Join 3,574 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


A single creature with the power of three beasts
February 7, 2012 12:34 PM   Subscribe

If Nicholas Carr is right, and consuming words on a screen is a "more primitive way of reading," then the iPad is a little bit Neanderthal and a little bit Prometheus. Its potential for creative ways to interact with literature makes it more than just an e-reader. And while it took more than a year and a half since the iPad's launch, some publishers are beginning to experiment with that potential. Last year saw several forays into innovative literature apps, most notably T.S. Elliot's The Waste Land; Atlas Shrugged and On The Road also received the "enhanced" app treatment.
Laura Miller (Salon.com co-founder, NY Times Book Review columnist, author) and Maud Newton (writer and critic for The NY Times Book Review, Granta, The Awl) have both written extensively about digital reading and publishing and they've launched The Chimerist, tagline: Two iPad lovers at the intersection of art, stories, and technology. Newton writes:
The Chimera of Greek myth was a fire-breathing abomination, part lion, part goat, and part snake or dragon, that “devastated the country and harried the cattle; for it was a single creature with the power of three beasts.” A lot of readers I know and respect look at the ebook and other art that makes use of technology as just this kind of dreadful mutant, threatening not just to storytelling and intellectual discourse, but to civilization itself.

Although I’m not by nature an optimist, I have more faith than that in our ability to adapt, to use our new tools to create art and stories that are profound and beautiful. And I know Laura does too, which is the reason we decided, after more than a year and a half of talking about it, to start The Chimerist.

So far they've covered Maurizio Cattelan For Ipad, the Strange Rain app, and lockscreens. They're also looking for screenshots of your iPad.

(Laura Miller previously on The Blue.)
posted by not_the_water (20 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wasn't aware of the enhanced "The Waste Land." I'm excited about this kind of stuff. $14 seems like a lot, though.
posted by grobstein at 12:42 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Atlas Shrugged... also received the "enhanced" app treatment.

Where is the oppressive censorship of a "walled garden" when you really need it?
posted by entropicamericana at 12:47 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's 1994 and the web as threat or menace, no wonder medium that will deliver is from all evil, no just kidding, still a menace, all over again, isn't it?
posted by MartinWisse at 12:54 PM on February 7, 2012


tagline: Two iPad lovers at the intersection of art, stories, and technology.

alternate tagline: Two people who will make you wish you had a cyanide capsule if you got seated between them at a party.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:59 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


If Nicholas Carr is right

If you want me to keep reading your post, this is a bad way to start.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:03 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


If any book ever needed an "enhanced app", it would have to be Infinite Jest. Or Moby Dick.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:16 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anyone remember the late 90s CD ROM revolution, which promised ti change publishing forever and actually turned out to be a bunch of quickly forgotten gimmicks? This sort of thing always reminds me of those days.
posted by Artw at 1:37 PM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Gravity's Rainbow and Umberto Eco's Foucalt's Pendulum also come to mind for "enhanced" apps. These are the books I keep throwing at the wall halfway through because I just can't keep up :\
posted by kurosawa's pal at 1:39 PM on February 7, 2012


I think The Waste Land is a good candidate. Not beacuse I want to hear Viggo Mortensen read it, but because it references a host of books, and Eliot was nice enough to point the references out in his footnotes.

Include Flowers Of Evil,Ovid,The Golden Bough,From Ritual to Romance,The Tempest, and Inferno. Link the poem to each with hyperlinks and you have a decent base for reading The Waste Land.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:48 PM on February 7, 2012


I bought The Waste Land. The performance of the poem alone (not by Viggo Mortensen fyi) was worth it.

I also read The New Yorker solely on Ipad now, in large part because I really enjoy hearing the poets and writers read their works to me.

I've also entertained children here and in China with the incredibly beautiful and charming Winken Blinken and Nod app.

Couldn't care less about Atlas Shrugged or On the Road, both of which are way overrated in my view, but hope for things like The Annotated Alice or Annotated Lolita soon.

Good stuff.
posted by bearwife at 1:52 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I accidentally omitted that's MeFi's own Maud Newton
posted by not_the_water at 2:00 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been doing my customarily voracious reading on screens almost exclusively for more than 12 years now.

The iPad -- much as I dislike Jobs' business model -- is more or less my holy grail, and I hold it in my very hands. I'd never have bought one for myself, but now that I have it -- well, reading is a lot more ergonomically convenient than it's been for a long long time in the book-desert of hinterland Korea, I'll tell you that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:37 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


The notion of consuming words makes me all stabby.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:18 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think The Waste Land is a good candidate. Not beacuse I want to hear Viggo Mortensen read it, but because it references a host of books, and Eliot was nice enough to point the references out in his footnotes.

If the app is any good, it won't differentiate between the actual references and the ones he made up.
posted by griphus at 3:28 PM on February 7, 2012


My digital humanities seminar was, surprisingly to me, pretty universally underwhelmed by the iPad Waste Land when we looked at it; though it has some nifty components, it seems to make a better gee-whiz demo for an audience glancingly acquainted with the poem than it does an actual classroom tool for people who want to read it closely. Apart from the neatness of the audio it doesn't really do much to be interactive, or use the digital format to expand the poem's interpretive possibilities; and it lacks many of the most important features of a comparably priced good critical edition, backed by solid scholarship and augmented with useful footnotes and secondary readings. It's actually a far less interactive form of reading than you get with paper — you can't really take your own notes on it, or add your own annotations, or even see any other notes besides Eliot's own (notorious) ones, which are indisputably part of the text but don't really help you understand it so much as half-jokingly try to steer you toward a certain, mostly wrong, understanding of it. The app seems surprisingly designed to enhance, rather than change, your sense that the text is authoritative and untouchable, an object for veneration rather than adaptation (which is particularly weird considering that the poem in question is basically the first literary mashup). App-ified literature would be a lot more interesting if it were critical — if it worked against, rather than for, the worshipful veneration of a canonical text, and instead tried to allow us to interact with it in our own ways.
posted by RogerB at 3:32 PM on February 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


$14 seems like a lot, though.

The Annotated Waste Land book retails for $17.00. The app is at least worth a look if you like the poem. But yeah, maybe in ten years apps will be like CD-Roms.

But I will say they are certainly easier to deal with than CD-Roms.
posted by Rashomon at 5:11 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wake up with my iPad and go to sleep with it. It’s my alarm clock, my nighttime and commuting library, my dictionary, my hand-held radio, my portable television, my default cooking resource, and the best way I know to waste time.
Me too! Thanks for the heads up not_the_water, bookmarked.
posted by unliteral at 5:29 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


the iPad is a little bit Neanderthal and a little bit Prometheus

"With a little bit of Nashville in its soul. I don't know if it's good or bad, but I know I love it so..."
posted by bryon at 7:20 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've read a few books on the iPad and feel like there is so much potential. One of the things I would really like to see is aggregate statistics about the reading habits from books. I can envision some sort of page-turner stat for books that people can't seem to put down. In this way we might be able to have a best-reading list instead of a best-selling list. As a reader I care more about what makes for good reading than good selling -- two metrics that aren't necessarily aligned.
posted by dgran at 6:00 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


best-reading list instead of a best-selling list

I'm always squeamish about privacy consideration even when we're talking about aggregated stats, but so much is already being collected about our reading habits, and also this is just a very cool idea. Then we would know how many people really read to the end of, for example, War and Peace. (I did, but it took me four or five false starts; once you put it down for a three or four weeks, you can't really ease back in.)
posted by maud at 8:15 AM on February 8, 2012


« Older Google's answer to TED talks has gone live. Solve ...   |   Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments