Stumbling Towards Enlightenment

Writer Gregory Pleshaw Claims First Book Ever Written Exclusively on Facebook!
“Stumbling Towards Enlightenment”
A Live Book Written on Facebook, April – January, 2010

In the spring of 2010, writer and journalist Gregory Pleshaw embarked on an experimental novel written entirely as status reports and Notes on Facebook, the world’s most popular social network. A “live book,” “Stumbling Towards Enlightenment” made use of current technology in social media to treat his 1200 friends to an unfolding travelogue over the course of eight months of travel through India and Thailand.

Operating from a polemic of “total transparency” Pleshaw explored a multiplicity of liminal themes, live on Facebook, including identity, insanity, risk, addiction, internal & external discoveries, liminality, time, space, danger, sex, extreme circumstances, transgressive non-fiction, health, yoga, religion, redemption and the complete dissolution of both the constructed self and the notion of “privacy” through a process known as “pure process transparency” live on Facebook, posting at least thrice daily across India and Thailand.

When Stumbling Toward Enlightenment began, facebook was the #1 website in the world with close to half a million daily readers. Pleshaw would later dub it “the global newspaper,” but long before that point, he saw within it an emergent venue for a new kind of literature – unfolding status report by status report and easily “contributed to” by other random “writers” from one’s pool of “friends.”

“Stumbling Towards Enlightenment” had many themes, but it’s underlying praxis lay in one simple question, “What is a Friend?” a theme that Pleshaw would return to repeatedly as he posted status report after status report about yoga, gurus, street hustlers and World Cup updates from his four-month residence in Dharamsala, the home of the exiled leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama. While the estimated number of status reports from what ended up as an eight-month experiment number between 1500-2500 posts, “Stumbling Towards Enlightenment” offered Pleshaw’s 1200 friends a thrice-updated unfolding of a narrative adventure that even had its own romantic subplot, for prior to heading to India, Pleshaw met Dee Dee Clohessy, a writer from Buffalo, New York, whose seminal work “facebook status reports I hate,” attracted Pleshaw’s attention to the medium in which they were living.

In addition to many many status reports, Pleshaw’s output during this period also included at least a dozen long-form “Notes” about everything from seeing the Dalai Lama to finding a cure for his psoriasis to “burying the meds” one full year after deciding not to take them anymore. Dozens of different friends contributed to the threads that Pleshaw seeded via both status report and “Notes,” “contributing writers” all to both the journey and the unfolding narrative. Off-facebook, hundreds of emails, Skype calls and chats built a broad subtext of the many convergent and divergent notions, ideas, and themes that Pleshaw chose to explore during the course of the “Stumbling” project.

Originally intended to only encompass the period that Pleshaw spent in India, the “live book” format ended up perfecty illustrating the axiom that “sometimes even the best experiments can go awry,” when upon returning to Thailand, Pleshaw’s use of a tantric meditation technique caused him to go astral for nine straight days – a phenomena described by others as a Kundalini Awakening and whose revelatory nature took both Pleshaw and his astounded readership into triple-overtime – with the narrative only coming to a final “Stumbling” halt on January the 1st, 2011.

Pleshaw is currently in hiatus in Buffalo, New York, where he is working as a writer for, the largest website devoted exclusively to all things facebook. His aim is to eventually compile the eight months worth of status reports, threads and notes into a stand-alone tome as an example of the emerging literature that is happening through Facebook and other social media.