Since each of us was several, there was quite a crowd. Here we have made use of everything that came within range, what was closest as well as fartherest away. (Deleuze & Guattari, in the introduction to A Thousand Plateaus, 3)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Casting the net

"...finally he found it where he should have looked first, on the Internet, which is a net indeed, one that can be cast farther then the eye can see and be retrieved no matter how heavy the haul, its magical mesh never breaking under the strain but always bringing in the most amazing catch...and there, in four tenths of a second, he had his answer." (Yann Mantel, Beatrice and Virgil, 2010, 170)
In a recent issue of 'Abbey's Advocate'--a newsletter from Abbey's Bookshop in Sydney, I noticed a new book, The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember by Nicholas Carr. At first glance it seemed to pick up on the concern about the effect the digital could impact on the future of books as an object. But it appears to go further than that and argue that our use of the internet may be even be changing the very structure of our brains--internet search tools allow us to gather large amounts of nonlinear information from multiple sources very quickly but we risk losing our capacity for concentration, contemplation and reflection as our process of analyzing information is moving form "...the depths to the shallows" (#248).

This morning when taking a look at Arts & Letters Daily I came across a link to an article to The art of slow reading   which in addition to referring to Nicholas Carr's book, added comments from a number of academics in support of this view. The solution? Take time out for some 'slow reading' and re-reading of  they call 'physical' texts. [And for the slow art of quiltmaking...]

The structure of the mind and the internet also came up in a conversation a week or so back. We were discussing the internet and the suggestion was that the structure of the internet reflects the structure of our unconscious and explains how the experience of 'surfing the net' can elicit unexpected results and connections, just as ideas can come to mind from where we know not.   

 Cho'akpo for a Child Bride (2002) 150 x 150 cm, by Sarah Tucker (image: Fleur Shelton)

When I returned to my notes made at the beginning of this project (handwritten in a notebook I keep, if less regularly since I have been writing this blog) and I found a list of characteristics of Deleuze and Guattarri's 'smooth space': limitless, without distinction and linked with the unconscious.

Cho'akpo for a Child Bride 2002 (detail of installation, image Nick Tucker)

And so what implications does this have for this project?
I find each post is triggered by an idea/comment/image and as I write I find associations emerge which I can document via links (hyper-links) as I go, illustrating my text with images or by making connections with other texts I have found during the process of writing. The result, this weblog, is most like a lab book I might use to describe an experiment and record results, with any notes I make along the way. So I do not intend it to be an end in itself but something, I hope, which will lead to something else completely. Writing which will exist in the physical world as well as in the virtual.

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