There was a time when the Duc de La Rochefoucauld’s book of Reflections or Sentences and Moral Maxims accompanied me wherever I went. If the Duc were alive today, there is a very high likelihood he would be tweeting, his maxims anticipate Twitter:
If we had no faults we should not take so much pleasure in noting those of others.
And, of course, there are at present four Twitter accounts just tweeting La Rochefoucauld’s maxims.
Other proto-twitterers: Twitter may have constrained the prolixity of Montaigne and Lord Chesterfield, but they may have been tempted, Pascal’s (‘We only consult the ear because the heart is wanting.’) uber-nerd genius would have been unable to resist, Tacitus would have tried but abandoned the attempt. Twitter is a natural home for those that can capture, haiku-like, the aphorism or opinion in 140 letters.
I’ve read a couple of books consisting of email exchanges, both were dire, and I expected little from a collection of tweets published in book form. Masha Tupitsyn’s Laconia: 1200 Tweets on Film is remarkable. Ostensibly a series of condensed thoughts on film and gender, Tupitsyn’s ‘literary experiment’ expands into extended cultural commentary and diary. As she explains in the introduction:
[..] each tweet in LACONIA is a miniature exegesis; an appraisal of the world through film and media since our understanding of the world has become increasingly, if not entirely, shaped and mediated by both.
Masha Tupitsyn, like Geoff Dyer, writes with that tender attentiveness, and perceptive humour, that reveals truths. Here are a couple that made me laugh and had me whispering, ‘Yes, yes, that’s exactly how it is!’
103. I just can’t bring myself to watch Changeling or Wanted because looking at Angelina Jolie’s already-dead face is like looking at [2:19 PM July 27th]
104. Damien Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull. [2:20 PM July 27th]
141. I think what happened to Christian Bale happened to Mel Gibson. Both actors lost their talent (and their sanity) when they turned into [2:03 PM Aug 18th]
142. “Americans.” [2:04 PM Aug 18th]