Despite our debates and rationalization, I’ve become increasingly unable to define what “digital” is as this class has progressed over the weeks. Were you to ask me two months ago, I would have simply defined digital as the virtual, the internet and everything on it. Videos, essays, even old poems would be digital, in my pre-college mind, but that description is decidedly unsatisfactory to me now. I still see digital as pertaining to the world of online culture, but I don’t think online culture is digital’s sole descriptor. Benjamin Peters describes digital as more of a term of the 20th century rather than the 21st century, something that pre-dated the internet. When I consider that, I feel it describes the modern more than anything else. Modern culture, trends and lifestyles. And with THAT in mind, I can see “The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock” as a digital work.
T.S. Eliot’s poem describes a fairly…not nihilistic scene, but an anxiously real one. “Streets that follow like a tedious argument”, “Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels”, “With a bald spot in the middle of my hair- [They will say: ‘How his hair is growing thin!]”, it all paints a not necessarily hopeless or pessimistic world, but a truthfully ugly one. It describes a moment in a person’s life, their observations and their worries, from ye-olde motels to thinning hair. It describes his now, his moment. It is the modern of his life. It is the digital of a world without computers.
I see digital as an internet lifestyle, a virtual reality. And that’s right. Eliot would likely see digital as artsy smokehouses and patients in the sky. And I suppose that’s right too.