a cultural style of ceaseless babbling


This leads to the loss of one of the great comforts of modern urban life, not accounted for in the vast sociological literature on anomie: the fraternity of solitude. Sometimes you eat dinner alone; sometimes you do your grocery shopping alone; often you’ll ride the bus alone. At such times, in a city, there are always other people who are dining alone, shopping alone, sitting in their bus seats alone, in exactly the same situation. The fraternity of solitaries is always there for you to join. Pynchon imagined a society of “Inamorati Anonymous,” solitary anti-love and anti-company people who send letters through a secret network, simply to assure one another they are there. Go into a restaurant now, sit near a fellow single diner, and you will see him dial his cell phone during the appetizer and talk through to dessert. The only choices you have are to pull out your own phone or listen in.

From literature to advertising, we’ve developed a cultural style of ceaseless babbling. Never mind the endless self-interruptions and elaborations of needlessly footnoted fiction, talking copyright pages, and the rest; we got used to that, and it was sort of in the spirit of a warning. But even Burger King has now stolen the text-happy style of McSweeney’s, so you are fed grease by some whimsical garrulous spirit of the paper sack and the napkin.

more from the boys at n+1 here (so young to think like such old men).