Art evolves

#78 in David Shields’ Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Amazon):

“It is important for a writer to be cognizant of the marginilization of literature by more technologically sophisticated and more visceral narrative forms. You can work in these forms or use them or write about them or through them, but I don’t think it’s a very good idea to go on writing in a vacuum. Culture, like science, moves forward. Art evolves.”

I’m not saying Shields is right* or wrong (nor am, I, contrary to one of the hyperventilated claims by a blurb or review of the book — can’t remember which — either loving or hating the book. It’s got some good points and some effective goading; it’s got some ineffective goading and some silly preoccupations). And to be fair to Shields — there’s also a lot of context (618 different sections) that’s missing if all you see is #78, and the work itself is a pastiche that includes (unattributed except for in the notes section at the end of the book) aphorisms and quips and earnest predictions, etc. from many other writers, so this is an act of cherrypicking.

All that said: does art evolve? Or does it progress? Or does it restore? Or does it preserve? Or does it increase? Or does it roll forth? (to use a series of verbs that have some resonance in Mormon thought).

*I originally had “write” when this was posted. I may trot out the silly postmodern puns from time to time, but “write or wrong” wasn’t intentional at all.