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De invloed van veranderende ICT op het plot van romans, volgens schrijvers

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Op televisie zien we de laatste jaren veel representaties van relatief technologievrije werelden. Enerzijds zijn dat historische series als Mad Men, anderzijds zijn het postapocalyptische series als The Walking Dead. Dit kunnen we zien als verkenningen naar de rol van technologie in ons hedendaagse bestaan: hoe verschillen die werelden?

Ontwikkelingen in technologie veranderen de manier waarop we communiceren, maar heeft dat ook een impact op wat we communiceren? En een stap verder: wat betekent dat voor de verhalen die we vertellen? Als personages anders met elkaar communiceren, wat betekent dat voor het plot? Anders gezegd, hoe zou Romeo & Julia afgelopen zijn in een tijd van Whatsapp en Snapchat? The New York Times vroeg schrijvers wat veranderende technologie betekent voor hun verhalen. We lichten een aantal prikkelende quotes eruit.

Margaret Atwood
“Each of these technologies has its downsides and loopholes, which can be turned against one character by another. Each has its moment of obsolescence, which in fiction marks the plausibility threshold. Could a landline telephone still ring as suspensefully as it did in Dial M for Murder?”

Tom McCarthy
“The argument that the advent of the Internet somehow marks a Telecom Year Zero after which nothing will ever be the same can be made only by ignoring the actual history of literature. … Don’t both Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, with their vital plot-devices of switched or undelivered letters, address anxieties about the postal system? The best writers have always understood that to write is to both grapple with and, to some extent, allegorize the very regime of technological mediation without which writing wouldn’t exist in the first place.”

Marisha Pessl:
“The trouble with technology is that it eradicates a character’s ability to be lost … And without a character forced to seek answers in the real world there can be no journey, no transformation. … The good news is that the core realities of our world have not changed: People are still impossible and strange. … There are and always will be secrets; modern technology is nothing but a layer of noise that buries them even deeper and which the novelist must clear away to get to the dirt — the stuff great stories are made of.”

Rainbow Rowell
“‘Eleanor & Park could never happen now,’ [teenagers] say. Eleanor & Park is happening now, I argue. Twenty years from now, you’ll look back on the first time you fell in love, and nothing will seem more romantic than text messages. Or Snapchat. Or whatever it is you’re doing right now behind your parents’ backs.”

Elliott Hold
“Characters used to wonder about lost loves; now they Google those ex-lovers. But they are still waiting and wondering. They are still aching and yearning, trying to overcome obstacles. Even in this hyper-connected digital age, there is desire and subtext, conflict and loss. So there will always be good stories.”

Douglas Coupland
“I think the Internet has eroded 19th- and 20th-century notions of a person’s life being ‘a story’ … Instead we increasingly seem to be seeing ourselves as just one more unit among seven billion other units. … So we’re now in a new era when we are going to realize things about ourselves that we’ve never seen before. It’s scary and wondrous at the same time. I think that’s what a true contemporary writer need investigate.”

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