Brit, Andrew, and Kirsten should post material for their papers in the comments section of this post.
Max, Brett, Ryan, and Kevin should post material for their papers in the comments section of this post.
Justin, Scott, and Karl should post material for their papers in the comments section of this post.
Rebecca, Alex Potter, and Alex Mountain should post material for their papers in the comments section of this post.
Lindsay, Andrea, Jen, and Joe should post material for their papers in the comments section of this post.
Ryan sent along this bit of standup on Google, knowing, and not knowing — a nice last word/afterword to our last section on the digital archive:
This was in the New York Times yesterday — evidently Mark Danielewski is planning a 27-volume serialized novel, starting in 2014:
Sounds like an interesting experiment…
Have a good holiday everyone!
I came across this Norton ad online just now, and it seemed to speak to some of the anxieties of loss we’ve been discussing in strangely immediate ways….”without your stuff, who are you?” I’m wondering who this weird orange figure is as well.
Also, Lindsay sent along this article about media addiction and hoarding:
All more good food for thought on the digital archive — see you all Friday for our shift to the database.
We’ve spent the past two classes thinking about Agrippa as an archival project and poem—as a complex embodiment of what Matthew Kirschenbaum calls the “remarkable staying power and . . . fugitive abandon” of electronic objects (Mechanisms 236). As the paradoxes of memory and forgetting, presence and absence, encryption and decryption, and disappearance and ubiquity that we traced today suggest, these tensions have far-reaching implications for how we read, collect, and understand ourselves as living beings in relation to both digital and print textuality.
Mark Sample and Diana Taylor’s pieces for class on Wednesday offer us a spin on these tensions that further throws into question our constant desire to archive digital material and to archive ourselves through this material. Comparing the digital to the earlier moments of the pre-print bodily repertoire and the print archive, Taylor suggests that what we store through digital media is often reshaped, interrupted, and even lost as much as it is stored and remembered. Sample takes this latent possibility a step further, calling for a Fugitive Text Collective dedicated to “celebrat[ing] the trace,” reveling in the strange mysteries of textual disappearance, loss, and impermanence.
Since this is our last reading-based blog of the semester, I thought it might be interesting to take this into different, somewhat more personal territory. So for this post I’d like you to nominate an entry from your own reading or experience into the collection of this Fugitive Text Collective. Agrippa and Bill’s manuscript in Mao II are among the candidates Sample mentions—what other possibilities might we think of, and what might they add to such a collection (however much we can call it that)?
As you think of possibilities, feel free to consider literary material (both texts themselves and texts within texts—although steer clear of things we’ve covered in detail in class) and other genres and forms: music, film, images, and the like, whether they be analog or digital. But I encourage you to also go beyond usual categories of cultural study like these and think about more personal dimensions of this fugitive nature as well: what texts have you lost, and how did you lose them—what technological or material forces came into play? How does that loss affect you, whether in terms of how you read, how you see yourself and the world around you, or otherwise? What does the impact of such an absence tell you about the shape and nature of texts in our archival world more broadly? What would a collection like this suggest to you as a whole? Based on the loss that you describe, what do you make of Sample’s suggestion that we need “actual texts that are actual fugitives?” This is a paradoxical sort of collection in and of itself, but it’s simultaneously a broad one—think creatively, have some fun with it, and see what you might add to it.
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post. It is due by midnight on Tuesday, November 8th, the night before our Wednesday class, and should be at least 300 words. If you have any questions, let me know via email.
With Agrippa, we bid farewell to the weighty world of print texts that we’ve been living in for the second section of the course, and head into the world of the digital. We’re often encouraged to see digital media as comparatively weightless, with everything effortlessly stored in the cloud. But as we’ll see (and as the Jason Scott talk we watched today suggested), issues like the ones of materiality, storage, collection, and disappearance that we’ve been exploring all along don’t get solved in the realm of the digital—instead they change form, raising new questions in new ways.
Agrippa is a central case of this. William Gibson’s poem “Agrippa” is probably one of the shortest texts we’ll read this semester in terms of sheer word count, but the physical history of the text outside of the poem itself is one of the most complex and involved — the poem itself is bound up (literally and figuratively) in Agrippa the book, which itself has a complex history both in print and online. We’ll be spending two days on the phenomenon as a whole, and our second day (next Monday) will focus on the transmission and circulation of the text.
For Wednesday, though, let’s focus on the text of the poem and the physical nature of the print object, and see how they relate to one another and what themes and issues they raise (both individually and collectively).
In addition to reading the text of the poem (on Blackboard and on Gibson’s site), you should spend some time looking at the section on the various components of the book on The Agrippa Files, the archival website I mentioned today in class — there’s lot of interesting images and information that should help give you a sense of what the actual object was like.
Once you’ve spent some time studying both the poem and the object, you should write a post focusing on how one element of the entirety of Agrippa contributes to its overall thematic significance. I’ve divided our class into three groups, each with its own specific element to focus on:
Photography as a theme in the poem: Scott, Brit, Lindsay, Max, Kirsten
The book as an object: Jen, Andrew, Alex Mountain, Justin, Kevin, Andrea
The disk, encryption, and erasure: Ryan, Rebecca, Karl, Joe, Brett, Alex Potter
Try to use your post to think about how the technology in your particular area relates to the poem and the project of Agrippa overall: what’s the effect of reading a poem this way? What are Gibson, Dennis Ashbaugh (the artist who produced the book), and Kevin Begos Jr. (the book’s publisher) trying to say through these various elements? What do we as readers have to do to read your element, and what does having to adopt that way of reading help us to see about reading technologically overall?
Whichever group you’re assigned to, make sure you both read the poem and explore the Agrippa Files site before you go to write your post—you should be aware of the entirety of the work in order to understand how your specific element plays into it. And as you read through the comments before you post yours, pay particular attention to what your groupmates have said—let’s try to develop a few focused mini-conversations that we can build on and connect to one another in class.
Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post. It is due by midnight on Tuesday, November 1st, the night before our Wednesday class, and should be at least 300 words. If you have any questions, let me know via email.