Monday, October 01, 2007

Joyce 40404

I haven't gotten into the Twitter phenomenon because I have not yet figured out why I should care to follow the rambling stream-of-consciousness of someone else, or why anybody would care to follow mine. Then I started to think of someone else has been accused of producing a chaotic flow of images and words - James Joyce - who created a masterpiece of self-absorption in his monumental book Ulysses. Fans of that work yearly commemorate the events depicted there with Bloomsday readings. In a way, blogs and static web content stand in relation to micro-blogs in the same way that traditional short stories and novels stood in relation to Modernist writing. What could be a better subject to take advantage of these ideas than Ulysses in an updated presentation using the wonder of Web 2.0?

Picture this: each of the major characters and a goodly number of the minor ones would be assigned Twitter accounts and those interested in the re-enactment would add them as friends. Early in the morning of June 16th the readers would receive the opening tweets from Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus in the Telemachus episode. Besides their dialogue, they could send out a few links to geotagged images or sound pieces on the Web to further ground the experience. Then they'd follow Stephen and, later, Leopold Bloom around Dublin through their obsessive little observations throughout the day and into the night. Gerty MacDowell would play the key role in Nausikaa (though perhaps not the late Paddy Dignam) and the anonymous narrator of the Cyclops episode too. And of course at the end, Molly Bloom would take charge in the Penelope chapter. Everything would be in real-time and first-person as it should be, and the transcript of the day's worth of transmissions would constitute a record of the event as well.

Those who are not playing parts in the story (the "readers") probably ought to refrain from stepping on the action by sending messages of their own or everything could fall apart. And of course there would be the risk of Twitter's servers possibly not being able to keep up with the heavy load, which would add to the excitement, I think.

If one could pull this off, perhaps the next challenge would be to adapt Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse to the Twitter format, taking the form of messages sent over ten years.

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originally uploaded by Wexxie.

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