seeing Gatsby through new filters
I can already hear my friends asking me to stop.
But I can’t, and I won’t because I swear there’s still more to talk about in the Great Gatsby.
(And we can’t let the first day of summer go by without paying homage to the quintessential no-parents, no-rules, endless-summer, New York story.)
So, this time to make Gatsby new and appealing, I’m going to talk about technology and the Great Gatsby. like memes and fidget spinners, woooooah.
I think most people read the Great Gatsby for the first time in high school, and if they had any moral compass they got 50 pages in and realized everyone in the book is awful. Every character is slimy or dishonest or lazy, and they’re useless rich white people to the end.
And we shouldn’t like them. But that’s not the point.
The point is that in the muck of their bad behavior, there’s stuff to talk about, stuff to find out about: Why are these people so shitty? How do people act this way? Couldn’t all of this be avoided if anyone had some manners?
These are fundamental questions about all literature but especially about the Great Gatsby. (Cause it’s basically a character study with an occasional plot point, okay.)
So to find some new answers to old questions I want to talk about moments of technology in the book. What existed, what people had access to, and what didn’t exist at all yet. Some problems are since heightened by 2017 tech. Some are now solved instantly. Some are basically the same. And noticing all those changes or lack thereof might help us finally relate to these terrible people.
Because nearly a century of innovation has gone by, but some days in some ways we’re still careless, reckless people like everyone in Gatsby. Now we just happen to have iPhones too.