Riffing on Books and Life – Arts & Sciences Literary Blog by interactive new media author & artist Terry Bailey

9Nov/09

Part III: Two-Bit Words, Academics v Guerrilla Artists and Digitally Influenced Print Books

For my next look at academic writing contrasted with “two-bit” vocabulary of writers of nonfiction, I explored the text of Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary by new media theorist N. Katherine Hayles. This was a painful reading experience, and dissecting it as I read to understand that pain was even more difficult.

I came to this book with excitement. The text, with accompanying CD and website promised to be a source of writing inspiration for me, and a great resource for helping me move electronic literature into the classroom. Published in 2008, I had hopes that it would address wonderful contemporary examples of new media literature; formerly most of the texts I had found on the subject, and examples of new media literature, were terribly dated, having been written in the mid 1990s when there was somewhat of a boom in the U.S. around new media literature but before technology allowed for much in the way of speed and multimedia elements like animated graphics, sound, music and digital type.

Sadly, however, this book began and ended with inaccessible passages like the following:

The subjectivity performed and evoked by this text differs from traditional print novels in subverting, in a wide variety of ways, the authorial voice associated with an interiority arising from the relation between sound and mark, voice and presence (Hayles 186).

In case anyone should think that I just pulled an overly academic sentence that would reflect my essay bias, let me share the sentence that follows the one above.

Overwhelmed by the cacophony of competing and cooperating voices, the authority of voice is deconstructed and the interiority it authorized is subverted into echoes testifying to the absences at the center (Hayles 186).

At least author Hayles managed to nail a triplet alliteration in that first phrase.

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9Nov/09

Coming: Foer and animals. But first: last installment on two-bit words

riff coming soon!

riff coming soon!

Well, the synchronicity scientists would nod an "I told you so" to the fact that I went to buy a WEB magazine at Vroman's in Pasadena on Saturday and learned that Jonathan Safran Foer would be there the next day to present his new book, Eating Animals. This after I had recently written my first book blog about this author as I sat at the Vroman's Cafe a few weeks earlier (see Aug. 7 and 14). Of course, I will riff on his visit, and the book, and on eating animals. But first to my last installment on the two bit word essay I have been building here.

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