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- Of litter and letters
- Hecq, Dominique
- You do not have to be a cyber culture freak to decide that life is too short to accommodate the rows of books lining your bookshelves. Like the narrator in Gerald Murnane's 'In Far Field', you might fancy driving to a paper-manufacturing plant and dumping boxfuls of books down the chute (Murnane 1995). But you might already have done that, at home, as you are in the electronic agora described by William Mitchell, where even the notion of a human community is a matter of disk space, of 'writing computer code and deploying software objects to create virtual places and electronic interconnections between them' (Mitchell 1995: 160). For you, then, no doubt, books are old hat, and literature the dust on the hat. Now, if I have the gall to mention 'old' literature, you will surely tell me that it belongs in the dustbin of history. Some of my students have done so in much more colourful language. Still. I believe that even in the electronic age students of creative writing need to read broadly, not only on a synchronic plane, but a diachronic one as well, for as Alain Badiou reminds us, 'the subject of an artistic truth is the set of the works which compose it' (Badiou 2004). Is it technophobia on my part? Is it nostalgia? Does it matter? I protest all the same and wish to argue here in defence of books, literature, and 'old' literature in particular. For no writing occurs without reading. Besides, 'each new reading is cumulative and proceeds by geometrical progression: each new reading builds upon whatever the reader has read before' (Manguel 1997: 19 quoted in Brophy 2003: 36).
- Publication type
- Journal article
- TEXT, Vol. 9, no. 2 (Oct 2005)
- Publication year
- Australian literature; Badiou, Alain (1937-); Books; Cultural theory; Cyberculture; Essays; Joyce, James (1882-1941); Lacan, Jacques (1901-1981); Literature; Murnane, Gerald (1939-); Reading
- Australian Association of Writing Programs, Griffith University
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2005 Dominique Hecq. Published version of this paper reproduced with the kind permission of the publisher.
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- Peer reviewed