To be genuinely avant-garde, then, is to be at the vanguard of disclosing neglected or unknown realities. It follows that artistic expressions which are avant-garde one day will be passé the next. Poggioli shows how this term, passé, is frequently applied to “only recently vanquished avant-gardes.” Discerning what might be genuinely avant-garde, rather than passé, involves that hard-to-articulate literary quality which Coleridge found lacking in Pitt. The process allows artistic expressions to reveal themselves, to disclose something, and the process is related—albeit transposed into a very different framework—to the interplay of interior and exterior reciprocity in a genuinely literary sensibility. When personal and collective authenticity are no longer interweaving in literary constructions, we approach the point where artistic expressions might look and sound avant-garde, but actually be passé, in a manner analogous to the highly literate babble of texts disassociated from any literary depth. At a time when the highest accolades and esteem can be apportioned to such mediocre writing, it is worthwhile to ask what sort of mediocrity we are dealing with in particular cases. That is, are we confronted with the inauthenticity of a) illiterate babble or b) unliterary, passé babble?
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor