Thursday, February 18, 2021

Just so you know …

… What we can learn from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's years in lockdown | Poetry | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Elizabeth was one of the first cultural influencers to understand how a virtual existence offers escape from daily life, “The escape from pangs of heart & bodily weakness ... when you throw off yourself … what you feel to be yourself … into another atmosphere & into other relations, where your life may spread its wings out new,” as she explained it to Browning. She escaped via paper rather than a screen, of course; but her grasp of self-invention through a kind of “second life” reminded me of all the friendships we were suddenly reconfiguring on Zoom. I also realised how closely her practice prefigured today’s digital communicators: not just the teenagers and geeks, bloggers and TikTok stars, but citizen journalists, activists and those policed by authoritarian regimes too.

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