Virginia Woolf the Twitterer

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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!

I have my doubts about a story-in-micro-blog-fragments, a la Goodreads.com; but who knows, the haiku form has flourished and inspired verses of depth and breadth and mystery for centuries.  

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.

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6 Responses to “Virginia Woolf the Twitterer”

  1. Alison G Says:

    I was annoyed when I heard about the Goodreads idea (blatant marketing ploy passed off as “innovative tech-savvy creative writing”), but maybe I should open my mind a little. Charles Dickens wrote many of his novels in short published sections, after all, his storyline and characters guided and changed by reader feedback. I think he did pretty well for himself. Goodreads story = the next Dickens novel? Why is that making me cringe?

  2. sonyachung Says:

    I was seriously stunned when I read about it. Status updates as the “new medium of creativity”? Uy. Kind of like Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food,” at some point mightn’t someone have to stand up and say, um, Are there any WORDS in that story?

  3. Mimi Says:

    Well how much more egalitarian can writing be if updates are a literary genre?! LOVE it :D Which reminds me, I need to learn more emoticons.

  4. Mimi Says:

    1 – am I your only FBF who updates?! I just noticed…
    and 2 – I also just noticed that there is NO update default “is” anymore!!! Check yours!

  5. sonyachung Says:

    Hi M., not sure what you mean in 1) what did you “notice”? Everyone seems to update, and 2) that’s hilarious — the FB programmers’ ears must have been burning!

  6. Mimi Says:

    Never mind #1… I forgot that I can’t see YOUR friends’ updates… duh… As for #2… on my iPhone FB app, the update default still “IS”… boo…


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