12.0316 reading

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 26 Nov 1998 22:17:19 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 316.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 16:47:01 -0800
From: Richard Bear <rbear@oregon.uoregon.edu>
Subject: Re: 12.0314 confinement, loss, growth

In a sense, what we're doing when reading is downloading a program. Because of
our capacity for running the subroutines as we go, we feel we're comprehending
the text, but actually we're simply compiling and running the subset of the
program consisting of sentences read up to the present moment along with
associations and references ("links" if you will) unique to each of us (but in
some cases, perhaps many cases, common to a reading community). Once we have
read, say, Paradise Lost and set down the book, we can now run the entire
program (which requires those "natural tears" for its full impact) almost as a
kind of extratemporal (as well as hypertextual and experiential) gestalt. The
poem is never actually on the page, except as code, perhaps analogous to
language; it is something, different upon each downloading, that moves from
author to reader, and lives fully only in the life, individually and
collectively, of its readers -- of whom the author is but one.


Richard Bear <rbear@oregon.uoregon.edu> Publisher, Renascence Editions <http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~rbear/ren.htm> Microforms Coordinator <http://libweb.uoregon.edu/govdocs/micropg.htm> University of Oregon Library <http://libweb.uoregon.edu/>

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