I stumbled across this word in Milan Kundera
's - "Book of Laughter and Forgetting" - I'd never heard it before - but I immediately associated it with the whole blogging phenomena and my own experience of creating and using travelblog.
"Graphomania is not a mania to write letters, personal diaries, or family chronicles (to write for oneself or one's close relations) but a mania to write books (to have a public of unknown readers). ... Graphomania (a mania for writing books) inevitably takes on epidemic proportions when a society develops to the point of creating three basic conditions:
1. an elevated level of general well-being, which allows people to devote themselves to useless activities;
2. a high degree of social atomization and, as a consequence, a general isolation of individuals;
3. the absense of dramatic social changes in the nation's internal life. (From this point of view, it seems to me symptomatic that in France, where practically nothing happens, the percentage of writers is twenty-one times higher than in Israel.
... The mainspring that drives her to write is just that absence of vital content, that void. But by a backlash, the effort affects the cause. General isolation breeds graphomania, and generalized graphomania in turn intensifies and worsens isolation. The invention of printing formerly enabled people to understand one another. In the era of universal graphomania, the writing of books has an opposite meaning: everyone surrounded by his own words as by a wall of mirrors, which allows no voice to filter through from outside. ... One morning (and it will be soon), when everyone wakes up as a writer, the age of universal deafness and incomprehension will have arrived."
Milan Kundera - The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Just wanted to share 😊
I'm going to have to add that one to my lexicon of useful words. It certainly is an interesting one and definitely describes some of the reasons why I write my blog. Sadly enough, I doubt we will ever reach "the age of universal deafness..." because there are still way to many people who don't write....at all...EVER!!
Travelblog dabbles in psychological philosophy shock horror!
...though as you've said Ali, if this subject should be seriously analyzed anywhere, there's no better place than here right?
I read the book some years ago and often think of its propheticalness with regard the contemporary phenomenon of blogging - this book after all was written in the late 70's!
However I think you may have left out the most telling part of his presumption, namely;
The irresistible proliferation of graphomania among politicians, taxi drivers, childbearers, lovers, murderers, thieves, prostitutes, officials, doctors and patients shows me that everyone without exception bears a potential writer within him, so that the entire human species has good reason to go down into the streets and shout: “We are all writers!” For everyone is pained by the thought of disappearing, unheard and unseen, into an indifferent universe, and because of that everyone wants, while there is still time, to turn himself into a universe of words.
One morning (and it will be soon), when everyone wakes up as a writer, the age of universal deafness and incomprehension will have arrived.
The day when everyone becomes a writer, and nobody reads anything anyone else has written, will herald the age of universal deafness.
- in a sinister tactic of reverse engineering, (some time after Al Gore invented the Internet), maybe the blogging phenomena was 'dreamt up' by the feds, with the express intention of dumbing down the masses? ;-)
I also once read, in one of Erich Fromm's books, something he wrote equating photography addiction to a tantalizing illusion of our consumer-driven world.
I would think there's more chance that universal deafness will result from there being too much noise rather than too little, i.e. people reading everything that everyone else has written rather than nothing. Technology deserves a good chunk of the "credit" for this - the urge for people to share their thoughts, opinions, experiences etc has been a human characteristic since time immemorial, but it's only with the technical advances of the last 20 years that easy ways of doing this for a large audience (e.g. blogging and video-blogging, which will presumably supersede plain old blogging) have become accessible. I wouldn't consider writing a book as an easy way of doing this.
And if blogging is supposedly a manifestation of graphomania, and each of us is surrounded by a "wall of mirrors, which allows no voice to filter through from outside", then why are we bothering to take part in this thread?
But it is improbable that we’ll all suddenly wake up as writers. Graphomania, just like any other mental disorders will only occur to a few. However, with the advent of the Internet, information overload
is becoming epidemic. As a coping mechanism, it is just natural for readers to skim vital or interesting information and weed out the irrelevant ones - hence a far cry from reaching “Universal Deafness and Incomprehension”.
But here’s the contradiction:
We are authors of our own life. We all have stories to tell or write. I used to keep a diary when I was a teenager. I used to write down all my thoughts, experiences and feelings on my diary then lock it away with a key. Now, I blog it to the world
. It feels great to be able to express yourself freely. To get out of the shell and say “I exist”, “I too have stories to tell”. Maybe someday I’ll even write my own memoir ;> ! Now does that mean I will fall under Graphomania ???
Johanna, I hope that you do not have graphomania because in that case, I do as well! I think a big part of my desire to share my stores, say "I exist", etc is driven a lot by the social media craze that we are experiencing. Now more than ever, there are so many ways to express yourself, share, interact and connect with others in the virtual world. The more I learn about it, the more i enjoy it because it gives me a new and unique way to be involved, to share my thoughts and knowledge and to learn from others as well.