Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Because Reading just cuts way too much into my surfing time

The YouTube description of this ad reads "a modern retelling (of the Herman Melville Classic "Moby Dick....")

You know, it's bad enough that cellphones are turning us into a nation of drooling illiterates. If you don't want to read, fine. If you want to burn your eyes out of your head staring at a screen, that's fine too. And if you want to spend every free moment of your day fiddling around pointlessly searching for images, videos, etc and sharing them with your equally stupid friends, go for it.

But don't do all that and pretend that you are are engaged in a "retelling" of an American Classic, ok? Unless you think that "Moby Dick" is a story about a ship that travels to the other side of the planet to kill a whale (to the accompaniment of Moby- yes, I get it- not especially clever- and insightful comments like "Ahoy there!" and "Take a picture!") and not about obsession and man's innate need to connect with and understand the universe he finds himself in, this is NOT a retelling of Moby Dick, any more than Disney's Pocahantas was a retelling of the story of Jamestown.

You can make yourself literate by putting in the time required to consume the classics. I'm not a Melville fan- I thought Billy Budd was torture- but I'm not going to stick a DVD of Moby Dick starring Gregory Peck into the player and a few hours later tell myself that I've experienced his signature work. And fucking around with your phone for a few minutes isn't going to make up for that AP Lit class you didn't take in High School, ok?

So make a decision. Be a clueless dumbass who can't walk and chew gum at the same time, but knows how to surf the web on his phone like nobody's business, or put the Short Cut to the Cartoon Version of Life away and pick up a book. See if those synapses are still firing, or have become atrophied with disuse. And don't worry- if it turns out that your brain can no longer absorb complex literary concepts, you can always just say "fuck it" and go back to playing Angry Birds.


  1. Even the "Children's Classic" version of Moby Dick is a deeper, more intense story than the AT&T version.

    That's kind of sad that I even realize that fact.

    I always have my mobile phone with me. But, I also have a book with me, so when I'm stuck waiting, I can read. Maybe I should cut out the middle man and become a drooling, squinting zombie-

    No! I will fight the drones! I will battle till the end and even then, there better be a few of my favorite books clutched in my cold, dead hands at the funeral.

  2. It's always amazed me how brazen the admen are; it's sort of incredible to bear witness to people who say "We hold you all in contempt; please buy the shiny toy, you worthless slugs."

  3. I have a cell phone, which I use to- call people. And take calls. I send text messages sometimes- my best estimate is one or two texts a WEEK.

    My only concession to the Age of Electronic Best Friends is my Kindle, which I carry only to school or on trips when I know I'll have a lot of down time. I don't equate Kindles with the brain-dead crap people get on their cell phones. Maybe I'm just a snob.

  4. I don't equate a Kindle (or other such device) with the brain-dead crap either. Because if you have Moby Dick on a Kindle, you've actually got the book in there.

    I understand the draw of a Kindle, because holding a book can be painful (I have pain issues) and it can also be cumbersome to drag a book along- I have every Jane Austen book in a single, huge volume (which I didn't know was going to be that way when I ordered it online). The same thing in a Kindle would have saved me some pain and pain meds.

    I, however, do not own one and even if I did, I'd still end up buying the paper version because I adore books in general.