Imitation is Not Just for Struggling Hacks

“If art is an act of mimesis, a mirror held to nature, then it follows as the night the day that what we write must be impersonation, a way of tricking out 26 letters in order to ape “reality.” That thing in quotes. We do this unconsciously always, sometimes consciously, in a kind of infection by inflection, a nearly viral transmission of a world view via words. And in this forward-facing moment at the end of the millennium it seems we’ve acquired the Janus-faced habit of also looking back.”

Nicholas Delbanco, “From Echoes Emerge Original Voices” NY Times 6/21/99

There – I think that sums things up nicely, don’t you?  Except that whole “at the end of the millennium”.  It’s 2011 and that statement reads as heavy-handed – too, too Y2K, dahling.  Now let’s all write Jane Austen fan fiction!

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