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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Novel as a Box of Tampons

Kesey just won't let go.

"You write novels Dead Beat."

"Do too."

"An archaic form don't you think? What with the information age - all that the brain can absorb."

"What are you saying Kenneth, give it up?"

"It's a flash in the pan, as far as history goes, I think. Because the storyteller was there to begin with. He used the fire, and he used his voice; he used shadows and monsters, and he used poetry and music. And all those things worked on the audience. When you just get into print, you reduce the input quite a bit. But it makes for a nice thing to package and distribute--like a box of tampons. But I think that for us to really deal with a young audience, we're going to have to pick up the pace."

"What to do?"

"When Shakespeare was writing, he wasn't writing for stuff to lie on the page; it was supposed to get up and move around. And I think that writers are going to have to face this; they were performers originally. That's what storytellers did--they told a story. And the better they were at telling it, the more famous it became. The Chopes were writers that moved from castle to castle. The word `Chope, C-H-O-P-E,' means `see, too see, and be seen.' So you went from castle to castle and you told about the castle you just came from, and how beautiful the maidens were and how powerful and manly the knights were. You helped prop up a young civilization: They couldn't have done it without them.
Now, we've got electronic means to do that, so you wouldn't have to actually travel to castles. Come out of that box, there, and address the audience. The whole MTV audience, that is the new audience. And the people who are being purists and ignoring that, are those who are going to be left behind. As Dylan says, `it's a new road; if you don't like it, get out of the way.'

Dead Beat thinks he has a point. Pick up the pace or get out of the way.

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