The *New* Fantastic: A [Working] Definition

[Working] Definition:

THE *NEW* FANTASTIC is (a piece of) equipment with which to read texts.

When practically applied, it takes the form of a question:

In what manner does what deviate from what normativity?

THE *NEW* FANTASTIC

is [evinced] by the way(s) in which something [deviates from] a normativity.

The original formulation of the verb evinced was the adjective measurable. This was primarily because the formal structure of The *New* Fantastic is that of a scale, an extension of the formal logic of the binary. I began thinking about The *New* Fantastic in this way after spending some time thinking about aesthetics, ethics, and hermeneutics: it was the form of the logic found in the relationships inherent in each – beautiful/ not (or less) beautiful, good/ not (or less) good, and surface/ depth -that struck me as being similar, on a very basic level, to the form of the logic of my emerging concept of The *New* Fantastic, which is itself something that is seen to exist as more or less fantastic in relation to some sort of normative foundation, that does something like slide along a scale from less fantastic to more fantastic.

Similarly, the way(s) in which came to replace the original formulation the degree to which. The above formal logics involve the suggestion of the measurability of something that is not, strictly speaking, measurable (e.g. the fantasticity of a text). The strength of this suggestion of measurability is important because it introduces the concept of a metric, which has as its smallest functioning feature the distinction-making degree. To speak of the degrees of either an essentially unmeasurable thing, or of something for which the end of said measuring is mere categorization, would not only be critically questionable, but boring as well. Therefore the noun ways (a hypernym of the “methods, styles, or manners of doing something”), opens up the field of possibilities in which something might be found to be fantastic.

The field of possibilities is made possible and defined up and against what I refer to as (the working term) “the normative.” This normative can be thought of as a cluster of possible baseline foundations that make up various takes on what is often called “reality:” (what is) concrete, actual, normal, real, present, now, logical, reasonable, reasonably possible, etc. It is from these that The *New* Fantastic deviates from.

What is particularly useful to this form of inquiry is the relative mobility of this normativity: as bearing a special relationship with any number of possible subjects – reader, characters, authors, the “reading public,” etc – it can be seen to change depending on its subject position. This doesn’t negate the critique of global or hegemonic modes of normative oppression or dominant logics, it simply isolates, for the sake of inquiry, the specific contexts and manifestations of normativity and its world-making effects on reading subjects and their texts.

Questions, Comments, Refutations, Formal Requests for Collaborations, Etc.: joshuaanderson@berkeley.edu

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