Proust and the Squid

I finished Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain early this spring, and I have been meaning to revive the blog again periodically for reading notes, so catch as catch can. Initially, I picked up Wolf’s book because I wanted to know how she dealt with the endangered status of reading in the age of the internet, in terms of carrying through as both “story” and “science” of how the reading brain does neurologically what it does. Wolf’s book also figured into Nicholas Carr’s 2008 Atlantic Monthly article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, and Carr has been drawing attention (on techrhet and from bloggers) more recently following the release of The Shallows. In Carr’s AM article, Wolf was cited as one whose foreboding research insights affirm Carr’s “I’m not the only one” suspicions about the superficiality of reading experiences at the interface. Carr wrote,

Wolf worries that the style of reading promoted by the Net, a style
that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else, may be weakening
our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier
technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose
commonplace. When we read online, she says, we tend to become “mere
decoders of information.” Our ability to interpret text, to make the
rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without
distraction, remains largely disengaged. (para. 8)

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Bolter and Grusin – Remediation (1999) III

the final section of Remediation, B&G break out three self orientations–three
varieties of self in light of the forceful processes of remediation: the
remediated self, the virtual self, and the networked self.  The remediated
self basically begins with a notion of self as summative and re/configurable
(like William James’ empirical self (233)) rather than rigid or authentic. 
Remediated self gives way to (at least) two variations of self:  immersed
and interrelated/interconnected.  These selves correspond to the poles of
remediation; the immersed experiences the visually mediated as transparent and
immediate; the interrelated/interconnected self experiences the visually
mediated as opaque and navigable (232).  According to B&G, we experience
ourselves in both ways.  This connects up with expressive activity, too.
Virtual reality (where the user moves through) fits with romantic selfhood,
while opacity and ubiquitous computing are akin to the fixed-subject self of the
Enlightenment.  The clearer part of this first chapter in section
three–"The Remediated Self"–builds on the duality of self as object and
subject in the specific case of bodybuilding.  In bodybuilding, when "the
body is reconstructed to take on a new shape and identity," the body as medium
seems most plausible (237).

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Bolter and Grusin – Remediation (1999) II

Let’s call this entry part two of three. I’m a bit behind (behind what? just
my own schedule), but I’m through the application chapters–the middle 140 pages
of B&G.  In the paragraph opening into the final section, "Self," B&G write
that these middle chapters are applications of remediation as a process. 
In their glossary, B&G define remediation this way:

remediation Defined by Paul Levenson as the "anthropotropic" process
by which new media technologies improve upon or remedy prior technologies. 
We define the term differently, using it to mean the formal logic by which new
media refashion prior media forms.  Along with immediacy and hypermediacy,
remediation is one of the three traits of our genealogy of new media. (273).

B&G discuss remediation as this logics-guided process involved with a variety
of media throughout section two: computer games (88), digital photography (104), photorealistic
graphics (114), digital art (132), film (146), virtual reality (160), mediated
spaces (168), the www (196), and ubiquitous computing (212).  In the final
section, "Convergence," B&G offer an explanation for more various push-pull
relationships among media.  Whereas remediation tends to describe a uni-directional
process of influence, convergences are akin to blends–multi-directional
shapings felt among media (where television flows into the www and the www flows
into television).  Convergence rel. to remediation: a sloshing media
spillway, a complex subversion of remediation’s teleology.

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Bolter and Grusin – Remediation (1999) I

The remediation project depends on a double-logic.  Tangled around and
around one another, bread-tie like, hypermediacy (opacity) and immediacy
(transparency) stand as the two poles between which all remediation oscillates
(again, oscillations, as from Lanham).  Hypermediacy is the
"frenetic design" that comes with exciting and blending mediaforms into one
another.  Immediacy refers to the dreamwish of closing the gap
between the real and the mediaform.  Hypermediacy invites others to
enjoy the interplay (explicit); immediacy strives for the perfect
mimesis, a match with reality so convincing that the real/virtual distinctions
wash together, ripple-free (tacit).  Remediation, relative to these poles,
synthesizes, collects them together again, keeps order, shepherds inventive
deviations and garbled others back in step: web ‘pages’ inhere newspaper layout,
television inheres film, blogs, just like diaries. 

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