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Effortless and high-speed access to internet through mobile phones and computers has made the man impatient, edgy and hungry for knowledge. No one has time to stop, to read and to enjoy. The busy life of man leaves him no time for leisure and hobbies. In this fast-paced world, knowledge is wider with little words. Somehow, words seem not as importance as they used to be. Books, newspapers, journals have taken a back-seat in this electronic-age. In America most major paper publications like the New York Times or the wall street Journal are having trouble surviving in face of the alternate media that is the internet. Cybernetic reading is displacing linear, closed, solitary reading. It is transforming the process of literary reading. The reader is continuously exposed to inter- textual ties and virtual ties of mass media and that of information technology. People, moreover kids today have short attention-spans. Long drawn out sentences, never ending paragraphs and detailed long description are not comprehensible to them. For example: Thomas Hardy. Hardy has a flair for the native lands and usually writes pages describing landscapes which is not appreciated by today’s reading audience. I mean, how do we relate? There are no landscapes left which we can see and admire their beauty!
Literature has faced uncountable changes ever since its existence. Passing through all the ages, it has flourished richly. In the age of cybernetics, literature has become an art form. It’s being redefined as per the needs of a younger population. Modern tools have helped literature become an equalizer between the haves and the have-not. SMS has created new room for urban quotations and poems. Stories can now be presented in 140 characters or less. No wonder we say the world is growing smaller. Flash fiction and micro-fiction have sidelined long elaborative patterns of writing. Earlier people used to spend hours in libraries searching and reading up on information for their answers and papers. Now, however all one needs to do is GOOGLE it! An entire world of information is accessible at the click of a mouse. The same is with dictionaries. Oxford, which was once considered the bible for literature students is no more that important. Almost all the mobile phones have dictionaries. And if not that, there is still the web. Software like Word web etc provides one with the meaning for almost all the words.
The ‘6 word novel’ is a new field for writers to experiment. “After she died, he came alive” by Rebecca James and “One gun, two shots, three dead” by Marcy are examples of a six word novel. This is a new fashion of writing which is challenging and creative. It may be easy to write a long, narrative and detailed novel but writing a novel as short as six words requires innovation. Hundred years back no one would have thought of writing a novel in six words. Mr. Dickens is definitely turning in his grave. Six word novels leave the reader curious and thoughtful. The meaning is also left to reader’s interpretation. It requires a lot of creativity and imagination… We are moving ever closer to the concept of the “Death of the Author”, that Roland Barthes had propounded. The text now has more and more “gaps” that makes it more and more “readerly” than “writerly”. Further Blogging sites have given opportunity to upcoming, amateur writers. They are getting more and more popular. Flash fiction too is an “in” thing. It has restricted words and the idea has to be flashy and catchy. The famous example is Aesop’s Fables. It is loved by all due to its concise form of writing and implied moral. Even famous writers like O’Henry, Ernest Hemingway, and Anton Chekov as flash fiction writers. Examples Twitter fiction refers to original, self-contained works of fiction in each tweet published by Twitter users. Twitter fiction is being classified into certain new literary genres, which are given new names by combining the name of the different genres with the name of the application. Therefore, Thrillers become Twillers, Haikus become Twaikus and Short Stories become Twistories or Twisters. Twitter has come about as a revolution. A television serial “SHIT MY DAD SAYS” which makes its CBS debut in September is based on a Twitter feed started by struggling comedy writer Justin Halpern in 2003, who captured his own father’s salty language and forthright observations. As an expression of postmodern literature, twitter fiction shares characteristics of micro-fiction (printed), such as brevity, multiple meanings and inter-textual ties.
Literature is also an art of writing; the above mentioned forms are not only new trends and ways of enhancing but also re-altering art. It has diverse, exigent and very spontaneous forms and unlike the conventional. It has gained immense popularity. It gives you the pleasure of knowledge and quenches your curiosity in small and controlled doses. It definitely creates new and different genres of literature. These forms have come in to acceptance because of their popular demand. These new and recent trends are unimaginable concepts from the point of view of anyone living a few decades ago. Blogging, twittering, micro blogging, 6 word novels, all of them are changing the trends of literature with regards to reading and writing. It’s giving opportunity to upcoming talent and is helping decentralize the processes of who gets to publish what in the world of literature.
Of course, these new trends are fascinating and interesting but, according to some literary purists, it is degrading the classics and the conventions of literature. Literary purists are put off by internet slang, which according to them gives rise to the abuse of language and superficiality. Especially on Twitter, for e.g.: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is: “Rich kid thinks everyone is fake except for his little sister. Has breakdown.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has become: “Woman meets man called Darcy who seems horrible. He turns out to be nice really. They get together.” Dante’s Inferno is boiled down to: “I’m having a midlife crisis. Lost in the woods. Should have bought my iPhone.” These are non-formal free form styles of writing and they often neglect grammatical errors, wrong use of vocabulary and have little respect for the great works of literature from which some of them copy. These are shorter than short stories, flashier than flash fiction and now they have become “Twititure. SMS and Facebook poetry have been claimed to have degraded the language, vocabulary, form and conventions of writing too. Urban words and slangs are becoming common to every mouth. To some, phrases like ‘ash hole’, ‘zombie Jesus’, ‘directionally challenged’, ‘pen you in’ don’t make sense. Nor do they consider it as any form of valid language.
Grammar is lost and has almost disappeared in today’s scenario. SMS languages have ruined the role of vocabulary and spelling. Spellings with missing vowels are now growing famous. The fast-paced life is short-lived for literature. No longer do many want to learn the details of any book, grammar or even poetry. Somehow, Classics are now growing old fashioned and boring. Anything that is short and interesting is definitely catchy for today’s generation. We want to know everything now! Who cares if it’s missing a comma or two or that it lacks in depth and research.
Lastly in cybernetic culture, hypertext may survive as an art form by offering pleasures of virtual immediacy, spontaneity, rich web of texts in various media and interactivity for the reader. Literature as a form of art, can be studied in depth; adding more weightage to the content. Otherwise the subject in itself is losing its importance and charm. Hypertext version can be the boon to revive Literature. For e.g. D.G. Rosetti’s “The Blessed Damozel” in its hypertext version will have the poem and the painting juxtaposed. Using zoom in and zoom out the student and/or reader can view the relevant sections of the painting and be able to relate better with the poem. How many times have we literature students heard the word “boring” being tagged along with our stream of study. The decisive moment of literary life will be that of reading. Mankind is beginning to understand how to dismantle and reassemble the most complex and unpredictable of all its machines: Language.
Earlier people used to write diaries but it has now become the talk of the “past”. Reliving memories through Facebook, twitter and other networking sites is a lot easier. Uploading of pictures on Facebook saves man from the tedious task of taking care of albums or preparing scrapbooks (Anyway there is no space to keep them!) All the friends have an access to the albums online and are free to add their comments on the pictures saving it till the account survives. Is it necessary?
Today’s world is far richer in words and concepts and signs than the world that surrounded primitive man. Far more people are getting involved, are taking part in the process or writing than ever before. The changing face of literature is an uncontrollable factor, whether it’s good or bad is undetectable and unknown.
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