For Patrick LeMieux, the future of electronic literature is not before us, and instead entails an investigation of the past--of the unknowable territories we collaborate with through e-lit.
Despite the fact that 21024 is a discrete number, that each of its 309 digits are known quantities, and that mathematical operations may be carried out both with and within it, enumeration of such a figure not only outpaces human consciousness but time and space. We cannot count to a duocentillion. As with Carl Sagan’s demonstration of a “googolplex” in Cosmos, there are not enough atoms in the known universe to account for such numbers.2Sagan, Carl. “The Lives of the Stars.” Cosmos. Cosmos Studios, 2002, DVD. Unlike 10^10100, 21024, and even 0, which substitute symbol for count,3For more information on how symbolic language has come to permeate numeric representation see Rotman, Brian. Signifying Nothing: The Semiotics of Zero. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987. Print. Every Icon attempts to render an enormous sum in bit shifts, processor cycles, and liquid crystal refractions—what Matthew Kirschenbaum4Matthew Kirschenbaum distinguishes between forensic and formal media in Kirschenbaum, Matthew. Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008. Print. might call a “forensic” territory rather than a “formal” map. And like Borges’ cavalier cartographers from “On Exactitude in Science” or Swift’s Lilliputian lecturers in Gulliver’s Travels, Simon hoped to exhaust a small set of material constraints but ended up exhausting the limits of human experience (see Figure 2).5Carroll, Borges, and Swift each offer apocryphal anecdotes that satirize the enlightenment project of a fixed, absolutely clear, indexical language by modeling the chaos of materiality with no representational capacity or symbolic modeling. “While Every Icon is resolved conceptually,” he writes, “it is unresolvable in practice."”Simon, John. “Every Icon.” Parachute: Contemporary Art Magazine. Jan. 1997: 85. Web. We can never fully experience the durational quality of either the macro or micro processes of Every Icon not to mention the recombinatory potential of more complex electronics that fill our desks, laps, and pockets.