Friday, February 4, 2011

Why literature speaks Does not the Internet?

Xavier de la Porte, producer of the show place of the Web on France Culture, produces a weekly reading an article in the news as part of his show. The reading of the week, this is an article in the British daily The Guardian on January 15 last. We owe it to Laura Miller, is titled "How the novel has come to talk about the Internet." Laura Miller begins with an observation: as David Foster Wallace (Wikipedia) did in the 90s on TV, she was surprised that very few American writers do not take up the challenge of integrating the Internet into their texts .

And Laura Miller noted that there are several strategies at work. Write a historical novel is the easiest way to avoid confronting the Internet, it suffices to make up her story a decade or two. Another strategy, authors can use people who are away from modernity, for cultural reasons, such as recent immigrants and their families - a very common choice in contemporary fiction, Laura Miller notes.

There is also the use of geographical marginal people who live in remote rural areas where grid access is difficult. It is noteworthy that many recent American fiction take place in ranches. She cites a few examples. And it is especially curious, "she notes, when you consider that the vast majority of people who write and read these books live in towns or their vicinity.

Maybe it's because the characters in these novels that take place on ranches spend most of their time driving trucks on roads infinite, or climb the snowy peaks to rescue animals, scenarios in which it does there is no danger that a TV is on or open a computer. American novelist, said Laura Miller, is tossed between two imperatives of increasingly contradictory.

The first is the injunction to depict daily life. It's probably a cliche, but the idea that writers are best placed to tell the dilemmas of contemporary life is tough. After the attacks of September 11, every writer of fiction has received dozens of calls from editors looking for thoughts and ideas of journalists made a plant was clearly not able to call themselves.

Which brings us to another territory designated American novelist: depth museum. More literature is driven to the outskirts of culture, the more it is cherished as a sanctuary away from all that is vulgar, superficial and artificial in this culture. Literature becomes the place where we withdraw when you're tired of divorces of stars, office politics, the trial of the century, the latest Apple products, rows by mail, and sexting - in short, when tired what occupies the mind and the conversations of anyone but ourselves.

If these two tasks seem incompatible, because they really are. To accomplish them both together, we must be able to derive the timeless in a series of frivolous now, and we must persuade readers that you have given them what they wanted them with what they were trying to flee from you. Surprising that American novelists have found it easier to withdraw from the race for daily life, particularly when television was the designated enemy.

Sure, people spend (or spend) six hours per day watching television, but in fact they do nothing when they face their TV. You can totally handle this time in the same way as your characters go to sleep: making as well not exist. However, as we repeat all day long, it is quite different with the Internet.

Only a small portion of time spent on the Internet is the passive consumption, the rest has completely supplanted the former territories of the daily activity and human interaction. And Miller cite the download sites have replaced the music stores dating sites that have replaced the bars and parties, smartphones that prevent us from getting lost, social networks, which conjures the old loves and friendships, etc..

The Internet has changed our lives in ways far more profound than television, but most novelists - and I mean those who make a realistic literature, with plots and characters have scrupulously avoided-in make a subject perhaps hoping that, like television, you could pretend it did not exist.

They left the field to advance to the authors, like William Gibson (Wikipedia) or Cory Doctorow (Wikipedia), or the authors of detective novels. Certainly, there's a whole slew of novels gadget - like novels rosewater written entirely by mail or text message - but a little serious descriptions of how the technology fits into people's lives are very rare.

The situation began to change. And author of several novels include American issued in recent years that have taken over these issues (David Foster Wallace in The Pale King, his posthumous novel, Jonathan Lethem and Chronic City recently published in The Olive Tree, The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter (The financial lives of poets to be published in April in Shores), Glover's Mistake Nick Laird, Freedom, the latest Jonathan Franzen, Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart and A Visit From The Goon Squad Jennifer Egan).

I will not reproduce here the fact that Miller analyzes each of these texts, you will find if you are interested in the original article in the Guardian. I thank Hubert Guillaud reporting this text is perfectly echoed in conversations we have had several times, and where we jointly deplored the absence of numerical problems in contemporary French literature.

I am almost glad to see he has long been the case in contemporary American literature. It should also report exceptions. Houellebecq, I've done here, but Despentes Virginia, and her latest novel Apocalypse Baby, which I will soon.

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