Not too surprisingly, Patrick Kurp finds himself reading more books these days and fewer things online, including blogs. The reason? His “festering impatience with shoddy writing.” While “good writing is always rare,” he observes, it particularly hard to smoke out “in an age when seemingly everyone is convinced of his obligation to share his precious words.”
Part of the problem is sheer numbers: listserve lists, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and other “social networking” technologies are merely the latest example of what Henry James called the “multiplication of endowments for chatter.” No one who has accepted the moral obligation to write well is on Twitter, except perhaps to draw attention to good writing elsewhere. Nor is settling for the ready-made phrases that come tumbling off the top of the head a necessary and sufficient condition for blogging or any other means of “instant publication.” The technology is not at fault; or, rather, its only offense is that it permits the indulgence of bad literary habits and worse principles.
The real problem is identified by the poet D. J. Enright, from whose posthumous memoir Injury Time (2003) Kurp quotes:
The influence of Christianity, with its preference for language that reflects Christ’s own social position—“humble, socially inferior, unlearned, esthetically crude or even repellent,” on Erich Auerbach’s description—encourages the suspicion of linguistic artifice. Not merely the language of the gutter but the slapdash verbal guesses of the pavement and shop floor are twisted homage to Christ’s example.
Since the stylistic commonplace throughout Christendom is that low speech is authentic (and high language is affected and insincere), and since modern technology has made it easier and easier to translate low speech into written words, by progressively easing the manual labor required to do so, the armies of shoddy writing march largely unopposed across the globe. Those like Kurp who pull back from the latest technological novelties may appear to be seeking the literary equivalent of “sustainable living.” In truth, though, they are simply trying to remind the rest of us that ultra-high speed broadband and 45-nanometer processors may be really cool, but they are not indispensable for good writing. This is something else that Kurp learned from D. J. Enright. In a poem from the ’seventies, Enright wrote:
benefits of modern technology.
That on the Wings of Imagination a chartered jet
shall transport me to my inspiration.
That tapes may record the best and happiest moments
of the happiest and best minds.
That a fine excess of surprising subject-matter
be relayed to me by satellite.
That powerful pumps ensure the spontaneous overflow
of powerful feelings.
That cameras shall arrest the vanishing apparitions
which haunt the interlunations of life.
That sophisticated computers select the best words
and collocate them in the best order.
A pointed stick, some vegetable dye, a strip of bark
removed by stealth from the public park. 
The problem is the problem of language. And it dawns upon me that there is a reason those who prefer what J. V. Cunningham called “sinuous and exacting” language to low authentic speech—those like Kurp who spend less and less time with their eyes fixed on a computer screen—read so much fiction (in prose and verse) instead. The reason is this. Fiction is the only form of human discourse that hunts more after words than matter. If you insist, before anything else, upon “the choiceness of the phrase, and the round and clean composition of the sentence, and the sweet falling of the clauses”—if these are more important to you than “the weight of matter, worth of subject, soundness of argument, life of invention, or depth of judgment”—then you stay home with fiction. For it is the permanent home of language.
 Erich Auerbach, “Sermo Humilis,” in Literary Language and Its Public in Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages, trans. Ralph Manheim (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965), p. 40.
 D. J. Enright, “The Progress of Poesy,” in Collected Poems (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 166. Originally published in Sad Ires (1975).
 Sir Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning (1605): 1.IV.2. Bacon called these preferences the “first distemper of learning.”