July 22nd, 2011

escaping the mundane

A comment on the Guardian book blog speaking out against the tendency in the information age towards a superficial experiencing of the world…

As a former journalist and the author of four narrative histories, I’ll tell you why I wanted to write a book. Journalism is “the first rough draft of history” but writing drafts soon seems as ephemeral as yesterday’s headlines. Writing and researching, especially if the topic is deeper than a memoir about one’s dog, allow a writer to escape the mundane, the puerile, the passing fancies that comprise the present day. To read a good book is to find the same escape. With the rise of Twitter, et al, and the steady decline of book sales, how sad that so many people are choosing to live solely on the surface. This shift will have deep consequences that we are only beginning to see.

Guardian | Books “Should we stop writing books?” Thanks to Alice for the heads up.

Addendum:

… we are a society of distraction, idle talk, and ambiguity. Everybody knows everything has happened, everything is automatically trivial, and, again, nothing means anything. This is the world of blogging, the fake world of Facebook, the world that compensates for an absent set of social experiences. There are virtues to social-networking sites, I’m sure, but you feel an awful vacuum at the heart of them. They compensate for something that is absent. It’s strange, one of the features of the contemporary world is a lack of attention. The world floats, it distracts us in endless ways, one is outside of oneself in a constantly divided attention, and you can multiply the force of distraction, which makes conversation harder and harder as an experience.

Simon Critchley in Vice Magazine — Thanks, Levi!


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