15 January 2011

Sorry I Wasn't Listening

"[Change is] the only evidence of life."
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited.

Have just finished reading this article on the Guardian. It's a great article for what it is approaching and all I can say is I hope my printer ink arrives soon. Even the comments written at the bottom of the article mean the author has to change the text, apologise beneath her writing for not doing enough research... to me this is nothing but indicative of how the internet is changing how we write to communicate. But obviously I'm not one of those weirdos that spends all their time writing on the Guardian comment sections... just reading them.

"Instructions every novelist gets from his or her publisher these days: You need to be on twitter, on facebook, blogging. The fact [is] that authors are able to write books precisely because they aren't spending hours every day online. [This] tends to get lost in the hunt for new ways to shore up sales." Laura Miller, How novels came to terms with the internet.
How would you like to reply? By blog, comment or twitter? Because you know your opinion only counts if you voice it. Blog it is then...

In Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies there is a scene in which Adam and Nina have a completly transcribed telephone conversation.

Adam rang up Nina.
'Darling, I've been so happy about your telegram. Is it really true?'
'No, I'm afraid not.'
'The Major is bogus?'
'You haven't got any money?'
'We aren't going to be married to-day?'
'I see.'
'I said, I see.'
'Is that all?'
'Yes, that's all, Adam.'
'I'm sorry.'
'I'm sorry, too. Good-bye.'
'Good-bye, Nina.'
Later Nina rang up Adam.
'Darling, is that you? I've got something rather awful to tell you.'
'You'll be furious.'
'I'm engaged to be married.'
'Who to?'
'I hardly think I can tell you.'
'Adam you won't be beastly about it, will you?'
'Who is it?'
'I don't believe it.'
'Well I am. That's all there is to it.'
'You're going to marry Ginger?'
'I see.'
'I said, I see.'
'Is that all?'
'Yes, that's all, Nina,'
'When shall I see you?'
'I don't ever want to see you again.'
'I see.'
'I said, I see.'
'Well, good-bye.'
'Good-bye... I'm sorry, Adam.'

Yes it is all a bit Brief Encounter when you isolate the passage but initially this chapter was received with horror and shock that anyone would attempt to put something as frivolous as a telephone conversation in a novel. Whilst reading The Guardian article I couldn't help but be reminded of this chapter. In 1930 Waugh showed that technology was changing the way we talk to each other, but that we are still, essentially, just talking to each other. What is fascinating is how necessary it has become to carry on communicating. The incessant chatter is the best part and I think the hardest to transcribe into something that a publisher wants to bind into 200 pages of fiction.

Vile Bodies is a brilliant portrayal of a tiny microcosm of Inter-war London. Laura Miller spends a lot of the article concerned with how writing about the contempory condition can be timeless... in other words last as a text into the next generation. I feel like perhaps this in itself is a dated idea- we cherish things when they burn the brightest, even for just a number of years or just months. If something is immediately contemporary, at least it will be entirely relevant once. Why be timeless when you can be utterly dated?

1 comment:

  1. Amazing post Ava! I agree with you on your point about incessant chatter. Everyone complains about Facebook and blogs but if it wasn't for these convienent ways of communicating I wouldn't feel so connected with my friends on the other side of the world. How ever small the communication may be it keeps them close. I'm so glad your blog's back. x