In light of our ever-growing technology, or perhaps, in spite of it, the study of literature has an atmosphere that cannot be replicated on Nook or Kindle. The book itself is a part of the literary experience; turning the pages and dog-earing certain parts add to the sensual nature of the study of literature. This is a nature that is not found in growing variety of electronic devices. It is sacrilege to watch Gone with the Wind on a smartphone screen; likewise to read The Great Gatsby on a tablet. The two genres clash in an ugly manner; the pageantry and royalty of the texts shows up the cheapness and impatience of the new mediums. They are not compatible. As I wonder why some texts are catapulted into the annals of “literature” and others are not, I remain baffled as to the qualifications. I am quite sure, however, that if we produce any more works to be deemed as literature, they won’t come from the blogs of the latest internet star.
There is a place that is perfect to feed the literary hunger- the library. Not the modern-day Internet café, although one may read there with relative comfort. I mean the classic, light but dark in spaces, quiet but loud with the sounds of the ages, infinite number of shelves contained- library. It is a building that appears majestic, mysterious and intimidating from the outside. Yet is also curiously warm and inviting. Some libraries still contain the remnants of the card catalogue- the Dewey decimal system, long gone but not forgotten. The cabinets sit there like the tombs of an ancient world, holding the mummies of research methods of the past. Looking for books through the computer database in the library is the only technological advance I will allow that is an improvement in my eyes.
Surely writing with our devices is better than ye olde typewriter, or even still, a pen and paper? I don’t know if the modern gadgets can produce works that will endure the tests of time as our current literature has. I have done some personal writing, correspondence to loved ones and such that required me to put pen to paper. It is a very different, loftier, even reverential type of endeavor; it feels as though one’s spirit flows through the writing instrument to the paper in a way that the QWERTY keyboard cannot compare with. I am a modern student during today’s 21st century move and groove, but when it comes to literature, I am a throwback to another time and place. The literature takes me there.
The language inherent in what we call literature consists of variations of the King’s English and American English- the formal type. The abbreviations and unending acronyms that make up today’s emails and texts cannot compare to the flow of flowery phrases used by Louisa May Alcott or Scott Fitzgerald. Forget about the overused and misplaced hashtag #ithasnoplaceinrealwriting. We make inane additions to the language each year, and legitimize them by adding them to Webster’s and Wikipedia; the language of literature is the English you learned in high school. We had enough words then and we have enough words now without all the pop culture additions. Literature is linguistically sound and semantically solid as a rock.
In my mind, there is a great divide between today’s world as we live in it, and literature as we may write it. Can we add to the noble body of work at all, or are we just twiddling our thumbs? Who will decide? I know my efforts at writing lean toward the autobiographical; I guess I can write best about what I know most about- my life and the challenges and triumphs therein. I believe I have a novel in my head; it is a throwback to another time and place. It definitely is not 21st century material. It’s not a 21st century story, all flighty and tech savvy. It is a story of emotion, of ethics, of pen and paper. I think I have to write it the old-fashioned way- with a yellow tablet and three number 2 pencils, in a booth in the back of the library.