Search This Blog

Monday, July 6, 2009

e.e. cummings on the Internet (1953)

James and I spent the weekend in a bizarre serpentine canyon above Cazadero from which I emerged dazed, James tan and the dog half pink. Many strange and beautiful things seen and experienced, but the thing I was most anxious to post to the blog was this discovery, from the e.e. cummings book I took with me up and down the creek: i: six nonlectures. Since the book was published in 1953, you can imagine my surprise to read these observations about a medium that wasn't invented until 1969 and didn't find its way into the average home for another twenty-five years after that.

You will perhaps pardon me, as a nonlecturer, if I begin my second nonlecture with an almost inconceivable assertion: I was born at home.

For the benefit of those of you who can't imagine what the word "home" implies, or what a home could possibly have been like, I should explain that the idea of home is the idea of privacy. But again--what is privacy? You probably never heard of it. Even supposing that (from time to time) walls exist around you, those walls are no longer walls; they are merest pseudosolidities, perpetually penetrated by the perfectly predatory collective organs of sight and sound. Any apparent somewhere which you may inhabit is always at the mercy of a ruthless and omnivorous everywhere. The notion of a house, as one single definite particular and unique place to come into, from the anywhereish and everywhereish world outside--that notion must strike you as fantastic. You have been brought up to believe that a house, or a universe, or a you, or any other object, is only seemingly solid: really (and you are realists, whom nobody and nothing can deceive) each seeming solidity is a collection of large holes--and, in the case of a house, the larger the holes the better; since the principal function of a modern house is to admit whatever might otherwise remain outside. You haven't the least or feeblest conception of being here, and now, and alone, and yourself. Why (you ask) should anyone want to be here, when (simply by pressing a button) anyone can be in fifty places at once? How could anyone want to be now, when anyone can go whening all over creation at the twist of a knob? What could induce anyone to desire aloneness, when billions of soi-disant dollars are mercifully squandered by a good and great government lest anyone anuywhere should ever for a single instant be alone? As for being yourself--why on earth should you be yourself; when instead of being yourself you can be a hundred, or a thousand, or a hundred thousand thousand, other people? The very thought of being oneself in an epoch or interchangeable selves must appear supremely ridiculous.


Anonymous said...

I thought he was talking about time travel, not merely TV. I'm so flighty when I read the likes of E. E. Cummings. It's a thrill to bounce along his illerations, but more thrilling to think he may a futurist of uncanny sorts. Hist Wist and Hobabnob hobanob- i used to recite that as a weeee laddy xo Hidea

Anonymous said...

Gucci watches