pronounced in literature than painting or architecture precisely because
literature is a popular art, and popular art tends to be more resistant
to change than arts with a more restricted, so-called elitist, or
(at least in America) urban audience, such as painting or sculpture.
I believe we're in an interregnum during which the modernist and postmodernist
discoveries are being digested. Afterwards there will be a period
of new explorations of the outer limits of literary language, strategy,
and form~this is already happening in the exploration of hypertext
and gaming strategies by fiction writers online.
There is, I believe, still much to learn from the discovery that the
basic unit of literature is not character or story, not situation
or theme, image or trope, but the phrase: whatever can be put into
a phrase and structured around
it provides the strongest basis for literary writing in our time.
Literature is, of course, above all a linguistic structure, not a
political or sociological, historical or analytical one. It's an art
form and so provides primarily an aesthetic experience: all others
of its effects hinge on that.
What differentiates literature from the other arts, aside from the
universality of its medium (everyone depends on language as an essential
tool for survival; this is why its specialized literary treatment
can cause deep resistance: people still fight over the project of
the French poet Mallarmé, more than a century after his death) is
its overtly moral dimension, through stories~but even this dimension
is primarily aesthetic.