It may or may not be coincidental that last year’s most notorious mock-Twitter account takes its name and avatar from the creature whom Jonathan Swift, in Gulliver’s Travels, cast as more reasonable than man—perhaps, indeed, too reasonable, too cold, its morals too much like algebra. In a recent New Yorker profile of Jacob Bakkila and Thomas Bender, @Horse_ebooks’ founders and proprietors, Susan Orlean quotes a curator at the Whitney Museum: “[The account’s] ‘play with identity, and the fusion of the human and the machine’ placed Bakkila and Bender firmly within the genre known as ‘net art.’” This triumphalist label feels rather silly, but the uneasy negotiation between “the human and the machine” is at the heart of the humor and surprising warmth of literary Twitter presences. The Web afterlives of canonical writers are bound within these diametrics: In abstraction, automation, isolation, recapitulation, their words weave through servers and are culled by algorithms and finally re-emerge—like any classic however preserved—at once alien and familiar on the collective tongue.
“Retweeting the Classics: Bookish joke-accounts — and the serious people behind them”: Pacific Standard (2/19/14)
¡Hold onto your hats!
'Tis a season of abundance, dear readers — in the coming weeks, your correspondent will publish a feast of oddities on the pages & screens of Lapham’s Quarterly, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Pacific Standard. Topics include Jane Austen, Cassandra Austen, cannibalism, Sigmund Freud, Henry Luce, Sylvia Plath, and Steve McQueen.
We trust you will stay glued to this site, clicking “refresh” until your eyes begin to bleed.
In good times & bad, we remain
Rules For Art:
1.) Art is either very good, or very bad, or sometimes just OK.
2.) Art is not truth, and truth is not art, but they often get mistaken for each other at parties.
3.) Art is meant to be seen, heard, and felt, but rarely smelled.
4.) Art must by no means answer to “Arthur” or “Artie.”
5.) Art is truly great if it is remembered forever, or if it is forgotten for a very long time, or at the very least if someone pays a great deal of money for it.
6.) Art is not inherently political, but still best not to bring up immigration.
7.) Art Blakey would probably be more fun to party with than Art Garfunkel.
8.) Art is best when it is artless.
9.) Art must never reveal its inner mechanisms.
10.) OK memorize & burn this list.