QUIXOTwEet

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Room 227
Sat: 10 am-6 pm, Sun: 10 am-4 pm

twitter.com/MichaelIreton

This is the Premiere/Launch event of “QUIXOTwEet“. QUIXOTwEet is one man’s (mad? quixotic?) quest to:

A) tweet the entire text of “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha” (Parts I and II) by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, EXACTLY 140 characters at a time–no more, no less;

B) to reflect upon the process in a variety of ways on a variety of platforms (“meta-tweets”, blogging, vlogging, performances, interviews, etc.); and

C) upon completion of the process, to compile all of the accumulated materials into a documentary film, “traditional” book, interactive e-book, and/or gallery installation.

Why, you ask??? (That’s the question I started with–and still ask myself!)

  • QUIXOTwEet started with a simple question: “Is Twitter all they say it is? It seems so banal, superficial, transient, and ephemeral; but I keep reading about how it’s revolutionizing human communication and interaction.”
  • It started to take shape with a seemingly superficial and glib rhetorical “answer”: “Wouldn’t it be hilarious to tweet (fill in the name of epic length “classic literature” here)”.
  • The more I thought about it, the more that rhetorical “answer” didn’t seem so superficial and glib at all–especially when I thought of “Don Quixote” as the “origin text” with which to work. The book itself, both formally and thematically, is an almost perfect metaphor for my project.
  • QUIXOTwEet then, at the most basic level, is an exploration of the possibilities and limitations of Twitter–the supposedly “revolutionary new form of communication”. In its day, “Don Quixote” was also a “revolutionary new form of communication”. It is widely considered (with some academic squabbling) to be the first “novel”. (In the introduction to her recent translation of the book, Edith Grossman writes that the book, “both reflected and helped to shape the way people experienced the world”–language eerily similar to that we hear about Twitter.) So what happens when you take a 400-year-old revolution and translate/transcribe/transpose it into a contemporary “revolution”?
    • QUIXOTwEet raises, and will subsequently explore if not definitively answer, questions about authorship, reading, interpretation, the construction of meaning, textual analysis, intellectual property/copyright, translation (temporal, linguistic, and cross-platform), technology, social media, pop culture, cultural production and consumption, and much more.
  • Beyond all that gobbledygook, the project is also a piece of performance/endurance art in its own right, in the tradition of (although perhaps not as extreme as) the work of writers, documentarians, and performance artists such as A.J. Jacobs, Morgan Spurlock, Tehching Hsieh, and Marina Abramovich. It is also a form of conceptual writing, inspired by the work of people such as (Calgary’s own!) Christian Bok, Kenneth Goldsmith, and many others.
  • CAN I actually tweet the entire book? What will happen to me along the way? Will I be driven mad by the act of reading–just as Don Quixote himself was?
  • Finally, can the book be deconstructed and subsequently put back together? If so, will it be the “same” text–or will it have “mutated” somehow in the replication process? If not, what has it become?

ABOUT

Michael Ireton is way too old to be starting a mad project like QUIXOTwEet. At various points in his life, he has been a radio journalist (including several years hosting the local CBC morning show in Saint John, NB), voiceover performer, university instructor, perpetual student, “corporate philosopher”, PR hack, grocery boxboy, “green building” expert and residential builder, executive director of two Calgary non-profit organizations, theatre lighting technician, amateur actor, and “Jeopardy!” winner–just your classic life trajectory, really. He was born at the wrong time and without the funds to be the eccentric Victorian man of leisure and slight dandy he has always longed to be. He is eternally grateful to everyone involved with the “In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice At the Edge” program at the Banff Centre in February 2012 for helping to bring QUIXOTwEet to life. He lives in Altadore (in a “green” house they designed and built) with his wife, the amazing Joni Carroll, and their two sons Callum and Duncan.

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