Monday, January 16, 2006

The Moronic Inferno

Reading The Promise of Happiness, a novel by Justin Cartwright, I come across this paragraph:

"What the net has undoubtedly done is to encourage the loony-tunes to have a voice. There is no moral, educational or documentary standard on the net. It is truly the moronic inferno, with spelling mistakes. Everywhere, people are trying to find meaning in the thinned-out air; they believe that by writing their banal thoughts they are investing them with gravitas; they are proclaiming their destiny."

It's dispiriting, isn't it? And I would like to be able to refute the sentiment but to be honest I know that my own voice, my own banal thoughts are a tad loonytuneque.


heather said...

Of course he has a point - but only up to a point, of course. It's as if he forgets all the madness and loonytunesqueness that went before - from the hand-cranked print press in garages and sheds producing pamphlets announcing the end of the world/morality/goodness or whatever, complete with typos, smudges and an absence of grammar or thought - then the radio hams, the backroom film makers. The Daily Mail. Speakers Corner. The difference the net makes is that it makes it a little more obvious or a little easier to find.

And so he's had a book published containing his thoughts which some would argue lends them more gravitas? Like Mills and Boon, perhaps? Perhaps a life-style columnist in a sunday supplement has more gravitas writing about what they had for lunch or what their favourite shopping place is - because they're real writers as identified through the cash nexus. Which, deep down, is I suspect what his argument is. The amateur versus the pro. Us against him.

Apologies for rambling.

Lesley said...

No you're not rambling Heather, I'm going to memorise that and regurgitate it next time someone asks, "Why do you waste all that time blogging/reading blogs. It's self-indulgent drivel" as they look up from their Daily Mail or equivalent.

To be fair though, I quoted out of context. I don't think that was the author's voice, it was internal monologue from Charles, a rather pompous, opiniated character in the novel.

BeefKing said...

I have no problem with floods of drivel seeping into every crack and cranny of the internet. It bothers me not at all. There's really nothing new in it: everyone has always had a voice, and opinions; now they merely have a broader means of distributing them.

When I first moved to France in 1992, I bought a TV to help me learn French. But the programming was so terrible (Dukes of Hazard in French!? The Cosby Show with white voices!?) that I never watched, and instead complained about the lack of channel-abundance which led to such lack of choice. "Well," my friends routinely asked with voices full of nationalist indignation (remember this is back in the days of the GATT negotiations, held up by a fear of the influx of foreign TV), "how many channels would you like to have, if our 5 are not enough?" "I dunno," I replied, "100. 200. Something like that." Their eyes widened. "What would you do with 100 channels!" "I'd watch TV," I told them.

We choose which blogs we read. The more there are, the more good ones there are bound to be. And sure 99% of more information equals more worthless text, but 1% of more is more too.

Now I'm rambling as well. I'll stop now and go read some quality material on the internet.

deborah said...

..... they are proclaiming their destiny? Good on them.

Yes, we all have banal thoughts but some people write them down in a witty way, with the words in an interesting order and lots of wacky and interesting ideas come into our heads when we read them.

Cartwright didn't get round to pointing out the positive side to the inferno of blogs .... you can take them or leave them. And why should there have to be a moral, educational or documentary standard for goodness sake. That's what you learn from life as you go along. I agree with Beefking, we choose what we read and plenty of quality material out there.

So absolutely no need to be dispirited, Lesley. Mind you I did trip over your thesis the other day .....

Wendy said...

Deborah is spot on. A lot of blogs are just a recounting of the trivial and mundane moments of people's lives.'s the WAY it is written that makes all the difference. It can be very entertaining and pleasurable to read a well-written blog. And to realise that, at the end of the day (excuse the cliche) we are all the same. Just people. With ordinary lives punctuated by a few funny/sad/mad/interesting moments that are fun to share.

Personally, I think that any author uses his/her work to voice personal opinion and prejudice..even if it is expressed through a fictional character. So I don't think your quote was terribly out of context.

deborah said...

I forgot to put in brackets after ...... interesting order: (and no spelling mistakes)

thanks Wendy, and spot on for you too with your last paragraph

R. Brett Stirling said...

As I read all of this I was struck with two conflicting thoughts. First, I thought of Milan Kundera. I can't for the life of me remember which book has the discussion of our exponential decrease in our fractional gravitas, if you will though I'm betting on The Unbearable Lightness of Being. He talks about how in Socrates day he was maybe 1/250,000th of the population, Lincoln: 1/1,000,000,000th. Each of us? 1/6,200,000,000th.

And so we strive to shout above our fractional importance. We blog, we sue big corporations, we go on Jerry Springer to tell our girlfriends that we've secretly been living a double life assisting zoos artificial insemination programs as a professional animal masturbator . All right, maybe that was just me.

The second thought was that I'd like to reject all of that, live in a log cabin in the woods far enough away from a post office that I wouldn't be tempted to send the odd pipe bomb anywhere.

Now that's rambling! And a sure way to get me an FBI file (mentioning masturbation and pipe bombs in the same message).

Lesley said...

Thanks for all of the thought-provoking comments. I've just finished the novel and it was a good read. I have to disagree with Deborah and Wendy on the novelist using his characters as a soapbox for his own opinions however. In this case, I believe he was poking gentle fun at the character's inability to move with the times. [Gawd, "gentle fun", "move with the times" just how many clich├ęs can I fit into this comment?]