Double Consommé; or, the Doo-wop of the Tweet

What was the first human’s first utterance? Did it fill 140 characters? “The fall is into language,” Norman O. Brown said, but we picture a slip on a banana peel followed by Joyce’s 102-character utterance:

“The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-ronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoordenenthurnuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy” (Finnegans Wake).

So the tweets re-circle, and the Twitter Big Bang is well on its way to 300 sextillion tweets. What does 300 sextillion look like when not doing “duty for the holos”? 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. But multiply that number times 140 to get a closer look at the Twitter universe. Who can read it all, each tweet a star?

Two converging posts sent us tweet gazing this morning, Mozart in the background, one (over at the Books I Read blog) drawing our attention to Alain de Botton’s recent tweeting experiment, a kind of History of the Western World in 7 Tweets, the other an essay in yesterday’s Times suggesting we might use the 140 character limit of the tweet in college composition classes.

The tweet is to writing what the Doo-wop three-minute song is to music. But we like Doo-wop, and we enjoy the well-worded tweet. As interesting as Joyce’s vocalized fall is, we think the first human’s first words were probably more like “doo-wop,” and the fall may indeed have been into banana cream and not language. This is the way T. S. Eliot’s world ends, not with a bang but a tweet.