Around the Book: Systems and Literacy by Henry Sussman

By Henry Sussman

Amid radical transformation and quick mutation within the nature, transmission, and deployment of knowledge and communications, round the e-book bargains a standing record and theoretically nuanced replace at the traditions and medium of the publication. What, it asks, are the book's present customers? The examine highlights the main radical experiments within the book's historical past as trials in what the writer phrases the existing working Systemat play in the fields of information, paintings, critique, and technological know-how. The investigations of recent structures thought, as exemplified through Gregory Bateson, Anthony Wilden, and Niklas Luhmann, change into inseparable from theoretically astute inquiry into the character of the book.Sussman's basic examples of such radical experiments with the background of the booklet are Sei Shonagon's Pillow ebook (both the textual content and Peter Greenaway's reveal adaptation), Stphane Mallarm's Un coup de ds,Walter Benjamin's Arcades undertaking, Jacques Derrida's Glas, Maurice Blanchot's loss of life Sentence, and Franz Kafka's enduring legacy in the global of the photo novel.In the author's arms, shut interpreting of those and similar works renders definitive facts of the book's patience and power. The e-book medium, with its in-built structure and application, keeps, he argues, to provide the capsule or reveal for cultural notation. The perennial predicament during which the booklet turns out to languish is in truth an party for readers to achieve absolutely their function as textual manufacturers, to adventure the entire diversity of liberty in expression and articulation embedded within the irreducibly bookish strategy of textual show.

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Example text

28 Bergson is by no means above redeploying, in his accounts of memory and the role that perception and images play within it, some of the conceptual usual suspects on which Kant and Hegel, albeit differently, have poised considerable architectural weight: entities including perception, understanding, and experience. We’ll also be exploring the rhythmic, tonal, and geographic differences between the wiring of the Kantian and Hegelian systems in Chapter 7. What becomes palpable in Bergson’s reprogramming of these entities is their role in a far more fluid circuitry: Thus there is supposed to be a rectilinear process, by which the mind goes further and further from the object, never to return to it.

Literatures, then, are not merely the basis for a broad range of institutions configured around cultural and aesthetic contracts, those concerning, for instance, sciences, technologies, historical phenomena, and art forms and their notable practitioners. They open the very arena, platform, or space for the critical registration, recapitulation, analysis, and reimagination or supplementation of the prevailing systems of actuality. Yet it is within the binding of the book that a constant, desperate, and hopefully critical grappling with systems of power, ideology, technology, and the social administration of goods and resources can transpire.

35 The book, as they set it out in this passage, is a Janus figure, facing at once its own dismemberment and the orders and totalities that it summons into being. The book, speaking out of both sides of its mouth (an instance of Deleuze/Guattari’s own faciality), addresses at the same time the strata of hierarchy and the state of abject disarray (they attribute it to the body without organs) to which we regress when we penetrate to the far side of social convention, the redundant propositions of identity, the familial division of labor, and the communal attitude and bigotry that make us who we are.

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