Richard Powers and "The Moving Finger"
Quick post—last night at the Morgan Library, Richard Powers debuted his "talk-piece" The Moving Finger, with some help from the great critic John Leonard (who later interviewed him onstage). Powers nailed the sense of discovery, drift, and paranoia that the blogosphere engenders. He beautifully and lucidly evoked the competing drives for anonymity and fame, the Borgesian flavor of the blogging experience, the nuances of Technorati and YouTube and bookmarking. (There's a funny part at the beginning where he talks about searching for information about Hummel figurines, and emerging from the swamp of browsing six hours later.)
Powers read in the voice of a Powers-like character who chances upon a mysterious science-oriented, literature-drenched blog (significantly, an early post is about mirror neurons), written by an obscure professor in Montana (effectively played by Leonard). The Moving Finger is the best thing I've read (well, heard) to date on the nature of blogs—a playful, brilliant nightmare.
Leonard and Powers had never met before last night, and their mutual admiration for each other was palpable, indeed moving. The interview was as thought-provoking and inspiring as the prepared piece. (I was also thrilled when Leonard brought up the recent Powers interview from The Believer.) Touching on the subject of criticism versus evaluation (characterized by the "star" method of bite-sized reviewery), Powers made the point that a good piece of criticism makes you feel like there's another person in the room. You are not the same person at the end of the piece as you were at the beginning, he said. The same could be said about this event at the Morgan: I left the auditorium a different person than I was when I entered.
(Thanks to Galleycat for the link!)