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It’s Alive!

February 23, 2009

I’m coming back to life – getting further thru Software Wars; looks like the review will be quite a long post, probably a two parter.  Meantime, today’s reading:  a nice speech by Jason Epstein at the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference (via Andrew Sullivan). Money quote for me:

My own strong belief however is that distinguished fiction and non fiction — what the heirs of Faulkner, Nabokov and Mailer create — will continue to be written by highly specialized individuals struggling at their desks in deep seclusion and not by linked communities of interest. Our pre-literate epics, sagas, mythologies, and sacred texts were composed over centuries by what might today be called social networks, likeminded generations of cultural conservators but under strict priestly supervision: how else explain their amazing artistry. Encyclopedias dictionaries and so on, have also been disciplined communal efforts like today’s brilliant, ambitious, frustrating, work in progress Wikipedia, but literary work since the invention of writing is with very few exceptions the solitary product of individual genius. One need only recall Coleridge’s problem with Kubla Khan, assuming his story is true, of being interrupted by an unexpected visitor, to know the intensity and fragility of a writer’s concentration. The last thing a writer in search of meaning wants is a team of collaborators at his electronic elbow…


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