The Avant-Garde Tradition in Literature

By Richard Kostelanetz | Go to book overview

Surfiction-Four Propositions
in Form of a Manifesto

Raymond Federman

Now some people might say that this situation is not very encouraging but one must reply that it is not meant to encourage those who say that!

Raymond Federman, Double or Nothing

Rather than serving as a mirror or redoubling on itself, fiction adds itself to the world, creating a meaningful "reality" that did not previously exist. Fiction is artifice but not artificial. It seems as pointless to call the creative powers of the mind "fraudulent" as it would to call the procreative powers of the body such. What we bring into the world is per se beyond language, and at that point language is of course left behind — but it is the function of creative language to be left behind, to leave itself behind, in just that way. The word is unnecessary once it is spoken, but it has to be spoken. Meaning does not pre-exist creation, and afterward it may be superfluous.

Ronald Sukenick, a letter ( 1972)

Writing about fiction today, one could begin with the usual clichés — that the novel is dead; that fiction is no longer possible because real fiction happens, everyday, in the streets of our cities, in the spectacular hijacking of planes, on the Moon, in Vietnam, in China (when Nixon stands on the Great Wall of China), and of course on television (during the news broadcasts); that fiction has become useless and irrelevant because life has become much more interesting,

____________________
Reprinted from Surfiction: Fiction Now and Tomorrow (Swallow Press, 1975) by permission of the author. Copyright © 1975, by Raymond Federman.

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