"Authoritarianism is the ideal environment for the pairing of irony and paranoia...in the "Epistle to Augustus"...Ovid constructs himself and the Emperor as mirror-images of each other, a relationship in which irony and paranoia become ungovernable."--TLS, Dennis Feeney (September 16, 2011: p. 26). Our novelists prefer the seeming safety of irony. Arnon Grunberg admits as much: "I would argue that what Schliesser calls “self-marginalization” is nothing but realism. And I’m not sure if marginalization for a novelist is by definition a curse." [My comments had been a response to Grunberg's observations on the studied indifference to modern novels; his was, in turn, a response to my hint that art may be marginalizing itself by not giving Satan airtime.]
"The novelist who would like to have serious impact, the author who is still striving to write a dangerous novel should start a religion or a political party. (Of course literary critics might argue that the novelist’s latest novel is unsettling, provocative and disturbing. But this is just to inform the readers and the author: we are all in the know. We know the game, we play along.)"--Grunberg.
Now, it's true that it's been a while since, say, Joseph Smith published The book of Mormon in the same year that an opera started a revolution, or a bit earlier that Rousseau's sentimental novel, Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse, and his strange hybrid philosophical-fiction, Émile, ou De l’éducation, could be celebrated in another one. But even today, we see that Ayn Rand's writings can inspire among (to echo Bacon's New Atlantis) sheeplike minds that touching faith where religious Utopianism in the benevolence of markets and ordinary brutality mix.
Of course, Satan's impact need not restrict itself to mass religion or democratic politics. Indeed, if Grunberg (irony) and, say, Pynchon (paranoia) are emblematic of novelists's choices today then the invisible authoritarianism of our time(s) may already be tottering over the abyss. Satan's new words may be all the force required to set the forces of destruction in motion.