Comment on SpaceCollective’s Grand Narrative

Rourke Thu, Mar 6, 2008
Your choice of references, and your very kind words, fuel a fire.

There is an archaeological necessity in defining the books that surround a culture, any culture. The narratives which evolve us tend to arise from our perceptual limitations, or our attempts to try and break those limitations. 'Progress' is the catalytic reaction of the present on the forms of history. As we devise ever newer ways to interact with the reality that sustains us, so we delve deeper into the forms that make that reality. We examine an artifact with the tools at our disposal, and as those tools evolve so the very artifact we examine evolves with them. Meaning is defined merely by the abilities we have to look, to perceive. Shine a series of lasers on the surface of a renaissance painting and pencil marks 'lost' for 500 years become real. Bounce sound waves off the stone remnants of a settlement, now buried 50 metres under the earth, and we 'see' the past - we know of it more than those who dwelt there ever could. Books are no different. Each book is a palimpsest, a multitude of layers that appear ever more thickly the longer and harder we gaze upon them. New technologies, new ways of seeing, actually define reality in ways it has never been defined before. Pasts become where never before there were pasts. Truths that even the artists themselves did not perceive about their work come to us in droves, fill our hard drives to bursting, tempt us yet further into the labyrinth, tugging at Ariadne's thread with ever great tenacity.

Books only really begin once culture has attended to them, has re-appropriated them, has translated them, has stolen from them, has lost and found them, has turned them into dusty clichés, has copied them and lost the originals.

This is 'The Grand Narrative' I long to see, one which acknowledges the making of the past in the development of the future. One in which all things become, only as we redefine them, only as they remake us in mirrored union. As books become obsolete data conveyors, so they re-become the very greatest conveyors of data. Nothing is ever lost, things merely get re-imagined as we re-define them.

If Space Collective can redefine, then it can build from scratch. If it can discover anew then it can create the never before. The grand narrative will write itself.