By Henry Sussman
Amid radical transformation and speedy mutation within the nature, transmission, and deployment of knowledge and communications, round the ebook bargains a standing file and theoretically nuanced replace at the traditions and medium of the booklet. What, it asks, are the book's present clients? The research highlights the main radical experiments within the book's historical past as trials in what the writer phrases the present working Systemat play in the fields of data, paintings, critique, and technological know-how. The investigations of contemporary platforms idea, as exemplified through Gregory Bateson, Anthony Wilden, and Niklas Luhmann, turn into inseparable from theoretically astute inquiry into the character of the book.Sussman's fundamental examples of such radical experiments with the background of the ebook are Sei Shonagon's Pillow ebook (both the textual content and Peter Greenaway's monitor adaptation), Stphane Mallarm's Un coup de ds,Walter Benjamin's Arcades venture, Jacques Derrida's Glas, Maurice Blanchot's loss of life Sentence, and Franz Kafka's enduring legacy in the international of the picture novel.In the author's palms, shut examining of those and similar works renders definitive facts of the book's patience and energy. The ebook medium, with its built in structure and software, keeps, he argues, to provide the pill or display for cultural notation. The perennial difficulty during which the e-book turns out to languish is in truth an social gathering for readers to achieve totally their function as textual manufacturers, to adventure the complete variety of liberty in expression and articulation embedded within the irreducibly bookish strategy of textual show.
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Additional info for Around the Book: Systems and Literacy
To attribute the book to a subject is to overlook this working of matters and the exteriority of their relations. It is to fabricate a beneﬁcent God to explain geological movements. In a book, as in all things, there are lines of articulation or segmentarity, strata and territories; but also lines of ﬂight, movements of deterritorialization and destratiﬁcation. Comparative rates of ﬂow on these lines produce phenomena of relative slowness and viscosity, or, on the contrary, of acceleration and rupture.
The face of the book and the face of the reader glare back at one another in the uncanniness ................. 17885$ $CH1 10-20-10 14:48:51 PS PAGE 5 6 Introduction of undecidable reciprocity. The reader might imagine that she can pick up or put down the book at will, but in fact the facial conﬁguration of its reciprocal attentiveness is on duty 24/7. The book grasps us at least as ﬁrmly, unrelentingly, and inhumanly as we grasp it. Books hold back, they take us by force, they will not let us go.
It peers out, beckons, and threatens from every possible angle and dissolves every reassurance that we might pose, like Perseus’s shield against Medusa, against it, whether the familiarity of the human or the essential sympathy, goodwill, and protection of animals. The face, then, is not only the icon of the facet of the human anatomy that reads, taking in information in all its ﬂows; it is a cipher of writing, of what is, in its multifarious notations and registers, being taken in and processed.