February 4, 2009
A gloss to Locating the Literary in New Media
Regarding the demand for “close attention to what’s stable and continuous”: The point is a solid one, of course. But I wonder if this emphasis on progressive continuity doesn’t sit at some odds with a recent turn to figures of cyclic or folded temporality, in U.S.-based new media literary and cultural studies (Gitelman, *Always Already New;* Acland, *Residual Media;* Zielinski et al., *Deep Time of the Media;* Funkhouser, *Prehistoric Digital Poetry*…) — and with what one might read from that turn, perhaps, as a newly self-conscious and justly sensitive form of temporizing attention to the field’s own imperial Euro-Atlantic First Worldism *as* a research field. To its own complete dependence, in other words, on wealth-dependent (and as such, highly leveraged) habits and levels of energy consumption. If the argument in Kirschenbaum’s groundbreaking book, as used to support this point here, contains one intellectual infelicity, one might say it lies in this emphasis on the *remanence* of data, deployed against the virtualities of the poststructuralist imagination, at precisely that cultural moment when the permanence of the progressive civilizational legacies of Euro-Atlantic modernity is a question, rather than an answer, for more core subjects of the U.S. empire than at any time perhaps since the 1970s. In postwar U.S. literary studies at its boldest, anyway, “literarity” has always been understood to include the undisciplined Nietzschean temporality of the event, as well as its Weberian secular avocation.