Saturday, January 26, 2013

A different knowledge …

… Why We Should Memorize Poetry : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Memorized poems are a sort of larder, laid up against the hungers of an extended period of solitude. But today we are far less solitary than we were even a few years ago. Anyone equipped with a smartphone—many of my friends would never step outdoors without one—commands a range of poetry that beggars anything the brain can store. Let’s say it’s a gorgeous afternoon in October. You’re walking through a park, and you wish to recall—but can’t quite summon—the opening lines of Keats’ “To Autumn.” With a quick tap-tap-tap, you have it on your screen. You’re back in the nineteenth century, but you’re also in the twenty-first, where machine memory regularly supplants and superannuates brain memory.

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