Friday, June 25, 2010

Analog, Digital, Dialogic

Is there such a thing as a digital or analog personality? These days, digitized music is pretty much the norm, unless you’re a purist who favors the kind of unmediated sound that analog provides. There is something facile about the digital personality, whose every move can be categorized by a 0 or a 1, but the facile also comprises a certain element of simplicity. Digital personalities tend to be idiot savants who are capable of great mechanistic feats while at the same time being devoid of what Henry James referred to as “felt life.” Borges once said something to the effect that life is too impoverished not to be immortal, but what does this pithy aphorism really mean? Is the blind Argentinian librarian really a Tiresias, or is the enigmatic meaning, which gives pause, only subterfuge? Analog personalities don’t work as fast, but aren’t they a bit like Isaiah Berlin’s Hedgehog, slowly but surely unfolding the truth? Many of us have given up film photography for the digital camera. But what has been lost is the sense of process, the steps leading to a conclusion. Too many images are created to occupy any of the old leather-bound albums, with their magical little adhesive corners that kept grandmother’s photos in place. Bridging the gap between the analog and digital worlds is perhaps best encapsulated in the concept of the dialogic, as proposed by the Russian philosopher, Bahktin in his work, The Dialogic ImaginationHere, all literature and utterance is seen to exist in a context (heteroglossia) that creates a continual conversation between the present and the past. Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence is a neurotic expression of a similar idea.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.