Bernard Page 12
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.