The Screenplay-novel Manifestos

Less is more vivid

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

How Can We Read in an Age of Images?

My essay "How Can We Read in an Age of Images?" appears in the most recent edition of The Quarterly Conversation. Here's the opening:

Typically, a litblog's traffic pales in comparison to image-based sites. For example, I recently came across one image-based site called The Sartorialist. It's based on a grabby idea: just a series of snapshots of people who are in some way well-dressed, with commentary underneath. And then when I looked at the number of profile views the site had received, I--well, I blanched with envy.

Even more heavily visited, of course, are the big name sites with enough corporate dough behind them to generate high-octane buzz. Otherwise sensible newspapers such as The Washington Post or The Guardian have blogs that deal with literary subjects. But while these latch onto the cool of the blogosphere, they do not partake of its democratic nature. Therefore, you, dear reader, are supposed to visit these sites, but they will not visit you.

And then there are the "bloggish" big-money sites. These are not even blogs at all--they are homepages attempting to manufacture their own street cred. An example of this is a site I recently saw put together by the BBC for a white hip-hopper. Attention-grabbing, for sure. But its grabbiness proceeded precisely from its use of image, and its images were effective because they were assembled by well-paid designers.

In any case, the question of the power of the image--the great seduction of looking--is one that litbloggers have to wrestle with....

Click here to see more.

I'm still making my way through the issue. But I've already found several good pieces in it. Well worth reading.


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