Greg Linch's Commonplace Book

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we’re at a parallel moment to what happened to painting when the camera was invented. In order to survive, it had to adapt, turn in a direction away from the portrayal of realism, thus the birth of impressionism and abstraction. Writing is facing a set of machines that, similarly has rendered its primary task obsolete: the Internet. In order to survive, it too will have to change its course, though I don’t feel it will go toward abstraction, rather it will be mimetic and replicative, involving notions of distribution of over ideas of content and narrative, what has been driving writing for centuries.

Conceived as a catalogue of thoughts and images on 19th century Paris as the emblematic modern city, the Arcades Project brings incredible innovation not only stylistically – through the fragmentary nature of the text, which could be read and accessed in non-linear fashion – but also intellectually, by breaking the traditional frame of text which rests upon a necessary temporal and linguistic progression, and effectively establishing a new architecture which relies less on words and more on the images and material that those words conjure. Benjamin effectively reconstructs different Parisian frames, capturing them not unlike a photographer captures a scene. Each of these frames, as fragments of text, contains its own temporality, existing both in relation to but also independent from the others. By embedding the relevance of each frame into a temporality that emerges directly from the material it depicts – for example, by depicting the old Parisian arcades in ruin as a new type of architecture emerges – Benjamin creates a unique dialectic in which the present can never exist as independent from either the past or the future.

Cultural data analysts often adapt biological analogies to describe their work. Mr. Jockers, for example, called his research presentation “Computing and Visualizing the 19th-Century Literary Genome.”

Such biological metaphors seem apt, because much of the research is a quantitative examination of words. Just as genes are the fundamental building blocks of biology, words are the raw material of ideas.

A new study, by researchers at the University of Missouri, showed that the most important factor that predicted math success in middle school and upward was an understanding of what numbers are before entering the first grade. Having “number system knowledge” in kindergarten or earlier — grasping that a numeral represents a quantity, and understanding the relationships among numbers — was a more important factor in math success by seventh grade than intelligence, race or income.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, book production went into overdrive, while newspapers and advertising were inventing new ways to use words to jostle urban passers-by out of their stupor.

E-Books Are Still Waiting for Their Avant-Garde | Gadget Lab |

Reminds me of Mallarmé and others style that was far from the rigid, justified columns of newspapers and uniformity of mass market books.

In the mid-19th century literacy had grown in tandem with new methods of print production, and books became more populist in orientation, seeking to entertain the public through techniques such as serial narratives and straightforward, accessible, but generally uninteresting illustrations. Mallarmé sought to counter this trend through an innovative fusion of print and bookmaking, image and text. Rather than corresponding directly to a narrative, he advocated images that would subtly evoke meaning. This practice, in his view, would unite image and text in a cohesive whole and allow the reader/viewer to develop a greater sense of creative freedom and, ultimately, empowerment. This new sense of agency was further enhanced by Mallarmé’s nontraditional presentation of the text itself. The poet noted the way that newspapers—which had achieved unprecedented popularity during the closing decades of the nineteenth century—encouraged a particular, static form of reading: they presented information in an unchanging layout with consistent content and rows of neatly arranged columns. The sequential, standardized sort of reading encouraged by this format ran counter to his view of “the experience of reading as a form of freedom, an activity he compare[d] to meandering through a public, and decidedly popular space”. Rather than rejecting the newspaper, Mallarmé wanted to analyze the reasons for its success, Arnar says, and eventually incorporated elements of popular mass media into his own work, admitting that it comprised a “chaotic yet fluid public space offering individuals mobility and freedom”. Although Mallarmé remained ambivalent about popular culture, he acknowledged the futility of ignoring it.

he promoted the livre de peintre, a new genre of book containing prints that evoked rather than correlated to the text. Throughout his career, Mallarmé attempted—with varying levels of success—to commission images to accompany his poetry from prominent vanguard artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas, whose work he had famously defended. The deliberate choice to illustrate his work using images that qualified both as original prints and advanced art can be seen, Arnar asserts, as a way to combat “illustration’s links to industry and commerce — as mechanically reproduced imagery and as an attractive agent with the ability to sell texts—threatened the writer’s ability to exert creative control over his or her text”.

The head’s purpose, surely, is to contain the past. It is our travelling archive, indexing our experience and also preserving the smudged traces of the fading world into which we were born.

Literary criticism, after all, is about deciphering texts, cracking their code in order to drag absconded and perhaps illicit meanings into view.

He also crisscrossed pages with script, creating a palimpsest of superimposed layers. He was fascinated by labyrinths and his manuscripts often look like madly convoluted mazes.