January 12, 2014

“Well, I have a lot to learn,” were the words ringing in my head as I woke up this morning. Not a bad thought to begin the day with but the timing was pretty bad though. Learning something at the break of dawn is doomed to fall apart in a poor endeavor that proofs nothing more than the opposite from what is strived for in the first place.

Bare feet landing on the cold floor of our small bedroom in the attic, tapping positivity into the brand new day. That is a more correct recalling of what I remember. The idea of “Yeah!”, making myself like the day already, before the thought of post nocturnal fatigue can kick back in.

Funny enough, the thing that helped me jump out of bed, was an article I read the night before. The Guardian tweeted about, a festival fuelled by the promising fruits of the rather fresh relationship between Twitter and a cultural phenomenon we all deal with on a daily/weekly/monthly or you-name-it basis namely, literature.

It sounds intriguing at first sight: to use Twitter, the most popular social media tool – acclaimed to be the fastest form of spreading news – for the benefit of literature, aka something old and beautiful, if I may say so. Visiting the website the focus is on a new competition with serious judges and a possible claim for fame for the participants. The idea is simple: send in an idea that can generate a piece of literature within an hour or more, sticking to the acquirement of the maximum of five days, the duration of this festival.

For me the idea is difficult to grasp. I check out examples given, not necessarily attached to the idea of the twitterfictionfestival, but the ones done before or still in active doing, of twitter writers recreating or retelling our famous works of literature. So the Iliad is retold in tweets, some are short, others are long (with the max of 140 characters of course) and my attention is drawn to Kafka’s Metamorphosis. For decades this has been the most read book of books, by scholars here in the Netherlands who had to read it for their German Literature curriculum, a story easily retold in a few words. Would it be appropriate to give the examples here? Is it necessary?

Sister playing violin for visitors make me feel worthless and weary.

I am just typing this down from memory. Was this a twitteraturistic example and how should one call a tweet that is a paraphrase of or a reference to the literary field of the literary (field)? A twleet? Litter? How should I know? (And why should I care?) But still. A deeper look at the titles that are covered in a whole book dedicated to this phenomenon, entitled Twitterature The World’s Greatest Books Retold Through Twitter, teaches me a new insight, namely that the idea of connecting larger ideas to a totally different medium, is appealing, although I get thrown of my newly discovered appetite reading the motto by, well, the Guardian (no name is mentioned as a source here): “ A tool to aid the digestion of great literature.”

There you have it. Literature, to a lot of people, even the ones who claim to love it, often the ones who tend to produce it or are in some way professionally attached to it (not to say depending on it, and I beg your pardon for objectifying something so beautiful as L.) is hard to digest in, there you go again, itself.

A little help doesn’t hurt – okay – when it comes to the rockiest of rocks planted or stranded on the bare sands or lands of preserved cultural phenomena, and so what if we would present Great Literature and while we are at it, Great Art in a totally different way to help it survive the next century, for example?

I reread the information on this book on Twitterature, as I usually do after I have vented out some of my frustration about modern things that I don’t immediately understand nor appreciate, and learning that the writers are only 19 years old and still in college the words echo back at me in a more endearing tone: “Perhaps in the eighteenth year of your life… asking yourself: what exactly is Hamlet trying to tell me, why must he mince words and muse in lyricism, and, in short, whack about the shrub?” …We have liberated poor Hamlet from the rigorous literary constraints of the sixteenth and made him – without losing an ounce of wisdom, beauty, wit or angst – a happening youngster. Just as you, dear reader.”

Hell, I knew what thought sent me right into never never land, the night before the day I decided to jump out of bed like a chipper young lassie.