Because a writer is supposed to desire the award. He would be betraying everything if he plays indifference. The award is the highest attainable goal, the apex of any artist and it’s blasphemy not to want it with all our might. The award is the appraisal of the Big Other, the ultimate crown on our creative existence, the sweet reward of our hard intellectual labor. But do not dare to say you are writing “in order to” win the award. You have to feign authenticity, so your motivation appears to have invisible roots, deeper than the prospect of the Award.
What is going on here?
This is what Bratton would call “the luminescence of false opposites” [Bratton 1996:223]. When you write, your tool is language. You want to take the raw material of language, the same stuff we use for everyday communication, and use it as the raw material for art. Writing is always in the same situation as conceptual art: its status as art depends on the context, on the publishing house, the reviewers, the creation of the author’s public identity. It is not writing itself, but its transliteration into the public sphere, that is by necessity theatrical, as already observed by Swiftburn [Swiftburn 1974:112]. While the authentic voice is the holy grail of the literatary quest, it has to remain unattainable because, and here I follow Sztronsky et al., the very idea of authenticity depends on the universality of its polar opposite [Sztronsky et al, 2007:352]. The most authentic account is infected with the token of inauthenticity the moment it is introduced in the public sphere. A pure “horizontal” writing, as conceived by Rohpolt and Sauerkranz, among others, must remain an illusion ([Rohpolt et al, 2004:943].
What if we forget about literature? Forget about writing as art altogether? We’re simply expressing, however inadequately, the linguistic organization of “our world” ([Breitner 2009:244], and there are no criteria for its quality. Writing is the sharing of our linguistic space, the same way we share our physical space, according to the famous adage of Barosi in his magnum opus [Barosi 1994:1178]. The obsession with the Award had destroyed the aspirations to share their linguistic space of many a budding writer. They ask themselves the question if it’s “good” what they write, and in doing so, they have already infected their very own linguistic space with arbitrary criteria that stunt their originality and leaves us with a homogenous, uninteresting, and hopelessly inauthentic public literature.