New theories of Mimesis (in digital/hypertextual/hypermedial cultures)
February 16, 2009 7:09 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for writings on mimesis in regards new, digital, hypertext and hypermedial technologies and cultures.

I am following the redefinition of mimesis. From Plato's disregard of oral culture, through his mimesis of Socrates' dialogues in writing. Following Plato, Aristotle's theory was always a written mimesis, thus the order and processes of representation and mimicry were fundamentally written.

In essence, I am interested in how the artefacts of oral culture differed in their mimesis to written culture, and thus, how our modern move from a written to a digital/hypertextual culture will similarly impact on mimetic embodiment.

(I am also concerned with the terms 'digital' and 'hypertextual' - perhaps they are too narrow. Oral, written cultures and then XXXXX? The terms 'Cybertext' and 'Ergodic' do not seem to cover the ground wide enough.)

I have been reading Marshall McLuhan, Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man and Gunter Gebauer's and Christoph Wulf's Mimesis: Culture--Art--Society. I am looking for writings on digital, hypertextual mimesis, and how it differs, how it has altered, the theoretical embodiment of representation in thought, artefacts, language and culture.

Your help, ideas and advice are much appreciated, as always
posted by 0bvious to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should probably mention this previous askmefi question I posed, about the phenomenology of text. It is related, but didn't cover 'mimesis' in particular.
posted by 0bvious at 7:31 AM on February 16, 2009

Best answer: I don't think I'm qualified to speak on mimesis in particular, but these issues touch on a favorite topic of mine in undergrad.

I think you'd find the work of Jerome McGann interesting. He is at the nexus of textual criticism and literary criticism. He is affiliated with some interdisciplinary humanities computing projects at UVA.

His books are all very good, the most relevant one here might be Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web. It's from 2001 but I think it's still important as an attempt to reconcile "pre-cyber" textuality with the new ways in which we are able to display, study, and discuss texts.

I haven't played it, but I'm thinking of getting some folks together to play his Ivanhoe Game. It's a sort of collective analysis of a literary text that takes the form of a role-playing game, with players taking on roles (historic commenters on the text, characters within it, figures in literary criticism) and making "moves" that take the form of strategic rewritings. It's premised on the idea that all reading is in fact a rewriting of the text (or "deformance").

I suppose what makes this relevant for your study is that he is grappling with the phenomenology of text, and he approaches that issue from many interesting angles (in particular, text as an "autopoietic mechanism").

Sorry if this is too tangential!
posted by mammary16 at 8:49 AM on February 16, 2009

Best answer: Roger Giner-Sorolla's post 'Crimes Against Mimesis', originally from the usenet group, covers some ground you might find interesting, as IF, by its very nature, imitates a world of some description. It may be more practical and IF specific than theoretical for you, but it might give you some interesting ideas to explore.
posted by Sparx at 9:50 AM on February 16, 2009

Best answer: Check out Bolter & Grusin's Remediation: Understanding New Media, which offers a re-working of the idea of mimesis for new media.
posted by googly at 9:57 AM on February 16, 2009

I would imagine that like so many other things, the digital world simply changes the way something is done, but not the core aspects of it. The internet surely speeds up the lifecycle of memes, but I doubt that changes the internal meaning we ascribe to them.
posted by gjc at 10:31 AM on February 16, 2009

Baudrillard on simulacra/hyperreality immediately comes to mind.

The Bolter & Grusin text mentioned above may be interesting, although I really didn't like it and thought it had a lot of small fallacies. YMMV.
posted by suedehead at 12:00 PM on February 16, 2009

Response by poster: Some great stuff, thank you. The autopoiesis route is very much what I have in mind, the self-making capacity of digital medias, and the way in which users/readers can affect texts as if they were writers interests me. Digital media ART and its potential for mimesis also.
posted by 0bvious at 1:58 PM on February 16, 2009

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