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How Instagram changes the way I look at things
As a casualty — or side benefit (is it a bug? or a feature!) — of having read and written a metric ton of poetry in college, I still read a lot of poetry these days. And it’s surprising how often you come across poets who wrote decades, centuries or millennia ago, yet grappled with issues that seem absolutely contemporary.
Like microcelebrity! Two years ago I picked up a copy of Daniel Mendelsohn’s incredibly awesome new translations of the Greek poet C.P. Cavafy. It includes this rendition of “As Much As You Can”, a poem that Cavafy wrote in 1905, but reads like he’s talking about Facebook and Instagram today.
Normally I’d reprint the poem in ASCII text, but the screengrab from Amazon’s “Look Inside” is somewhat prettier, if fuzzier. I actually put this poem up on my tumblr a year ago, but I was rereading that collection of Cavafy again today and it struck me anew — particularly the dry irony of the title, which suggests the poem will urge the reader on to excess, when it’s actually about restraining yourself.
But there’s more! Below the jump, Emily Dickinson — the patron saint of shut-ins — meditating on Kim Kardashian!
(By the way, the collection of Dickinson I have at home contains a slightly different — and more menacing — version of that poem: Instead of “they’d advertise — you know!”, it reads, “they’d banish us — you know!”)
I'm Clive Thompson, a writer on science, technology, and culture. This blog collects bits of offbeat research I'm running into, and musings thereon.
Currently, I'm a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. I also write for Fast Company and Wired magazine's web site, among other places. Email or AOL IM me (pomeranian99) to say hi or send in something strange!
May 20, 2011 » 02:28 PM
From Christopher Kennedy’s very droll book “Neitzsche’s Horse”.
July 28, 2010 » 07:35 AM
“Wr” - S
July 06, 2010 » 10:05 AM
My Xbox broke, and I was trying to Google some possible technical solutions, when I noticed that Google appears to be encouraging me to make a typo. I suppose it’s possible that Google’s algorithms know that typing “wont” instead of “won’t” would produce better results.
June 29, 2010 » 05:00 PM
On the other hand, when I tried the test for multitasking, I was pretty abysmal. I performed worse than people who identify themselves as heavy multitaskers, and those who identify as low multitaskers.
June 29, 2010 » 04:58 PM
I finally got around to trying out the interactive “test your distractability and multitasking” page at the New York Times, which they put up alongside their story earlier this month about how computer distractions are eroding our lives.
According to the test, I guess I have good focus — I’m not very distractable!
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