What is new is the multiplying..
What is new is the multiplying reach and volume of the Internet, concentrating the toxicity of destructive emotions and circulating them in the political bloodstream with unparalleled velocity.
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I think the large part of the function of the Internet is it is archival. It's unreliable to the extent that word on the street is unreliable. It's no more unreliable than that. You can find the truth on the street if you work at it. I don't think of the Internet or the virtual as being inherently inferior to the so-called real.
But I'm acutely aware that the possibility of fraud is even more prevalent in today's world because of the Internet and cell phones and the opportunity for instant communication with strangers.
It always seemed to me ironic that the McCain campaign kept referring sneeringly to Obama's meager resume - 'a mere community organizer!' - before he entered electoral politics. It was Obama's experience as a community organizer that proved such a killer app when he applied that skill to the Internet.
We judge on the basis of what somebody looks like, skin color, whether we think they're beautiful or not. That space on the Internet allows you to converse with somebody with none of those things involved.
Once you have speech, you don't have to wait for natural selection! If you want more strength, you build a stealth bomber; if you don't like bacteria, you invent penicillin; if you want to communicate faster, you invent the Internet. Once speech evolved, all of human life changed.
Now, many public libraries want to lend e-books, not simply to patrons who come in to download, but to anybody with a reading device, a library card and an Internet connection. In this new reality, the only incentive to buy, rather than borrow, an e-book is the fact that the lent copy vanishes after a couple of weeks.
I'm not up on the Internet, but I hear that is a democratic possibility. People can connect with each other. I think people are ready for something, but there is no leadership to offer it to them. People are ready to say, 'Yes, we are part of a world.'
I think people respond to dystopian stories because they're ways of acting out anxieties that we have and fears that we have about the future. So much media's coming at you over the Internet, your brain gets overloaded. You don't know what to do with it. And one thing you can do with it is read a story.
An Internet meme is a hijacking of the original idea. Instead of mutating by random change and spreading by a form of Darwinian selection, Internet memes are altered deliberately by human creativity. There is no attempt at accuracy of copying, as with genes - and as with memes in their original version.
In the original introduction to the word meme in the last chapter of 'The Selfish Gene,' I did actually use the metaphor of a 'virus.' So when anybody talks about something going viral on the Internet, that is exactly what a meme is, and it looks as though the word has been appropriated for a subset of that.
We tend to forget that in those days before the Internet and HBO and Imax and 3-D cinema, opera was the thing. Opera and theatre. If you were a man of the world and you mingled among the happy few, you would be at the opera.
The very essence of literature is the war between emotion and intellect, between life and death. When literature becomes too intellectual - when it begins to ignore the passions, the emotions - it becomes sterile, silly, and actually without substance.
In the books I have written, I have created in my mind a universe. My kids say I have a village in my head and I live in that village, and it's true. When I start writing a book, characters from previous books reappear. All my emotions, my mind, my heart, my dreams, everything becomes connected with a new book, and nothing else really matters.
Every life of a character is within a context. If I write detached from a social and political background, my story looks like a soap opera where everybody is indoors, not working and living off their emotions.
When I was a child, I did always feel that people were hiding things, and that they weren't expressing their true feelings. When adults are too complicated, and cover their emotions with layers of well-intentioned subterfuge, the child isn't seeing reality clearly enough and gets upset.
William Maxwell's my favorite North American writer, I think. And an Irish writer who used to write for 'The New Yorker' called Maeve Brennan, and Mary Lavin, another Irish writer. There were a lot of writers that I found in 'The New Yorker' in the Fifties who wrote about the same type of material I did - about emotions and places.
I was putting on a stiff upper lip and trying to fulfill the obligations I thought were demanded of me, taking over my father's role of taking care of my mother... and having to be the recipient of her confessions and emotions but of a delusional nature.
I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.
I cannot assume emotions I do not feel, and must describe Jerusalem as I found it. Since being here, I have read the accounts of several travellers, and in many cases the devotional rhapsodies - the ecstacies of awe and reverence - in which they indulge, strike me as forced and affected.
I once did a radio program with a famous materialist, that is to say a scientist who believed that absolutely everything was physical and that all emotions were reductive to little electrical impulses in your neurons. And I found that I didn't believe that. But what the emotions really are, I don't have an alternative theory.