It is quite reasonable to ask if the literary magazine and review as we know them are close to their end. At a time when technology and screens are gradually eroding intelligence, the question weighs heavily on the collective mind. More so when one takes notice of the literary doldrums of the last few years.
Going towards a literary bankruptcy?
If this question can immediately change the mind of the novice, no doubt it will not shock the zealot of standard and free prose, as it is, after all, a question of literary bankruptcy. The literary magazine in its most powerful force is above all an open door to new styles and new authors. By according a place to to the (sic) best known writers, the first bullet is fired into the literary review. And that bodes ill.
It is essential to remember that if the situation is so dire, then it is, above all, down to a few individuals who wish to preserve the language and all its attributes at all costs. To preserve it behind the age-old redundant writing style – the journalistic style – which one finds everywhere, on every corner of the road, every corner of any website.
It is the biggest scandal of the modern world, not that the writing is lost but that the superb tool which is the literary magazine has fallen, regrettably, into soiled hands, leaving classic literature and its outdated attributes in doubt.
One must not forget either that it is here that many authors have written a range of articles in the ranks of the first review genre, or first number of an unknown literary magazine. The review was, at one time, the antechamber of the editing house while now, it has become an unhealthy ode to promoting the writing of edited authors, lazy writing and all its protagonists.
But deep down, it is one matter like so many others, for if the literary magazine, as well as the review, appear to be on their way out, it is after all and above all owing to a general uniformisation of people’s thinking. When the period and the exposition and total acceptance of oneself, set themselves up so poorly, the picture is of a generation of authors writing identically, their sole objective being to sell, to be edited or recognised. Too bad for style, forget about oneself and one’s ego. For if the most important thing in the world is to survive, in the literary environment survival is this: a semblance of mastered prose, a pseudo form of good writing under airs of propriety for the arrogant middle classes.
Therein lies the main problem for literature and equally for literary media: it is not compatible with this era.
A period that is too resolutely puritan
And yet… even if at the start the forecasts were more optimistic, all is tragically broken and ruined, fallen onto the scrap heap of literary failures. Gone is the era of free writers, those who wanted to publish the likes of Lolita, Notes of a Dirty Old Man and Journey to the Edge of the Night; that has been cast immediately onto the pyre of social media. The witch hunt is in evidence; 2019, the story of a censurer.
“During the ambush to which time had brought me, this idea of being a champion, this faithful horse on which I rode, took a lost bullet.”
– Hunter S Thompson
For if something is hidden beneath a pseudo-classical writing, others will not hesitate to confirm it, that this writing and its era at the same time require them to hide beneath false posturing to avoid a scandal on a national – or global – level with three lines (however substandard) in a French, American or German editorial. Social media is enemy number 1 of the free author. It is impossible for them to face their public, their accusers, those who will not hesitate at the first opportunity to grasp a link, a 140, to run through the starting, stuttering career of this would-be Chinaski. How, in that case, to follow a context like it?
Quite simply, by befriending those in power. By not going as far as one’s pen wills it, the worst censurer, in other words. But how can a literary review exist in a context wherein it must be puritan and concurrent with far more powerful platforms?
Enough of telling certain people the lie that there is no correct answer – the literary magazine trampled on by computer games, by social media, and now literature itself has become a lair of errant, polite and well-educated dogs. When it is for the opposite that we have fought.
To unseat prose and literature
The answer is in the words of Ulysses – not that of Homer, but James. The literary review is there, still alive, and only there to expel prose, and above all its compulsive liars. It sets itself not just as a world of writing, but also as a place of total liberty, giving the author and their writers the chance to defend their liberties, whatever they are and in their style.
And this is without doubt one of the greatest collateral damages of the internet now. Finding sustenance for the avid controversial gravediggers has never been as easy as in the time of internet fora and Facebook. There the second bullet is fired.
At one time, deviant, controversial and well-written articles could only be found in editorials, literary magazines and reviews, advocating one or another complex style. But now… whoever wishes to unearth their batch of controversies has only to visit one forum or another and find them under ‘new material’ all for free and in a couple of clicks.
And there is the tragic destiny of the attack on the literary media: it has been outdone by Facebook posts. They have this advantage of surpassing reality, whatever literary review text there is. For it is the neighbour, the baker on the corner, the old lady opposite, it is a question of that – facing up to a disloyal concurrence of people. But then, is all already lost? Is all hope gone?
The question of a renewal of the literary scene
If everything must be restarted, then it is necessary, without any doubt, that certain authors make an appearance, not only through a new style that more or less reflects the advantages and flaws of an evolving language, but through a new format, a format that is more adapted to the era. For, if 50 years ago, the author, the new author had the leisure to be able to do as he saw fit, the modern era demonstrates that this time is at an end.
“One would like to know if it is the writing which corrupts customs, or rather, customs which corrupts writing”
– Alfred Capus
At present, the author must find means of communication which are adapted to propel their words directly at the reader. And it is there that the blow wounds – in a cosmos like ours, the literary review and its friend the literary magazine already appear to be relegated to the backseat. Not only worrying about the ecology, the reader must also satisfy their need in other formats, other methods other than those used in a review, a magazine or any other media.
In an era where we have animated characters, colour screens, writing in all its forms appears indeed to be a science at the point of being revolutionised. Yet…
The new literary magazine at the heart of a revolution
Shaky though it may be, the hope is there, not the mystical quest of fanatics searching for a superior force in drops of holy water, but a real and good hope. For even if writing, and through it all written media, appear to have totally stopped, communication is still evolving every day.
And for the new authors, fabulous, new, never-before-explored hunting grounds appear. Cosmopolitanism and globalisation all bring with them new language, new slang, their own vocabulary. And it is within this fabulous Pandora’s box that the writer must search. Not the writing, as could have been written here, but the true, the only writer. The one who does not bother with codes or precepts of language. Putting at the heart of the literary review, at the centre of the literary magazine, the evolution of language and philology.
“There is a time in everyone’s life to either flee or resist.”
– Charles Bukowski
The writer must be the guarantor of a new wave, of their time, of a sacrosanct connection between the written and the spoken, not the traditional valuation of a language stuck in its setbacks. And the literary review is there to help this, to provide for it, this superb, powerful kickstart to exploit all that is on offer.
The new communication should be the basis, the chamber, of a new way of writing. With the editing houses being guarantors of good writing, the good and old past-tense prose, the role of the literary magazine becomes essential. Not to literary or entertaining ends, but to linguistic ends. To reconcile people and search with them the dogma, to consolidate its already dead language.
And there is the fundamental role of the literary editorial: to put forward a language which could not appear in any novel or in any newspaper. Putting forward the linguistic practices of the internet, of the streets, of the suburbs, in various different social places. With the literary crown, a certain finesse in publication is guaranteed.
Shock the first time, to then open the debate.
It is over for the editors-in-chief who are infected with their schemes
To triumph, one must respond. Not try to run and retrieve the bullets, but to take up arms and send enraged prose to the dogmatists with strong oriental or anglicised accents. That is the first bullet to fire at the literary believers, a healthy yet also destructive bullet bringing them back to the classic literary review.
It does not represent writing – and that is the fundamental error of chief writers – but the culture and language on a grand scale. That it is not to take vengeance and publish Goncourt or its like again or misfiring, too-well-written Renedeau, but to stigmatise an evolution, a powerful advance in new language within the Académie Française.
For if the Académie does its job, the same should go for the independent writers and editors. Ensuring that the debate around language is opened around the subject of writing. For too long already substance has been placed above form, and a biographical novel recanting memories of war, genocide, death or incest will see itself considered more and more as a simple glimmer, not about a madcap story in an exceptional style.
The writer is not meant to mindlessly recant a story or reality; that is the role of the journalist, the reporter, not the writer. The author is there to research, to put forward, from all points of view, the language, to benefit from this living language which is theirs. The pure rewriting of events in a Nobel Prize-winning writing is the worst type of writing that a writer can create.
And if the traditional editor accepts this, it is our responsibility, as the literary magazine or review, to fight this plague, this unhealthy writing which serves only to distract.
Towards a new writing
It is therefore necessary to get our hands dirty and affirm our new resolve to renovate writing. In these new forms which JYKUUU proposes, and in the new formats. With, of course, the aid of new, carefully selected authors. Albert Cohens, Bukowskis, Fitzgeralds, Louis Ferdinand Célines, Nabokovs and Pouchkines.
That is what is required people who have fear of neither words nor interpretations, and that which the editing houses do not have to offer them, the literary review as it is. In a paradigm of total liberty wherein the reader should not be comforted, but rather thrown around, shaken with all their being, at the same time shocked and disgusted. And in this instance we are given the long-awaited return to form of the literary review.
There is the same founding of writing, the real writing: total creative freedom. And in this period when neither the editing houses nor the majority of independent editors defend the values of writing, it is for us, of the literary magazine and review, to defend these values. The absolute freedom which writing offers, or can offer. Words, writing and that cosmic art which is the deformation of the language: slang.
But how to create a new form of writing in the midst of this stagnation? Not in terms of form, nor in foundation, but in terms of reconnaissance? Because to create a trend, a tendency, a minimum is needed, an appearance of impulsion, of propulsion, on the part of the readers or even the literary paradigm itself.
And if the second is to be forgotten entirely, because it does not have its heart entirely set on grandiose names, the question is how to serve the reader, to make of them a fervent fighter for our cause, not for writing but for the review in the egocentric sense of the term. For the review can only exist through its proper spirit. Therefore, what of the reader?
Making the reader an ardent defender of new prose
It would, of course, be an error to place the reader in this embrace – for one thing, that is not what they are there for. No more than to just be left alone. On the other hand, it would be to fall into the temptation to write for them and to succeed not for their own ways or words, but rather through their own free will. An endless circle which makes us fall endlessly into the same literary myth: write for the reader to become someone.
So a second proverbial shot must be fired – not into the heart or the head, but more precisely into a limp, soft area irrigated by a number of nerves. Not to wound, but to cause suffering. It goes without saying that the literary review must be written to martyr its reader, to hound them out of their comfort zone. To show them how close they have come – over the years – to something powerfully literary. An oddity, right in front, emerging from the nebulous depths of the writing.
Pulling the reader away from the pages of the book, to throw them forever into a pseudo-cosmos of false literature. And it is the sine qua non condition to make the reader a fighter for the literary review. That it is at the centre of combat, of the controversial, it is a question of that. Not the effort of taking the reader into an already-written story or to make a fighter of paper with weapons like the love of letters, the love of phrases like literature, no.
To transform, to irrigate it with all these worlds as yet unknown, with all this prose which has never before been combined. That they realise that since their birth, they have been deceived by the myth of the foundation of writing. That what they have learned at school is based upon a global acceptance which could have been literature – but is not.
Engaging in the literary battle
Therefore, one must engage in a literary battle. To get them off from the first words, tear out their eyes, to eat away at them from the first second, from the first phrase, the first error, the brain. To implant within them a new software capable over several days, perhaps months, to transform them into a mutant, having the divine capability to differentiate between writing and literature.
And it is all there, the prize of this combat, to force reflection, to show them proof of an existing sub-literature without a clear path for the traditional reader. Not to make them a junkie of neo prose, but to take them by surprise and to bring them to ask questions regarding what is literature, what is writing, what is a good author and by definition, that which is, or could be, the new literary magazine and review.
And if this objective is damaged, then there can be no doubt that new trends like those proposed by JYKUUU will see the daylight through editorials, tickets, articles, newspapers, books, the news, and at that moment the first battle will have been won. Not the battle of the new literary review – no, rather that of new writing and new language. The new English. The neo English. The arriving language, the new slang, the suburbanite. All those definitions of society through a unified, spoken language. That is the first battle which must be fought, the battle of language reform.
For the literary magazine to ultimately triumph
For JYKUUU has not seen the daylight without a fixed idea, it is ultimately the free will of a few authors who are not like the others to unify the spoken and written, to bring the younger generations to writing, even to bring writing to a place once only resolved for others: from computer games to virtual reality, JYKUUU aspires to see the continuation of all of this universe. And to reach this, they must all fight these plans. For if one thing is certain, it is that we are alone.
On this day, when the literary review and magazine are only in the hands of pedantic individuals in the literary scene, positioning in a quasi-monopoly, the battle appears long, but at the price of which, a good opportunity for writing to be reborn in the cinders, and bringing with it the literary review.
“The written language must go through spoken language – and this is very hard and no-one wants to do it”.
– Louis-Ferdinand Destouches
The reader of these words has a central position in this battle, if they believe that they must instil a breath of fresh air in this sad prose, so they must display all their support in works like our own and JKYUUU at the same time. For if we are a free magazine – and we will always be – a resulting need will feel like, in terms of translation, page setting, and that is the reason that pushes the majority of reviews like ours to stop after 2, maybe what? 4? More? In any case we have decided to bring this literary combat, not for the reader or the writing itself, but because this prose, all this prose is the fantasy of dreamers, of the gravediggers of thoughts and braggarts of the world; if we do not do it, then no one else will. No-one will come to save us from the propriety which comes down hard upon the modern literary paradigm.
Fighting to avoid being extinguished, proposing innovation again and again and again, a resolutely contemporary writing, words and phrases written not on a computer, in Word, but with the pen, the fingers feeling the blades of strangers and still inaccessible to the English language.
The real battle is there – giving the dream to others, creating spaces and galaxies, making stars explode, revitalising the old and pale literary review, making it shine anew in the midst of contemporary writing, finding a place for it and perhaps… seeing its wealth of our lives.