When thinking about the lack of an edit or a delete button in Scuttlebutt I was reminded of the idea of First Thought, Best Thought that Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac tried to use in their writing. The idea being that writing should encourage honesty and immediacy and the best way of doing that was not to revise but just to let the words flow. When searching around on the web I ran across this quote from a 1966 interview with Ginsberg where he is talking about Keruoac and this idea of not revising. It is kind of wild that they were imagining a future where writing would be permanent.
It’s there that also I think he went further into the existential thing of writing conceived of as an irreversible action or statement, that’s unrevisable and unchangeable once it’s made. I remember I was thinking, yesterday in fact, there was a time that I was absolutely astounded because Kerouac told me that in the future literature would consist of what people actually wrote rather than what they tried to deceive other people into thinking they wrote, when they revised it later on. And I saw opening up this whole universe where people wouldn’t be able to lie anymore! They wouldn’t be able to correct themselves any longer. They wouldn’t be able to hide what they said. And he was willing to go all the way into that, the first pilgrim into that newfound land.
It’s a scary thought, but it’s also a liberating one. Although, I will admit I was crossing my fingers as I sent this post into the Scuttleverse where it could not be revised (I’m @n2ax/dvrm+u76UhEv6aN0MzlH0Zw7o0MOd5QIHjouSw=.ed25519 there if you happen to go looking for me). I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve edited blog posts here as I discover the inevitable typos. But I’ve rarely revisited the spirit of what I was trying to say.
Of course this permanence takes on a different flavor here in the age of global social media. While romantic at the time I wonder if Ginsberg and Kerouac imagined a world where written words could spread messages of hate, videos of death and destruction … where political and moneyed interests could spread viral disinformation to a world wide audience in an instant. That would have been something Burroughs brought up. “You know Allen, this might not be such a great idea. Language is a virus, and consider for a moment the very serious effects that …”
Ok, enough Beat nostalgia for now :)