Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The End Of Isolation

Here's a comment I posted to BuzzMachine after reading this entry about John Updike's recent lament over the overpowering characteristics of the digital era -- in the context of a bookstore. Yawn.

Be sure to read the Updike essay first though. And yes, I posted my comment in the wrong place. Oooops. Nothing like looking like a complete dope on a popular blog...

"Reading Updike’s amusing, musty handwringer of an essay, The End of Authorship, I was reminded of my days growing up in the rural south with quasi-hippy, isolationist-minded parents.

In the early 70s, the units imagined themselves at the vanguard of good intentions, so naturally enough we had no TV down on the (organic) farm. We had books, radio and music instead.

Books, radio and music only, for info, pleasure or entertainment, were all just perfect — for my parents. Still are. They continue to flourish and thrive with no computers or Internet access on the farm.

Books, music, radio were all fine by me too — up to a certain point. I eventually came to a place in my life, though, where I, unlike the units, had to survive in the real world of a just segregated, Deep South, rural, public school system. And believe me, “dirty hippies” was a freakish concept able to unify blacks and whites with little or no fuss.

Oddly enough, one way to keep savages at bay is to have a conversation with them. Of course “the savages” weren’t at home reading Ulysses while lovingly stroking the inches of the edges of a dusty treasure from Cambridge Square.

Rather, they were hootin’ it up in the hallways over Marcus Welby, M.D.

Since I didn’t have a prayer of sparking a conversation about Susan Stanberg’s cranberry relish, I’d often make-up anecdotal tid-bits about last night’s Rockford Files. Kinda the way I do now when I’ve missed most of the last season of Entourage.

The point being here that good old-fashioned book reading, fiction in particular, is ultimately a solitary pursuit we choose as an intellectual indulgence, with little or no interactivity involved, unless you’re an academic or in one of those icky, menopausal book clubs. And that’s ok.

However, not only does society demand interactivity, the befudling “performances, access to the creator, and personalization” that Updike stodgily dismisses out of hand are often a deep source of enjoyment and fulfillment - especially when they become something we can create, control and distrubute so easily in this digital age. And who knows, maybe they become a survival source too.

Guess that’s why my parents do not blog. But I do."

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1 comment:

Chris Boese said...

I'm enjoying your blog!

Don't feel bad. I went after that topic too, and committed the literary sin of flaming Updike in absentia on my blog. Glad to see great minds think alike!

you can see my Updike rant here: