There has always been this fascination, bordering with obsession about the future. Neal Stephenson plays with this fascination in his story line of the book The Diamond Age. It is perhaps the way he manipulates our perception of our reality with a futuristic value-changed reality which confuses and then intrigues the reader. Katherine Hayles also discusses the future in her book Electronic Literature. The last chapter explores the future of literature, which is what I will be focusing on in this post.
Hayles expresses that “nothing is riskier than prediction; when the future arrives, we can be sure only tha it will be different than we anticipated.” I wonder however, if this is really true. When I watch cartoons and films about the future, they are not necessarily that different than we anticipated. Yet, she explains the way that all contemporary literature is already digital media. A point I didn’t really think about before. When I though of all the papers I have written in the past years (many) of my college experience, I reflected on the fact that they are all digital and could easily be shared on the internet with other users (or sold as seems to become more common among introductory level students who are anxious to get an easy grade).
I really liked that she was citing Professor Fitzpatrick and The Anxiety of Obsolescence. I agree that perception of risk is more important than the reality of the risk and that we must explore the cultural and social functions and how these affect the perceptions of people (161). I really like to learn more about “the advantage of establishing the novelists as an at-risk minority while still allowing this group to retain their hegemonic position as while male authors” explained by Hayles (161). I completely agree with this, particularly when looking at the over-representation of white males in the population of scholars who monopolize literature and academia. Hayles expresses that the situation is more complex than that, yet fails to explain this complexity. I found her discussion which followed on imitating and intensifying aspects of electronic textuality very interesting and worth discussing further in class.
Overall, her conclusion brings up interesting points, which include the ideas of exploring natural language with mechanical codes in digital technologies. Hayles (going back to Fitzpatrick’s point) concludes by pointing out that “we must explore the dynamics that interrogate and reconfigure the relations between authors and readers, humans and intelligent machines, code and language” (186). The best way to understand or attempt to make sense of this interaction is by looking at the effects and the changes that have affected our culture and society and the way we interact with media in contemporary times.