Contemporary Overstimulation in the Age of Information: The Blurring of The Personal and Political in Ben Lerner’s 10:04 and Olivia Laing’s Crudo
Keywords:Realist Fiction, Contemporary Moment, Overstimulation
Olivia Laing’s Crudo and Ben Lerner’s 10:04 depict the constant interruption of the personal by global concerns and politics. Both novels are concerned with the decision between the personal and the global selves, and how these impending social, environmental, or political crises cloud the narrators’ minds. Their structure reflects this confusion and dislocation of the personal self, as the novels contain non-sequiturs, urban noise, and unrelated sections that have been pieced together deliberately. These novels capture the overstimulation of contemporary life and mass media or the information age while trying to navigate how art can reflect that and encapsulate a reality that is at once absurd and (seemingly) not contrived. While the barrier between the personal and global collapses, Lerner and Laing find a space in between where a realist yet raw (or ‘crudo’) retelling of contemporary media-addled experience can be represented. This essay incorporates commentary on how these texts engage with the idea of the troubled personal and the demise of individuality in the light of 21st-century overstimulation.
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