Grappling With the Actual: Writing on the Periphery of the Real

Abstract (in English): 

This essay considers literary realism in relation to two of my own recent works of digital literature: This is a Picture of Wind: A Weather Poem for Phones, and The Pleasure of the Coast: A Hydro-graphic Novel. Both of these web-based works grapple with the actual world we live in: a post-digital world, in which invisible layers of data inform our daily thoughts and actions; a post-human world, of vast oceans and ceaseless winds. These works use the affordances of the internet to call attention to the historical, colonial, elemental, and material substrate of the internet; both attempt to represent the reality of the vast corpus of non-human writing which lurks beneath the mere appearance of the screen. Methodologically, this essay grapples with the material and contextual actualities of these works by turning its attention to earlier analogous moments in the intertwined histories of technology, science, and writing. In particular, this essay is concerned with the technology of the ship, the science of measurement, and the writing of the vast non-human systems of coastlines and winds.

Pull Quotes: 

Realistically, as authors and critics of digital literature, we have to ask ourselves, what is the good of recording all this data if we are also in the process of erasing it through climate change? Both of the recent works of digital literature discussed in this essay seek language for vast non-human narratives unfolding beyond the time scale of the human body; invisible territories of data expand beyond the peripheries of human comprehension.

Platforms referenced:

Title Developers Year initiated
JavaScript 1995
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J. R. Carpenter