Thursday, June 14, 2012

Henry David Thoreau, Great American Media Theorist

Just as Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis declared, with some heavy-firepower justification, that the search for the Great American Novel ended in 1949 with the publication of Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March, I proclaim the search for the Great American Media Epistemologist  Theorist ended with Henry David Thoreau's Walden back in Transcendental New England, in 1854.

Your long search is over.  It ended in Concord when the telegraph and railroad irrevocably changed the media sphere--the Videodrome as filmmaker David Cronenberg would later balefully term it.  Our man Henry was on the scene, armed with everything he needed to make Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, Walter Ong, Camille Paglia and all the skating/surfing digital skimmers like William Gibson and Bruce Sterling and zombies like Ray Kurzweil look like prancing posers.

Over the next few months I'm going to attempt to prove this thesis, returning often to HDT's solemn, silly, profound, hilarious masterpiece, not just for his passionate and ultimately sad ruminations on Man and his machines, but for the stuff every school child needs to hear and mostly never will.

Ponder this from Henry as your head hits the pillow tonight--just for starters--"The stars are the apexes of what wonderful triangles! What distant beings in the various mansions of the universe are contemplating the same one at the same moment!"

Eat your hearts out, SETI.  Stay tuned.

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