Re-Imagining Reality: The Ontological Discourse of Modernist Media


Progressive literary movements have historically been influenced by the representation of reality in emergent forms of mass media. From Gutenberg to the internet, virtually every time that a major new technology has been implemented in the presentation of narrative, literature has responded with its own expression of "reality." In the traditional exchange between classicism and modernism, the latter must constantly reinvent itself as not to become static, and publishers, as part of a capitalistic enterprise, need to not only define these trends, but also exploit them in order to remain competitive. The immediate consequence is that as soon as these movements become convention, they cease to be progressive, after which they are inevitably replaced by another literary claim to the "truth" of a universal reality, and so the cycle continues. With these factors in mind, the works of the "Lost Generation" can be considered, in part, a response to film, just as the literature of the "Beat Generation" was a response to television, and postmodernist fiction was in many ways a response to home video and cable TV. Perhaps most interestingly, today, the internet functions as both the cause and effect of commercialized reality. 

If you really like it you can have the rights,
It could make a million for you overnight.
If you must return it, you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer…

- Paul McCartney

I.  Moneychangers

In the thirteenth century, commerce changed the Western world. By assigning abstract but consistent values to the currencies of Europe, a simple social hierarchy that had until then consisted of clergy, nobility and peasants saw a new class emerge from its ranks that carried with it tremendous power. Merchants that embraced and undoubtedly exploited the notion of universal quantification as it related to goods and services were members of a new social elite. The accessibility of this sudden aristocracy led to a widespread obsession over precision and measurement, and the first universities of Europe were created to accommodate this necessity. Although this was a movement that was slow to gain momentum, with the primitive tools of pantometry at their disposal, the artists and scientists of the High Middle Ages offered what they believed to be an objective uniformity in the way that many individuals, eager to take part in this rising capitalism, came to recognize the elements of the physical world.  

This was their reality, around the time when time itself became the common measure of life and labor, and perspective, as the quantification of three-dimensional space, became an integral component of art. Historians trace the beginning of this movement to the works of Giotto di Bondone, a revolutionary painter with a keen financial intellect. Unlike the flat archetypal images that had been the predominant representations in Western art for a thousand years prior, Giotto depicted his subjects and the three-dimensional worlds that they inhabited in a manner that directly correlated to his perception. The unparalleled realism of Giotto's paintings made his work a commercial success, and he is said to have had as many as six notaries looking after his financial interests by 1314. 

Francesco Petrarca, often considered the "father of humanism," spoke of this new style as "images bursting from their frames, and the lineaments of breathing faces, so that you expect shortly to hear the sound of their voices. It is here in that the danger lies, for great minds are greatly taken with this." 
By the close of the fourteenth century, though, a great many lives had been taken by the black plague, which had wiped out nearly half the population of Europe. Many of the survivors, suddenly made wealthy by inheritances from the dead, put their faith in knowledge. Modern science began to take shape, as secular minds began to question the monopoly of truth that had been held by the Catholic Church for over a millennium. Within a hundred years, great minds did indeed extrapolate upon Giotto's aesthetic innovations with geometric precision. Artists of the Italian Renaissance, including Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, were also educated in the emergent sciences and their most famous contributions to the canon of Occidental art were commissioned by wealthy merchants and/or motivated by the economic power of the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, scientists and clergy alike were also actively engaged in the pseudo-science of alchemy, including such prominent figures as Saint Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon, and their complex experiments were often fundamentally driven by the simple desire to turn common metals into gold. 

Even before it was given an abstract value, this was a highly coveted commodity that was increasingly rare in Europe. The shortcomings of alchemy and the desire for shiny metal necessitated increased trade to the nations of Africa and Asia, which thereby compelled a new generation of cartographers to quantify a broader physical dimension. By the end of the fifteenth century, world empires were beginning to take shape, colonized by the first international capitalists. Even Columbus, before his voyage to the New World, claimed that, "Who has gold has a treasure with which he gets what he wants, imposes his will on the world, and even helps souls to paradise." He may have been looking for a means to circumvent the Turkish Empire en route to the Orient when he first landed upon the shores of the Caribbean, but his three subsequent voyages were motivated in large part by the prospect of finding gold there. 

In a similar respect, Gutenberg was an entrepreneur. His most successful business venture, the mechanical printing press (c. 1439), offered textual uniformity by means of mechanical reproduction, thus marking the beginning of mass media in the Western world. His invention allowed ideas to proliferate far beyond the limitations of the individual and was largely responsible for the spread of knowledge, itself an abstract commodity, throughout Europe. His most famous publication, the 42-line Bible, is thought to have been created for some of the wealthy bishops of the Catholic Church, but subsequent printings also offered the increasingly literate populous a homogenous reality based on the doctrines of Christianity. Many of these principles were diametrically opposed to the exciting new ideas of contemporary science, including the heliocentric model of the solar system that was quietly conceptualized by Nicholas Copernicus in 1514, but out of fear of retribution, it was not widely known about until after his death. During his lifetime, he was more widely recognized as an economic administrator and the author of Monetae Cudendae Ratio, which was published in 1526 and was a manifesto of his concerns about the burgeoning European economy. 

II.  A Novel Idea

Johan Huizinga, a prominent Dutch historian of the twentieth century, noted that the literature of the early Renaissance also saw "an increasing obsession with details of superficial appearance and a growing preference for prose rather than poetry because it is a more effective medium for exact physical description." This corresponds to what social historian Alfred C. Crosby suggests was a fundamental shift to an increasingly visual way of thinking, and that the profusion of books with the advent of the mechanical printing press transformed reading into "a more individual – and potentially heretic – act." Books were no longer the precious objects that were coveted by empires and systematically destroyed by religious zealotry, and much like today, "It was in the nature of publishing [in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries] that daring books would sell better because of the scandals they caused, with the result that the early publishers often sheltered writers suspected of heresy." These authors were not paid by publishers, but rather, "They received several free copies of their works and would send them to rich patrons, with elaborate dedications, in the hope of receiving payment in that way." Suffice to say, the increased influence of the merchant class on the recently established publishing industry led to the introduction of new secular themes in literature, "In particular the principle innovation of trecento art, which was the establishment of narrative."  

Don Quixote, first published in 1605, serves as an excellent illustration of the subjectivity of a literary reality that was nonetheless represented uniformly among its readership. The character himself was thought to be insane, in part as a result of too much reading, and the windmills that were his enemies could be indicative of the character's difficulty in embracing the technological innovations of his day that he did not understand and was therefore powerless against. Don Quixote is often recognized as being the first modern novel, but in the sense that it calls attention to and challenges one's perception of reality, it may also be the first work of modernist fiction as well.

In Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel, Lisa Zunshine posits that literature allows the reader to speculate about a character's behavioral motivations and "levels of intentionality," which essentially serves as a form of practice for when the reader finds him or herself in similar real-world situations. The essence of her argument is that we read novels so that we can learn how to interact with others. While this is almost certainly true to a certain degree, I would like to both expand upon this point and simplify its basic precept by suggesting that we read literature primarily to offer a counter-point to our own subjective perceptions of reality. Whether or not we recognize certain behaviors is secondary to that which we learn about ourselves, by simply noting the contrast between our perceptions and that which is presented in a given text. Literature is unique in that it provides the opportunity to see a world with distinct parallels to our own through the eyes of someone else. The intertextual constants that a reader identifies with in any number of books offer validation to the subtleties that define that person's perception of reality. No other medium allows an individual to get inside the thought process of another to such a degree as the novel, and this is why it has survived into the twenty-first century in spite of the technological advances that periodically threaten to render it obsolete. 

In the nineteenth century, much of the literature of the Western world saw a major shift from the dominant perspective of the third-person omniscient narrator to an increased interest in stories told from the first-person point of view. The works of authors such as Gustave Flaubert, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Émile Zola are reflective of this movement in literature that attempted to capture the realism of their fictional worlds by offering the mimetic perspective of a character within that world. However, as with any progressive movement in narrative form, once it became convention, it ceased to be part of the avant-garde. With this in mind, authors then began to experiment more and more with the concept of an unreliable narrator in the first-person perspective, thus calling attention to the inherent subjectivity of any one point of view. The next step was then to introduce the plural first-person narrative, which invited the reader to find constants within the perspectives of the multiple narrators of a given text in an effort to distill the "truth" from a particular work of fiction. 

For nearly five hundred years, books had remained the dominant form of mass media in Western culture and did so in part because authors were constantly reinventing the means by which a sense of reality was conveyed to the reader. As James Wood explains in How Fiction Works, "Realism, seen broadly as truthfulness to the way things are, cannot be mere verisimilitude, cannot be mere lifelikeness, or lifesameness, but what I must call lifeness: life on the page, life brought to different life by the highest artistry." By the end of the nineteenth century, literature's virtually uncontested claim to narrative realism saw its first significant competition emerge in the form of motion pictures.

III.  Edison's Illumination

In 1891, Thomas Edison was issued a patent on the Kinetograph. This was the world's first motion picture camera, born in the spirit of technological innovation for the intended purpose of recording and studying physical movement. Thomas Edison was a scientist, not a storyteller. People were nonetheless intrigued by the novelty of this device, and in 1894, the first commercial motion picture exhibitions took place in New York City. For twenty-five cents, a person could peer inside the Kinetoscope, which was the device used for viewing these films, and watch a simple presentation of a circus or vaudeville act that was no more than a few minutes long. People came from all over the world to witness this marvel, and by 1895, the sale of these machines and the films that went with them had generated over $85,000 in profits for Edison's company.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Auguste and Louis Lumière were also developing a means of photographing and presenting kinetic movement. Their Cinématographe was a device that could not only record motion pictures, but also develop and project them as well. It was patented in 1895 and was significantly more portable than Edison's Kinetograph. This allowed them to take their camera outside and capture reality as it actually exists, albeit in grainy black and white without any sound. By the end of that year, they held their first public screening for a paying audience. Patrons of the Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris were presented with ten films, each less than a minute long, featuring real people in ordinary situations, including La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon ("Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory") and La Pêche aux Poissons Rouges ("Fishing for Goldfish").

At this point, neither Edison nor the Lumière brothers fully recognized the cultural significance and implicit potential of their inventions. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the novelty of these instruments was beginning to wear off, and people once again turned their fascinations elsewhere. Nonetheless, two of the major schools of thought as they relate to film were already in place. Edison had transposed the artistry of vaudeville to the cinema and the Lumière brothers established the use of film as a means of documenting reality. Thus narrative and documentary films were born. Meanwhile, a French theatre and magic show producer named Georges Méliès used this emergent medium to consciously manipulate a theatrical presentation of reality into a sort of hyper-reality. Arguably the first avant-garde film, A Trip to the Moon (1902) redefined the storytelling potential of cinema and introduced the revolutionary concept of optical effects. Méliès was, after all, well-versed in the illusory art of stage magic.

Stateside, Edwin S. Porter, an employee of Edison who was in his own words "more mechanic than artist" became the first to realize the potential to manipulate the temporal dimension of film simply by editing it. As obvious as this may seem, it had never been done before. In his most famous motion picture, The Great Train Robbery (1903), he took this to another level by conceiving the technique of cross-cutting to indicate parallel narrative threads. Within a decade of its conception, movies were already becoming something more than just a novelty, even though for the most part, they were still only screened during set transitions in vaudeville theatre. 

In 1915, D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation solidified film's position as a means of narrative expression in its own right. Despite its controversial content (which did help it sell tickets), this movie redefined the language of film by making the shot the basic unit of cinematic text instead of the scene. Birth of a Nation was produced at a cost of approximately $110,000, which made it by far the most expensive film of its day, and it is also considered to be the first feature-length motion picture, with a running time of 190 minutes. In making this film, Griffith also introduced a new style of acting that played to a camera instead of a room. Woodrow Wilson, who was President at the time of its release, is reported to have said that this film was "like writing history in lightning." Perhaps most importantly, though, it established cinema as a valid expression of literary realism in narrative form.

IV.  The Beautiful and the Damned

Unlike the major film-producing nations of Europe, including France, Great Britain, Italy and Germany, the United States did not enter World War I until 1917. Since many of the materials used in making film, including cotton, as well as nitric and sulfuric acids, were also used in making explosives, film stock was in short supply in Europe. Furthermore, because of the battle fronts that limited non-military trade between these countries and beyond, the United States had an enormous advantage in terms of international film distribution. The U.S. was also able to utilize its numerous resources, including a large movie-going public and an economy that was stimulated by the war instead of drained by it. Meanwhile, the industrial genius that was transforming the auto plants of Detroit was being applied to the newly established studios of Hollywoodland, and the American film industry was beginning to take shape. Film historian Jack C. Ellis claims that, "If there had not been that four-year lead at exactly that historical moment, the subsequent domination of the world's screens by the United States might never have happened, at least not to the extent that it has." 

The late teens also marked the beginning of the relatively short-lived era of silent comedies, in which humor was primarily derived from unrealistic situational reactions in what was portrayed as an otherwise realistic context – in other words, slapstick. Charlie Chaplin, though British, was among the pioneers of American screen comedy, and as his films began to earn him considerable financial success, he steadily gained more control over his work. Beginning in the early 1920s, in addition to starring in his films, he had also taken on the role of producer, screenwriter, director, composer and production designer, making him among the last of the singular artists in what the motion picture industry's increasing complexity would render an inherently collaborative medium. He then joined D.W. Griffith and two other filmmakers to form the distribution company United Artists, which thus gave him even more financial and artistic freedom in his work.


"I hear all the new novels are sold to the moving pictures as soon as they come out."
"That's true. Of course, the main thing in a moving picture is a strong story."
"Yes, I suppose so."
"So many novels are all full of talk and psychology. Of course, those aren't as valuable to us. It's impossible to make much of that interesting on the screen."
"You want plots first," said Richard brilliantly.
"Of course. Plots first—"

This is a scene from F. Scott Fitzgerald's second book, The Beautiful and the Damned (1922), in which Dick Caramel, a young author, engages in conversation with Mr. Bloeckman, an established film producer. In this excerpt, Fitzgerald seems to be acknowledging the implicit competition between books and cinema as expressions of reality: Movies give you contrived plots; literature gives you realistic human interaction. Even the title of this novel can be taken as a metaphor for the dichotomy of books and motion pictures in the early 1920s. "The Beautiful" can be thought to represent the film industry, obsessed then as it is now over its own glamour and the importance of physical beauty; and "the Damned" could signify the publishing industry at the time, which was beginning to lose readers (and writers, eventually including Fitzgerald himself) to the increasing popularity of the cinema. Later in the novel, the narrator comments that:

"In the two years since the publication of The Demon Lover, Dick had made over $25,000, most of it lately, when the reward of the author of fiction had begun to swell unprecedentedly as a result of the voracious hunger of the motion pictures for plots." 

It is also worth noting that The Beautiful and the Damned was first published in 1922, a year that also marked the beginning of Technicolor, which was a monumental scientific achievement that rendered film all the more realistic. Furthermore, The Beautiful and the Damned, as well as James Joyce's Ulysses (also published in 1922), both feature sections that seem to emulate the screenplay format to a certain degree, as if to suggest that novels can do anything that film can do, and more.

In 1927, beginning with The Jazz Singer, the motion picture industry saw another major technological advance that allowed film to present itself even more realistically to an audience. With the advent of a soundtrack integrated into a film print, the "talkies" were born, and within a couple of years, the silent film era was relegated to the annals of history. As narrative films became more realistic, the art of filmmaking became more industrialized, and as the post-war American motion picture industry emerged as a dominant force in the world's economy, the uniformity of this reality became itself a commodity as paying audiences eagerly played witness to the manipulative ontology of the silver screen. 

V.  As Seen on TV

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) was founded in 1924 and was by far the most lucrative studio between the First and Second World Wars. The company's motto, "Ars Gratia Artis," which still appears above the lion that has been their mascot since the beginning, translates as "Art for Art's Sake." In trademarking this phrase, MGM capitalized on one of the fundamental ideas of modernism without actually embracing many of the principles behind it. This enormously powerful studio also owned Loew's Theaters at the time, and as such, they were therefore able to control every aspect of their films, from conception to production to theatrical distribution, with industrial efficiency. This era marked what is commonly referred to as the "Golden Age of Hollywood," which came to an abrupt close in 1948 with the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., also known as the Hollywood Antitrust Case of 1948, in which the Supreme Court ruled that motion picture production studios cannot own the theaters that screen their films. 

Twelve years prior, President Roosevelt had authorized the Rural Electrification Act, which provided electricity to ninety percent of the American countryside by the close of World War II. With the increase in electrified homes came an increase in television ownership, and by 1950, approximately ten percent of all homes in the U.S. had a television. A decade later, that figure grew to include 87.1 percent of all American households, and what television lacked in comparison to the photo-realism of film, it made up for in immediacy and the illusion of transparency. Live broadcasts of sporting events, game shows and news programs found their way into the homes of millions of Americans, offering an alternative to the grandiose epics that dominated the theaters at the time. In 1953, the film industry responded to the increasing ubiquity of television with Cinemascope, which was an anamorphic aspect ratio designed to give audiences more screen for their money as compared to television. The fifties also saw the rise of drive-in theaters, designed to capitalize on the booming youth markets of American suburbs, in addition to several more contrived advances in film's presentation of reality. These included such gimmicks as 3-D movies and Emergo-Vision – in which an actor or a prop would "break the fourth wall" by physically interacting with the audience.

Meanwhile, publishers made a move to remain competitive by offering paperback editions of books, thus making them considerably more affordable to a wider audience. Novels like The Great Gatsby and The Day of the Locust, for example, were not widely read by American citizens until the twenty-five cent paperback editions allowed them to find a middle-class readership. New authors were also much more likely to get their works in print, due in large part to the fact that paperback publishing was a significantly safer investment in terms of production costs. This allowed for another generation of writers to declare themselves the new literary arbiters of reality. The works of Kerouac, Burroughs and the other "Beat" writers offered a darker, grittier image of the cultural landscape than that which could be seen in movies or on television. Granted, many of these authors may never have garnered mainstream attention had they not been surrounded in controversy based upon the often lurid content of their books, but they nonetheless provided a stark contrast to the reality presented by populist media at the time. Nineteen fifty-seven, the year that saw the premiere episode of Leave it to Beaver, was also the year in which Allen Ginsberg's Howl was at the center of a widely publicized obscenity trial. 

VI.  Patterns in Static

Each of the aforementioned literary movements surfaced in an America that was sharply divided by economic class and the impositions of politicized morality. The works of the "Lost Generation" echoed a defiance to material excess and the temperance movement of the 1920s, and the literature of the "Beat Generation" signified a rejection of the conservative, materialist values embodied by mainstream America in the 1950s. Traditionally, it seems that historical moments characterized by excessive indulgences in consumerism have also allowed for the technological advances responsible for new media. Even in the nineteenth century, just as the "gay nineties" nurtured an interest in naturalist literature, it also created an audience prime for the advent of motion pictures. In a similar respect, the "roaring twenties" witnessed two of the most important technological advances in film since its inception and gave voice to a new generation of writers that offered a counter-point to that reality. In turn, the "booming fifties" saw the television become commonplace in American households and introduced the world to the reality of a subculture that seemed to stand for everything that television did not. 

It comes as no surprise that in extending this cycle another thirty years to the 1980s, we see yet another rise of materialist, socially conservative values in mainstream America, accompanied by significant technological advances in the representation of reality in mass media. The major film studios finally found a way to circumvent the Hollywood Antitrust Act of 1948, by bringing the movies directly into the homes of their audiences. Cable television and home video changed the motion picture industry, as did the rise of the Hollywood blockbuster. Major advances in special effects continued to render films all the more "life-like" throughout the decade, and publishers picked up on the economic merits of cross-marketing by re-releasing books when their respective adaptations came to the screen. As a result, the publishing industry generally seemed to show a preference for novels that could subsequently be made into films.

The progressive literary movement commonly referred to as postmodernism was in many ways a response to the economically motivated, symbiotic relationship between the literature and film of the 1980s. Authors such as Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins and Don DeLillo wrote books that not only seemed to reflect the discourse of contemporary literary criticism, which suggested that there is no universal reality, but their novels also seemed be defiantly unfilmable. In this sense, literature basically saved itself from extinction by creating narratives that could only exist on the page. Although attempts have been made to adapt some of these books, almost without exception, they have been received unfavorably by critics and audiences alike. 

In a similar respect, cable television seemed to reinforce the notion that there is no universal reality by instead offering a vast array of choices. Instead of two or three available channels, by the end of the decade, there were hundreds. On at least one of those stations at any given time, it could be assumed that the average audience member could find some "truth" with which to identify, and advertisers exploited this concept to an unprecedented degree. The capitalist machine was out of control, and it was already beginning to swallow virtually every major media outlet in the United States. In 1983, there were roughly fifty mass media corporations, and twenty years later, there were only five very wealthy white guys who controlled nearly ninety-five percent of all mass media in the U.S., including movies, television, books, magazines, newspapers and radio. 

VII.  Connecting the Dots

Since the early 1980s, the internet has existed in a form that is more or less the same as its modern incarnation, but it took until nearly the end of the twentieth century before the technology and public interest could catch up enough to propel it into mainstream American culture. The nineties saw a major economic boom in the commercialization of the worldwide web, but only in recent years has it become a part of the modernist ontological discourse, arguably in response to the tight-fisted corporate control of virtually all other forms of mass media. In the first decade of the new millennium, despite the prevalence of corporately produced "reality" television – most of which is about as far removed from any recognizable reality as the most imaginative works of fiction – it seems that people have once again begun to assume responsibility for their own individual claims to truth. Sites like Wikipedia, for example, literally encourage participants to define the language that defines their world, thereby acknowledging, in this sense, that reality is and perhaps always has been a matter of popular opinion. The internet is also helping transform the global economy by introducing virtually commodity-free cultural exports, thereby permitting ideas and a new level of monetary abstraction to become the currency of the new world economy.

Twenty years ago, if people wanted to exhibit their photography, they would have needed a studio to showcase their work, which would have meant that their ideas were being filtered through someone else, likely with a particular agenda in mind. Now all a person has to do is upload pictures to a free account provided by any number of photo sharing sites and anyone in the world can access them. Before the internet, if someone wanted to record an album that could potentially find a receptive audience, it would require that that person first goes into a studio to record on state-of-the-art equipment at an hourly rate, and then pays an exorbitant amount to have the album mastered, pressed and packaged. After that, the recording artist would then have to play in numerous venues to expose his or her music to a potential fanbase, which would probably require extensive touring. Today, musicians can self-produce multi-track digital recordings, upload them to any number of free websites and track the statistics in terms of how many people are listening to what. Many of these sites also offer the option of charging people to download songs, but this is a decision that is usually left to the discretion of the individual artist. Similarly, in the field of journalism, blogs are transforming the industry, steadily becoming the voice of the people to the people, as newspapers and magazines may have originally been intended but have since gone astray because of the high costs of competition. Along this same line of thought, YouTube and similar sites, though currently still in their infancy, allow for free motion picture distribution for truly independent artists, and peer-to-peer file sharing is little more than an anarchist subversion of consumerism. All of these factors taken into consideration echo the sentiment of Oscar Wilde's 1891 essay "The Soul of Man Under Socialism", in which he wrote: 

"A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is. It has nothing to do with the fact that other people want what they want. Indeed, the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or dishonest tradesman. He has no further claim to be considered as an artist."

VIII.  Welcome Back, Jack Kerouac

In regard to literature, I strongly suspect that in the coming years, the digital revolution will have a noticeable impact on the publishing industry as well. With the increased social consciousness of paper conservation, electronic devices will likely change the way we read books, and because digital files require no overhead and can essentially be "published" on demand, virtually anyone in the world with something to say will potentially be able to find and inform an increasingly diverse readership. The authors behind literary trends that were formerly decided by publishers, often in response to emergent forms of mass media, are now able to embrace the aspect of self-promotion that worked for writers like Fitzgerald and Kerouac, except now, they can bypass the filter of agents and publishers altogether. With this in mind, social networking sites are another phenomenon that will likely allow for the self-referentialism and artistic collaboration that we have seen in other generations of writers, though unfortunately, much like the self-published journals of the San Francisco literary scene in the early 1960s, many important works may never survive beyond the present.

As we approach another revolution in what has consistently been a thirty-year cycle, and the internet steadily becomes the primary source for all mass media in the developed world, if history is any indication, when innovation stagnates into convention at the mercy of free enterprise, the ways in which reality is represented in mass media will no longer be able to keep up with the changing world that it supposedly represents. When that happens, literature will surely respond in kind, thereby allowing another generation to find its voice in expressing the plastic truth of the modern age.

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De Cervantes, Miguel. Don Quixote. Ed. Richard E. Roberts. Trans. P. A. Motteux and 
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Fitzgerald, F. S., Jay Parini, and Ruth Prigozy. The Beautiful and Damned. New York: 
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"La première séance publique payante." Institut Lumière. 2 Nov. 2008 

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Wood, James. How Fiction Works. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008. 

Zunshine, Lisa. Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel. New York: Ohio 
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