Sunday, March 02, 2003

Overheard In The New Yorker

The Talk Of A Transformed Town

If one wants proof that Seabrook, himself a writer for the New Yorker, correctly identifies the once high-culture magazine as a perfect example of modern Nobrow mentality, one need only take a gander at page 32 of the current issue, where one will find both Three American Haikus by Jack Kerouac and this article about Listening Post, an art installation currently at the Whitney Museum of American Art which:

...probe[s] into all the unrestricted Internet chat rooms in the English-speaking world and dredge[s] up thousands upon thousands of random sentences even as they are being typed. The casual remarks, desperate pleas, and lecherous queries that are sucked out of the stream of world chatter are then relayed in various ways on the two hundred or so small screens and ten loudspeakers that make up the machine's public face. The found words and sentence fragments can be strung out at random on the display monitors or made to race across the screens in constant streams, like a Times Square zipper, giving the thing a Jenny Holzer-like gnomic and oracular quality. Better yet, a speech synthesizer can read aloud from the found chatter—either intoning words and sentences one by one in a sepulchral English announcer's voice or chanting and singing them in fuguelike overlay.

It seems Nobrow Nirvana is attained, by definition, at the moment when Jack Kerouac appears in the New Yorker alongside the voice of the multitudes, tapped and wrapped for mass consumption.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:04 PM |

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