Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Last night at the Social Media Cafe

I gave a small presentation last night at the Manchester Social Media Cafe, and really enjoyed it. My talk was a little more philosophical than others so was always likely to be a minority interest, but I sat with half a dozen interesting people in the "boudoir."

I could put all my notes here, but think its better to articulate the positions I took, without, necessarily having a conclusion or solution.

Position 1.

The internet is essentially a text-based medium and therefore remains beholden to the book.

Position 2.

That given this text-based bias, the internet looked to books for inspiration. If I say an "unreliable but reassuring source of information" am I talking about Wikipedia or The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?

Position 3.

Our 18th century novelist wouldn't find the internet so strange. After all, what is Gulliver's Travels other than a platform game? Isn't Gulliver himself Jonathan Swift's avatar?

Position 4.

Modernism is the dominant literary form of the 20th century and is a form that denies the linearity of the Victorian novelist/poet - and therefore is a model for what writing should be on the internet.

Position 5.

Late 20th century fiction tried new forms because the writers were transgressive and felt that the existing forms were too patriarchal, heterocentric, class-based or empire-worshipping.

Position 6.

Writers need to be adaptive, and counter-intuitive, and not accept the norms of the day. In our use of Google or Youtube we are "peasant agriculturalists entering the cities of the future en masse looking for work/fulfilment/life/future and finding only the mass-factories of the industrialists."

All that in 40 minutes, and here is my reading list... vaguely touched on, but worth repeating, nonetheless.

F1. Fantastic Literature

Arabian Nights - trad.
Gullivers Travels - Jonathan Swift
News from Nowhere - William Morris
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Mark Twain
Alice Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
Rime of the Ancient Mariner - S. T. Coleridge
Flatland - Edwin A. Abbott
Goblin Market - Christina Rossetti
First Men in the Moon - H. G. Wells
The Time Machine - H. G. Wells

2. SF

Super-Toys Last All Summer Long - Brian Aldiss
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
How’s the nightlife on Cissalda? - Harlan Ellison
Other Days, Other Eyes - Bob Shaw
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick
Minority Report - Philip K. Dick
Neuromancer - William Gibson
Count Zero - William Gibson
The Jerry Cornelius Books - Micheal Moorcock

3. Modernism

An Imagist Anthology - Ezra Pound et al
Tender Buttons - Gertrude Stein
The Making of Americans - Gertrude Stein
Ulysses - James Joyce
6 characters in search of an author - Luigi Pirandello

4. Experimental & Transgressive Writing

Dream Songs - John Berryman
The Tennis Court Oath - John Ashbery
Dream of a Common Language - Adrienne Rich
Memoirs of a Survivor - Doris Lessing
The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter
Locos - Felipe Alfau
Cities of the Red Night Trilogy - William Burroughs
The Penguin Book of the Beats - Kerouac et al
Labyrinths - Jorge Luis Borges
OuLiPo Compendium - Harry Matthews et al
If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller - Italo Calvino
Boy Wonder - James Robert Baker

5. Contemporary Writing

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
Specimen Days - Micheal Cunningham
The Age of Wire and String - Ben Marcus
Contraflow on the Superhighway - Richard Price et al
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace
Solibo Magnificent - Patrick Chamoiseau
Rings of Saturn - W.G. Sebald
Microserfs - Douglas Coupland
Red Riding Quartet - David Peace
A Crack Up at the Race Riots - Harmony Korine
Whatever - Michel Houellebecq
The Swank Bisexual Bar of Modernity - H.P. Tinker

6. Miscellaneous

The Arcades Project - Walter Benjamin
Pandora’s Handbag - Elizabeth Young
n+1 Symposium: For a Practical Avant Garde- Various
And the Band Played On - Randy Shilts

twitter: @adrianslatcher


Nathan Hamilton said...

Cracking. Wish I was there to see/hear it -- sounds spot on.

Adrian Slatcher said...

Yes, gonna be writing it up as a proper essay shortly!

Kate Feld said...

Oh, I wish I'd been there too. This looks like the first workshop there that I'd have been really interested in...