Whispering on paper

Christa Joo Hyun D'Angelo @ Itch

George Blecher on the fading pleasures of digital media @ Eurozine.
Last year I was part of a curious show.An artist named Tino Sehgal cleared out all the art in New York's Guggenheim Museum, assembled a group of good talkers, and instructed them to start conversations with the museum's visitors about "progress" – what they thought it was, whether they believed it even existed. I was one of the talkers.One of the ways we approached the subject was to get the visitors thinking about emails, text messages, Facebook. Were they "good", "bad", necessary, unavoidable? Did they represent progress, regression, or just distraction? Their responses were unexpected. Granted that they weren't the usual tourists, or New Yorkers killing an hour before going to the dentist, but many – even the young people – didn't care for electronic communication or "social networks". They felt that the machines were taking up too much of their time and energy; they were addictive rather than helpful. One 15 year-old told me that she was the only kid in her circle who didn't have a cell phone."When I want to communicate with my friend, I write letters.""But don't you and your friend get impatient?""Maybe, but we like the waiting; it makes it more exciting. And the letters are kind of like secrets. Like whispering on paper."Whispering on paper. The phrase came into my head the other day when my second cousin, a mischievous lady of 92, slipped me an announcement that my ex-wife and I had sent her when our daughter was born. Baby is 34 now.read more 

A faithful pursuit of an abstract essence

The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted TimeKevin Evers on the lost art of reading @ The Rumpus
I am, like you, a rabid reader of good books.

There are times, though, when I am not so feral. Reading is mostly a bust. Books fail. They fail to pinch my nerve.

Reading requires conviction. I try to find a spark that sets my brain ablaze. I fail, mostly.

A few weeks ago my energy had waned. I needed a shot in the arm, a book that would affirm my effort and push me forth. Good books lead to a good life. That is what I needed to hear, again. I yearned to feel the swell, again.

I turned to David Ulin, no stranger to the slog. The title of his new book,
The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, provoked me. By reading it I hoped to regain my mojo. Ulin, a book critic by trade, is like me a lover of literature, but the advent of digital culture, he says, has affected all of us in a particular way: Close reading has become difficult.

Ulin’s teenaged son Noah thinks books are dead. He is reading The Great Gatsby and isn’t jazzed about it. Ulin, understandably, is concerned for both himself and his kin. He laments the loss of silence in our lives. I understand. There are days when I dream of a chair in an otherwise empty room. Some of the best moments of my life have been spent alone.
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