Dickensian links_ Passage from Interface culture

‘As the word suggests a link is a way of drawing connections between things, a way of forging semantic relationships. In the terminology of linguistics, the link plays a conjunctive role, binding together disparate ideas in digital prose. This seems self-evident enough, and yet for some reason the critical response to hypertext prose has always fixated on the dissociative powers of the link. In the world of hypertext fiction, the emphasis on fragmentation has its merits. But as a general interface convention, the link should be usually understood as a synthetic device, a tool that brings multifarious elements together into some kind or orderly unit. In this respect, the most compelling cultural analogy for the hypertext webs of today’s interfaces turns out to be not the splintered universe of channel surfing, but rather the damp fog-shrouded streets of Victorian London, and the mysterious resemblances of Charles Dickens. “Links of association” was actually a favourite phrase of Dickens. It plays a major role in the narrative of ‘Great Expectations – arguably his most intricately plotted work, and the most widely read of his ‘mature’ novels. For Dickens the link usually takes the form of a passing resemblance, half glimpsed and then forgotten. Throughout his oeuvre, the characters stumble across the faces of strangers and perceive some stray likeness, something felt but impossible to place. These moments are scattered through the novels like hauntings, like half memories, and it’s the ethereal quality that brings them very close to the subjective haze of modernism and the stream of consciousness.’ Interface Culture, Steven Johnson _ pg 111-112

Reductionism a Problem of Philosophy

cover‘The problem here is the conflict between ‘full and explicit’. for when we adopt a reflective attitude we can analyse the elements which are operative in a particular experience. However by analysing by taking the whole apart – we change the structure of the experience, it finds expression as a fragmented whole. The fullness, the qualitative unity – of the reciprocity is lost. The problem here is problem of philosophy itself. ‘

Art and Embodiment: From Aesthetics to Self-consciousness
Paul Crowther
Publisher: OUP Oxford; New edition edition (5 April 2001)

Art as Performing the Self

The more man objectifies himself in his work, the more reality takes on the appearance of illusion. As the workings of the modern economy and the modern social order become increasingly inaccessible to everyday intelligence, art and philosophy abdicate the task of explaining them to the allegedly objective sciences of society, which themselves have retreated from the effort to master reality into the classification of trivia. Reality thus presents itself, to the layman and ’scientists’ alike, as an impenetrable network of social relations – as ‘role playing’, the ’presentation of self in everyday life’. To the performing self, the only reality is the identity he can construct out of materials furnished by advertising and mass culture, themes of popular film and fiction, and fragments torn from a vast range of cultural traditions, all of them equally contemporaneous to the contemporary mind. In order to polish and perfect the part he has devised for himself, the new Narcissus gases at his own reflection not so much in admiration as in unremitting search of flaws, signs of fatigue, decay. Life becomes a work of art, while ‘the first art work in an artist’ in Norman Mailers pronouncement, ’is the shaping of his own personality.’ The second of these principles has now been adopted not only by those who write ‘advertisements for myself ’ for publication but by the everyday artist in the street.

Pg 91,92,93
The Culture of Narcissism
Christopher Lasch

W W Norton & Co Ltd; New edition edition (15 Jan 1979)