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How to manufacture the kind of truly blank, mind-clearing, inspiration-inducing procrastination that existed before the advent of the Internet?Jonathan Ames, a nine-time Yaddo resident and board member, yearns for “a past when the only distractions were compulsive napping, compulsive reading and shameful compulsive onanism.
When I decided to read more of French literature this year, I thought I will look for a French anthology, something similar to ‘The Norton Anthology of English Literature’. I thought I will use this anthology as a base for exploring French literature.
But, unfortunately, sometimes our best laid plans come crashing down.
“There’s no way they can lower some kind of electromagnetic shield over the place to keep you from having a 3G connection.” Or as Candace Wait says of Yaddo: “We don’t collect phones when people come here.
It’s not Girl Scout camp.” Some writers cry Kafka at the first sign of administrative intervention.
Now I do all those things in addition to the Internet.
I will probably never write a book again.” This transitional phase, a fairly monumental cultural shift toward short bursts of language, “has us all in ‘refresh’ mode now,” said Meghan O’Rourke.In order to convert his laptop into a permanently Internet-free writing machine, Jonathan Franzen resorted to D. Geoff Dyer — whose “Out of Sheer Rage” is often cited for its descriptions of advanced levels of writerly procrastination — recently rented a place in Iowa City with “a lovely writing studio out back where, by design, there is no Internet access.” Since this left him constantly walking back into the house to check the Internet, after a couple of weeks, he said, he “didn’t bother going in there at all, preferring to work — if we can dignify it with that word — at the kitchen table instead.” We are child-proofing our wireless access only to find that, like children, we can still figure out how to get the cap off the bottle.The ever expanding presence of the smartphone, which literally slips the Internet into our pockets, is no help.In this article, Asimov's books are listed by year (in order of publication within a year, where known) with publisher indicated.They are divided between original works and edited books.Junot Díaz had finally weaned himself off Facebook when his publisher asked him to jump back on to promote “This Is How You Lose Her.” It had been so hard “to wean myself off the damn e-crack, and here I was jumping back in voluntarily,” he said.“Took only about two days to get right back to my check-it-every-five-seconds cycle.” He went from reading something like a book a week to reading a book a month: a projected total loss of 36 books per year.“I calculate that if I keep this Internet crap up for another three decades,” Díaz said, “I’ll lose roughly a novel and a half to my Internet distractions.In a writing career spanning 53 years (1939–1992), science fiction and popular science author Isaac Asimov (1920–1992) wrote and published 40 novels, 382 short stories, over 280 non-fiction books, and edited about 147 others.(The rest of the world, of course, will have long ago graduated to haiku-like 140-character communiqués.) On the other end of the spectrum — and a far more likely outcome — is the development of a new literary medium that will respond to the shift in our forms of expression and the daunting changes in our attention span.Whichever course we take, there’s no doubt the cultural growing pains are being felt by the literary community, whether sequestered in the woods or toiling in the city.