June 9, 2008

Pressing the Reset Button

I am writing from my new home in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NYC. It is a crazy little den here, but I do cherish my little office nook by the window:

Liberated from the demands of academia, I can finally feel my mind slowly unwind. Someone was describing to me how they've felt like they produced a lot more than they took in/experienced this past year, and I couldn't agree more. Gotta live life to have anything to write about in the first place.

I'm down for that.

My reading list for summer:

The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30), by Mark Baurelein - Someone recently told me I should "know my enemy" and therefore read The Cult of the Amateur. While it's probably true that I should get a handle on the arguments of the technophobes, it's hard for me to read a description like this without wincing:
According to recent reports, most young people in the United States do not read literature, visit museums, or vote. They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount basic American history, name their local political representatives, or locate Iraq or Israel on a map. The Dumbest Generation is a startling examination of the intellectual life of young adults and a timely warning of its consequences for American culture and democracy.

Black and white thinkers always lose in the end, but I guess they make for good headlines. In case it needed to be said: the ways in which my generation acquires knowledge and information have changed. I'm looking into the Transliteracies program at UCSB that examines these changes in information-gathering behaviors, toward a process of aggregation, organization, hyperlink-hopping, public posting, and personal bookmarking.
Okay, so I'm probably not ever going to think about that book again, much less read it. But I thought I would at least shame the author publicly in the blogosphere for being such a propagandistic sellout. Straight from the mouths of the dumbest babes.

Speaking of "the dumbest generation," not to make this an ageist or political debate, but I did receive this little gem through virtue of my Facebook newsfeed. Top-quality filtering, right here:

The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution, by Paul Levinson.
A brilliant science fiction writer and pop media pundit, Levinson's book Digital McLuhan has been one of the most influential references in my research. The Soft Edge looks to be a fascinating take on the role of communication technologies in shaping the history of man. Paul Levinson embodies everything that I hope to draw out in my own career as a writer: as intelligent as he is witty, his work as fun to read as it is thought-provoking, as prone to citing Habermas and McLuhan as he is to quote Battleatar Galactica.

Everything on the syllabus for a course by Kristen Scott called Literature and the Culture of Cyberspace, which includes James Joyce, HG Wells, William Gibson, Jorge Borges, Neal Stephenoson, and Ursula LeGuin.