Sunday, March 4, 2007

ENGL 1020: Blog Post VIII

Freewrite: you will determine your own subject matter & write from whatever angle you feel appropriate.

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Yesterday, I was rummaging through some crates in my study & found an old notebook of mine (the date of the first entry is 06.17.97). Reading through what my 20 year-old self found noteworthy produced feelings that were equal parts nostalgic & comedic. But, upon further reflection, I was reminded of the following video clip I watched on The Institute for the Future of the Book's blog (if:book) a few weeks ago:


Rhetorically, the clip is a powerful statement on the future of writing in relation to XML & Web 2.0. While the prospects & ramifications of writing in the digital-era are boundless, they just as often can be overwhelming; the rate at which Wesch's video inundates the viewer with information demonstrates this directly. As a viewer who considers himself at least somewhat tech-savvy, I find myself a bit nervous over the most effective & efficient way to navigate this new & ever mutating medium.

Which brings me back to my notebook. Sitting on the floor of my study, reading through my juvenile musings, I was immediately struck by two cursory observations: 1) there is a certain comfort in the tactile sensation of holding an artifact. Feeling the indentations produced by the pressure of a Bic pen's tip & the undulations of each page caused by nearly a decade's worth of humidity variation provide, in & of itself, a meditative experience. The tactile sensory perceptions I experienced also led me to consider, more thoroughly 2) the existence of my writing as an embodiment of & container for my abstract, cognitive self. This is not to say that writing in the digital age does not perform the same function, but, what reading through my old notebook did accomplish was to set in relief (literally & figuratively) my consciousness from nearly a decade ago. Reading my digital journals from as recently as 3 years ago does not elicit the same results.

This being said, I am not one to deride technology or innovative ways of conceptualizing our society, selves, & consciousness, etc.; in fact, it is imperative that we contextualize ourselves within & around the products of our contemporary culture. But, what I do believe to be necessary is a retention, or at least recognition (in one form or another), of antiquated modes of expression & production so as to provide tangible documentation of our past. For, even in the Age of Digital Reproduction, William Carlos Williams' admonition “No ideas but things” should not be forgotten.
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Fortuitous Addendum: A few hours after writing this post, I was at the Tattered Cover in LoDo reading Jean Baudrillard’s The Illusion of the End. Near the beginning of his essay “Pataphysics of the Year 2000,” he states:

...our present-day societies, intent as they are on accelerating all bodies, messages & processes in all directions & which, with modern media, have created for every event, story & image a simulation of an infinite trajectory. Every political, historical & cultural fact possesses a kinetic energy which wrenches it from its own space & propels it into a hyperspace where, since it will never return, it loses all meaning…we have…smashed the referential orbit of things once & for all.

Now, through the impulse for total dissemination & circulation, every event is granted its own liberation; every fact becomes atomic, nuclear, & pursues its trajectory into the void. In order to be disseminated into infinity, it has to be fragmented like a particle…Every set of phenomena, whether cultural totality or sequence of events, has to be fragmented, disjointed, so that it can be sent down the circuits; every kind of language has to be resolved into a binary formulation so that it can circulate not, any longer, in our memories, but in the luminous, electronic memory of the computers. (2)
While I have yet to come to any fully developed analysis of these lines, they seem to dialogue with the statements I have made above--especially the idea that digital writing lacks a tangible essence in exchange for a "fragmented" & "disjointed" existence in "hyperspace."

1 comment:

Molly Josette said...

I don't like digital writing as much as traditional writing because I have trouble focusing on my subject. It is hard to wright when I could be searching YouTube for a video about anything I desire, or shooting ducks on the add at the top of the page. Online writing has taken away from actual writing. We have so much more to do now, that it is harder to focus on the author's topic.