Illustration: Johnny Harris
It may seem odd to readers of the tomic Let Us Now Praise Famous Men — and especially to the editors at Fortune — that a writer known for prose-poetry managed to wring such musical effects out of 12-character gimmicks. To Agee, of course, they were never mere gimmicks, but rather an opportunity for catechismic brevity, for evoking a limitless truth in 140 characters or less. Certainly no practitioner of the art of Twitter has matched him on this score. Unlike so many young men whose vocabulary exceeded their powers of moral apprehension, Agee maintained a rigid discipline in his hashtags. Many an e-correspondent would doze off at her laptop and wake to find a near-Byzantine mosaic of tweets based around such lapidary offerings as #CocteauParty, #LuceChange, #JungAtHeart, #FertilizerIHardlyKnowHer, or #HipsterFlaubert.