Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Could everyone shut about Twitter now please?

A few weeks ago I remember saying (this was in real life, there's no mention of it on the blog) that it was only a matter of time before some cretin tried to rewrite Ulysses via Twitter (possibly as life on Bloomsday). Sure enough:

"Maybe we are only just beginning to appreciate the potential of Twitter as an art form," he said.

[Tim] Collins, whose The Little Book of Twitter is published this week, said it was ironic that the novel he had most trouble shortening was Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce, which is written in a stream-of-consciousness style that has much in common with many Twitter updates.

Some examples:

Ulysses

jamesjoyce: Man walks around Dublin. We follow every minute detail of his day. He’s probably overtweeting.

How stunningly banal. In a way, though, it's quite an achievement to miss the point of both Twitter and literature. Of the two I far prefer the latter - obviously - whereas the former seems to have passed its high watermark. Not that I object to the idea of laconic literary summaries - some of you may remember my six-word game. The point is that it's a fun parlour game that tells about the reader and how they perceive a book. And to try and condense everything into an ultra-laconic form, all the damned time, rapidly becomes intolerable.

In the case of Twitter: it's a great example of how just because you can do something, it doesn't mean you should. The compulsion to reduce everything, to simplify and to always be instantaneous is going too far. Those who wish to reduce everything to series of tweets are either reducing their own capacity for profound thought, or were incapable of it in the first place.

There has to mental space for longueurs; for slow, considered thought, silence and reflection. You may regard my intermittent silences on this blog as a service in that regard. (You may also regard it as bone idleness, of course, but I like to demonstrate how idleness can be a virtue).

More generally I am coming round to the view that a lot of the contemporary technological fads have passed their high watermark. Far too much stuff out there: far too little worth bothering with. Most of its free, of course, but that's pretty much what its worth. (I include supposedly commercial operations in this; self too of course).

When critics disagree, the blogger is in accord with himself.
We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
All blogging is quite useless.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Will you be tweeting the preface to The Picture of Dorian Grey anytime, soon?

I quite agree with you. I can find little of value on Twitter - other than the chap who took me out to lunch last week.

Puss

11:24 am  
Blogger bill said...

Actually, the medium would lend itself to a stream of Wildean bon mots, but they would get drowned out in the babble. One needs a respectful coterie around one to make such comments.

Although a Twitter account set up solely to solicit interesting and amusing lunching companions suggests several intruiging possibilities.

11:38 am  

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