Thursday, March 8, 2012

Franzen's Mind is Still on Vacation

The last time I took a swipe at Jonathan Franzen was when he shot off his mouth at the Cartagena Hay Festival, doing little more than advertising his ignorance of the nuts and bolts of reading practices.  In that post I could think of no source better than Mose Allison to write my punch line:

Mose Allison got his number, even if he never met the guy.  He’s the one who wrote the line, “your mind is on vacation and your mouth is workin' overtime!”

Apparently, however, the folks at the London Telegraph find that Franzen makes for good copy.  As a result they followed him to New Orleans, where he made the following proclamation:

Twitter is unspeakably irritating. Twitter stands for everything I oppose.

It's hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters. It's like if Kafka had decided to make a video semaphoring The Metamorphosis. Or it's like writing a novel without the letter 'P'.

It's the ultimate irresponsible medium. People I care about are readers... particularly serious readers and writers, these are my people. And we do not like to yak about ourselves.

Apparently Franzen has never heard of haiku;  or perhaps he has dismissed the form as illegitimate, which might be because he lacks the skill to read one.  Whatever the case may be, the Tweeters of the world seem to have united against him (having nothing to lose but their time), creating the hashtag #JonathanFranzenHates as a vehicle for retaliation.  I have to say that, while I am not personally big of Twitter, because of that time-sink factor, I really enjoyed the response by Minnie Driver:

#JonathanFranzenhates the moon. Its light is unspeakably dishonest and no more than a reflection.

This almost comes down to making the 140-character limit serve the constraints of haiku, which strikes as the unkindest cut one could give to Franzen!

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