I finished reading my first book of 2017: Jarett Kobek’s “I hate the internet”. It’s difficult to know where to begin, for reasons which, if you pick this book up, you will understand. It reads as a work of fiction, referred to within as a ‘good bad novel’ and I will say, that definitely holds up, it isn’t a book to read for the writing quality, though obviously quite deliberately. However it’s also set within our internet age and references the current players in this age, it has so many scurrilous observations of the present day digital elite, the UK publisher has redacted many paragraphs. We’re talking thick black lines throughout the book masking I don’t know what about people, mostly it seems, Peter Thiel. After each of these heavily censored clips is the note “Jim’ll fix it” in reference to the defamation suits in which Jimmy Saville managed “to stop any third party reporting on his status as a living depravity.” I’ve never read a book like this.
I thought I’d be reading this and coming to more depressing conclusions about the negative side to our immediate connectivity thanks to the internet. I’ve been thinking about distraction and attention deficit for quite some time now. Instead it mostly was a book that compares how comic book companies (corporations) made MILLIONS from comics, completely taking advantage of artists intellectual property whilst paying their artists almost nothing. This is a critique on the current system where the corporations cashing out on the internet aren’t really the creatives making the content. It’s also an important commentary of the still evident racial and social injustices that we are still living through in this internet age.
There were parts of this book I was just utterly perplexed by. Baby, one of the characters in the book is an author and one of the storylines in one of his novels is about an organisation called the World Time Travel Authority and how it infests all its time travellers with a mutated strain of gonorrhoea that pools in the back of the throat. The gonorrhoea is ‘hyperintelligent’, it can talk! It keeps the time travellers company. I know. WTF. But just when you think there can’t be any weirder elements to a novel Kobek uses the word ‘polyamoyrous’ in relation to the marital set up of two of his characters. He then discusses the etymology of the word ‘polyamorous’. We have, apparently ‘Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart’ to thank and this, then is where I learnt that Morning Glory and her husband actually surgically altered the horn buds of goats to grow just a single horn in the middle of the skull. Yes, they were trying to make unicorns and then 4 of these goats end up at the Ringling Brothers Circus. This, this bit of the book is TRUE – I KNOW, not a work of fiction. See here. I haven’t felt so confused in the act of reading for some time. What IS the world coming to?
It’s worth a read, if you want a scathing indictment of the internet as it currently stands with it’s endless advertising. The internet allows hate and trolling on a mass scale and this activity hides behind free speech. We curate our digital presence in a way that makes many of us feel uneasy and some of us feel inferior, privacy can be violated, bad people can do bad things on the net. With all that, I LOVE the internet, used with intention it’s connecting and informing and a tool I wouldn’t want to live without, but reading this has made me think and that, I’m sure was the end goal.