Transgressive Art—a Call to Arms

By Daulton Dickey.


The content of fiction must change. We need a radical movement to abolish the milquetoast content found in the majority of fiction. Where is our Marquis de Sade? Where is our William S. Burroughs? Where is our Andre Breton or Antonin Artaud or Comte de Lautreamont?

All societies—past, present, and undoubtedly in the future, if there is one—establish and reinforce norms. Traditions and cultural narratives frame What’s respectable and disreputable. Cultural institutions defend this subtle form of oppression by deeming which norms are valuable—usually, “valuable” translates to tradition and anachronisms predicated on Judie-Christian patriarchal gibberish.

We need writers and publishers, artists and movements willing to thrust javelins into the spokes of cultures exerted control by demanding conformity, by dictating values and norms. In the corporate age, milquetoast entertainment and the whitewashing and homogenization of creative endeavors compound the problems.

We need to halt groupthink before it devours each and every one of us, before it transforms art into vacuous and empty didactic models intended to instill whatever rubbish governments and institutions wish to instill.

We need depraved and grotesque, appalling and extreme, nonconformist and radical fiction and art.

Our age is a simulacrum: the digital world has spilled into the organic world. Our time is largely spent tuning out things that matter—such as politics, the state of our culture and arts, even science—in favor of mind-numbing and formulaic entertainment and empty partisanship and rhetoric.

Where are the writers and publishers, artists and mad-people willing to produce experimental or avant-garde art with social, political, artistic, or even scientific merit? What artists and publishers are brave enough to extrapolate current states of affairs to absurd or extreme conclusions?

We need writers like Sade or Burroughs or Lautreamont, artists like Manet, Monet, or even Dali, artists willing to revel in violence, depravity, chaos, and shattering institutional convention.

As our age races toward censorship predicated on temporal partisanship and theocratic machinations, we need writers, publishers, and artists willing to shock people out of their complacency. We must jolt people, force them to sit up, look around, and question the world as it is. And we can do so by showing them the world as it is or could be, which we can accomplish through graphic or extreme, grotesque or sickening, appalling or disorienting works or art.

Shake people, shock people, disturb people, terrify people, confuse people—the only way to affect change.

Facts and logic do not move the majority of people in a media obsessed age; emotional appeals do; therefore, we must appeal to their emotions, in the sickest and most grotesque or disorienting ways imaginable, in order to move the majority, in order to make them open their eyes. And we must force them to open their eyes—and we need publishers and writers and artists willing to act as wire speculums, those metal gadgets used to keep eyes open, used to great effect in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange.


Daulton Dickey is a novelist, poet, and content creator currently living in Indiana. He’s the author of A Peculiar Arrangement of Atoms: StoriesStill Life with Chattering Teeth and People-Shaped Things, and other storiesElegiac Machinations: a novella, and Bastard Virtues, a novel. Rooster Republic Press will publish his latest novel, Flesh Made World, later this year. Contact him at daultondickey[at]yahoo[dot]com.


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