Post-Literate Society


knock offs

[Pic from Obsolete Gamer]

I did a Google search for “fan fiction knock-offs” and came across the following post: Amazon’s Kindle Price Punking | Mike Cane’s Blog.

I noticed the following quote in the original post:

I don’t know where the hell real writers go from here.

And the following comment in the comments section:

“Real” writers, that is, professional, competent scribes with impeccable syntax and a proven devotion to the printed word, will cease to exist. We’re heading for a “post-literate” future…that’s what some of the wannabes out there are insisting when they’re taken to task for their juvenile, inept scribbling. Phooey on stuff like good spelling, graceful sentence structure and all that muck (they say). Fan fiction rules the day, knock-offs of popular franchises, erotic fantasies of non-penetrative sex with a vampire.

Welcome to the New Age, populated by morons with only a superficial knowledge of anything outside their favorite vanity mirror.

Followed by a later comment:

I find that “among illiterates” Canetti quotation particularly vicious, and bearing little relation to reality.

It’s the kind of thing a boot-licking intellectual would use to put down people who, for all their foibles, are generally more sincere.

Speaking for myself and “in my own experience” ONLY (throughout this blog post) — I think both sides of the spectrum hold true. ‘Both sides’ referring to those who care about good art, and those who don’t.

A post-literate society can be defined as a hypothetical society in which multimedia technology has advanced to the point where literacy, the ability to read or write, is no longer necessary or common.

I do think we have “progressed” to being a post-literate society, but I also think that art (like humanity) has the power/capacity to evolve.

I don’t think despair and aggravation alone are going to solve anything. I used to be quite cynical in the past, till I started making a conscious effort to put my ego aside to see what it is I really wanted — and would like to — accomplish with my life and work.

I’ve stopped fighting “the artist” in me (it’s something that’s always going to be there, no matter what). Life is never easy for an artist. But I’ve never wanted to die a penniless artist, so I continue to view the whole situation as an interesting challenge for me to “keep up” with society, while still staying true to my inner artist.

The literacy level of society may change. The technological aspects of society may be different across various eras. The popular fads change and are replaced by new disposable fads.

But I think the underlying aspects of humanity remain the same (i.e. everything that the 7 deadly sins and 7 virtues cover).

For the artist in me, I derive fulfillment from engaging something that matters to a person on a deeper level. I truly believe people have become tools of “consumerism,” which is a perspective which perhaps allows me to operate with both sensibility and compassion (I work well with opposing forces).

The wrong (superficiality) has become right (the norm). That doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for humanity (quite the contrary, in fact).

Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print. I think the real writers (those who write for some kind of purpose other than to make money) may have to shake off their attachment to the label of “real writer” so as to better be able to “infiltrate”/engage via a route/method that suits a post-literate climate. This way, the focus goes back to society on the whole (and what people hunger for on a deeper level — not on the level they’ve been made to believe “is right” as a result of the mass media + consumer capitalism).

Good art resonates with some innate truth. And it can’t, if the focus is on the artist’s ego, at the expense of a message that could be delivered to others. Yes, technicality and skill will always be important to an artist. But that shouldn’t be the sole area of focus, for the sake of being able to call oneself a “real writer/artist/etc.”

It takes talent to engage others, whether on a superficial or deeper level. I just happen to be more interested in the latter :) After all, bad art is forgotten by the viewer in the amount of time that it takes to look at something else.


2 thoughts on “Post-Literate Society

  1. Ms. Scott, TOTALLY agree with you.

    I recently got a Kindle. Man, they’ll let anybody “publish” a book for Kindle. THANK GOD Amazon has a 1 week return policy on Kindle content.

    I would gladly spend $1 to return a 0.99 ebook. Just because someone can type doesn’t mean they are a writer.

    Syntax, spelling, grammar and punctuation have as much to do with a story as the story itself! If I can’t figure out what they are trying to say because any or all of the above mentioned is so bad, why waste my time with the drivel?

    My BIGGEST pet peeve…for god’s sake people learn when to use they’re, their and there!!!!! If the contraction creates another word—USE THE APOSTROPHE —- is it were or we’re?

    I disagree with the “post-literate” tag. I am a voracious reader. The way I read, the misused homophones, nonexistent or wrong punctuation TOTALLY ruins the story for me.

    A person must have at least a functional grasp of the basics to even THINK of considering themselves a writer, if you ask me.

    *whew* sorry to rant here. It just really bugs me that some yahoos can make blanket statements or assumptions.

    BTW—you definitely fall into the writer column. I enjoy your stories, keep up the great work.


    • Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your comment — totally agree that typing is NOT the same as writing! The same way that screeching combined with semi-nude dancing (strippers with a voice) isn’t the same as ‘singing’; the same way that taking a photo doesn’t make one a ‘photographer’; etc etc.

      I’ve noticed a lot of those types of writing issues too (they’re / their / there…were / we’re), though it is also true that a great number of people really are not bothered by these sort of glaring errors. Thank goodness there are still people who are not post/semi-literate, though I’m not too sure about the social landscape of the future.

      Many commercially successful creative types nowadays are marketers more than artists. I’ve seen the fans/supporters of these types of “icons” become very rude and hostile whenever a person mentions that “a functional grasp of the basics” is important. The fundamentals are not important to them, because they only judge the quality and value of a piece of work according to how much money it makes.

      I think it is sad that these standards are not just accepted, but encouraged. At the same time, I can sort of understand how shallowness is a direct result of consumer capitalism (where the consumer is encouraged / made to believe that “buying stuff” will give them happiness/love/fulfillment, etc etc). It is dangerous when people are not even aware that they are being brainwashed (by the media or whatever).

      I always try to keep a broader social view in mind while writing. I don’t want to be blinded by my own ego until I end up not reaching my full potential as an author/artist/person.

      Glad you think I fall into the writer column btw. I appreciate your appreciation :)


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