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Electrifying Detail: Writing and Reading Triggers in Textual Zoom

Abstract (in English): 

What can be said about the detail as an aesthetic category within the framework of an emergent electronic culture? The paper does not aim to draw a standpoint on the subject but rather to identify possible paths of reflection and inquiry starting from a particular model: a form of zoomable text (z-text) and interface (zoom-editor) allowing the text to be structured on levels of detail and explored by zoom-in and zoom-out. The questions that we intend to address concern the role of detail as a trigger fostering both the writing and the reading process. As an essential ingredient of the zooming paradigm - urging the writer to say and the reader to ask more about what has already been said - the detail acquires a prevalent character, that of trigger of the textual unfolding and core of the interface functionality.

 The paper focuses on samples of constructed z-texts pointing to the following aspects:
- disclosure of details as a strategy of storytelling, e.g. progressively turning a few outline paragraphs into a full-fledged story (narrative triggers);
- variable physical or emotional proximity/distance of the reader to a textual object by simulating a camera-like approach in a descriptive setting (descriptive triggers);
- gradual movement from particular to general, general to particular, simple to complex in inductive/deductive or pedagogic essays (logical triggers).

While centered on literary and digital features (textual unfolding based on a visible/hidden detail dynamics), the paper also refers to conceptual constructs related to other media (printed text, photography), such as Naomi Schor’s (2007) delayed, absent or absorbed detail, and the discursive punctum inspired by Barthes’s reflections on photography (1981).


Barthes, Roland, Camera Lucida. Reflections on Photography, translated by Richard Howard, Hill and Wang, New York, 1981.

—Schor, Naomi, Reading in Detail: Aesthetics and the Feminine (first published 1987 by Methuen, Inc.), Routledge, New York, London, 2007.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen