Twwets on books not all LOL
“twitterature,” by Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin. Penguin. 2009. 208 pp. $12.
By Deirdre Parker Smith
I’m not sure if this is more tongue-in-cheek or gag me with a spoon.
Oh, that last one was an ancient Valley Girl remark. Pardon. So passe.
“twitterature,” yes, no capitalization, a la e.e. cummings (bet they never heard of him), is a collection of 20something tweets on 80-plus great works of literature.
In other words, lit-lite.
Two freshmen at the University of Chicago cooked this up and methinks they doth protest too much about the onus, and therefore, death, of reading.
It’s more about the death of the English language, except for those four-letter (and more) words you can’t print in a family newspaper.
Their funny but pompous introduction proves they are, indeed, freshmen. Irreverent, possibly overeducated freshmen who hit the trend in full tide.
Referring to art: “It is to hear and to speak softly in the beauteous tongue of antiquity, and yet to foresee all that will unfold through the illimitably growing passage of our universe.”
My first freshman English paper sounded like that. My professor laughed in my face. I never wrote like that again, thank goodness.
I’m feeling as if these characters may be aspiring to achieve a B.S. degree.
On to the tweets.
Some are quite funny, spot-on and worthy of repeating.
Quite a few, no, a lot, contain profanity, which is where what we call English seems headed, judging by the constant bleeping during talk shows. My, how our vocabulary shrinketh. While those four-letter words can be useful as nouns, adjectives and verbs, their shock value wanes with repeated use.
Apparently, most great works boil down to some guy wanting to have sex with some hot chick or close relative. This is an oversimplification and will require years of psychoanalysis.
And some tweets are just boring, as many of the works have been declared.
One thing that may cause the gentle reader pause ó have these 19-year-olds already read all these books? “Eugene Onegin”? Really? “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman”? How many volumes of that? “Doctor Faustus”?And interesting later works show up, too, such as the Harry Potter series and “Twilight.” Good heavens, 100 years from now, “Twilight” will be listed among the greatest literature of all time? Haunting.
Oh, digressing again.
From Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King” ó “@whathappensinthebes: Who’s the DJ in this place? Why does he keep playing ‘The End’ by The Doors?”
From “Macbeth” ó “@BigMAC: Armies moving against me, Queen’s dead. Life is nothing but a lone poster, tweeting his time upon the stage and then he tweets no more!”
For a topical reference, see “Romeo and Juliet” ó “@Montague, @Capulet: Can’t we all just get along?”
From “Frankenstein” ó “@NotoriusDOC: So sometimes you build something, and it gets away. They’re gonna can me at the university if they find out about this.”
And a summary of “Twilight” ó “@YoungGirls: If a guy is hot enough, it’s OK if he’s also a blood-sucking creep. Completely subordinate yourself and accommodate them. Worth it.”
Here’s a typical meeting for you, from “Moby-Dick” ó “Ahab wants to hunt the whale. Starbuck says we must pursue profitable biz ventures. Argument ensued. Passion defeated capitalism. Go figure.” Note to young tweeters: Capitalism ALWAYS wins.
“Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” is a great song and album. The Beatles were the best group, ever. No argument.
“@LetItTweet: This morning my father told me I had to fix a hole in the roof. If I’m a carpenter, that makes him a walrus. Will the real Paul please stand up?
John Lennon, I know you’re spinning in your grave. There must be quite a rattle and hum in the graveyards these days. Shakespeare. Mark Twain. Dostoevsky.
If you are hopelessly out of touch, like the rest of us geezers, or luddites, as these young Turks assume, they have provided a glossary at the end to explain what all those symbols and acronyms mean.
Let’s end with this quote from the acknowledgments: “However, if we have learned anything from this process, it is that our day and age is defined by wit borne of brevity, and for that reason, we feel compelled by Zeitgeist to keep this simple.”
Students striving for great wit on lit don’t always fit.
Contact Deirdre Parker Smith at dp1@salisbury post.com.