... people who want to write should ignore me. After all, what do I know besides what I know? Glad you asked. I know that one has to be a genius, a veritable genius, these days to write an original and historically significant poem or novel. The same applies to painting and classical music. And by “significant,” I mean something that will not only astonish but will change forever how we regard the form. And as you know, I don’t think this is possible anymore. And this, too, is a function of age, the world’s age. When an art form is just emerging, when an aesthetic movement is still developing, genius isn’t necessary to create memorable works. [...] Leaving film aside, since it’s a relatively recent art, the arts as we know them have run their course. You can argue this until your face is blue, but it won’t change the historical fact. Time and technology wait for no artist, and unfortunately history has seen fit to alter our sense of time by the invention of new technologies. That and the inevitable etiolation of genres and formal methods of creation now account for the dearth of great art. Can I be wrong? I suppose. You could argue that the idea of “greatness” is itself a false category, an artificial and socially constructed yardstick. But if we’re talking about the human need to create and respond to momentous works of human endeavor, then, please, show me a poet or a novelist of whom one can say, as Eliot said of Yeats: “He was one of those whose history is the history of their own time, who are part of the consciousness of an age which cannot be understood without them”? [...] The postmodern world, even as it summons a defense of literature, cannot save literature. I don’t say that good poems or novels can’t be written today; I just feel that that they can’t have the significance they once had, and this is a terrible thing to admit. [...] The fact remains that this age cannot cede to poets the importance that earlier poets could aspire to, and this, I think, works subliminally to their disadvantage.
-- Arthur Krystal, interviewed by Wyatt Mason