While thinking about these questions, I came across a 1939 meditation by William Carlos Williams. Armed with his own feelings of what newness should sound like, Williams (never a fan of Eliot) had this to say about Eliot’s work: “[The poems are] birds eye foods, suddenly frozen at fifty degrees below zero, under pressure, at perfect maturity, immediately after being picked… I am infuriated because the arrest has taken place just at the point of risk, just at the point when the danger threatened, when the tradition might have led to difficult new things. But the God damn liars prefer…freezing… the result is canned to make literature.” I do not want to settle the debate between Williams and Eliot, but in this case merely to steal the image in all its rich problematic promise. How do we make writing and reading experiences that cause us to risk something? Despite its seeming to represent the way the future might take form, I felt that in encountering the app I felt frozen, packaged, arrested, just, just, just at the point of real thought. In the end, the app provoked confusion and ambivalence, pleasure but also disapproval—not really towards the app, but towards the world that was changing so quickly, towards my uncertainty of what this means.
more from Tess Taylor at Threepenny Review here.