June 26, 2010

Proto-blogging in 1816.

From "The Last Novel," by David Markson:
Keats stayed up all night on the occasion when he actually did look into Chapman's Homer — and then composed his sonnet so swiftly that he was able to messenger it to a friend to read before breakfast.
You read something quickly. It inspires you to write something quickly and then to get it out instantly to be read. That is blogging, and Keats got as close to that as one could in 1816. But he was reading George Chapman's translation of Homer and writing a sonnet that people will read as long as there are people who can read. That's all very grand, compared to blogging. To counterbalance, the blogger gets the instant writing out to thousands, and Keats only got his poem out instantly to one person.

But would Keats have read Homer and written a timeless sonnet if he could have blogged?

***

I read the first 82 pages of Markson's book out loud as Meade drove the TT up to Fish Creek, Wisconsin and back — via Whitefish Dunes — Thursday and Friday. I stopped reading at page 82 last night at about 9 when the last of the daylight failed. The book is composed entirely of snippets like the one quoted above, and if I'd gotten to the next snippet, it would have been:
Fish feel pain.
Ah! The fish theme! How apt!

Actually, I'm lying. Lying out of love of aptness. For your sake, dear Reader. That fish snippet is at the very bottom of page 82. It was the second to the next one. The next one was really:
If it were up to me, I would have wiped my behind with his last decree.

Said Mozart — after a demand by the Archbishop of Salzburg for more brevity in his church compositions.
There's another Mozart one that led to some laughter and conversation. On page 21:
I wish you good night, but first shit in your bed.

Reads another Mozart letter to Anna Maria.
***

Let me get the jump on the comments and say yes, I know that Kurt Cobain sang "It's okay to eat fish/'Cause they don't have any feelings." And yes, these days, on hearing "Homer," one doesn't think of the Greek poet anymore, one thinks of "The Simpsons." That's what TV and blogging and everything modern has done to us. 

11 comments:

Meade said...

Yeah - TV and blogging turn us into liars.

Liars out of love for aptness.

Liars and thieves.

(Although I would never confess to The Law.)

Albatross said...

I think it's OK to eat fish because they're so tasty. Especially sharks.

bagoh20 said...

You mean to tell me that Springfield is NOT a suburb of Athens? Doh!

Trooper York said...

What the fish taco doesn't have any feelings?

That's not what I heard.

Ron said...

I'm even more modern -- when I see "fish" I think of me! ;)

Fred4Pres said...

Fish have feelings. I still eat them.

ricpic said...

Before breakfast
Keats read Chapman
I read Althouse;
After breakfast
We both beat a retreat
To the shithouse.

Meade said...

All the heaped Althouse wealth,
Ricpic with mysterious stealth:
She will mix these pleasures up
Like three boxed wines into a cup,
Ric shalt quaff it:— he shalt hear
Distant Nature's-carols clear;
Chaws down on his fibrous cornflakes,
Sweetened coffee, buckwheat pancakes
And, in that same moment—hark!
'Tis the lazy July lark,
Or the rooks, with busy caw,
"To necessary house Ric shall draw."

edutcher said...

Bloggers are the inheritors of the long tradition of diarists and Journal keepers (as opposed to journalists).

Although her life isn't quite that adventurous, Ann is a latter-day Marian Russell or Martha Summerhayes.

Palladian said...

"...after a demand by the Archbishop of Salzburg for more brevity in his church compositions."

An intelligent man, that Archbishop. As far as Mozart compositions go, the briefer the better. More than two or three measures is intolerable.

Digory said...

Hey, I might not have the attention span to jot off a sonnetblogpost, but at least I know to go to Wikipedia first before confusing Balboa with Cortes.