Author Showcase: Edward Trefts

by Nathaniel Tower

Today we bring you Edward Trefts, author of Parable of the Door. In addition to sending us a terrific story, he also shared some pretty extensive thoughts about Post-Experimentalism. Here’s what he thinks about it:

So what is post-experimentalism?

I suspect the difficulty of answering this question points to the difficulty of answering this other question, what is experimental literature (see these series of posts at HTML Giant)? Christopher Higgs writes in his post here  at HTMLGiant that experimental literature can be conceptualized as an “alternative discourse” to the “Aristotelian prescription.”

The Aristotelian prescription, for our purposes, can be thought of as a collection of assumptions about what makes good writing. If you are a writer today they are probably familiar to you. They are usually spoken about in writing workshops. Higgs lists a few examples: “Show don’t tell.” “Kill your darlings.” “Plot is the most important aspect.”

He argues that experimental lit is not anti-Aristotle, or anti-conventional: instead of treading a negative space, it charts its own affirmative terrain. A better label for experimental might then be post-conventional, the post prefix not conjuring a negative image of anything.

So post-experimentalism might be thought of as post-post conventionalism, and this does not bring us back to the conventional by any means.

The prefix ‘post,’ at least for me, casts a shadow on the word that we are supposedly post of. Sometimes I like to think of ‘post’ as a kind of gravestone for the word. But does that mean the word has died, and we are supposed to keep some marker of its death through the use of another word?

No, I think not.

For one day we might grow post of whatever post word we have made. It would make as much sense as heaping a gravestone on another gravestone.

So I want to say, if I am post-experimental, it is not because I am against anything. I want to say, if I am post-experimental, it is not because I think experimentalism is dead. I want to say, post has nothing to do with ‘against,’ it has much more to do with ‘with.’

Post-experimentalism should not be a reactionary thing. But I have a confession to make. I like to read stories that do adhere, at least in part, to the Aristotelian prescriptions. The hard question is: how do you embrace these prescriptions while not being at the same time simplistic, unthoughtful, reactionary?

This is the difficult tundra that post-experimentalism will have wade through.

Edward Trefts

BIO: Edward Trefts has an MFA from the University of Notre Dame. He has been published in Mixer. He is happy to be a part of the Bartleby Snopes’ first ever post-experimentalism issue.