The Kinsley Report

'Slate' Gets Self-Critical

Has this struggle ended in a draw? With technology, must you always lose a little in order to gain a lot? Many of the barriers to longer reviews on the Web will surely be eviscerated in time: When rocket books become as widespread as desktops, it will be easier to download essays, poems, perhaps even novels, and read them on the train. No one wants the essay to go the way of Windows 3.1, and hopefully the forms taught from the Emerson and Wilde canon will never be outmoded.

Still, lamenting the death of criticism is as old as criticism itself, and someone is always ready to identify the culprit. Übercritic Harold Bloom, who casts himself as a Paleolithic, endangered reader in his new book, How to Read and Why, scans the horizon for any sign of that old, familiar apocalypse. "To me, the Internet is like the conga line," he says. "I know what it is, but I do not know how to do it. But it cannot be good, my dear. Surely, it will reduce everything to this vast grayness."

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