Twitter and Ionesco

Posted on by Merridawn

Twitter and Ionesco

Sometimes our world seems divided between the fast and the slow. There’s slow food and fast food, yoga and Zumba, the long take and the montage; we instant message friends to meet us so we can listen to some lengthy, endless story at the Moth. Some bemoan the loss of true leisure and others freak out if their needs are not met immediately, especially by businesses. This summer, when I was at the Norman Mailer House in a workshop organized by Alana Newhouse, I heard New Yorker writer David Samuel express it this way, “You have to find your pace,” he said, “Some stuff is too fast for me and some stuff is too slow.” I wasn’t sure what he meant by that until I joined Twitter. Before I had actually participated in the medium (when our opinions are most speedily formed) I thought Twitter was all about strangers telling me Srsly, this #pizza is gr8. I mean, really, who cares? But then I started to follow news, both lofty and trashy, and I realized I had found my comfort pace—lightening.

In olden times I was a Times reader rather than a TV news viewer. In fact one of the most shocking things that happened to me at Reed College was that my house mates watched the evening news. I had never met literate people who watched news—can you tell I led a somewhat sheltered life? I tried to gamely sit and listen but it felt too narrow. In those days the divide was between the narrow and the wide, between local and global, between palazzo pants and leggings, between salad bars and nouveau cuisine. But once I began to get my news from Twitter, I couldn’t imagine returning to a paper feed. I mean, I still read the Times and if I’m interested in a story (Pope stories!) I will seek a more detailed and nuanced analysis. But to return to turning pages to find out what is going on around me? Nope. #Nevergoingbacksrsly.

Yet nothing about information is quite that simple now. At the same time I’m getting all my news literally every second on Twitter, I’m totally immersed in a book called “Conversations with Eugene Ionesco.” In it the auteur Claude Bonnefoy poses questions and the playwright and the novelist Eugene Ionesco answers them. I am crazy about this book, and yet, in a sense, nothing could be slower. These two take all the time in the world to bat about process, ethics, Moliere, existential dilemma. A question and response will lead them into another discussion, which they follow as far as they like. Why would I find anything so languorous acceptable or even beautiful?

I think the answer lies in how different kinds of information require different speeds. It is not all one thing. My FB page is full of people I would run away from if I saw them in real life, women who  *squeal* and men who harangue and someone wanting to humble brag and someone expressing outrage as if this was the only outrage that had existed ever. I find FB too slow while I find Twitter perfectly fast and yet I don’t want to hear two French intellectuals converse on either one.  I think in our panic about the death of print, we forget that a book is also a piece of technology and that readers are discerning about what I call ‘the arrival of information.” We don’t want to hear everything the same way. Someone soon is going to be the genius that figures that out and gives me an object the size of a wristband for my speed feed that stretches out into a screen so I can check FB (or someone can, not me)  lets me eyeball Tumblr and then pulls out into pages so I can read this:

CB: We are at once both actors and spectators. In one way, isn’t this the ideal theatrical situation?

E.I: the theater should be this and nothing more. The theater is man offering himself as a spectacle for his own entertainment.

See? Isn’t that amazing? Brilliant and prescient and it totally predicts You Tube, lol

Theatre de la Ville<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Photo credit: Jean-Louis Fernandez" src="" width="300" height="166" />

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