Does literature make us better human beings? Can poetry lead us to moral action? Do novels encourage us to be more empathetic?
Governors curtail workers’ rights. President Obama’s second term is in question. The divide between the nation’s top 1% and the rest threatens to swallow us all. It’s not easy being on the Left today.
How does the personal connect to the professional? When do we introduce the inner self to the public world and put it on display? And if we do, will we be understood, taunted, ignored? We all wrestle with these questions every day.
Two American classics, two notorious scenes, two different ends. So what happened to American masculinity in the decades between Moby Dick and “Friends?”
Why are we more excited by Facebook than by Google? I thought about this question a couple of weeks ago when the media ran stories about the rivalry between these two corporations.
The hacking and bribery scandal in the UK shows that Greece is not the only country in default.
Are we forcing the world to conform to our own image of it? Are we asking foreign authors to fashion pictures of their societies that fulfill our own perceptions, desires, and fears?
The world is text. Mallarmé and Flaubert described this possibility at the end of the nineteenth century and Derrida proclaimed it again more recently. But now we can say that the world is literature. It is turning literary through the Internet.
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. That still sums up the way we view culture today. We undervalue its place in the world, always elevating the importance of the economy as a factor in social change. Culture, to change the metaphor, still plays second fiddle, following the lead of the economic conductor.
Question: Where does friendship turn into a thing? Answer: On Facebook.
I don’t mean that new digital technologies convert friends into objects. This would be a simplistic reading of social media. I argue, rather, that they transform our human desire for connections into a commercial activity.
Gregory Jusdanis teaches Modern Greek literature and culture at The Ohio State University. He is the author of The Poetics of Cavafy: Eroticism, Textuality, History (1987), Belated Modernity and Aesthetic Culture: Inventing National Literature (1991), The Necessary Nation (2001), and Fiction Agonistes: In Defense of Literature (2010). His book, A Tremendous Thing. Friendship from the Iliad to the Internet, was published in 2014.