Tag Archives: Samuel Beckett

Old Writers, New Media

IMG_4587So, there I am, a write eejit, feeling overwhelmed by the level of New Media I haven’t mastered, when a thought occurs to me: How would writers in the past have handled today’s plethora of media technology. Would they have passed the proverbial buck and remained scratching away with their goose quills, or clacking away at their typewriters? Or would they have embraced it wholeheartedly? Given that many of the most enduring writers were ahead of their time, it stands to reason that they would have been hanging ten on the New Media wave. I posed the question to my wonderful, tech savvy, and well-read teen, and we riffed mightily. Here are the conclusions we came to.

Samuel Beckett, who rose to the challenge of reducing his later work to its most simple form, would be Lord of the Tweet: All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. (Worstword Ho, 1983) His retweet stats would be legendary. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8mBogVritg

Oscar Wilde, master of the sassy one-liner,  would have millions of followers on Twitter, and probably go mano-a-mano with Beckett in a twitter war: minimalism versus flamboyant provocatism: There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Who can deny Shakespeare the title of King of the Sound Bite: Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em. (Twelfth Night)

Charles Dickens, a whizz-kid when it came to growing his audience, cornered the market on the serialized format, starting with The Pickwick Papers in 1836. “It’s always best on these occasions to do what the mob do.” “But suppose there are two mobs?” suggested Mr. Snodgrass. “Shout with the largest,” replied Mr. Pickwick. He’d write epic, multi-chapter fan fiction. And Thomas Hardy would write epic Charles Dickens fan fiction.

Wordsworth would go apeshit over Instagram.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
IMG_4577 That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils…
(“The Daffodils”, 1807)

Jane Austen, Fairy Godmother of the RomCom, would give Julian Fellowes a run for his money, optioning the movie rights to all her bestsellers. I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. No, I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other. (Letter to Mr. Clarke, librarian to the Prince Regent, 1815)

Mark Twain would have several Kickstarter projects running at once.

Mary Shelley would be tickled pink by the possibilities of CGI when bringing her ‘Modern Prometheus’ to life for the big screen, and insist on 3D. She and Ridley Scott would have long conversations about prosthetics. Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred. (Frankenstein, 1818)

Louisa May Alcott would be very active on Pinterest.

The Bronte sisters, well-known cat lovers, would, no doubt, find it impossible not to post cute kitty videos on YouTube.

Virginia Woolfe would make cryptic and overly personal Facebook updates. We have been to Rodmell, and as usual I come home depressed – for no reason. Merely moods. Have other people as many as I have? That I shall never now. And sometimes I suppose that even if I came to the end of my incessant search into what people are and feel I should know nothing still. (Diary entry, 1925)

Edgar Alan Poe, the big Emo, would post morose poetry, and black-and-white giffs of Bergman movies to his Tumblr account.                                                                                                                    But see, amid the mimic route                                                                                                                        A crawling shape intrude!                                                                                                                                A blood-red thing that writhes from out                                                                                                    The scenic solitude!                                                                                                                                          It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs                                                                                               The mimes become its food,                                                                                                                       And seraphs sob at vermin fangs                                                                                                                   In human gore imbued. (“The Conqueror Worm,” 1843)

James Joyce would embrace the challenge of writing a novel on his cell phone, and cause a minor scandal when his sexting with Nora accidentally goes public.

No doubt, these old dogs could teach us some new tricks.

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The Ramblings of a Write Eejit

I’m a write eejit . . . if I think I stand a chance of competing with all the brilliant people out there blogging about how bloody brilliant they are.

So, here’s what I’m proposing: I sneak in the back way. Instead of wit, Pulitzer prize-winning writing skills, and amazing connections in the blogosphere, I’ll use good old self-deprecating humor. The Irish are brilliant at poking fun at themselves; they raise it to a fine art, think of Samuel Beckett or Graham Norton.

By definition, self-deprecating means I’m going to have to talk about myself—a lot! Who else’s head can I crawl inside and poke around in, lifting flaps of skin here, squinting down bundles of neurons there, looking for a snugget (even smaller than a nugget) of enlightenment?

And on the subject of enlightenment—be honest, folks, who isn’t looking for the answer to that Big Question, Why Are We Here? I mean there’s got to be a reason that gobs of oxygen and hydrogen and nitrogen and (okay, I didn’t get chemistry, but I was very good at biology) all came together in such perfect harmony (think Coca-Cola Christmas ad) and allowed us mortals to flower into existence. Or why a particular batch of DNA soup produced me. So, I hear you ask, what is that reason?

To think our way out of the box, of course. If you don’t know that yer a right eejit.

Let’s face it, thinking outside the box is the only way forward. Early man could have made a mental note to avoid that stretch of river bank where the ooze sucked you in up to your knees, but instead he scooped up a handful and squeezed it between his fingers, feeling its smooth elasticity and bingo, he got a crazy idea . . . he could shape this goopy stuff into a pair of cupped hands and the dense clay would hold things, like water, grain, and berries. Actually, truth be told, it was far more likely early woman was sitting on the river bank trying to snag a few minutes peace and quiet while the kids were happily making mud pies when she had her eureka moment.

Either way, it—creativity—happened, and civilization took a step forward.

I firmly believe we all have that deep-rooted creativity in our genes. Of course it manifests itself in myriad ways in say, the tech world, the business world, or art world. But it’s the driving force behind progress. The reason we’re here is to get creative. What are you waiting for . . . off you go now and get busy with the glue gun, or the pen, or the spade, or the drum machine.

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