Under current conditions, as Rob Halpern puts it, avant-gardes must arise, can only arise, within the logic of capital. This predictability is not so much, or only, a weakness of the avant-garde’s historical trajectory as it is an index of the wager capital makes with history, a gamble it loses at every table, which is why it moves from table to table. That is, capital “loses” when it either exhausts the resources at any particular table—the “boomtown” phenomena that inhabits specific cities (Houston in the 1980s) or regions (Silicon Valley)—or when it costs capital too much to continue playing (the destruction of unions as a condition for “saving” jobs or the relocation of industries to underdeveloped regions, cities and countries). Nonetheless, within the field of writing in general, the absorption of every mode of experimentalism into the fold of innovation does not return things to a steady-state homeostasis. The system—even within the institution of higher education—is incrementally, simultaneously, nurtured and poisoned.
- Tyrone Williams at Lana Turner