Jonathan Franzen Really, Really Loves Birds

jonathan franzen.jpg
You know what Jonathan Franzen hates? The vacuousness of our modern techno-consumerism, and, oh, how he hates his BlackBerry and yet loves its "marvelous clarity of its screen, the silky action of its track pad, the shocking speed of its responses, the beguiling elegance of its graphics." Sorry, Jonathan Franzen doesn't mean to be getting so worked up but he just really hate-loves his phone. Which he elaborates at length in a long essay in the New York Times this weekend about the same old "social media makes it so we can't connect" stuff that old people have been griping about forever.

You know what Jonathan Franzen loves, though? Birds. He's a big old birdwatcher, that guy.

BUT then a funny thing happened to me. It's a long story, but basically I fell in love with birds. I did this not without significant resistance, because it's very uncool to be a birdwatcher, because anything that betrays real passion is by definition uncool. But little by little, in spite of myself, I developed this passion, and although one-half of a passion is obsession, the other half is love.

And so, yes, I kept a meticulous list of the birds I'd seen, and, yes, I went to inordinate lengths to see new species. But, no less important, whenever I looked at a bird, any bird, even a pigeon or a robin, I could feel my heart overflow with love. And love, as I've been trying to say today, is where our troubles begin.

That's the main takeaway of this piece, right? Or is it that "that the world of techno-consumerism is therefore troubled by real love, and that it has no choice but to trouble love in turn"?

Things that we can discern:

1. Jonathan Franzen hates the "like" button.
2. He knows everything there is to know about love.
3. The Corrections is an awesome book but now Franzen's insufferability makes me think that I actually might hate it.
4. People get really worked up about phones.
5. It's possible for your heart to overflow with love at the sight of a pigeon.

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

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11 comments
Better Yeti
Better Yeti

Thank god i'm not in a relationship with Rosie.

Jose
Jose

Rosie read The Corrections. Check it out.

Siegfried
Siegfried

echoing strongly the comments above: you're precisely the post child of the terrible things happening to our generation. Fraznen nails it : and read the Corrections before pre-emptively disparaging it. Though I suspect your fidgety self has neither the heart nor the finesse, nor - indeed - the literary temperament to appreciate the beauty of that novel (nor, for that matter, the NYT piece).

Joseph
Joseph

this wins - hands down - the absolutely worst, most shallow response to a thoughtful piece I've ever read. congratulations. at least i know what blog not to read anymore. and probably more than a little bit of a reflection of what's happened to the village voice. you've lost. 

Myfakename
Myfakename

"When you stay in your room and rage or sneer or shrug your shoulders" and don't have much talent you blog just like this.

overhere
overhere

I loved the Franzen essay. Best thing I've read in ages. 

Mercault
Mercault

I thought Franzen's essay was absolutely beautiful, and something that I personally needed to hear. Rosie's response here is short, sarcastic, and misses the entire point of the essay. Ironically and perhaps intentionally, Rosie proves Franzen's entire point in a broader sense

Paul
Paul

this piece really highlights the shortcomings of this humanity 2.0 garbage. it's ok to feel feelings rosie. lose the cynicism and the snarkiness.

bobtopia
bobtopia

"Things that we can discern:"? What's this "we" business? Got a mouse in your pocket? Do you believe describing something as "awesome" conveys thinking?

MaryAnn
MaryAnn

Wow. That's a minute of my life I'll never get back. Wow.

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