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6.14.2009

Feed, by M. T. Anderson

I finished Feed yesterday, but I thought of it last night while I was trying to fall asleep and I thought of it this morning on the way to church and I thought of it some more on the way home from Oxnard, watching the billboards shout out at me from along the 405. Feed is a classic dystopian science fiction novel. But unlike most of the ones we read in school, it was written very recently - with awareness of the internet/cellular world as a real and pervasive aspect of our culture. More than an aspect, really, because it's so much less than a cultural trait and so much more defining, essential. How do you explain to a child what the world was like before the internet? We aren't just accustomed to the immediacy of communication, globalization, universalized knowledge, etc. We simply can't function without it. In Feed, Anderson follows this to a natural conclusion. The book is set sometime in the future - however distant, I don't quite know - and computers are now planted in the brain during infancy so that all information is immediately accessible and all communication may be neatly managed via brain-to-brain 'chat'. People still talk, of course, but they don't write and they have no need to read.

Naturally, there's a cost to such advancement. The novel works on a variety of levels, unraveling the intricacies and atrocities of that cost with haunting, terrifying clarity. If you feel like you need a reason to change the world or even if you're just hankering after a swift kick in the pants, read it. I have a paperback copy anyone can borrow - just send a SASE.

2 comments:

  1. I wrote a letter tonight to my cousin, all the time thinking: this is so dumb--I could say all this and get my questions answered almost instantly if I just e-mailed her or, even faster, called her. But she is someone from back-in-the-day when letters were written, so I wrote. It just feels so strange now. Should I write to Marilyn or just call her? I have been sucked into the World of Instant.

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  2. you should call her because you should really be setting up a lunch date. and that works best over the phone rather than the written word.

    or so i think. :)

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