José Augusto Mourão



Text is dead

The artificial and the natural


Reconfiguring narrative

Hypertextual organisation



We are facing, undoubtedly, the emergence of a new paradigm of knowledge, in the conjugation of digital technologies. The sciences and the techniques seem, at last, to converge into a communicational, informational and aesthetic space never seen before: a new epistemology, a "cognitive ecology" (Pierre Levy) in which the concept of interface is central (a device of translation and re-expedition) and the concept of network as collective shatters the Kantian transcendental subject. A new relation between brain and calculus is set. The technical objects and their practices turn into fetishes, imposing themselves as non-human objects. The idea is that literature is more of a technique of the imaginary than a technology. Computerized literature is essentially revealing the metamorphosis in which the product reflects on the screen the process of its electronic genesis. In hypertext, where literature and technology converge, according to Derrida, literature reveals, in its own mode, the "essence" of techniques. Hyperfiction is supported by the same parameters that were first used in other areas. This new media arena will thus make it possible to express a new kind of subjectivity and bio-politics. We are not far from the utopia anticipated by H. G. Wells in World Brain. Wells looks forward to "a world-wide network", not far from Mallarmé's dream, to accomplish an "integral book, a multiple book that would potentially contain every possible book." (1)

Changing technologies continually reshape the very nature of the artistic enterprise. And, as R. Coover points out: "Like composers, artists, and filmmakers before them, writers will learn to battle through the new tool-learning tasks, or to collaborate with other artists, designers, filmmakers, composers, and the tools themselves will become easier to learn and use and will interact more smoothly with other tools" (2). Experimentation remains the privileged domain of contemporary art. A new medium will thus enact and express a new kind of subjectivity. Laurie Anderson, Roy Ascott, Jenny Holzer have brought something never seen before in the paradigm that preceded what we now call cyber-culture. Numerical technology has confronted literature, releasing it from the rule of canon and narrative laws. Artists are now emphasizing the textuality of writing, seen as a visual form that works inside a specific space, and not as transparent vehicle of the word. Is cyber-writing indicating the end of literature or its re-discovery as matter artefact, constructions that resemble that which the quantic universe calls wave function? The emergent forms of expression may not necessarily be recognizable as variants of previous forms. In the digital medium, forms that are "live" (Glazier), that execute in the presence of the reader, offer experiences in textuality, a world apart from the rigidity of fixed paths through a textual field. "Such concepts help locate new media within the innovative tradition"(3). The intuition of Laruelle that the textual machines are grafted in a willed and mechanical process, deconstructing the previous idea that there is only a text, goes in the sense of the actual literary practice as flux, and testify at same time to another intuition of Landow, the revelation of metamorphosis in which the product reflects on the screen the process of its electronic beginning. Is this new form of literature an indication of a New Renaissance? Or rather, because of numbering, and an imminent total deletion of verbal language is, Vilem Flusser right in saying that: "The easiest way to represent the future of writing, if the current tendency for a culture made of techno images is to stay, is to imagine culture as a gigantic decoder which transforms text into image"(4)?


(1) A. Machado, Máquina e imaginário, São Paulo, Edusp, 1996: 1965.

(2) Robert Coover, art. cit ., p 6.

(3) Glaizier, op. cit., p. 177.

(4) Cit. By Simon Morley, op. cit ., pg. 204