In launching this subversive experiment, I do not repudiate the core, the embrace of code as writing, overtures to poetic interoperability, or the rigorous formalism required to understand these things. I carry more water for cybertext theory than most. If my enthusiasm for the 576 positions of the Aarseth Sutra has its limits, I do sympathize with the urge to systematize, being one of those people for whom art means making actual, executable interfaces to databases, which is deeply systematic work. I also share without reservation Eskelinen’s conviction that “literature is perhaps the best aesthetic instrument to deal with the unfair, the uncanny, and the unbalanced,” and his interest in making “metarules” a prime concern of computational art (387) – projects that invite, if not require, attention to various forms of code. Code-core cybertextualism has undeniable virtues: it usefully drives innovation both in poetic practice and critical thinking, and it builds a detailed foundation for understanding, and eventually teaching, next-generation digital literacy. Long may its models and schemas endure.
At the same time, concentrating on the core obviously does not help at the margins, where we confront more ambiguous encounters between writing and information systems. Beyond providing a dour reminder of forsaken rigor, hardcore cybertextualism sheds little light on my promiscuous confusion of récriture and database/interface poetics. To stick with the core means closing the door on practices that do not conceive their interfaces strictly as code, or whose textual machinations may not be directly conceived as machines. To walk through that door, however, entails a series of hard questions. If increasingly, almost all writing is born within a nominal embrace of the digital, what happens to our born-digital distinction? How to define a specific electronic literature identity and practice, within the context of a larger orchestration? What is to be gained by thinking about Perloff’s “poetry by other means” through the lens of electronic literature?
Perversely, it may be easier to find the value of this project by means of a limit case: an instance in which the approach to récriture as cyberécriture may afford a better understanding of the text and its function. What follows will be a tale of two liftings, featuring an incidental brush with Farbenlehre. Anyone whose capacity for metaphor is affected by blue-green color blindness is hereby excused.
Kingsley Amis’s very funny and very scary ghost story, The Green Man, has just been released. The cover features an excellent depiction of the Green Man by Eric Hanson, following in the footsteps of many wild cover variations, including the above, and this one too.
Striking a different tone altogether is the soft-core 1970s Panther edition. Thanks to Ryan Britt’s Tor.com review (“like Fawlty Towers Plus Sex and Ghosts”) of the book for bringing this one to our attention.
Is writing the gift of curling up, of curling up with reality? One would so love to curl up, of course, but what happens to me then?
— Elfriede Jelinek
The ban on the veil is at least formally presented as a ban on a sign that is so strong that it presents an affront to the harmonious social order. The ostensible logic is left at the level of semiotics: it presents an overly provocative “remonstration” that must be prohibited to maintain the neutrality of the social space. The ban is effectively a prohibition of prohibition that becomes a negation of negation. In other words, the negation of Islam’s own prohibition on the female, and the negation of the symbolic presence in a social space that must remain neutral.
But often what is missing in this debate is the outcome the ban on the veil has had on Muslim women. As a restriction on their most private and intimate domain of subjectivity, the debates often neglect the space of the female’s own relation to the veil, how it is understood from within Islam as a cultural and religious mandate and sign of piety.
The ban on the veil in public places in Europe is not that much different than the movement to preemptively ban Shariah law in the United States, a project that would ostensibly make practicing Islam illegal and punishable by fine. Shariah refers to a set of liturgical rights and individual dispensations of the individual believer to God, and Muslims perceive the Shariah as a set of “rights.” Where the movement to ban Shariah and the veil coalesce for Muslims is thus at the liturgical and the intimate terrain of their religious identities.
Love has no uttermost, as the stars have no number and the sea no rest.
— Eleanor Farjeon