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Daniel Rourke (M, 32)
London, UK
Immortal since Dec 18, 2007
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All things would be visibly connected if one could discover at a single glance and in its totality the tracings of an Ariadne’s thread leading thought into its own labyrinth.
- Georges Bataille
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    From sjef
    A Basic Introduction to...
    From Robokku
    The thing modelled
    From Robokku
    The informational realm -...
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    A CyberReader
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    The Medium is the Massage
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    Inside Code: A Conversation
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    The thing modelled
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    Summery Books Too Far Out...
    From Robokku
    Temporal hypertext
    Rourke’s projects
    Polytopia
    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

    The Total Library
    Text that redefines...

    Start your own revolution
    Catching up with the future. All major institutions in the world today are grappling to come to terms with the internet. The entertainment...

    What happened to nature?
    How to stay in touch with our biological origins in a world devoid of nature? The majestic nature that once inspired poets, painters and...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    The text below is an image of a Discursive (Hyper)text...

    Please click it to read the full, unedited, Hyper(textual) version of this work:



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    This slice in hyperspace follows on from these past posts:
  • How things 'become': The infinity of definition
  • The Archaeology of 'The Book'
  • hypertext/?="The Metaphor is the Message" (Part I)

  • ...and is a direct response to this post by Robokku:
  • Temporal Hypertext

  • Time is important in the definition of any model, hypertextual or otherwise. At the moment I am interested in how new technologies allow us new ways to see, to realise the world around us. This constant re-definition of our realities can actually add temporality to mediums which previously had none.

    Modern technology has allowed art historians to 'look' at paintings with new, multidimensional, eyes. Shine certain wavelengths of light onto a Picasso painting and it becomes possible to read marks under the surface of the paint. What's more, apply several different wavelengths of light to the same painting and multiple layers, painted by the artist at various different times, become visible.

    In a sense, once an available technology has re-examined the painting its process is more obvious: the non-temporal becomes temporal. Each layer is like a snap-shot of the artist's process, their vision, even their 'mistakes'. The laser/x-ray imposes a kind of hyper[textu]ality upon the painting which previously was unavailable (but not absent - only hidden). Of course this causes the art historian to weep with joy, but it also causes an exponential explosion of interpretation from that moment onwards. Any further examination of the painting now occurs in hyper-reference. The painting can never be seen as merely 2-dimensional again.

    The example I have given can be extended to countless other mediums and medias. Film has its cutting room floor / multiple editions. Ancient manuscripts have their palimpsestic layers, just as the painting does. In fact palimpsest is THE word to use here, as it applies to all medias.

    Examine the outside of an old brick building and very often you will find the outline of a window that was bricked in, a foundation that no longer leads to an out-house, or a patch of brickwork that had to be fixed. Even the photograph has had its dimensionality extended. These are remnants of temporality, just like the layers under the painting: the word is a palimpsest, and I've grown used to using it often.

    Now here's the bit which leads back to my original post. and acts as in answer to Robokku's questions...

    How does/can this palimpsestic awareness apply to the future of information/expression? The internet contains copies of its former self, hidden not so far from view. Wikipedia has its history section and google has its cache. The Internet Way Back Machine allows ghostly simulacra of webpages to be pulled out of the deep freeze. My 1998 homepage is alive, somewhere.

    But is this layering of information the same as a palimpsest? I am not sure. Binding time together with human reality are the narratives that anthropomorphises it. Follow the xray-defined marks under the painting's surface and you can actually see the former brushstrokes of the artist, layer after layer, hour after hour: time is made real in the narrative story of the artist's action.

    This kind of narrative arc does not really exist in internet archives. The user is taken out of the equation and all that is left is a username editing the entry on 'Defenestration' for the 12th,17th or 26th time. A ghost of personhood can be seen, but it is far inferior to the powerful force of just one single hidden Picasso brushstroke.

    How can we infuse our new metaphors with these narrative dimensions?

    I linked to a Seed magazine conversation in my Archaeology of the Book piece that NEEDS to be read (or watched) again and again. Please come back after the layers have realigned themselves and add some layers of your own to this (or Robokku's) post.
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    Readers: Do you think in hypertext?

    The era of the linear tome is dead, information is a web - who'd have thought it - a net of knots in time and space, a palimpsest with infinite, self-referential layers.

    I find that the model of hypertext has become the metaphor via which my thoughts, my research, finds form. I can't read one book at a time. Instead I skip between many, following an annotation in one, buying a bibiliographed reference, dipping into books by the same or similar authors in the bookstore, scribbling notes in one book about another. I make the world my internet; the library my world wide web.

    Less I describe my journeys in hypertext, how about I carve them in hypertext, for you to explore?

    Here's a hypertextual mind-map of some of my recent travels as reader. Click the to interact hypertextually**



    I started this post because I am interested in the metaphors we use to model the world. As our understanding of the world evolves, so do our metaphors. As the metaphors shift, so our models are re-moulded in ever newer forms. The forms metaphors take say a lot about the culture they emerged from. The model, in many aspects, is not important: The metaphor is the message.

    For example...

    Over the millennia religions, philosophers, scientists and psychologists have cultivated countless metaphors for the soul; mind; consciousness. By looking at just a handful of the metaphors that were prevalent at different times in history, one begins to notice fascinating messages about the cultures that bore us:

    If we look back over recent centuries we will see the brain described as a hydrodynamic machine, clockwork, and as a steam engine. When I was a child in the 1950's I read that the human brain was a telephone switching network. Later it became a digital computer, and then a massively parallel digital computer. A few years ago someone put up their hand after a talk I had given at the University of Utah and asked a question I had been waiting for for a couple of years: "Isn't the human brain just like the world wide web?". The brain always seems to be one of the most advanced technologies that we humans currently have. - Rodney A. Brooks

    As new technologies/theories are invented, we tend to use them as metaphors to explain the world around us and within us. Consciousness isn't the only human attribute we blindly re-metaphorise.

    In recent years the Gaia Hypothesis has become very successful at explaining climate change, ecology shifts or the ever-constant salinity of the oceans as the workings of Planet Earth's immune system. The model here posits Earth as an organism, inspired at a time in history when Biological, Darwinian science was reaching its peak. Newton's mechanistic universe was probably influenced by the technically cutting-edge clocks that ticked so perfectly on his office wall. Richard Dawkins' 'meme theory' of language, for instance, came from a strong understanding of genetics.

    Our language itself is packed full of artefacts of metaphor. Phrases and words that have become so absolute in our understanding of the world that we forget they all came from technologies we invented. Think of the phrase "letting off some steam". Or "mapping the territory"? Or "what makes him tick? Or "photographic memory". Engines, maps, clocks and photos have become interwoven into our linguistic frameworks, used to describe anger, ideas, other people's inner-realms and inner-mindscapes.

    There are countless other models that grow out of technological or ideological changes. So too do cultural movements, in turn, become inspired by the models of the world that exist at the time. So we had the Cubists working shortly after Einstein's Relativity was being devised, or Andy Warhol reacting to consumerist, mass-produced culture by creating art that was also mass-produced. At present, architects are pursuing design down an organic-pathway, originally laid out by fractal modelling, organic chemistry, and evolutionary theory. Twisting the metaphor of the organism - a concept that philosophers of Biology try to model with their own metaphors - in order to design and implement more 'natural' human environments.

    And the metaphors never stop. Mind is now a quantum computer, mind is a neural network, mind is the internet, mind is a hypertext...

    And so I come back to my original point, hypertext, or more specifically the application of hypertext as a metaphor for reading, thinking, researching.

    Somewhere in the feedback between culture, science, technology and thought there is an idea called 'human' that persists. Trying to raise this idea to anything above a metaphor is difficult, until we come to recognise the ripples in time and space that our models of reality leave in their wake. Tracing those models back through history and off into the future we begin to draw the outline of ourselves and our limitations.

    Is it possible to use and abuse a metaphor, like hypertext, to map that territory, to permanently inscribe those lines in the sand? Even as I attempt to form my ideas into words the metaphors keep coming. Can our evolving metaphors of reality, of its perception be plotted? On a map? A hypertextual mind-map? An interlinking system of symbols, signs, cultures, ideas and relationships that feed into each other, grow forward and away from each other, merge and link back to themselves with enough clicks on the metaphorical mouse-button?

    What metaphors are the message? and can Space Collective, and internet entities like it, espouse new messages in their models?

    UPDATE: Part Two of this piece can be found here: Palimpsests/Palimpsests/Palimpsests

    ** I created this mind-map with online tool mindmeister.com. It is far from a perfect, hypertextual representation of my thoughts as they relate to books. For one thing, the mind-map can only be manipulated into a tree structure, so that branches move outwards, but never come back to link with each other across branches.

    Apart from this, the mind-map is merely a tool for you to explore, click on some of the links ( ) and generally interact with. Mind Meister allows for the possibility of collaborative mind-maps, could there be possibilities for Space Collective Projects etc? If you would like to expand my mind-map then let me know and I can add you in as a collaborator.

    The metaphor is the message.
    Fri, Apr 18, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: consciousness, Mind, hypertext, metaphor
    Sent to project: The Total Library, Polytopia
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