IDEAS: Considering Technology’s Impact on the Humanities, via The Millions

via The Millions, credit: Pixabay

“Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience, even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life.”

– Leon Wieseltier, Among the Disrupted 

from The Millions, “Only Connect: Social (Media) Anxiety,” by Sarah Labrie:

“‘Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience, even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life,’ wrote Leon Wieseltier last month in his call to arms against the threat technology poses to humanism. ‘Among the Disrupted‘ sparked a heated debate among its readers, or at least, as heated as can reasonably be expected in the letters section of the New York Times Book Review. As one critic pointed out, there are plenty of more urgent issues for all of us to ponder, child poverty and the pay gap among them. What struck me, though, wasn’t the essay’s hyperbole, but the inaccuracy of its target.

covercoverThe problem facing writers now isn’t the growing prominence of tech, but the question of how deeply the two fields are intertwined, and what that relationship means. Most of the notable works of fiction published in recent years (Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven spring immediately to mind) present thoughtful considerations of the evolving relationship between the self and technology, and a lot of the people who read these books probably read them on the Kindle app. The same people who subscribe to Harpers read work published by the Atavist and curated by Longform. I’m writing right now in the notepad app on my iPhone, and you’re reading on your computer or your iPad or your own phone. How many writers do you know at this point who don’t have their own websites, Tumblrs, or blogs? For that matter, how many do you know who aren’t on Twitter?”

Read the rest at The Millions

We want to hear from you! Tell us what you think in the comments below (or tweet us @chapmanoutreach–just don’t tell these two authors)!

Do you agree with Wieseltier that technology poses a tyrannical threat to the humanities? to individual and collective life? to human connection in general?

How is your own writing intertwined with technology and social media? If it isn’t, how and why is that?

Join Us for An Interactive Discussion with Acclaimed Author Pico Iyer (2/26/15 @ 3pm)

Chapman University and Orange High School Literacies Partnership invite you to an interactive discussion with acclaimed author Pico Iyer!

*photo credit Marisa Vega

Thursday, February 26 @ 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Panther Productions | 633 West Palm Orange, CA 92866

Pico Iyer, is a British born essayist and author of Indian origin. His works travel the globe to see what happens when cultures converge and combine and exploring the idea of a “global soul”.

Pico will discuss what it is to belong, or to feel like we don’t belong ‘here’. The sense of belonging is part of who we are, it comes from inside of us and is also imposed on us. We hear it from our family and friends, the media, school government; it is how we make sense of the world and our place in it. The idea of belonging is never simple and it isn’t stable either- we may have a sense of our identity at a certain age or space, and then not have those same feelings as we get older or move around. What is important is to recognize that these feelings of belonging or not belonging are equally valid and insightful.

This will be an interactive talk about how to engage in these feelings and ideas and turn them into something powerful and useful. We will also touch on films, novels plays and other forms as we engage in this topic.

We would like to invite you to submit any questions you might want to ask Pico anonymously through the link below. These can be questions about identity, writing technique, culture, travel, pop culture, etc. The discussion will be followed by a short reception where you will have opportunity to meet Pico Iyer and the dean of Wilkinson College. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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Click here for campus map – please arrive by 3:00 p.m. to be seated in the studio. The talk will be recorded and everyone must be seated at 3:00.


 Pico Iyer’s Ted Talk on “The Art of Stillness”