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the telescopic sublime / criticism in 3D

with 3 comments

As I work on my “real” writing, I increasingly find myself looking to embed images within my text, just like when I’m tapping away at adswithoutproducts. (Obviously, I could insert images – like, I know how to do that in Word – but I work in a field, literature, that doesn’t let you get away with gratuitous illustration.

And then there’s the burgeoning world of video. No one gets to put that in their book…

For instance, I am working today on this famous passage from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:


He turned to the flyleaf of the geography and read what he had written there: himself, his name and where he was.

Stephen Dedalus

Class of Elements

Clongwoes Wood College

Sallins

County Kildare

Ireland

Europe

The World

The Universe

That was in his writing: and Fleming one night for a cod had written on the opposite page:

Stephen Dedalus is my name,

Ireland is my nation.

Clongwoes is my dwellingplace

And heaven my expectation.

He read the verses backwards but then they were not poetry.

And at one point as I worked on it, I found myself momentarily thinking that I would embed this into my text ((Via here):

But of course I did not, I could not. I will have to make do with a footnote and a link that will assuredly look strange to anyone who is not a blogreader. Blogreaders, I think, would get the not quite non-sequitur-ness of the gesture.

Now see, if was writing for an appropriately electronic medium, a freeform one that’s not, say, just a repository of print-type articles, the stub of a new book might have grown out of this right-angle point of contact with my first. The Joyce material might have proceeded along down the page while a new line of thought, taking up the topic of these particularly modern anti-narrative narratives like Stephen’s list, like the Eames’s film, these synchronic stories which gesture at a new fictionality both impossible and absolutely necessary, dictated by changing world conditions, the erosion of forms, technological emergences, etc…

Perhaps I would have dropped what I’ve been doing with the work that includes the Joyce chapter and taken up this new line. Or maybe both at once. Working in this fashion – a fashion that’s a bit closer to blogging than the academic mongraph, or perhaps would be a hybrid of both, would give a whole new meaning to the notion of scholarly oeuvre. One work per life time, branching 2 dimensionally, and then 3, and so on. And it would end up – or start out – looking something like this:

(which is a visualization of adswithoutproducts, from here, via here)

So while this might sound like a circa mid-1990s paean to the radical new possibilities of HTML for criticism and imaginative works, it’s not. That has all been said before, many, many times. Rather for me this youtube epiphany makes me realize that the technology is already getting old – we are getting used to it, it’s becoming second nature. And it’s starting to show, as is bound to happen, in the way that I work, but more importantly the way that I think.

UPDATE: It dawned on me only after posting this that the issue I’m working through with the Joyce quote above actually has quite a lot to do with the issues I’m working through in this post. The subtle registration of the important question very young Stephen has asked about the “poem,” the experiment that he has conducted, and what his author’s ultimate answer to that question will be… Stephen’s question is about the limits of conventional form and the conventional temporalities that these forms drag along with them…

Written by adswithoutproducts

June 15, 2006 at 11:12 pm

Posted in blogs, design, joyce, meta

3 Responses

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  1. “…that doesn’t let you get away with gratuitous illustration.”

    Isn’t the solution just to include the non-gratuitous ones? Think, like, Michael North’s copiously illstrated The Dialectic of Modernism.

    “Rather for me this youtube epiphany makes me realize that the technology is already getting old – we are getting used to it, it’s becoming second nature. And it’s starting to show, as is bound to happen, in the way that I work, but more importantly the way that I think.”

    I can’t watch video on this computer, so I’m not sure about the nature of your epiphany, but I can say that my investment in academic blogging comes largely from the fact that, well, it seems strange at this point to even have to say “It’s the Internet, it wins.” But it does. In my rare sanguine moments I imagine that fifteen years from now we’ll be celebrated as the first, late greats of e-scholarship, the ones who weren’t on the bleeding edge, but who were bloodied enough to convince our compatriots of the inevitable.

    [You don’t allow HTML comments, something I totally understand, but that means you’ll be treated to none of my spectacular linkage.]

    Scott Eric Kaufman

    June 18, 2006 at 10:01 am

  2. they would be, alas, gratutuous in the case on my book-in-development.

    I’ll work on the HTML comment issue.

    AWP

    June 18, 2006 at 11:30 pm

  3. fixed the HTML issue.

    AWP

    June 18, 2006 at 11:33 pm


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