I had a lot of fun last night discussing “The Death of Ivan Ilych” in my Making Your Novel Happen class. I don't usually run discussions of classics in class, but this group was prepared and full of responses, mostly positive, except some found it depressing. One man quoted so I didn't have to : “Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.”
I didn’t have to make many of my discussion points– they did it for me. I concentrated on the structure of the novella (we all know I.I. is dead, the bulk of the story is how he lived and mainly how he died) and my favorite aspect which is the religious question. I got say that I think Tolstoy was “smarter” as a writer than as a philosopher thinker. Anyhow, really good fun for me. I really love this particular kind of conversation.
Then I came home and found a link to a video of brother-in-law/Internet philospher David Weinberger being interviewed by some Germans, and the German part is pretty funny, (reminds me of one of the Cooking Show guys who pretends to be edgy but is really doing something akin to what the old kidshow t.v. guys used to do–Alton Brown).
I just looked up Alton on the Information Highway, which is David, insists, only the smallest part of what the Internet does. David talked about the way we use metaphors to try and talk about the Internet (thus the "information highway"), and his favorite appears to be from his book The Cluetrain Manifesto, which is that this new thing, the web, is all about conversations, markets are conversation, but buying and selling is just one of the types of conversation. DW's big concern at this point is the takeover big business/government allies are trying to pull right now, to label us for commercial purposes and political control, to give privilege to some messages over others (professional Hollywood movies over homemade movies), etc.
See David's blog at http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/ .