February 13, 2007

"The king of content-free reading, the Ur-blogger."

Stacy Schiff embraces Montaigne, a "disjointed, derivative" writer who is "a man for our times." There -- she notes -- are far too many books to read:
By one estimate, 27 novels are published every day in America. A new blog is created every second. We would appear to be in the midst of a full-blown epidemic of graphomania. Surely we have never read, or written, so many words a day. Yet increasingly we deal in atomized bits of information, the hors d’oeuvres of education. We read not in continuous narratives but by linkage, the movable type of the 21st century.
We proceed by linkage, indeed, but this one's a TimesSelect link, so you may not be able to go there. But there will always be some other page to flit to, as you ignore that pile of books, all those rectangular objects that made you think so highly of yourself when you handed over your credit card at Borders. Start a blog. Be like Montaigne:
Leave the book under discussion unopened before you. Then write about yourself.
But do read some little things on the web. You'll need some snacks to keep you going. Some bloggables. Here's the whole text of Montaigne's essays. Why not grab something in there and say how it makes you feel?

7 comments:

chuck b. said...

My book reading has gone down since blogs began, but I think my overall reading has gone way, way up. And now I'm...regressing? slightly as I note myself gravitating toward blogs with more pictures and fewer words. I used to enjoy long books, but now I think snapshots are where it's at. Yikes.

rsb said...

I am constantly reminded of Montaigne when I read blogs. My book reading has gone way down in the last 3 years. There is a lot of interesting information on the internet. However, I am curtailing my online activity because there is more concentration involved in reading from the printed page.

Peter Palladas said...

Graphomania or Logorrhoea?

George said...

Infocompresn sn't tht new. Cliff Nts inventd in ate 50s.

Rdng's stll poplr. But only Net. Bks be ntques n 50 yrs, lk vnyl lps.

vbspurs said...

My book reading has gone down since blogs began, but I think my overall reading has gone way, way up.

This is my problem, too, although I have to say that I still read a lot of books (I used to average 3 a week before I got my Dell, now 1 every week).

The thing of it is, blogs continue the modern need for instant gratification.

When you read a blog chances are that it's much more current, much more opinionated, much more graphic, much more colourful, than the staidness of a book, no matter the topic.

This creates its own set of expectations inside us, of course.

I don't worry too much about it, but it seems to me that non-fiction might suffer, since you need time to digest and write about actual events -- and with blogs you just don't have that luxury.

Quick reading. Quick writing. Sloppy conclusions. Throw-away commentaries. Ick.

And now I'm...regressing? slightly as I note myself gravitating toward blogs with more pictures and fewer words. I used to enjoy long books, but now I think snapshots are where it's at. Yikes.

Oooh. Denny's menu country.

Now that IS worrisome.

Cheers,
Victoria

Steve Donohue said...

I actually originally modeled my blog on Montaigne's Essay's- I even titled my blog "Essays" at first, before I settled on the eventual permanent title. He has a very bloggy style for his day, only without the links.

Palladian said...

Samuel Pepys was the greatest blogger who ever lived.