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How To Be A Postmodern Writer


What is Postmodern Literature?

The phrase which I most closely associate (perhaps incorrectly) with the notion of postmodern literature is "Death of the Author". The phrase itself originated with literary critic Roland Barthes, in his quest to define a new mode of interpreting literary works where the intentions of their authors are less relevant than the impressions of readers. In each reading of a novel, the story is born anew in the mind of the reader. The writer's text may be a document of the cultural, historical and language influences impinging on the mind of the author at the time of writing, but it is how these forces shape the mind of the reader at the time of reading which is more relevant in understanding the meaning of a novel or any other form of language art.

Many post-WW2 novels seem to confirm the author's new role as a conduit or assembler (rather than creator) of a written work. William S. Burroughs is perhaps the most readily available example of a post-modern writer who had abandoned what he would refer to as "straight" narrative, claiming that the intentionality employed in more traditional writing is actually the force of control structures embedded in language itself. Or as plagiarist author Kathy Acker might put it: "[Good] literature is that which denounces and slashes apart the repressing machine at the level of the signified." By blatantly reusing existing texts as fodder in the meat grinder of her own postmodern writing process, Acker became the first mashup dub DJ of the literary world.

What Postmodern Writing is Not:

It may be tempting to think of the postmodern writing process as experimentalism of the same type seen in the works of James Joyce or Virginia Wolf through their use of the "Stream of Consciousness" technique. In this type of writing, the author seeks to recreate the rambling monologue of a character's inner voice, to duplicate the subjective first person thoughts and perceptions as they occur in that character's own mind. Although the text output may be similarly chaotic, the process is not the same as postmodern writing because the author in these cases intends to create a narrative effect.

Readers Voice: "How Can I become a Postmodern Writer?"

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Creative Writing with Cut'n'Mix
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