggle between the new and the old, between texting and letters, but it rather seems a good occasion to deal with reduction of the text from an artistic perspective.
Haikus, particularly in the context of poetry, had been existing long before the founding of Twitter, but one cannot help but think that anyone who engaged in this type of literary art in the past, only did it in the spirit of experimentation and artistic research. If the Internet becomes a platform that enables everyone to write Haikus, for example, aren’t we faced with a devaluation of the Haiku itself? Do not run the risk of trivialising the art form in question?
But more importantly, can you reduce and maintain the same level of quality at the same time, this being judged from a literary point of view? Broader terms have been coined to speak of very short and concise poems: “Micropoetry” or “Twaiku” being some of the most used. But when speaking of “Flarf poetry” one is defining a specific genre: the term was coined by poet Gary Sullivan, the first poet to experiment with it; it’s the result of mixing, elaborating, collaging words which have been gathered by internet searches or that randomly came up browsing the web. The results are often hilarious and challenge one’s approach to the idea of poetry, as Flarf is a sort of genre that refuses to seek quality. Then, can art be art when it has no specific message? Perhaps. Yes, art needs to challenge the mind of the reader, but does it not need to keep quality high, or at least deliver the message? Art is such a relative concept that we will never have one valid and universal answer as it entails a subjective approach.
The reason why this topic mostly applies to poetry is because that one is the only literary form to well adapt to verses or shortness in general. What about novels? Should there be standards of length in a novel? Can labels as provoking as “Micronovel” or “Facebook novel” ever be taken seriously? Would it not be similar to claiming that a letter, for instance “F“, is a word? Some specific means of literary expression do have standards, structural ones, ones you just cannot deconstruct without keeping the label which was previously attached to that concept intact. Once one deconstructs the building called novel and experiments with its separate parts, then one must accept that the outcome’s new label cannot be the same as the one applied to its previous form. There is no such thing as a 140-word novel.