Somethin’ Else. New Technologies: The Writer’s Challenge


Session Title:

  • Catalogue Papers (edited by musica falsa)

Presentation Title:

  • Somethin’ Else. New Technologies: The Writer’s Challenge



  • Abstract (Intro)

    The experience of destruction or loss of aura, as theorized by Walter Benjamin in his essay on The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, is the direct consequence of the sudden and irreversible impact on esthetics of the machinery of science and technology, questioning the Platonic model of Original vs. Copy, eliminating the subject as the focal point and replacing it with “a process that can no longer be identified through a point of view”). If the value of a work of art is no longer its role as object of worship but as object of exposure; if the respectful and religious distance that in the past linked spiritual intention with plastic configuration is disappearing as primacy is given to the mastery of a technical apparatus (Apparatur) and to the intransitive treatment of a given material; this is because the experience of what is striking and heterogeneous, which is the peculiar feature of modernity, plays a role not only in the circulation and reception of art but in the construction and composition strategies of the work itself. The model for this rupture is the shift from painting, the ultimate auratic art, to the cinema, which is essentially an art of discontinuity and montage. This model has been operative and is still operative in the specific ontological context of image. In contrast, the relationship between text and the technical modalities of its circulation and inscription has a different history, which is counter-cyclical, and has other effects that are anachronistic as regards the time differentials that they establish. The revolution of the printing press has recently been superceded by the revolu-tion of digital technology and the infinite and changing proliferation of anguage in pixel format connected by complex software that is reminiscent of brain cell systems or root structures. To ignore the impact of these changes on the practice of poetry (i.e. the production of fiction) because of some sort of idealistic repression, is the same as confirming this absence of “view point” discussed by Walter Benjamin, but in a non-dialectic sense. By a paradoxical contamination, the very act of separating fiction and technology, in the name of fiction’s hypothetical essence (e.g. style, images, emotions) — in other words removing literature from its historical context — contributes to the transformation of the ideology of virtual reality and cybertext into a collective fantasy, a modern mythology, before which all thought gives way. This is the return of mass alienation by images, or Zerstreuung, in a new form. It recreates the aura as it makes a fetish out of e-merchandise (the new economy and the web are viewed only as an expo-nential global supermarket). In response to this digital delusion, it is essential to return to the function of the work of art, which is to “awaken” and to acknowledge technological upheavals in order to intensify its own exploratory dimension, while retaining its critical lucidity. The purpose of this essay is to determine how the use of digital software in writing can multiply the number of areas for practical experimentation on language as an art material and how this approach can become a form of undercover revolution, of covert irony, even though it appears to take part in the blind approval of the dominant ideology. We will cover the three traditional categories of rhetoric, inventio, dispositio and elocutio, to classify and to understand the structural and/or temporary displacements that affect the economy of poetic text. In other words, we will show how by damaging a text’s esthetic appearances you can implicitly re-politicize and rescue them.


  • ISEA2000 Catalogue Papers. Produced by musica falsa, magazine on music, art & philosophy.  Texts collected by Bastian Gallet. Translations by ALTO.