The Great American Tweet
By Daniel Rigney
I’m told there was a time when young scribblers in the United States dreamed of writing "the great American novel." It was a time when books were made of paper and ink rather than pixels -- a time when “text” was a noun rather than a verb, and “tweet” was something robins did.
But times change, and dreams change with them. Many of today’s future fictionists, not just in the U.S. but around the world, might sooner make a great world film or youtube video than write a great national novel. Even the very notion of a national novel now seems dated in the swirled world of globalization.
Some (like me) might be satisfied to compose a great blogpost. Others might dream of creating a timeless tweet, or a great ephemeral text message.
Messaging nowadays seems to come in ever smaller bites and shorter bits (e.g., blogs, tweets, text messages) even as the sheer quantity of content expands. It's as though we're assembling an ever-larger puzzle out of ever smaller pieces. I'm sensing a paradox here that I can't quite articulate.
But truncation continues. Social critics of the future might write ever shorter critiques of the miniaturization of media and the abbreviation of meaning. Book critics might become blog critics, and blog critics tweet critics, and tweet critics txt critics.
Eventually, if we follow this truncation trajectory forever, we'll come to that moment that Macbeth called "the last syllable of recorded time." Then, at long last, there will be utter silence. But it will be a great silence. An infinite silence.
It might sound something like this: