As I mentioned in my last update, one of the modules I’m studying this term is called ‘Reading the Digital’ and today I’m going to give you an insight into the life of a ‘digital’ student!
So far, the module has exceeded my expectations; it’s challenged every notion of literature I knew of as well as throwing me into the world of fourth dimensions and ontological realities. My favourite piece so far has been the poem ‘Agrippa‘ by William Gibson. Known for his cyberpunk novel ‘Neuromancer’, Gibson transforms the way we read a text through the unconventional format of a virus on a computer screen; the poem scrolls on it’s own, leaving the reader without any control over what they’re reading. It also self-obliterates once it’s finished scrolling.
‘Agrippa’ enticed me because it challenged the way I read it; a poem about memories became a memory through it’s computerised form. It’s origins are also absurdly compelling; placed in a art book on a floppy disk, the power one has over reading a poem was ultimately revoked. Although it did hurt my eyes reading from a screen, I enjoyed the effect it had on me – in many ways, it enhanced the effects of the poem. I also read through Pepperell’s analysis of the increase power which technology holds, who confirmed the limited power humanity holds compared to the ever increasing power of mechanisms such as machines. It led us to question the ethical dilemmas being raised: How far are we willing to go in terms of letting technology take ownership of humane abilities? Where does one cross the line, whether it be genetic modification or the concept of virtual realities?
Gibson, William, Dennis Ashbaugh, and Kevin Begos. Agrippa: A Book of the Dead. New York: K. Begos. 1992
Pepperell, Robert. The Post-human Condition. Oxford, England: Intellect Books. 1995