Welcome to Great Books, Half Read. May I say, from the get-go, that I’m embarking upon this enterprise half-heartedly. It sort of reminds me of when parents ask their children, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?”
A professor of Near Eastern Studies once told me that the invention of writing allowed us to enter into an unnatural dialogue with the dead and the faraway. A little reed stylus drawn across a clay tablet, and before we knew it, Puzurshulgi from Uruk could trade words (and love, and war, and religion, and advice, and goats) with Ashurshdigir of Nineveh. Imagine the possibilities! In a few short years, clay begat papyrus, which begat paper, which begat the printing press, which begat books.
At the same time, in some laboratory far removed from these goings-on, fire led to steam power, which led to electricity, which led to light bulbs, which then led to a whole entanglement of power lines and underground cables and wireless signals and calling plans and Gilligan’s Island re-runs on Nick-at-Night.
And thus, we arrive at the internet. Sheesh. Where will this lead us? Surely, we’re not through with the act of begetting. Maybe Robert Coover was right. He certainly did leave an impression on me back in 2003, when Al Gore’s “Interweb” had only just begun to creep into our households. Old habits die hard, though. For instance, I’ve hand-written most of this while sitting in seat 16A of an airplane with no working A/C. Here is a picture:
Anyway, welcome. We’ll see where this leads.