One of the underlying questions here is the task of the novelist — to depict life as he or she sees it now, or rather to deal instead within “timeless” provinces and themes? And yet, a presumption that to write about the Internet is to engage in a sort of literary faddishness, has a hint of fogeyism to it.
“The further literature is driven to the outskirts of the culture, the more it is cherished as a sanctuary from everything coarse, shallow and meretricious in that culture. It is the chapel of profundity, and about as lively and well visited as a bricks-and-mortar chapel to boot. Literature is where you retreat when you’re sick of celebrity divorces, political mudslinging, office intrigues, trials of the century, new Apple products, internet flame wars, sexting and X Factor contestants â€“ in short, everything that everybody else spends most of their time thinking and talking about.”
The cultural position of Literature as a site of debate between High and Low culture is certainly nothing new (just ask old friend Matthew Arnold). Some sort of mediated approach might make sense, although it is unlikely to appease either side (recall for instance Virginia Woolf’s thoughts on the “middlebrow“). And yet, that seems to be the perpetual task of the novelist, ” toÂ be able to derive the Timeless from a series of frivolous Nows, and then you have to persuade your readers that you have given them what they want by presenting them with what they were trying to get away from when they came to you in the first place.”