Monday, December 19, 2011

Tītokowaru's Dilemma

This is a question to you. To whom does England belong? To whom does this upon which you stand belong?

(Riwha Tītokowaru)

Socrates and Tītokowaru sit together in a forest, tending a campfire with long sticks. Behind them, the profile of Mount Taranaki. It’s an incongruous, anachronistic meeting, drawn in an incongruous, anachronistic mixture of styles. Red-figure Attic vase painting for the human figures and the campfire, minutely detailed nineteenth century print for the lush native bush, and a more stylised, minimalist sketch for the mountain in the background. The title of the piece, reproduced in small block letters underneath the two men, is Socrates and Tītokowaru discuss the question, ‘What is Virtue?’, and it begs another question: in what language?

click here to view in detail
The language in which the title itself is written belongs to a third, absent figure, that of the coloniser, which asserts itself implicitly also in the iconographic source of the painterly landscape. But its absent presence consists mainly of this: that a meeting between the Greek philosopher Socrates (who was also a warrior) and the Māori warrior Tītokowaru (who was also a philosopher) couldn’t be but a colonial fantasy, a case of Western culture producing a fanciful analogy thanks to its capacity to reference a wide range of other, past cultures, and put them in relation to one another. Hence the potentially problematic ground occupied by this image as art that translates indigenous experience into an archaic foreign language, or, in the crudest of simplifications, Pākehā art, or art that speaks primarily to a white audience. I want to talk about some of the problems I see in this view.

Christchurch printmaker Marian Maguire began her journey of rediscovery of colonial Aotearoa/New Zealand through ancient Greek narratives and artforms in The Odyssey of Captain Cook (2005), followed in 2008 by The Labours of Herakles. In both series it was the outsider – first the explorer, then the settler – who ostensibly underwent the transformation into poetic or mythical figure, but in fact it was the land itself, along with its first inhabitants, that became a hybrid Arcadia, in a continual inversion and mixing of the roles. From the relatively straightforward encounter of the Odyssey’s Ko wai koe (who are you?), pitching a two-dimensional Attic warrior opposite a Māori man fashioned after de Sainson’s drawing of the chief Ngatai, Maguire gave us Herakles discusses Boundary Issues with the Neighbours, in which it was Herakles’ turn to assume the semblance and pictorial form of Ngatai, while the indigenous warrior took on the Grecian form. The land went through many more transformations, from theatre of classical ruin to pastoral idyll to place of magic and foreboding, with levels of botanical detail ranging accordingly from the exquisite to the stylised, and back again.

If the novelty of the Odyssey lithographs turned into the maturity and deft humour of the lithographs and etchings of Herakles, Tītokowaru’s Dilemma presented Maguire with a greater challenge, that of representing no longer an encounter, a coming together – however fraught – of distant cultures, but rather the conflict and trauma of the land wars and the betrayal of the covenant established by the Treaty. Tītokowaru was an inspired but equally challenging choice as the lead character. His is a complex, long-misunderstood and still in several respects enigmatic figure: not an indomitable warrior whose eventual defeat could be romanticised and offered as a comforting colonial narrative, but rather a political and spiritual leader thrown into the role of general, cornered into waging a war that was as cunning as it was desperate; then, having attained a position of true strength, Tītokowaru inexplicably relinquished his command, abandoned his encampment at Tauranga-ika and retreated north, for reasons that are still unclear – although the most credited theory is that he had an illicit relationship with the wife of a subordinate, which caused him to lose his mana – yet remained an influential figure and continued to preach peace mixed with actions of protest and defiance for many years, notably through his involvement with the movement associated with the settlement of Parihaka.

Tītokowaru is thus an emblematic figure of the impossibility of not only waging war, but also making peace with the coloniser. That Maguire manages to give visual shape – albeit by necessity in abbreviated form – to the historical events that marked Tītokowaru’s life is impressive enough. But the series, consisting of twelve lithographs and the two sets of etchings entitled Colonial Encounters and A Taranaki Dialogue, accounts primarily for Tītokowaru as the man caught in this unsolvable bind, as the leader doomed to defeat but not to failure, and for his land and times.

click here to view in detail
In The Indiscretion Vase, Discovered at Tauranga-ika Pa (abandoned 1869), above, we find a compendium of the series’ strongest themes. In the embrace between the two totemic figures, the seduction and eroticism that Maguire explores fully in Colonial Encounters; in the abandoned pā, the nocturnal setting and the crack running through the amphora, a sense of loss mixed with contemplation; an uncanny serenity.

Finally, after having spent some time with Te Whiti, weighing in the manner of Socrates the subject of peace, in the last lithograph of the set Tītokowaru returns, possibly in death, as a menacing carving moulded in the very body of the vase, presiding over, guarding the land painted beneath his one-eyed gaze (the result of a battle wound). Written on the base, in minute letters that can barely be made out, a question that Tītokowaru had addressed to George Whitmore, the colonel in charge of the colonial troops in Taranaki, but that has not lost any of its force or meaning to this day: ‘To whom does this upon which you stand belong?’

Curio from the Colonial Era. Artisan unknown. Dated 1860-1880. Taranaki origin. Click here to view in detail.
Dominion over the land has of course symbolic and discursive dimensions besides the literal one. What does it mean to belong, or to possess? The question reframes the relationship I hinted at earlier between the Pākehā artist or writer (the two main chroniclers of Tītokowaru’s life story thus far have been James Belich and Maurice Shadbolt) and the Māori subject, and that Maguire presents in one of the essay that accompanies the series as her own dilemma (‘it was a hard decision to make my central character a North Island Māori of great mana, when I am a female printmaker from the south, a Pākehā’). It is a relationship that remains problematic until such a point as the subject is allowed to do some of his own writing and produce some of his own meanings, a process made possible by the richness of the work and its stubborn refusal to produce univocal directional readings.

The pairings and substitutions in Maguire’s trilogy cumulatively produce an effect that goes beyond estrangement, beyond making the viewer look at colonisation with different eyes: they question the direction of the colonial gaze itself. In another essay, Anne Salmond explains that Māori culture contemplated questions such as whether to pursue war or peace in the pae, that is to say
the horizon or edge between worlds – te ao mārama, the world of light and life inhabited by people, and te pō, the realm of darkness and death, inhabited by ancestors and atua (gods).
Salmond’s claim that Maguire’s work ‘gives artistic expression to the pae’ produces an interpretation that reframes the work from a Māori perspective and gives it indigenous meaning, setting in motion a reversing of the relationships – such as the one of primacy – that would structure a reading informed by Western culture, and showing te ao Māori, the Māori worldview, as being as capable of embracing the ancient Greek worldview or the British colonial worldview or the contemporary Pākehā worldview as they are to embrace it.


This is my last post for the year and I must cite as a personal highlight of 2011 the opportunity to write an essay to accompany Tītokowaru, which came after a review of Herakles I posted here in late 2009. Being published alongside those works, and the writings of some pretty special people, was a great reward for the work of blogging, as was the chance to visit Marian in Christchurch and see her studio and her gallery.

Tītokowaru was three years in the making, and opened at the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui while Herakles was still showing at Te Manawa, in Palmertson North. There might be auspices to be read in the criss-crossing paths of the touring exhibitions as well, if one were so inclined. But visiting Christchurch in late 2011 meant seeing other ruins, and hearing of other traumas, the effects of which could scarcely be expected not to be etched into the stones on which Marian works, as she has acknowledged. The thin crack running down the length of The indiscretion Vase suddenly opens up to other readings, as does the upheaval of colonisation, as do the meanings one reads in the landscape – which never exists independently of culture or history, in a purely natural state.

That visit too, the good and the bad, was a highlight of the year, and all of the people I knew there I came across through some form of online writing, and so it seems fitting to mention it at this time. Thank you all for reading and see you after the break.

Tītokowaru's Dilemma is showing at the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui until February 12 (thereafter check the exhibition link). The Labours of Herakles is at Te Manawa in Palmerston North until January 29 and then will travel to Tauranga and to the Waikato Museum.

The quotations in the post are from the'Across the Pae - Sex, war and peace in Taranaki' by Anne Salmond and 'An Artist's Dilemma' by Marian Maguire, both in the exhibition catalogue.

Oh, and speaking of highlights of the year, this

Monday, December 12, 2011

You and Mark Aren't Friends

Timeline is the story of your life.

(Mark Zuckerberg)

Nine beef consommés, one iced cucumber soup, one mussel soup…

(Georges Perec, 'Attempt at an Inventory of the Liquid and Solid Foodstuffs Ingurgitated by Me in the Course of the Year Ninteen Hundred and Seventy-Four')

As of last week, New Zealand is again the site of an experiment. I’m not sure why Facebook decided to launch Timeline here, four months after Mark Zuckerberg first introduced it to the media. I guess we’re a relatively small control group, and we speak English, which is nice. We’re also marginal enough to be unlikely to become an international centre of outrage, as it so often the case with the company’s innovations once it becomes clear that they are the place where your privacy goes to die.

This is not literally the case with Timeline, at least not since a couple of notable problems were rectified. However what the profile does is to fundamentally reorganise your information and make it vastly more searchable, albeit by the same people whom you have given permission to view the information in the first place. This is no small difference. Previously Facebook worked as a diary that couldn’t be browsed except by turning its pages backwards one by one, in an extremely laborious and time-consuming manner, meaning that for all intents and purposes your old data wouldn’t be accessible except by somebody who took an inordinate amount of interest in it. Now Timeline places the things you have shared with Facebook along a chronological axis that can be navigated quickly and intuitively, allowing users to, say, jump back to somebody’s life in 2008, or view all the information they have put up in a particular category over time.

The easiest way to make sense of the change is to understand that your Facebook profile is henceforth no longer your (public) diary: it’s your biography. To underscore this point, Facebook invites you now to fill in the time before you joined the site. Consider my timeline:

The time between ‘born’ – that’s 1971, folks – and late 2008, when I joined Facebook, is currently blank, but I could fill it by uploading and dating photos from my childhood, or creating announcements and events to mark key moments in my life, say, my high school graduation, or the time I moved to New Zealand. Facebook would like me to do that very much. That’s not just because the more information they have about me, the more valuable their product becomes to their advertisers, but also, and on balance I suspect more importantly, because the more emotionally invested I become in their product, the deeper my engagement with it is likely to grow. Google+ has millions of users, yet nobody uses it. Facebook is used daily even by some of its most ardent critics. It’s always been its paradox.

The current promotional video for Timeline features a studiously ordinary subject. American, white, male, professional, married, one child: the typical default person that technology products and the contemporary way of life are marketed to and through. The montage technique used in the video sutures the conventional style of presentation of such lives in cinema and especially advertising with the design of Timeline itself, which becomes therefore the film of you, the multimedia portfolio/cv of who you are (bearing in mind once again that in the current zeitgeist the personal is the professional, and vice versa).

The chap in the video, Andy Sparks, is listed as working for Facebook but is a fictional construct. However when the company gave the first glimpse of Timeline at the f8 event in September, its capabilities were illustrated by the CEO using his own profile. This ought to have spoken of an all-but-ordinary life, yet there Zuckerberg was, spending time at work, travelling for work, getting a dog, minutely recording the food that he cooks himself. ‘Ramp and bacon omelette, breakfast pizza, shaved asparagus pizza, roasted curry chicken thighs…’

The lingering of this detail on the big screen behind Zuckerberg at the Timeline launch reminded me of the Georges Perec piece, originally published in Action Poétique, purporting to be the inventory of the foodstuffs he had eaten in the year 1974. For what is that model Facebook profile about if not an elevating the ordinariness of life into a work of art?

Recording minutiae, and the kinds of things that would happen to anybody, is what Facebook has always been best at – and by the way, I think it is extremely churlish to criticise it for it. Note however the two very different modes of input (and therefore of writing) of one’s story on Timeline. On the one hand, there is the regular accretion of the status updates and assorted daily activities, which up until now were never meant to form part of a permanent biography, but could be assumed to have a very fleeting lifespan; on the other, there is the more carefully selected and presented information that the users supply in order to fill the gaps in their digitally documented past thanks to the new feature. ‘It’s really cool,’ said Zuckerberg to the f8 crowd. ‘It’s really fun and easy to fill your timeline with all the stories from your past.’ And cool and fun and easy it may be, but it’s qualitatively and conceptually very different from having all of your updates republished as part of the new profile, which is the first thing that will happen to every single one of the 800 million existing Facebook users during the roll-out of Timeline. And if you don’t like that, if you don’t wish in fact to have your biography go to print without so much as an opportunity to have a look at the proofs, I’m afraid you’re going to have to go back and edit it, bit by excruciating bit, as soon as Timeline lands on your profile.

This is a far from insignificant demand, and not just because the older, more active users will find it a very time-consuming and fraught task, but because it amounts to a sudden repurposing of personal information that was entered in a different writing space under very different assumptions.

Needless to say, there is, as is customary with these ‘free’ services, no way to opt out from the redesign. You can only opt in sooner, if you’re especially eager.

‘Zuck’ has.

The cover of Zuckerberg’s life story is the quintessential ingratiating device of digital social networking: a pet's photo. Rather more surprisingly, however, and contrary to the f8 presentation, the CEO hasn’t really bothered to fill in his life before Facebook. He writes that he was born in 1984 in the helpfully geolocated town of Dobbs Ferry, New York, but without posting a baby picture. Then nothing until 1998, when he ‘started school at Ardsley High School’. Then, in 2000, the first picture, from his time at the Phillips Exeter Academy. In 2004 he starts work at Facebook, with the intent of ‘making the world more open and connected’. Finally, on 11 February 2004, he joins the actual Facebook, and the rest is, well, not quite history, apparently, because even from this point onwards Zuckerberg’s profile appears uncreditably sparse. Did he not use his own network? Has he purged it for public consumption? And if so, when, and why? Remember, this is the person who wants you to share more, and for whom ‘having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity’. So what happened? One clue may be in the wonderfully pointed reminder right under the Timeline cover.

You and Mark aren’t friends, and furthermore you cannot become friends with Mark seeing as he is one of those super-users (ordinary users can’t have more than 5,000 friends. Zuckerberg has over ten million), therefore feel free to subscribe to his updates but be mindful that’s how far as it will ever go.

If Zuckerberg’s profile is in fact sanitised – and I want to believe that it is: nobody could be this uninteresting in real life – this would make his public positions on privacy hypocritical, to no-one’s surprise. Nor is it surprising or in fact in any way noteworthy that this so-called ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ is in fact simply the face of the company, a PR construct, just like Andy Sparks. But the effacing work that goes into that, well, that is something.

There is another Mark Zuckerberg out there who must be quite a remarkable person, with quirks and oddities and a personality that is likely to match his consuming ambition and his fabulous wealth. With darknesses, too, with secrets beyond the amount for which his lawsuits were settled, with kinks, perhaps, even, certainly with relationships whose history is not exhausted by acts of friending and unfriending, loving and ceasing to love. But we don’t get to see any of that. Instead, we get to subscribe to the updates of the authorised Mark Zuckerberg, Timeline’s model subject, at once a consumer and an object of consumption, who, like the type of the well-adjusted, shows us the aspects of ourselves is okay to put on show, and who it is okay for us to be, if we wish for success, acceptance, and soon – who knows – citizenship itself.

Except lives are never that transparent, therefore cannot be made that opaque. For Perec had it right: there may be a depth of political, existential meaning in the seemingly insignificant details, say, in the food that you cook or consume, in the places you visit in your free time – what you reveal about them, how you write them – and there is no amount of templates that will erase that. That slightly clichéd fear, that no matter how careful we are on the networks, we cannot hide our true selves, is nonetheless real.

Ramp and bacon omelette, breakfast pizza, shaved asparagus pizza, roasted curry chicken thighs…

George Perec. 'Attempt at an Inventory of the Liquid and Solid Foodstuffs Ingurgitated by Me in the Course of the Year Ninteen Hundred and Seventy-Four'. In Species of Spaces and Other Species, edited and Translated by John Sturrock. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1997.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Memory Trade

Translout that gaswind into turfish, Teagues, that’s a good bog and you, Thady, poliss it off, there’s a nateswipe, on to your bottom pulper.

(James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, footnote 2, page 218)

Histories record: Prehistories invent.

(Darren Tofts, Memory Trade)

Towards an archaeology of reading

This is the technique that I use to recall the salient passages of a book I am reading for the purposes of study, presented not by way of instruction – we all have our methods, I don’t presume mine to be better than yours – but rather to make some general points about the print book as an information system.

I use a pen or pencil and a scrap piece of paper that doubles as a bookmark. When I come across a passage that I think I’m going to need to refer to at a later stage, I jot down its coordinates: the page number, naturally, but also where it is located on the page. If it’s a whole paragraph, and the paragraphs are few and easy to count, I might write, say, 5p3, meaning the third paragraph on page 5. If it’s a line or there are more than a seven or eight paragraphs on the page, I use decimals, say 5.4, meaning the line that is a fourth of the way down page 5, or 5.4 -> 5.7, meaning the passage is between a fourth and a seventh of the way down page 5 (roughly speaking, a course). If it’s the whole page, I write 5. If it’s an extended passage, say, from the last paragraph of page 5 to the middle of page 8, I write 5pL -> 8.5. When I’m finished, the piece of paper will look something like this.

The important bits in Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, from a post at Found Objects

Armed with this information, I can query the book’s addressable memory, isolating the elements that form my reading of it. Note that I couldn’t very easily do this if I hadn’t recorded this information in the act of reading, but relied rather on the book being word-searchable – that is, if it was available to me also in digital form – because I wouldn’t necessarily remember which exact words to look for, and in which order. By recording the position of the most salient passages, I’ve effectively indexed the book, and it’s a semantic/thematic as opposed to lexical index. Incidentally, I find that it helps for the index to be fairly precise, which is why I believe this system to be superior to using coloured stickers. These make it harder to delimit longer passages, and generally leave you wondering where the bit you marked is supposed to end. Also, with paper you can occasionally write down keywords or brief notes without defacing the book, if it’s not yours, or if it’s yours and you’re fastidious about these things.

Digital editions that can be highlighted and annotated make my system obsolete, but it helps to remember that those functions have their origin in practices of physical inscription such as the ones that I have described – with all that they entail, including the fact that if you lose the piece of paper, you’ve effectively lost your reading of the book and will have to recreate it, a process that may be only marginally faster the second time around.

Falling out of print

I first came across Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich’s Memory Trade shockingly late, more than halfway through my PhD, and would have feverishly produced one of those indices, likely on more than one piece of paper, before sitting down to manually copy the salient passages into a nine-thousand word Word file. There was that much that was quotable and directly relevant to my work, although, as in the case of The Death of Cinema, what mattered even more than the specific insights was the conceptual approach to the topic, the resolute anti-disciplinarity of it. I was utterly frustrated with the directions of memory studies at the time, and needed to find some validating models for the one I had chosen other than the periodic reassurances of my supervisors. Along with works by Haraway, Hayles, Davis, Cherchi-Usai, and the fiction of Jeff Noon, Memory Trade became one of the books that guided me through my research. And it was out of print.

Out of print is a concept that stands to become obsolete, along with limited edition. It has become a lot harder to enforce scarcity in the products of the intellect, which on balance is doubtless a good thing. The fact that Memory Trade was out of print didn’t make it impossible to obtain; but it did mean that I couldn’t get the library at my university to acquire a copy. This is lamentable: one of the least recognised but most tangible contributions that postgraduate students can make to their hosting institution is to expand the intellectual mapping of their topic for the benefit of colleagues down the line – and what better way to bequeath your bibliography than right there, on a shelf? But while a book can stop being printed for a number of incidental reasons, including a publisher’s misfortune, being out of print also means being out of currency, with the implication that your ideas didn’t take on or are no longer relevant. And if Tofts' or Cherchi-Usai’s ideas weren’t relevant, then neither were mine, and I hadn’t even finished writing my book.

But this story is about readings and re-readings, which are also writings and re-writings. Regardless of their publishing status, you carry books (and ideas) forward by including them in other intellectual projects; you try to demonstrate their enduring relevance. Memory Trade is primarily an attempt to produce the history of an idea – the idea of cyberculture – by tracing its origins to the invention of writing and therefore of the literate mind. Cybernetics, as argued by Tofts and drawn by McKeich, is not a product of the early age of computers, but of the late age of print, and its foundational text isn’t The Human Use of Human Beings: it is Finnegans Wake. This thesis, which rests in turn on Tofts’ articulate and compelling take on poststructuralist theory, illuminates the nature of the transition to the digital age, which is not about the wholesale substitution of old forms and patterns of economic production and social interaction with new ones, but rather the emergence of an ecology of sense that integrates, weaves and recombines these patterns – old and new – into something quite different.

This new ecology of sense has yet to take shape, but the work of radical artists such as Joyce and Duchamp allows us to both trace its genealogy and glimpse its contours. Tofts proposes in fact that reading Finnegans Wake may help us to figure out if we are there yet: so long as the Wake seems nigh-impenetrably complex to us, its demands on the reader outlandish and wrong, it means that cyberculture hasn’t quite reached its mature stage. But if the book starts making sense, to the point of seeming straightforwardly readable and even enjoyable, it would be the strongest clue yet that our minds have become hyperliterate.

Digitally remonstered

Finnegans Wake, claims Tofts, is a cybernetic system
constituted by two of the defining characteristics of cybernetics, the feedback loop and the signal transmission. At the macro level, the Wake is, in fact, a single, elaborate feedback loop, beginning and ending in mid-sentence, forever feeding back into itself. (177)
It is an autotelic book-world (as Tofts reminds, Joyce had quipped that ‘if Dublin was razed to the ground it could be re-built on the basis of Ulysses’, 154) concerned with cycles of return (‘fall and resurrection, death and birth, night and day, Viconian ricorso’, 177) and always monitoring its own internal functioning via the continuous repetition of the same details and motifs ‘in varying forms of modification and substitution’ (177). Tofts goes into extensive detail here, and conducts an incisive analysis of the book’s formal features, including its dense hypertextual network of internal and external references. But what I want to quickly touch upon are the anachronistic qualities of Joyce’s book. Like the World Wide Web, Finnegans Wake suspends time and exists outside of time, not least in its demand of multiple readings that are also – and here the lesson of Barthes and Derrida is invaluable – multiple writings.

Enter the digital reissue of Memory Trade. Another anachronism, another return, in varying forms of modification – chief amongst which are the switch to a creative commons license and a new set of images by Murray McKeich (re-generated, recalculated from the original ones), including the one on the cover. The text stays more or less the same but its mode of access changes: now definitively out of print, an awkward fit on ordinary computer screens, more at home on an iPad – I am told – where its vestigial book-like features are best preserved and rendered. But anachronistic is the reissue itself, after thirteen years – a small eternity, in the world of the cyberculture theory – making a new claim of salience under a mutated guise, restating its commitment to think differently about the history and prehistory of our cultural technologies, to slow down and anchor criticism against the deadly drive for a ‘persistent futurism’ (33) that infects it, and to cast doubt on ‘the watchfulness of our cybercultural vigil’ (194). And if you happened to think that it’s also what this blog is at least partly about, well, I’d be flattered by that.

I don’t care to belong to any book that will have me as a character

My favourite story about Finnegans Wake comes from an exchange between Groucho Marx and Leonard Lyons of The New York Post, reproduced in The Letters of Groucho Marx. In one letter, Lyons reports Thornton Wilder’s belief that Groucho appears in the Wake, precisely in the phrase ‘this is the three lipoleum Coyne Grouching down in the living ditch.’ Didn’t the brothers once appear in a skit in which they all wore Napoleon-style hats? The three lipoleum Coyne must be a reference to the hats, and Grouching, well, that didn’t need elaboration. Groucho replied:
There is no reason why I shouldn't appear in “Finnegans Wake”. I'm certainly as bewildered about life as Joyce was. Well, let Joyce be unconfined.

Tracing this item down from the “Wake” could be a life project and I question whether I’m up to it. Is it possible that Joyce at one time was in the U.S.A. and saw “I’ll Say She Is!”? Or did a New York policeman, on his way back to Ireland to see his dear old Mother Machree, encounter Joyce in some peat bog and patiently explain to him that, at the Casino Theater at 39th and Broadway, there were three young Jewish fellows running around the stage shouting to an indifferent world that they were all Napoleon?
Groucho was right to gently lampoon the critic here, for Wilder’s interpretive hunch didn’t stand up to scrutiny. But of course this kind of spurious association is part of the design of the Wake, just as it is part of the design of the World Wide Web: both are machines for generating improbable readings, immensely vast texts without context – at least until a reader comes along and supplies one.

To speak of the prehistory of cyberculture means to manufacture one such context, and simultaneously to look into our future-past in search of the questions that we need to ask of the present. It is important work, and I’m happy that this great book is now set to resume it.

Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich. Memory Trade: A Prehistory of Cyberculture. 21C/Interface, 1998 & 2001. (The book is currently available at this link, I’ll put up the link to the 21C site as soon as it comes to hand.)

James Joyce. Finnegans Wake. London: Faber & Faber, 1939.

Groucho Marx. The Groucho Letters. London: Sphere, 1967. (The quotations in the post are on page 117.)

With many thanks to Andrea for road-testing the digital edition of Memory Trade on Kindle and iPad.

Darren Tofts is also the author of one of my favourite academic essays, which I touched upon here.