George Saunders walks us through his desktop

Just back from a Q-and-A with Junot Díaz, about which hopefully more later. Looking something up about him, I was led just now via the ultimately unfathomable logic of hypertextuality here, to a Guardian series on writers’ desktops, wherein, it seems, they basically sit in front of their computers and comment on the icons, folders, photos etc they see… This one, published today, features George Saunders, and I liked this bit:

I’m not easily distracted, as a rule. Especially where writing is concerned. But I have noticed, over the last few years, the very real (what feels like) neurological effect of the computer and the iPhone and texting and so on – it feels like I’ve re-programmed myself to become discontent with whatever I’m doing faster. So I’m trying to work against this by checking emails less often, etc etc. It’s a little scary, actually, to observe oneself getting more and more skittish, attention-wise….

I do know that I started noticing a change in my own reading habits – I’d get online and look up and 40 minutes would have gone by, and my reading time for the night would have been pissed away, and all I would have learned was that, you know, a certain celebrity had lived in her car awhile, or that a cat had dialled 911. So I had to start watching that more carefully. But it’s interesting because (1) this tendency does seem to alter brain function and (2) through some demonic cause-and-effect, our technology is exactly situated to exploit the crappier angles of our nature: gossip, self-promotion, snarky curiosity. It’s almost as if totalitarianism thought better of the jackboots and decided to go another way: smoother, more flattering – and impossible to resist.

And this:

“InfanView” is an app that produces a list of all babies born in your area, ranks them for cuteness, and auto-sends each one a Facebook Friend request on your behalf. It’s good for building up one’s “fan base.” Ha. No – I think it’s “IrfanView“, and I honestly have no idea what the hell it is. I just went in and opened it and still have no idea. It’s a relic of something, but I don’t know what.

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