I Hated The Internet

While reading chapters one through thirteen of Jarett Kobek’s extremely cynical novel, I noticed something. Everything was in past tense. At first, I dismissed the was’s and were’s, but then it struck me on page 62 when he begins explaining what was known as sports. I did not pay attention when Kobek talked about Adeline using the past tense because what happened to Adeline may have been in the past. I even ignored when he explained various social media and internet features using the past tense. Why? Because the internet is forever changing and some of the things he mentioned before page 62 were actually a part of the past. It hit me with sports, something that has been around since ancient civilizations. Now, according to the tense Kobek uses, they are gone. Then, he mentioned how it was the Twenty-First Century. Technology changes every day. We are at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century, it is very difficult to imagine the technological advances that will happen when it is over. However, Kobek takes this perspective and decides to critique what once existed, although he is writing these critiques as these platforms still exist. This choice of past tense is an interesting idea, and as the story of the novel continues I hope he makes predictions about the future through telling the reader what already happened.

2 thoughts on “I Hated The Internet

  1. I was also struck by the formal and syntactical aspects of i hate the internet. When we were brainstorming new media’s possible influence on literature on the first day of class, we talked about a new grammar in relation to new possibilities for identity. I brought up the application of “their” as a gender neutral pronoun to replace “his/her” for a singular subject despite the lack of numerical agreement. Kobek adopts this practice in his novel i.e.: “This created a situation in which a person’s life was defined by their apartment” (49). This sentence is not grammatically correct because “person’s” should be represented by a singular pronoun, either “his or her,” yet Kobek adopts the grammar of gender neutrality. I wonder if he would have gotten away with this if his novel wasn’t self-published. Would larger publishing institutions allow for this manner of expression? Kobek also comments his novel’s status outside of the category of “good novels.” His “bad novel…mimicked the computer network in its irrelevant and jagged presentation of content” (26). This statement is an explicit claim that new media is actively influencing literature, and creating a form of literature in its image.

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    • I find it interesting how you question whether or not self publishing his novel changed the linguistics of his writing. I knew that the singular they had been used frequently by published authors, but that I just how we speak. It doesn’t usually come across our mind to say, “Who left his or her bag here?”, you would simply say, “Who left their bag there?”, despite it technically disagreeing in number. I found a really great NPR article on how the singular they has become used so commonly, or as it goes on to argue, has always been used. You can view the hyperlink here, if you are interested: http://www.npr.org/2016/01/13/462906419/everyone-uses-singular-they-whether-they-realize-it-or-not. Writing with the vernacular though is certainly different than writing a more formal piece of text, which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see that even Chaucer, the king of impossibly dense, flowery language, had used it circa 1400 in The Canterbury Tales, as seen in the line, “And whoso fyndeth hym out of swich blame, / They wol come up […]”. Maybe in grammar textbooks we will continue to teach that the use of singular they is improper, but its prevelance in our way of speaking and drifted into published books as well. This is obviously just one example of language adjusting to fit the present day and typical speech, though I wonder what other “improper” words might be commonly used in literature 50 years from now without a single person batting their eye. Pun intended.

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