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by Catherine Ramsdell

4 Feb 2010

Twitterature:  The World’s Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less is really funny. If you don’t think about it too much.

Twitterature is what you get when you combine great literature and the social networking program, Twitter. Authors and University of Chicago students Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin coined the term and provide a more formal definition: “amalgamation of ‘twitter’ and ‘literature’; humorous reworkings of literary classics for the 21st century intellect, in digestible portions of 20 tweets of fewer”.

Aciman and Rensin turn over 70 classic texts along with Twilight and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” into twitterature. Most pieces are narrated (or tweeted) by the main character of the original text, but these characters have been adapted to the Twitter world. Gulliver’s Travels is narrated by @LittleBigMan and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is narrated by @NotoriousDOC. Romeo and Juliet has two narrators: @DefNotAHomeo and @JulieBaby.

Several of the entries are quite clever. Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”, narrated by @bugged-out, is particularly well done with tweets like “Sorry no updates. Bug time is weird. Lose track” and “REPEAT: THERE IS AN APPLE LODGED IN MY ... BACK!” With lines like “I am a strange old man. Perhaps I will grow a beard” and “I have caught a fish, and he is grand”, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea also translates nicely into tweets.

My personal favorite, though, has to be On the Road. It contains only one tweet, which reads “For TWITTERATURE of On the Road by Jack Kerouac, please see On the Road by Jack Kerouac”.

Still, I can only enjoy the book Twitterature if I don’t think about it too much. If I start thinking about it too much, I start worrying: what if twitterature is the only way great literature can be understood by today’s high school and college students? What if, as the authors assert, no one has time to read “those big long books anymore”? What if, again as Aciman and Rensin claim, Twitterature gives “you everything you need to master the literature of the civilized world”? These thoughts bring about the usual clichéd responses: my heart races, my palms turn clammy, and I break into a light sweat.

Even worse, when I start thinking about Twitterature too much, I start analyzing the tweets, and I wonder if a modern day Pip (Great Expectations) would really curse that much or whether or not the twitterature version of King Lear would have been stronger if it would have included tweets from @fool.

In the end, I have to believe, if only to save my own sanity, that Twitterature was written as a satire and that Aciman and Rensin are this generation’s Jonathan Swift. If I believe this, I can believe that when they state “In brief—and we mean this literally—we have created our generation’s salvation, a new and revolutionary way of facing and understanding the greatest art of all arts: Literature”, they are really silently laughing at all the students in the world who will probably try to pass exams and write papers based off what they learned from Twitterature.

by PopMatters Staff

4 Feb 2010

Magnetic Fields
69 Love Songs (Deluxe Edition)
Releasing: 20 April

Merge plans a deluxe vinyl re-issue of the classic album 69 Love Songs this April and they’ve just offered up a remastered MP3 of “The Book of Love” from the release.

The Magnetic Fields
“Book of Love” [MP3]

by Rob Horning

4 Feb 2010

This Fast Company story about prosthesis envy is possibly even more creepy than the classic of the genre, the Atlantic‘s “A New Way to Be Mad,” about voluntary amputees. It begins as though it will be a story about reducing the stigma attached to artificial limbs and then takes off into voluntary body modification and the fantasy of transcending human limitations by becoming bionic, like the Six Million Dollar Man. I have nothing against amputees doing whatever they want to improve their lives, but I admit, and this may be wrong of me, that I find the idea of amputating additional parts of one’s body for aesthetic reasons disturbing.

Amputees are now regularly removing healthy tissue to make room for more powerful technology. “I see it every day,” he says. “People will get a second amputation—move their amputation up their leg—to get the prosthetic equivalent of a hotter car.”
Orthopedic surgeons often consider amputation the equivalent of failure, Young says, and reflexively save as much of a damaged, injured, or diseased limb as possible. But in leaving lots of human being, they create a bigger problem: There is little room left for high-performance machinery. Now, the allure of that machinery has become so powerful that amputees are routinely taking the extreme step of paying out-of-pocket for what the industry calls “revisions.”.... Herr’s suggestion, of course, is that the better prostheses make us perform, and the more glamorous they look, the more beautiful they will make amputees seem, too, even though their sheen, contour, texture, and color have ceased to look human.
“What is the obsession with looking human?” he says. “You think the only beauty is human? Bridges can be beautiful. Cars can be beautiful. Cell phones can be beautiful. They don’t look biological. So why do you anticipate 30 years from now that amputees will give a shit about human beauty? They won’t. Their limbs will be sculptures.”

Herr—an prosthetics engineer—is right. I wish Apple would stop designing gadgets and start designing elegant human-body-replacement canisters so I could do away with this hideous flesh husk. I have always aspired to be as beautiful as a phone.

by Oliver Ho

4 Feb 2010

A fascinating and complex balancing act, Yuichi Yokoyama’s Travel mixes an explosively kinetic, bold visual style with an intriguing sense of emptiness. It brings to mind a famous verse from the Tao te Ching:

‘We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.’

by PopMatters Staff

4 Feb 2010

Vampire Weekend played tunes from their chart-topping Contra on La Blogotheque’s Les Soirees De Poche series recently.

//Mixed media

'The Chamber' Keeps the Drama and Suspense Going

// Short Ends and Leader

"The Chamber is the filmic equivalent of a fairground ride, the stimulation of emotion over ideas.

READ the article