E-literature and the New Social Paradigms

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

In the opening section of this paper the author introduces the paradigm “literary text as a ride” in terms of metaphor and more because it relates to a sequential event that challenges all of human senses, and might be considered as a procedure of experiencing and perceiving of new media art and e-literary pieces. In “The Language of New Media” (2001), Lev Manovich draws upon the general trend in modern society toward presenting more and more information in the form of time-based audiovisual moving image sequences. Today we can go even a step further from this claim by arguing that such moving image sequences are just the first level in today’s arrangement of artistic and textual contents. The next crucial form of their most recent method of presentation and experience is a ride as a sequential event, which fits the basic condition of today’s individual living in the mixed and hybrid reality as a “pluriversum” of a given world and (virtual) ones.

The ride is an intensive and rich event-based and corporeal experience that takes place in compressed time, presupposing ascents and descents, the heavy rhythm, the suspense and dissolves, emotional ups and downs, and even the daring feeling of uncertainty when the rider realizes that she is not in charge. Switching to the riding mode also indicates one’s readiness to enter very unsafe conditions, filled with many non-trivial tasks deploying algorithmic (e. g., problem-solving) thinking and decision-making. The ride presupposes a tension between its Apollonian mode (as the manner of rational decision-making and control activities) and its irrational and euphoric Dionysian mode (also Dionysian tendency or principle), which might be explained even in terms of the concept of ilinx, discussed in Caillois’s “Man, Play and Games”. The ride, considered in terms of its perceptual features, provokes a desire directed toward beholding its particular qualities, and enjoying its striking and extraordinary atmospheres in its pure, crystal form.

The application of the ride concept in addressing and explaining the e-literary pieces (installations, game patches, web-based projects) with striking performative value, paves way to the second part of this paper that discus the performative in terms of today’s key social paradigms (e. g. the turn from the material labor to the immaterial one, from the art work to the art as experience and the ride, from art market to the art worlds, from the production of artworks devoted to the anonymous audience to the “prosumtion” in terms that the consumer’s feedback is addressed and even involved in the production of artworks). The issues are raised about the place of such a “riding and performative” creativity within the world in which the performative, process-like, and immaterial features come to the fore (Paolo Virno).

Referring to the theory of the “art worlds” the e-literature is considered as a field, which is generated by a very particular communities of like-minded artists/literati, critics and theoreticians, or better by the e-literary world that is to a certain extent independent from the main stream literary academia, literary canon,  and traditional literary institutions. In this world we are facing the grows of small but very active on-line creative communities consisted of practicioners and theoreticians who are established new institutions, spaces for criticism, and publication (e. g. E-Literature Organization, E-Poetry festival and conference, Cybertext Yearbook, Dichtung Digital etc.), meaning that for such an e-literary world the very particular symposia, meetings, on-line portals, e-publications, and festivals are crucial and inevitable (Domenico Quaranta’s claim on experience economy) . In fact, such institutions are pivotal in terms of the social referential framework of e-literature practice. Rather than being struck with the illusion of production without consumption (Michael Betancour’claim relating to the crisis of digital capitalism (e. g. housing bubbles in the USA, 2008), some danger in this world is caused by the movement toward pure abstraction, focused on the generation of value and innovation just by means of the semiotic exchange (procedures of sampling and remixing) and through the transfer of immaterial assets (database). Such a movement toward denial of the importance of more profound forms and innovation and a vast proliferation of pure abstraction (generated by state-of-the-art software) is critically addressed in last part of the paper by referring to the Sigfried Kracauer text The Mass Ornament.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen