This Time in Wired

More Moretti.

Comments include, in no particular order, Sp&m, XKCD reference, (Distant Reading as Sure Sign of an Unavoidable) Robot Apocalypse, Boredom, More Sp&m, and There Goes Context Leaking Out All Over the Place Again.

Writing Feverlets*

Curious about her critique of Derrida’s Archive Fever, I picked up a
copy of Carolyn Steedman’s Dust: The Archive and Cultural History from
Bird Library, recalling it from another patron who had checked it out (v. sorry
about that). I deal briefly with AF in Chapter Three. Steedman
makes the point that AF is less about archives than about Derrida’s
concern for the slippage of origins (a theme in his other work) and the
inseparability of psychoanalysis from Freud (and also Judaism). She
writes, "The Foreword [to AF] carried the main argument, about Freud’s
Jewish-ness, and the contribution of Jewish thought to the idea of the archive,
via psycho-analysis" (7). Basically, Steedman is suspicious of Derrida’s
characterization of the fever (as a frenzied pursuit of origins which do not
properly exist). She complains that the concept of the fever is degraded in
translation from Mal d’Archive, and then she enthusiastically claims the
sickness Derrida mocks: "Archive fever, indeed? I can tell you all about
Archive Fever!" (17). Dust undertakes this "all about-ness" at fever’s pitch;
Steedman, all the while, works to correct (or tune, at the very least) Derrida’s
glancing consideration of the archive left behind in his treatment of other
concerns (psychoanalysis, Freud, and so on).

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Speculative Instruments

I’ve taken lately to thinking about the thinspreaden feeling of dissertating
like this: the writing moves in a forward direction, advancing ideas and
discussions, attempting claims, suggesting reasons for limiting the discussion
to these few pages. The reading, on the other hand, moves in a backward
direction, filing through influences before influences before
influences–something like tracking the (non-)origin of the Missouri River.
Writing and reading in this way at once leads to the thinspreaden feeling–it is
a stretch.

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Clouds, Graphs, Maps

A couple of days ago Mike posted notes on

CCCC talk
from late last month, and I was reminded that I’m at least ten days
past due on the video
I said I would
following the conference.

I recorded the talk to an mp3 yesterday afternoon and went to
campus last night where I planned to use iMovie to sync the audio with jpegs of
the slides. Because the slideshow includes text, I needed to get the
resolution right, but, well, it started to get late. I started to get impatient.
I was able to output a reasonably readable mp4 file, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t get
Google Video or
Daily Motion to encode it.
Finally Jumpcut accepted the file, so it’s
available below the fold (even if much of it suffers from jaggies). The original mp4 is available for download

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C’mon, Pokey

I finally got around to reading Lindsay Waters’ CHE diatribe against
Moretti’s work on abstract models and literary studies. I know, it took me
long enough. Collin
the article, titled

"Time For Reading,"
almost two weeks ago, and The Valve‘s Bill Benzon

his thoughts
on Waters last Tuesday. Rather than sum up the other
entries here, I’ll put the links in place and move along to a couple of my

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Text to Map


drew my attention to the Gutenkarte
, a series of scripts and processes that renders place-names
appearing in a given text and locates them on
a map. The Gutenkarte site announces
future plans for the project, including a wiki-like annotation add-on that will
enable a group of users to collaborate in expanding the place-name information
and related contextual relevance (one day to include digital images and video?).
The project bears many similarities to Franco Moretti’s survey of the shifting
geographies of village life in the nineteenth century. Moretti’s analysis often
moves beyond standard place-names to include positions of and distances between
people and things known to be in particular places. These he distinguishes as
geometries; plotted, they are more like diagrams than maps, he tells us (54).
The Gutenkarte project is not yet as refined as Moretti’s work; mining a text
for toponyms depends on the database’s tolerance place-name ambiguity and
spelling variations (among other things I probably don’t understand). Still,
despite the obvious limitations, the motives underlying Gutenkarte present an
affirmative answer to one of Moretti’s guiding questions, "Do maps add anything,
to our knowledge of literature?" (35), even if it is being applied to literary
texts from the Gutenberg Project for now.

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The upcoming issue of The New Yorker includes an article first
released yesterday to the magazine’s web site. 
There: The science of driving directions,"
offers a sharp-right overview of
evolving navigational technologies, running from Rand McNally paper maps to
their updated on-dash equivalents.  A brief history of automobile
navigation gets a few column inches, too; both the "Jones Live-Map" and the "Photo-Auto
Guide" were early twentieth century contrivances for first-person (um,
first-vehicle?) navigating.  Though it’s only briefly mentioned and mixed
in with a bunch of other fun, interesting details, one proposition is that we’re
seeing a resurgence in egocentric navigational devices with various mobile

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