The one who searches and destroys


I skimmed Will Self’s essay “The Fate of Our Literary Culture Is Sealed.” Here’s what I picked up:

tossed from wave to wave of language as we relapse into the wordsea

no forensic or analytic account of reading can do justice to the strange interplay between levels of reality we apprehend when we

or the street map of Dublin

the reader strives to see in them, see through them, and to discern the connections between them

what it might be like to not have to read deeply at all

finding in digital reading new forms of stimulus and

valorisation of the printed word – its fusty scent, its silk, its heft – is a rearguard action

words and revenue

not only did the reviews in the quality press mean something

one big, thick pipeline carrying half the revenue from British retail book sales disappears deep into Jeff

exactly the same iron laws of supply and demand

church was a repository of scholarship for its own sake

academics publishing online in order to secure professional advancement,

“I just want to be misunderstood”

and use digital media to develop new forms of understanding

effectively, a monetised intellectual prosthesis

were this resource to be truly incapable of being owned, then yes, the tweeting Arab Spring might have culminated in a warm

a global field

none of this, however,

no going back

no point


6 thoughts on “The one who searches and destroys

  1. XSA

    “Mountains, Bruce, mountains,” the manager said.
    “Mountains, Bruce, mountains,” Bruce said and gazed.
    “Echolalia, Bruce, echolalia,” the manager said. “Echolalia, Bruce—”
    “Okay, Bruce,” the manager said, and shut the cabin door behind him, thinking, I believe I’ll put him among the carrots. Or beets. Something simple. Something that won’t puzzle him.
    Chapter 17 (p. 273)
    Echolalia beats ebola. Or beets.

  2. Daniel C.

    Self can turn a phrase, that’s for sure. He hits the mark, but all the same, his prose and posturing—always better than his stories—are also an outgrowth of the literary elitism that he so loves to disparage. He would probably admit as much. So he sticks his tongue out again at the academy and then pins all hope of “liberation” on the next generation. Here’s to another fashionable apocalypse.

    “Shall we make a tale, boys, that things are sure to mend,
    Playing bluff and hale, boys, waiting for the end?
    It will be born stale, boys, stinking to offend,
    Dying ere it fail, boys, waiting for the end.”

  3. Luke

    Reading this was like hearing a mashup of Will’s original article, and Radiohead’s “Fitter, Happier”.

    (The ability to laugh at weakness)
    and more productive
    a pig
    in a cage
    on antibiotics

  4. Daniel C.

    ABC – thanks for that. I enjoyed it immensely. My favorite bit, on the book:

    “It is the site of an encounter, in silence, of two minds, one following in the other’s steps but invited to imagine, to argue, to concur on a level of reflection beyond that of personal encounter, with all its merely social conventions, its merciful padding of blather and mutual forgiveness. Book readers and writers are approaching the condition of holdouts, surly hermits who refuse to come out and play in the electronic sunshine of the post-Gutenberg village.”

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