Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Bathroom Monologue: Imaginary answer to an imaginary question asked by Charlie Rose in an interview that never happened
"There’s so much to read now. We take for granted what really only came to be recently. There is no barrier between the old and new Literature. With Project Gutenberg, Google Books and similar services, thousands of classics are clicks away. There’s no charge. You don’t even have to go to the library. It’s not this way for the whole world, but for our part of it there are no book burnings and a library banning something doesn’t make it unavailable. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is free on who-knows-how-many websites. The barriers are down, not just in accessibility, but in what used to be able to go together. You can buy the last Harry Potter book and the first Charles Dickens book in the same order from Amazon.com, and buying them together might qualify for free shipping. Nearly all the classics in our language can be found, and more people are writing right now than ever before. Tweets, blogs, bad poetry and long novels – it’s pouring literacy out there, at the same time as it’s never been so easy to get a copy of The Odyssey or Anna Karenina. That’s exciting. That’s why my reading habits are so weird. I don’t understand a Science Fiction author who only reads Sci Fi. I’m doing Good Omens right now, Brave New World next, then Walter Isaacson’s Einstein biography. I read a classic, then history or science, then contemporary popular fiction, then another classic, then a magazine, then a short story anthology, then comic books from Japan. Comic books from Japan! A hundred years ago, were there comic books in Japan? A hundred years ago there was no way you could have even found out sitting in a living room in America. Today you can type it into a search engine and find out. Back then typing was rare, search engines didn’t exist, and the answer was unimaginable."