So, I woke up this morning at 5 and, unable to fall back to sleep, I thought I would edit some poems. I went to Google to start a search for the etymology of the word “nightmare”. I don’t know how this happened, but now it’s nearly 8 a.m. and I have redesigned my blog, lurked around Facebook, visited my email, edited several photos, and perused the British Museum’s online collection of ancient manuscripts . Having now realized I forgot to research the word “nightmare”, I am tempted to go back to sleep. What is wrong with my brain?
I’ve recently been reading Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. Carr asserts (with some pretty convincing supporting evidence) that we are turning our brains into frenetic hummingbirds. Reading the book, on my Kindle for PC, with several other windows open on the screen, highlighting portions for my upcoming media class and drifting about the internet for lesson plan ideas…..um, reading the book…..made me want to READ in the old-fashioned immersive way in which everything in the world disappears but the kingdom of words I have entered by curling on pillows in a spill of golden light and opening the wondrous material object formerly known as “book”. And I’m not a new media hating curmudgeon, mind you. My son would be quick to note that I am always wired to something. As a digital native, he is not so infatuated with the simulated flight of hyperlinking his way across the morning that feels, to me, like living in a Disney version of the Library of Alexandria. My childhood dreams come true–imagining any place in the world and transporting myself there instantly with my mind. Magic. It can even make three hours disappear, gone forever in a few clicks of the keys.
Oh, what the heck was I intending to write about? The Shallows? Yes, well, Michael Agger, writing in Slate, described Carr’s book as “a Silent Spring for the literary mind”. Carr, prior to publishing “The Shallows”, had already provided plenty of curriculum fodder for media studies classes with his Atlantic Article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”. NPR’s “All Things Considered” presented an interview with Carr in June 2010; it’s good listening and lays out the essential points of his concern.
Nightmare. Something about nightmare. Let me get back to you on this…..as soon as I can follow a thought to a conclusion.
(for some great articles and blog posts on this issue: