Last night there was a very good documentary on the other side. (I won't say which channel, as I am a fully paid up member of More4). But suffice to say it was called: WHEN TOBY MET JULIE, and it was excellent (Iain Overton drones on...)
It chartered the rise and fall of The Modern Review - that ballsy 1990s culture mag that brought high-art and pop-art to the same level, and did it with panache, wit and (by the sound of it) a stash of Category A drugs.
What struck me, though, listening to the great and the good trying to remember their misspent youths and time on the Review, was just how much of a real sense of literary community there was with it all. The list of those young turks (at the time) on the review was of the establishment today: Will Self, Cosmo Landesman, Julie Burchill, Toby Young... and they all knew each other and they all slept together (or so it seemed).
What made me think was - where is the Modern Review of today? What is the equivalent? Where do all the young turks gather to create a fuss? Depressingly: perhaps nowhere.
Maybe it is the curse of the blog. The blog has enabled everyone to be a writer, and in so doing, means that there is no longer a club to join. No magazine to set up to sneer at the generation that came before you. No more clubbish gatherings of great minds.
Rather lots more blogs working in isolation.
Perhaps this is the end game of the Democracy that is the Internet. It empowers and enables anyone with a PC to write what they want, when they want. But in so doing it means that anyone can write waffle (a case in point here, no?). And - possibly - ultimately ends constructive (or, in the case of The Modern Review, destructive) partnerships.
I hope not. I like Schools of Thought. They might be pretentious and arsy, but they provide a focus by which a nation can guage the zeitgeist. The Internet is too rambling to let this happen, like an old Aunt in the corner at Christmas saying whatever comes into her head.
Perhaps it's down now to programmes like More4 News to do the job that The Modern Review tried to do. Shake it up and see what drops out. I hope we can...