Friday, May 14, 2010
Image from WiLsonT
I'm not sure what drove me to spend much of the past week trying to bully people into reading WAR AND PEACE. The project seems ridiculous, like a silly, absurdly out-of-proportion response to the age of Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc.
But maybe it does make some sense. Perhaps it's a way to use the options we have now to do something we just couldn't do not so long ago: have a summerlong discussion with people located all over the world about one of the world's great books.
It's a massive book, an old book, and probably the least likely or probable book for us to take up at this point in time. And it may be that its very anachronistic quality is what is appealing. As political debates are driven by 140-character tweets and status updates, as books become data displayed on a screen, albums become bytes, etc., there is something to fetishize in 1215 pages of paper and ink -- and in spending so much time on one thing, when we are so used to dividing our time between dozens of things.
It seems hard to deny that we are saying goodbye to the world of books as we knew them, just as we said goodbye to vinyl, cassettes, CDs, etc. As we are saying goodbye to books as we knew them, what better way to do so than by reading, together, the MOBY DICK of massive books?