What's Louder than Noise?

Jul 3, 01:08 by IROSF
Comment Below!
Jul 3, 13:23 by Nader Elhefnawy
I fully agree about the issue of Noise, and what now seems like the impossibility of a "Great American Novel" (or, I suspect, a Great British Novel, a Great French Novel, etc., even though I've always found those to be more feasible concepts).

I remember being in literature courses many a time, and seeing students and instructors alike try and grapple with the issue of where we are in literature now, and having a very hard time with it because of this problem-and alas, often rarely suspecting it.

If anything, I might even go further. Even the science fiction community has long since ceased to have anything like that older unity (a point I've actually been thinking of writing about myself, incidentally). The fact certainly strikes me when reading histories of the genre because of how fuzzy they often get around 1980; that sense of a whole picture seems to disappear, and we get scattered bits and pieces of what's been going on since.
Jul 7, 16:54 by David Bartell
Well, the Great American Novel is but a minor casualty. But yes, excellent presentation of the problem. Church was the center of culture for a long time. It was where people went to socialize, hear music, dance, everything. Mass media has replaced most of that, at least for most Americans. The addition of more "channels" for media has facilitated the fracturing of culture. This is new ground for our society, and I am concerned at the effects. I'm not sure a credible case for strength in diversity has been made. There is an obvious strength in the unity we once had. Diversity is more democratic in a sense, but does it really empower America as a nation?
Jul 9, 15:12 by Bluejack
You raise a lot of interesting points David. A few immediate reactions: I think historical unity is found more by rose colored glasses than by historical analysis. Even if you only mean unity of culture, in the USA that needs to overlook native americans and waves of immigrants each subjected to wage-slave conditions and, of course, slavery itself. European nations without the "melting pot" history are often conglomerations of distinct peoples and have only achieved unity when a single dominant cultural/linguistic group completely subjugates all others: if the Normans could have pulled a Hitler in 1066 they would have.

The idea of strength through diversity is a new one, and culturally, it has tremendous potential for the obvious reason that if wildly different talents can be harnessed toward a common purpose the range of abilities will outclass a monoculture. Which idea is drawn directly from our experience of monoculture based agriculture, which is a precarious dance with nature's obvious love of diversity. The common purpose thing is one difficult aspect. Another is the harnessing part: with all the Arab and Persian Americans signing up for military duty after 9/11 you'd think we could have done a more culturally sensitive job in Iraq.

But I suppose you are really only trying to speak about diversity of "channels" -- even so it might be worth considering that diversity is not a problem, but rather an opportunity. Even diversity of channels: for technology has destroyed the barrier of distance and changed the meaning of community from one of proximity of space to one of proximity of interest. This brings creators into direct contact with consumers, no matter how far. Book, EBook, Film, TV, Web Page, Video Game, Graphic Novel, Twitter Stream. These are all vehicles for story, and with thousands--hundreds of thousands--millions of creators all flooding all the channels, the "Great American Novel" becomes meaningless not because greatness is obsolete, but because Novels are not the only game in town, and because nations as divisions between people (or as arbitrary prefabricated communities) are what is obsolete.

The transcendent phenomenon of something like Harry Potter is both an exception to the norm and a pointer of things to come. With our densely interconnected interest-based communities, our incredible options of broadcast communication, suddenly something can catch the fascination of--not just America, not just a generation, but the entire f*@#ing WORLD!

From a diversity of languages, a diversity of channels, a diversity of mediums we stand at the brink of something unprecedented: a united world.

What will overcome the noise of ten billion people chattering away? The amplified voice of those who can seize the global microphone.


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