Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Now: How will our encounters with these intelligent personal assistants - robots we’ve invited into our homes to speak with and listen to us, who share this data with vectorialist institutions that monitor our networked transactions - alter both human language and our efforts to lead meaningful lives? In a wide-ranging, philosophical essay that exposes various myths of computation while presenting a candid assessment of the rapidly evolving culture of reading, poet John Cayley speculates that literature will be displaced by aurature. Listen up, readers: A major challenge in the programming era will be to develop linguistic aesthetic practices that intervene significantly and affectively in socio-ideological spaces thoroughly saturated with synthetic language that are largely controlled by commercial interests. The time for aesthetic experiments that disrupt the protocols of a still-nascent aurature is now.
This essay was reprinted in part for the Handbook on Electronic Literature (Bloomsbury 2018).