Virginia Woolf the Twitterer
20 February 20009
So I’m recovering from yesterday’s post, still considering the apparent fact that not only is the novel dead (passé, at the least), but blogging’s got one foot in the grave as well. The”now” now, the “it,” is micro-blogging.
I’ve not Twittered, but I’ve observed and tried out the Facebook “status update”: Sonya is surfing Amazon, one might write on her Facebook homepage, for all her “friends” to see. Sonya is combing her dog for fleas. Sonya is off to bed now, good night! The updates I love-to-hate are the ones which simultaneously thumb their noses and make poetry of Facebook’s default (passive) “is” in the posting box: Jill is Puerto Rico! Jane is every day is a winding road!
But the greater literary potential of the micro-blog, I think, might be found in Virginia Woolf’s notion of “moments of being” (from her book of the same title). Moments of being are those flashes of insight, of heightened spiritual and sensual awareness, which grace us from time to time in the midst of lives which are comprised mostly of “non-being” — that greater part of life which is “not lived consciously,” but instead embedded in “a kind of nondescript cotton wool.” Artists may experience moments of being as they work, or as inspiration to work (we writers keep our notebooks on hand for just this purpose).
And now, Facebookers-and-Twitterers-all can take moments out of the day for “being.” How about suggesting to Facebook to replace the default “is” with a moment-of-being verb like wonders or envisions, sensory verbs like sees, hears, feels, hungers. In that Facebook world, I might actually read all my news feeds.