Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Introducing On the Same Page (A Study in Language and Intersubjectivity)

This video introduces the "On the Same Page" (OtSP) project, a collaborative study in participatory sense making that includes clinical/neural psychology, language/narrative and performance art. It is a project initiative within the SITE initiative in the Department of Psychology at Umeå University, Sweden.

My component of the project involves the opportunity to theorise the expansion of language in the On the Same Page Project. Embodied communication and the semiotics of the three-dimensional are just two areas that are outside the realms of verbal language but that at the same time define and support the space we share when we communicate with each other with spoken and written language.

Symbolic modes that are bound up with the spatial -  for example clothing, body modification (such as tattooing) and gender play -  are examples that are common for negotiating the social today. These realms of communication can be seen as exemplified in the gesture. Sign language is perhaps the most developed mode for gestural communication, but we all use gesture to communicate. Gestures are shared as nodes in the cultural fabric of reality. In fact I would argue that gestures are a primary mode for expression and experimentation within the components of social identity today. New media, such as video games, exploit gesture as a mode of communication to both convey narrative and engage in play.

My contribution to OtSP is to take up the non-verbal elements that are aspects of communication and place them in broader communicative contexts. The spatial is perhaps the most obvious of these broader contexts. I look forward to experimenting with how performance can intersect with shared spatial codes to result in evidence of intersubjectivity in relation to communication and ultimately identity and meaning. My hope is that the results of these experiments will be in the direction of contemporary narrative studies.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Introduction to Thesis Chapter Two: The Spatial in the Digital Preface

Figure 2.1: Dreamaphage introduction, describing the spaces of the work in the contexts of narrative. 

This chapter examines how the prefaces to the digital works introduce the spatial in preparation for reader interaction. This preparation is manifest in two forms: firstly, as representations of space; and secondly, in the establishment of representational space. The representation of space follows a tendency “towards a system of verbal (and therefore intellectually worked out) signs” (Lefebvre 39), which are manifest in the prefaces as maps, diagrams and images. These systems include rules for interaction with the digital works. In conjunction with the representation of space, representational space in the prefaces “overlays physical space, making symbolic use of its objects” and is composed of “more or less coherent systems of non-verbal symbols and signs” (Lefebvre 39). The prefaces introduce the reader to representational space via narrative elements such as characters and objects. By examining these features of representational space, I establish how the prefaces introduce the reader to the digital texts, and in particular interaction with them, but positioning her in relation to the spaces of narrative. I argue the prefaces establish representational space and the representation of space and in doing so establish rules related to the spatial for interacting with the digital works. Interaction is represented in the prefaces on the condition of compliance: firstly, with the rules of the representation of space; and secondly, with the objects, characters and narrative references introduced within representational space. By introducing spaces in the works thus, the prefaces assert control over interaction with the digital works.
              The prefaces introduce the spatial as the means for achieving goals. In the preface to Dreamaphage (See Figure 2.1) a cure is said to reside in the dreams of the characters, where “all other methods are errors. The words of these books, their dreams, contain the cure” (Dreamaphage). The prefaces guide the reader towards the goal of the cure “hidden in the dreams themselves”. The preface describes Dreamaphage as containing hidden elements deep within its spatial structures, including “dozens of hidden buttons and lost texts,” that are “leading to the books” (Dreamaphage Preface). These emphasized points, buttons, objects, lost texts and the books, represent stages moving toward (“leading to”) goals. The prefaces to Egypt also suggest goals (e.g. the command; “You may not want to read it now, but take it with you when you go!” Egypt), which focus on a presence for the reader in the spaces of the text.  In this context of goals, space is more than just a structural component to the texts; it functions as a representative meta-medium governing all interaction, including reading and navigation. This structuring follows the meta-organizing principles I have already described as grounded in Lefebvre’s tri-partite model of production. In the digital works, the reader is given specific goals, such as locating the name spell in Egypt or the cure to the dreamaphage virus in Dreamaphage, and solving the relationship problems in Façade of Grace and Trip, “an attractive and materially successful couple in their early thirties” (Façade website). I argue that these instructions are attempts to prescribe interaction with the spaces of the works.
              I begin by describing the prefaces as examples of remediation how the referencing of older media sets the initial boundaries for interaction. I argue this remediation is a controlling element in the prefaces and is part of their paratextual function. I then explain how the prefaces prepare the reader for the spatial components of the works. I go on to clarify how the prefaces reference the space of the texts, and as a result position the reader in relation to interaction. The prefaces to Façade are the website; (ii) a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ); and (iii) “Behind the Façade” (a PDF document published separately from the other two components).[1] Egypt’s prefaces are; (i) the introduction (with dedication, Figure 2.2 below); (ii) the Glossary and Rubric; (iii) the maps (Figure 2.4); and (iv) the “Papyrus Sections” (Figure 2.4). The Dreamaphage prefaces are; i) the introduction from the published work by the Electronic Literature Organization; (ii) a further two-stage introduction; and (iii) a brief Help guide.[2] The preface to Last Meal Requested is a description of narrative context but does not prescribe reading. Last Meal Requested is also archived at the Rhizome Artbase (, where it features a prefatory artist statement introducing the main themes of the work.[3] I argue that the prefaces prescribe  interaction in how space is first presented in maps and diagrams according to representations of space and through representational space.

[1] “Behind the Façade” can be ordered as a PDF document from the authors. It is sent via email once a five dollar charge is paid online.
[2] Both the prefaces to Dreamaphage are accessible from
[3] The present study works with the copy kept at

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Instructional Design

 The Dick and Carey Systems Approach Model
(The model was originally published in 1978 by Walter Dick and Lou Carey in their book entitled The Systematic Design of Instruction)

I am currently working as an instructional designer. I find design a fascinating area to work in. For me it is the borderland between i) materials and technology, ii) use and iii) meaning/representation. I have been working in this job for 5 months now and I am starting to feel more confident regarding processes for creating instructional media and the thinking that goes behind it. My area is high-end medical technologies.

I would like to record here some of my early ideas regarding instructional design.

Strategy: “employing whatever resources are available to achieve the best outcome in situations that are both dynamic and contested” (Freedman)

Dick and Carey made a significant contribution to the instructional design field by championing a systems view of instruction, in contrast to defining instruction as the sum of isolated parts. The model addresses instruction as an entire system, focusing on the interrelationship between context, content, learning and instruction. According to Dick and Carey, "Components such as the instructor, learners, materials, instructional activities, delivery system, and learning and performance environments interact with each other and work together to bring about the desired student learning outcomes". The components of the Systems Approach Model, also known as the Dick and Carey Model, are as follows:
  • Identify Instructional Goal(s): A goal statement describes a skill, knowledge or attitude (SKA) that a learner will be expected to acquire
  • Conduct Instructional Analysis: Identify what a learner must recall and identify what learner must be able to do to perform particular task
  • Analyze Learners and Contexts: Identify general characteristics of the target audience, including prior skills, prior experience, and basic demographics; identify characteristics directly related to the skill to be taught; and perform analysis of the performance and learning settings.
  • Write Performance Objectives: Objectives consists of a description of the behavior, the condition and criteria. The component of an objective that describes the criteria will be used to judge the learner's performance.
  • Develop Assessment Instruments: Purpose of entry behavior testing, purpose of pretesting, purpose of post-testing, purpose of practive items/practive problems
  • Develop Instructional Strategy: Pre-instructional activities, content presentation, Learner participation, assessment
  • Develop and Select Instructional Materials
  • Design and Conduct Formative Evaluation of Instruction: Designers try to identify areas of the instructional materials that need improvement.
  • Revise Instruction: To identify poor test items and to identify poor instruction
  • Design and Conduct Summative Evaluation
With this model, components are executed iteratively and in parallel, rather than linearly.

The Internship - A Vision of a Google World

The Internship is a 2013 comedy directed by Shawn Levy, written by Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern, and produced by Vaughn and Levy. The film stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. It is a lighthearted look at the labor market and generational politics, with a light romance background story. It is not going to be a classic in the future, but it does have a lot to say about the sort of world we would have if Google defined culture. I am thinking about the combined vision of society and production it presents. The title itself is a giveaway I suppose but the deeper I get into the film I see it as an account of the working conditions and social order that organizations such as Google would like to see as standard in the world.

Obviously competing for jobs. But this competition also includes identity. Because to quote the film; "sometimes the most radical move is to be yourself". This self is defined by senseless hard work and no fixed status. The self also has a physical dimension, and the dinner between the Aussie executive and Owen's character defines what a jerk is: with "A moment on the lips forever on the hips" - bodies are people.

The only way to be educated is by paying for tuition (as two strippers tell us) or attending corporate colleges (Google Campus, the scene of most of the story). Its about 'hard work' and not "a fancy education". The often referred to University of Phoenix or as they call it in the film "the Harvard of the Internet" is real and "offers campus and online degree programs, certificate courses, and individual online classes":
"The University of Phoenix (UOPX) is an American for-profit institution of higher learning, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. The university has an open-enrollment admission policy, requiring a high-school diploma, GED, or its equivalent as its criterion for admissions. The university has 112 campuses worldwide and confers degrees in over 100 degree programs at the associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Apollo Group Inc., a publicly traded (NASDAQ: APOL) Phoenix-based corporation that owns several for-profit educational institutions." -
Failure is described in the sauna scene as a flawed information footprint. Working in a strip club while studying to be a dental hygienist is success, as the money falls from the air in one scene with the pole dancers. But not having a straight story online is a huge problem:

"Google has singlehandedly cut into my ability to bullshit" "
"Cramping your style?"
"Making you a better person?"
The need for a registered and monitored presence online is emphasized in the Google Help sequence. Firstly Google Online help is only available to business customers. There is no direct online support for non-paying customers. But the character who does not log in and therefore his work does not exist is part of the hegemony of sanctioned and controlled information.

The society of The Internship is not about inclusive places, social positions or even people. Its about progress through the artificial creation of needs. It is defined by the line in the film "We've had lots of jobs but we are trying to build a future here".

I associate the surveillance and corporate governance of The Internship with the emerging Trans Pacific Partnership, whereby production is governed by the beliefs that;
"commits the parties not to set or use labor or environmental laws or practices either for trade protectionist purposes nor to weaken such laws or practices to encourage trade and investment" ( p13). 
Its a free market for labor and environmental laws. When the competing interns in the film approach a mom and pop pizza place to advertise with Google, the line they take to sell the service is about a form of globalization we are increasingly familiar with today:
"Hasn't the neighborhood gotten a little bit bigger?"
"We're not asking you to abandon the artistry, we are asking you to expand the reach"
"All waiting at the click of a button"
Its a disturbing vision where everything is channeled through the search engine and all alternative forms of organization and regulation are void. Information may be power. But all information is reality.

(BTW - Flashdance, a meme in the film The Internship, came out in 1983. On January 1 1983 the migration of the ARPANET to TCP/IP was officially completed  and this is considered to be the beginning of the true Internet).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Solitude of Palliative Care

I read One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1996, while my mother and I nursed her mother through the final months of terminal cancer. I had grown up with my grandmother and her stories. She was born in 1912 and did not go to school, instead she rode wild horses through prickly pear on the central western Queensland cattle property her father had built from scrub. She grew up with tribal Aborigines, with the Depression, self-sufficiency, but also dressing for dinner and having books sent out from England by boat.

The experience of reading One Hundred Years of Solitude at this time changed my life. My grandmother died about the same time I finished the book, and I returned to my inner city bohemian share house in Sydney and sold all my possessions. I then began four years of constant travel around Australia and around the world. I earned my money by being a street musician, boat builder, farm laborer and smuggler. I had entered the world of possibility and coincidence.

For me the fluid, cyclical and charmed world of One Hundred Years of Solitude cast a glow over everyday life. It gave me courage to take a chance, to throw caution to the wind and step outside the habits and routines of what is expected by some unwritten social code. The characters shimmered and flickered and died, not living safe and predictable lives, but remaining true to their inner thoughts and feelings. The world is amazing. This is what Gabriel Garcia Marquez taught me.
Published in The Guardian Online: The Solitude of Palliative Care

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In the Future We Will Live the Time We Have the Means to Afford to Live.

"Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint.  And it induces regular effects of power.  Each society has its regime of truth, its “general politics” of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true’" (Foucault 1980 131).
Those who use the Internet are not the agents of power, but are its instruments, its police. Online millions of people contribute to their virtual personae, in a production composed of images, text and audio. The acceptance of image online as meaningful and important does not bestow power to anyone. It locks people, (including celebrities themselves) into webs of trivia and brand-based marketing.

Power has always operated in networks. The Medici could not have been the most powerful family in Tuscany without a network of communication, media and bureaucracy that was based on 'Truth' to support and exercise that power.

With a massive media system now in place globally we are not seeing a revolution in the network. Many follow a similar path to Yochai Benkler, in The Wealth of Networks:

"Benkler tends to overstate the novelty of social production. Firms, for example, have long employed internal markets; delegated decision rights throughout the organization; formed themselves into networks, clusters, and alliances; and otherwise taken advantage of openness and collaboration. Many different organizational forms proliferate within the matrix of private-property rights. Peer production is not new; rather, the relevant question concerns the magnitude of the changes." - The Independent

I would go on to argue it is the small, the unknown, the rare, secret and the enclosed where power is more likely to be realized in terms of autonomy that can lead to more definite social change and new ideas.

I do not believe the most powerful organizations and people on earth are on Twitter and Facebook. Those that use social media and have roles in powerful organizations, for example the World Economic Forum, (which actually has no policy and decision making powers but does include major stakeholders) are not the superstars of social media. I support this idea with the attached graphic from the last WEF in Davos that shows the tweeting was pitiful -  12 278 in total and most of them coming from the USA

The smokescreen of truth in the form of mass attention to something that says very little and does not share Power with anyone.

Just thinking about what makes the present cultures and societies different, if indeed they are, from earlier similar formations, is the speed of digital media that can result in what has been termed 'Virtual':

“In the virtual, we are no longer dealing with value; we are merely dealing with a turning-into-data, a turning-into-calculations, a generalized computation in which reality-effects disappear. The virtual might be said to be truly the reality-horizon, just as we talk about the event-horizon in physics. But it is also possible to think that all this is merely a roundabout route towards an as yet indiscernible aim.”- Jean Baudrillard. Passwords. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso. 2003: 40-41.

Contrary to the anything that can be termed 'revolutionary' in the idea of a Netocracy (“those who are connected in interactive networks” - Bard), it seems many see the concept as simple digital production supplying markets, such as these entrepreneurs in Eastern Europe.

To extend Baudrillard’s idea, this is just an example of labor and focus turning-into-brand. Here the web is not separate from life but needs the 'need' to be created as "The virtual might be said to be truly the reality-horizon".

I would venture to say that while money is now electronic and pan-global and national currencies may wither, the enforcement of Power through capital ratios associated with money will remain. Bitcoin is just the first wave of a symbolic value experience that will be run as a program, but I believe it will maintain the same dependencies and prohibitions that money has done for centuries.

In relation to the free-ness of Gmail, Facebook etc. 'Free' is here defined by what we are prepared to exchange for a service - a single point in a demographic network or time, or advertising space or data. But Gmail and all the others are creating unequal value for everyone. Traditional sharecropping is managed a similar way. Again, an ancient future.

Finally I would go as far as to say the future is exhausted and this is reflected across those cultures that are adapting to the power that comes with the Virtual. This idea is posited on the fact that the future as a concept was invented - born out of a desire for progress, a belief in historical change, an abandonment of tradition and so on. The future just may not be a sustainable concept in a virtual sense. One example of this I think about a lot is the rampant nostalgia of today in the economies that support abstract levels of symbolic exchange. Examples include retro, hipster, evangelical, right wing extremist- all have nostalgia at their core, often for a time that never really existed. In the future we will live the time we have the means to afford to live. Meanwhile pre-Virtual economies continue to negotiate the encroachment of the virtual via the national, tribal and religious systems of power and economy. Colonial powers take advantage of these systems and exploit them.

Critique remains all we have.

Cited Works
Baudrillard, Jean. Passwords. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso. 2003.

Benkler, Yochai. The Wealth of Networks : How social production transforms markets and freedom.New Haven: Yale UNiversity Press, 2006.

Foucault, M. (1980): ‘Truth and Power’. In C. Gordon (ed.): Power/knowledge. Selected Interviews & Other Writings by Michel Foucault, 1972-1977, Brighton: Havester, pp. 109-133.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Read the Books of Peaches Geldof Part Two

Continuing on from my earlier post in providing links to PDFs for the books that featured on the shelfie published by Peaches Geldof weeks before her sad and as yet unexplained demise. I post this second and final installment on the bottom shelf of the above image here to provide access to many classic texts on the occult while public interest has been stirred. If you want to honor the memory of Peaches, why not read a book she was a fan of.

Beginning on the lower shelf, we have already posted a link to a PDF for The Nag Hammadi Library (a personal favorite of mine, which sits on my own shelf) in the early Top Shelf entry. But from then on, left to right, we have:

Classical Mythology by Mark P. O. Morford and Robert J. Lenardo (Seventh Edition)
Peaches' edition of this classic text on the Classics is the ninth edition (there is a website companion to the ninth), but I link here to a PDF of the seventh edition.  The text contains a wide variety of faithfully translated passages from Greek and Latin sources, including Homer, Hesiod, all the Homeric Hymns, Pindar, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Herodotus, Plato, Lucian, Lucretius, Vergil, Ovid, and Seneca. Acclaimed authors Mark P.O. Morford and Robert J. Lenardon incorporate a dynamic combination of poetic narratives and enlightening commentary to make the myths come alive for students. Offering historical and cultural background on the myths (including evidence from art and archaeology) they also provide ample interpretative material and examine the enduring survival of classical mythology and its influence in the fields of art, literature, music, dance, and film.

The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion by Sir James Frazer
I grew up with many of the books on Peaches' shelf (my father was a loose Crowleyian) and this was standard reading from the age of about 14 for me. The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion (retitled The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion in its second edition) is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology and religion, written by the Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941). It was first published in two volumes in 1890; in three volumes in 1900; the third edition, published 1906–15, comprised twelve volumes. The work was aimed at a wide literate audience raised on tales as told in such publications as Thomas Bulfinch's The Age of Fable, or Stories of Gods and Heroes (1855).

Frazer offered a modernist approach to discussing religion, treating it dispassionately as a cultural phenomenon rather than from a theological perspective. The influence of The Golden Bough on contemporary European literature and thought was substantial.

The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie
The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie is considered by many to be the book that started the modern occult movement. The original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which started in the late 1800s, borrowed from a wide variety of occult traditions; Kabalah, Tarot, Geomancy, Enochian Magic, Theosophy, Freemasonry, Paganism, Astrology, and many more and created a unique and viable system of magic that is still being practiced today. Almost every contemporary occult writer and modern group has been influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Order or its members, making The Golden Dawn one of the most influential occult books of the past 100 years.

The book is divided into several basic sections. First are the knowledge lectures, where you will learn the basics of the Kabalah, symbolism, meditation, geomancy and more. This is followed by the rituals of the Outer Order, consisting of five initiation rituals into the degrees of the Golden Dawn.

The next section covers the rituals of the Inner Order including two initiation rituals, equinox ceremonies, and more. Then you will learn the basic rituals of magic and the construction, consecration, and means of using the magical tools. Once you have these you can go on to evocation rituals, talismans, and invocations.

An Unrecognizable Text

The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage
The Book of Abramelin tells the story of an Egyptian mage named Abramelin, or Abra-Melin, who taught a system of magic to Abraham of Worms, a German Jew presumed to have lived from c.1362–c.1458. The system of magic from this book regained popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries due to the efforts of Mathers' translation, The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, its import within the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and later within the mystical system of Thelema (created in 1904 by Aleister Crowley).

Unfortunately, Mathers used the least-reliable manuscript copy as the basis for his translation, and it contains many errors and omissions. The later English translation by Georg Dehn and Steven Guth, based on the earliest and most complete sources, is more scholarly and comprehensive. Dehn attributed authorship of The Book of Abramelin to Rabbi Yaakov Moelin (Hebrew יעקב בן משה מולין; ca. 1365–1427), a German Jewish Talmudist. This identification has since been disputed.

Judasim by Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok
This all-encompassing textbook is an unrivalled guide to the history, beliefs and practice of Judaism. Beginning with the ancient Near Eastern background, it covers early Israelite history, the emergence of classical rabbinic literature and the rise of medieval Judaism in Islamic and Christian lands. It also includes the early modern period and the development of Jewry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Extracts from primary sources are used throughout to enliven the narrative and provide concrete examples of the rich variety of Jewish civilization.

Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Henry Cornelius Agrippa
Three Books of Occult Philosophy (De Occulta Philosophia libri III) is Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's (1486-1535) study of occult philosophy, acknowledged as a significant contribution to the Renaissance philosophical discussion concerning the powers of ritual magic and its relationship with religion.

The three books deal with Elemental, Celestial and Intellectual magic. The books outline the four elements, astrology, kabbalah, numbers, angels, God's names, the virtues and relationships with each other as well as methods of utilizing these relationships and laws in medicine, scrying, alchemy, ceremonies, origins of what are from the Hebrew, Greek, and Chaldean context.

These arguments were common amongst other hermetic philosophers at the time and before. In fact, Agrippa's interpretation of magic is similar to the authors Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Johann Reuchlin's synthesis of magic and religion and emphasize an exploration of nature. Unlike many grimoires of the time, before and past, these books are more scholarly and intellectual than mysterious and foreboding. These books are often read as authoritative by those interested in the occult even today.

The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy by Henry Cornelius Agrippa
The so-called Fourth Book appeared in Latin some thirty years after Agrippa's death. Johann Weyer, a student of Agrippa's, denounced this work to be spurious (cf. Praestigiis Daemonum, 1563) and that evaluation has rarely been questioned. An exception to this is Stephen Skinner in his 1978 introduction to the facsimile edition published by Askin Publishers.

Magick in Theory in Practice by Aleister Crowley
My former work has been misunderstood, and its scope limited, by my use of technical terms. It has attracted only too many dilettanti and eccentrics, weaklings seeking in "Magic" an escape from reality. I myself was first consciously drawn to the subject in this way. And it has repelled only too many scientific and practical minds, such as I most designed to influence. But MAGICK is for ALL. So I have written this book to help the Banker, the Pugilist, the Biologist, the Poet, the Navvy, the Grocer, the Factory Girl, the Mathematician, the Stenographer, the Golfer, the Wife, the Consul - and all the rest - to fulfil themselves perfectly, each in his or her own proper function. Let me explain in a few words how it came about that I blazoned the word MAGICK upon the Banner that I have borne before me all my life. (from book)

The Tanakh (Hebrew: תַּנַ"ךְ‎, pronounced [taˈnaχ] or [təˈnax]; also Tenakh, Tenak, Tanach) is the canon of the Hebrew Bible. It is also known as the Masoretic Text or Miqra.

Tanakh is an acronym of the first Hebrew letter of each of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: Torah ("Teaching", also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi'im ("Prophets") and Ketuvim ("Writings")—hence TaNaKh. The name "Miqra" (מקרא), meaning "that which is read", is another Hebrew word for the Tanakh. The books of the Tanakh were passed on by each generation, and according to rabbinic tradition were accompanied by an oral tradition, called the Oral Torah.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Read the Books Peaches Geldof Read Part One

A part of the library of the late Peaches Geldof appeared on her Twitter feed a few weeks before her recent and tragic death (nobody should die at 25). What is interesting about the image of books upon the shelf of Peaches is the subject. Peaches was a Thelemite, a follower of the teachings of Edward Aleister Crowley. In honor of the memory of Peaches and as an attempt to get people to read Crowley and the books associated with him I begin to post the books from the above image here as PDFs. This is shelf one in the Books of Peaches (shelf two is tomorrow):

The Anatomy of the Human Body by Henry Grey (1918)
The edition of Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body features 1,247 vibrant engravings—many in color—from the classic 1918 publication, as well as a subject index with 13,000 entries ranging from the Antrum of Highmore to the Zonule of Zinn.

Gems from the Equinox: Instructions by Aleister Crowley for his Magical Order
A resource list of The Equinox, the Review of Scientific Illuminism, the official organ of the Crowley’s A∴A∴ along with material of import to its sister organization, Ordo Templi Orientis.

The Holy Bible (King James Version)
Virtue and Prudence, could not be brought for a long time to give way to good Letters and refined speech, but bare themselves as averse from them, as from rocks or boxes of poison; And fourthly, that he was no babe, but a great clerk [Gregory the Divine], that gave forth (and in writing to remain to posterity) in passion peradventure, but yet he gave forth, that he had not seen any profit to come by any Synod, or meeting of the Clergy, but rather the contrary; And lastly, against Church-maintenance and allowance, in such sort, as the Ambassadors and messengers of the great King of Kings should be
furnished, it is not unknown what a fiction or fable.

The Book of Splendours: The Inner Mysteries of Qabalism by Eliphas Levi
This is the first part of Eliphas Levi's last great descourse on the mysteries of occultism that was continued and concluded in The Great Secret. In it, Levi examines with great precision and insight the inner meanings of Qabalism and their relationship to the occult sciences. Part One is a commentary on the Spihra Dzeniuta by Simeon Ben-Jochal, which includes an examination of the affinities between Qabalism and Freemasonry. Part Two pursues the correspondences between Qabalism, Numerology and the Tarot. This edition includes an appendix by Papus (Dr. Gerard Encausse) summarizing Levi's doctrines and teachings and supplying some fascinating information on some of the master's many disciples.

Transcendental Magic Its Doctrine and Ritual by Eliphas Levi
Transcendental Magic Its Doctrine and Ritual  (Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie) By Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant) Translated to English by A. E. Waite. Originally published by Rider & Company, England, 1896. Transcribed and converted to Adobe Acrobat format by Benjamin Rowe, January, 2002.

This is Eliphas Levi's (1810-1875) best-known book. This work arguably made Levi the most influential writer on magic since the Renaissance. Originally issued in French, the English translator is A.E. Waite and it is doubtful that anyone else could have better captured the essence of Levi's work. The book is divided in two parts; the first is theoretical, the second practical. This is a fascinating and often debated work involving a discussion that covers almost the entire realm of Ritual and High Magic.

Unrecognizable Volume

The Mystical Kabbalah
The Kabbalah is divided into two kinds, the Practical and the Theoretical. The Practical is occupied with the construction of talismans and amulets and is of no interest to Freemasonry.

Practical Kabbalah has its ancient roots in the "Thirteen Enochian Keys" of Enoch son of Qain, along with a highly eclectic admixture of material taken from Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and other non-Hebrew sources. The "Thirteen Enochian Keys" of Enoch son of Qain are reflected in such works as The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, the Greater and Lesser Keys of Solomon, and mediaeval grimoires such as the Armadel, Goetia/Lemegeton, etc. The primary text of the mystical Kabbalah that appears to occupy a central place of importance in the hermetic Kabbalah is the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation). The two most prominent contemporary schools of Practical or Hermetic Kabbalah are the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.).

The bulk of the mainstream orthodox Jewish Kabbalists focus primarily on the Sefer HaZohar (Book of Splendor) and the Etz HaChayyim (Tree of Life). They engage in practices of spiritual refinement (avodah) and meditation (devekut, "cleaving to God") gleaned from the writings left by Abraham Abulafia, Azriel of Gerona (disciple of Yitza'aq the Blind), Chayyim Vital (recorder of the teachings of Yitza'aq Luria), Dov Baer (Mezhirecher Maggid and successor to Israel ben Eliezer), Nachman of Bretzlav, and others. These practices include a variety of visualization techniques, breathing exercises, movements coordinated with the permutation and combination of Hebrew letters, mantric intonation of sacred phrases, meditative prayer, and chanting devotional songs.

The Book of Lies
The Book of Lies (full title: Which is also Falsely Called BREAKS. The Wanderings or Falsifications of the One Thought of Frater Perdurabo, which Thought is itself Untrue. Liber CCCXXXIII [Book 333]) was written by English occultist and teacher Aleister Crowley (using the pen name of Frater Perdurabo) and first published in 1912 or 1913. As Crowley describes it: "This book deals with many matters on all planes of the very highest importance. It is an official publication for Babes of the Abyss, but is recommended even to beginners as highly suggestive."

The book consists of 93 chapters, each of which consists of one page of text. The chapters include a question mark, poems, rituals, instructions, and obscure allusions and cryptograms. The subject of each chapter is generally determined by its number and its corresponding Qabalistic meaning. Around 1921, Crowley wrote a short commentary about each chapter, assisting the reader in the Qabalistic interpretation.

Several chapters and a photograph in the book reference Leila Waddell, who Crowley called Laylah, and who, as Crowley's influential Scarlet Woman, acted as his muse during the writing process of this volume.

Origins of the Kabbalah by Allan Arkush & Gershom G. Scholem
One of the most important scholars of our century, Gershom Scholem (1897-1982) opened up a once esoteric world of Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah, to concerned students of religion. The Kabbalah is a rich tradition of repeated attempts to achieve and portray direct experiences of God: its twelfth-and thirteenth-century beginnings in southern France and Spain are probed in Origins of the Kabbalah, a work crucial in Scholem's oeuvre. The book is a contribution not only to the history of Jewish medieval mysticism but also to the study of medieval mysticism in general and will be of interest to historians and psychologists, as well as to students of the history of religion.

The Diary of a Drug Fiend by Aleister Crowley
Diary of a Drug Fiend, published in 1922, was occult writer and mystic Aleister Crowley's first published novel, and is also reportedly the earliest known reference to the Abbey of Thelema in Sicily.

The story is widely thought to be based upon Crowley's own drug experiences, despite being written as a fiction. This seems almost conclusively confirmed by Crowley's statement in the novel's preface: "This is a true story. It has been rewritten only so far as was necessary to conceal personalities." Crowley's own recreational drug use and also his personal struggle with drug addiction, particularly heroin, is well documented.

Crowley made a study of drugs and their effects upon the body and mind, experimenting widely himself. Many of his conclusions are present within this novel. The story follows Peter Pendragon and Louise Laleham, a couple passionately in love, as they fall head-first into a drug binge across Europe. Diary of a Drug Fiend encapsulates much of Crowley's core philosophy concerning Thelema and his conception of True Will.

The Law is for All by Israel Regardie
Aleister Crowley's life and thought are inexorably linked with The Book of the Law (Liber AL vel Legis, sub figura CCXX). He was not the author of this short, prophetic text. He received this visionary work by direct-voice dictation from a preterhuman, possibly discarnate intelligence in Cairo in 1904.

The Book of The Law

Crowley was an intelligent sceptic, and at first found this improbable means of communication as difficult to accept as most intelligent readers will today. Yet he could not ignore it or its message, and eventually concluded that it stood as conclusive proof of the underlying assumption of all religion - that intelligences superior to mankind not only exist, but take an active role in our welfare. He found that The Book of the Law holds the keys to the Next Step in human evolution, and sets forth the spiritual principles of a New Aeon.

He worked for decades to interpret its meaning for initiates and the general public, but rejected commentary after commentary as inadequate. He eventually concluded that he was too close to his subject to judge the value of his own commentaries, and entrusted the task to his best friend, Louis Wilkinson. Wilkinson (who wrote under the pen-name Louis Marlow) possessed impressive literary qualifications and had the advantages of knowing Crowley well and being a layman in esoteric matters. The result of his work is this long-awaited authorized popular edition of Crowley's new commentary on The Book of the Law, and its first appearance as Crowley wished it. Louis Wilkinson's editorial work was posthumously completed and augmented by Frater Superior Hymenaeus Beta of the O.T.O. This new edition features annotations, reading lists and indexes, as well as an insightful introduction by Louis Wilkinson.

777 and other Qabalistic writings of Aleister Crowley
777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley is a collection of papers written by Aleister Crowley. It was edited and introduced by Dr. Israel Regardie, and is a reference book based on the Hermetic Qabalah.

The Book of Thoth : A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians
The Equinox, volume III, number 5, by Aleister Crowley. The book is recorded in the vernal equinox of 1944 (an Ixviii Sol in 0° 0' 0" Aries, March 21, 1944 e. v. 5:29 p.m.) and was originally published in an edition limited to 200 numbered and signed copies.

This book describes the philosophy and the use of Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot, a deck of Tarot cards designed by Crowley and co-designed and painted by Lady Frieda Harris. The Thoth Tarot has become one of the best-selling and most popular Tarot Decks in the world.

The original 200-volume signed limited edition was bound in Morocco leather and printed on pre-wartime paper. Crowley sold ₤1,500 worth of the edition (equal to £57,540 in 2013) in less than three months.

The Holy Books of Thelema: The Technical Writings of Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley, the founder of Thelema, designated his works as belonging to one of several classes. Not all of his work was placed in a class by him.

    Class A consists of works that are not to be changed, even to the letter (The Holy Books)
    Class B consists of works of scholarship and enlightenment.
    Class C consists of material that suggests things other than the obvious.
    Class D consists of official rituals and instructions.
    Class E consists of manifestos, broadsides, epistles and other public statements.

Living Thelema: A Practical Guide to Attainment in Aleister Crowley’s System of Magick by  Dr. David Shoemaker
(A new book, could not find a PDF of it)
In this important new book, renowned Thelemic teacher Dr. David Shoemaker sheds light on the dense and often misunderstood world of Aleister Crowley's teachings. Beginners and advanced practitioners alike will find much useful advice here, as Shoemaker brings his characteristic down-to-earth style to bear on topics such as ritual and meditation practices, sex magick, astral projection, psychotherapy for magicians, the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, and that pinnacle of attainment known as the crossing of the Abyss. A popular lecturer and podcaster, Shoemaker has been a student and teacher of Aleister Crowley's system of magick and mysticism for decades. Living Thelema is designed to be a helpful resource for aspirants at any stage of the Thelemic path, drawing on Shoemaker's many years of supervising students in A.'.A.'., Crowley's magical order, as well as other related systems. This book presents a truly unique, 21st century synthesis of magick and depth psychology, and will serve as a useful reference at every stage of the aspirants path of attainment.

Bucklands Complete Book of Witchcraft
Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft has influenced and guided countless students, coven initiates, and solitaries around the world. One of modern Wicca's most recommended books, this comprehensive text features a step-by-step course in Witchcraft, with photographs and illustrations, rituals, beliefs, history, and lore, as well as instruction in spellwork, divination, herbalism, healing, channeling, dreamwork, sabbats, esbats, covens, and solitary practice. The workbook format includes exam questions at the end of each lesson, so you can build a permanent record of your spiritual and magical training. This complete self-study course in modern Wicca is a treasured classic—an essential and trusted guide that belongs in every Witch's library.

The I Ching of Book of Changes
The I Ching, also known as the Classic of Changes, Book of Changes, Zhouyi and Yijing, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts. The book contains a divination system comparable to Western geomancy or the West African Ifá system; in Western cultures and modern East Asia, it is still widely used for this purpose.

Traditionally, the I Ching and its hexagrams were thought to pre-date recorded history, and based on traditional Chinese accounts, its origins trace back to the 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE. Modern scholarship suggests that the earliest layers of the text may date from the end of the 2nd millennium BCE, but place doubts on the mythological aspects in the traditional accounts. Some consider the I Ching the oldest extant book of divination, dating from 1,000 BCE and before. The oldest manuscript that has been found, albeit incomplete, dates back to the Warring States period (475–221 BCE).

During the Warring States Period, the text was re-interpreted as a system of cosmology and philosophy that subsequently became intrinsic to Chinese culture. It centered on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and acceptance of the inevitability of change.

The standard text originated from the Old Text version (古文經) transmitted by Fei Zhi (费直, c. 50 BCE-10 CE) of the Han Dynasty, which survived Qin’s book-burning. During the Han Dynasty this version competed with the bowdlerised new text (今文經) version transmitted by Tian He at the beginning of the Western Han. However, by the time of the Tang Dynasty the Old Text version became accepted as standard.

The Hag Hammadi Library: The Definitive Translation of the Gnostic Scriptures in One Volume
The Nag Hammadi Library is a collection of Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. Twelve leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a local farmer named Mohammed al-Samman. The writings in these codices comprised fifty-two mostly Gnostic treatises, but they also include three works belonging to the Corpus Hermeticum and a partial translation/alteration of Plato's Republic. In his "Introduction" to The Nag Hammadi Library in English, James Robinson suggests that these codices may have belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery, and were buried after Bishop Athanasius condemned the use of non-canonical books in his Festal Letter of 367 AD.

The contents of the codices were written in the Coptic language, though the works were probably all translations from Greek. The best-known of these works is probably the Gospel of Thomas, of which the Nag Hammadi codices contain the only complete text. After the discovery, scholars recognized that fragments of these sayings attributed to Jesus appeared in manuscripts discovered at Oxyrhynchus in 1898 (P. Oxy. 1), and matching quotations were recognized in other early Christian sources. Subsequently, a 1st or 2nd century date of composition circa 80 AD has been proposed for the lost Greek originals of the Gospel of Thomas. The buried manuscripts date from the third and fourth centuries.

Read The Books of Peaches Part Two.

Friday, April 04, 2014

The First International Festival of Technoshamanism

The First International Festival of Technoshamanism will take place in Arraial d’Ajuda , Brazil on 23 and 30 April 2014, in the ITAPECO – Institute for Alternative Technology, Permaculture and gardening , along with groups from the Aldeia Velha of pataxós relatives, who will also be bringing their experiences and knowledge to the meeting.
The kickstarter site for the festival is here:

This project arises from a cyber network of Terrans metarecicleiros, submidiáticos , art collectives , ruidocráticos , mechatronics , performers , tactical media , permaculture , and groups involved with technology and ecology, which are engaged in the Struggle for the Earth.

Shamanism asserts its presence as a reference to the peoples of earth and forest , the ancestral knowledge , the link between their ecological and magical technologies .

It asserts its presence as a challenge :

How can we access a different relationship with life outside the field of technological development that is predicated on great devastation and destruction ? How can we propose new forms of technological production that are associated with Health Earth ? How can we expand our rationalistic and exploitative view to a more cosmic, ecological vision ? That other lives are possible beyond consumption and indiscriminate use of resources ? There’s magic in technology ? How can we can use technology to enhance our vision, listening, and experience and transform our communication with biodiversity ?

With discussions , stories , artwork , electronics, sound experiments , methods of communication with other life forms beyond the human , performances , workshops , permaculture , among others , the participants of the First International Festival of Technoshamanism want to be able to meet to deepen their ideas , propose new readings of the current ecological scene and present some possibilities for the future. It is a futuristic and eco event, that loves technology while at the same time ancenstoral knowledge, and wants to find new possibilities for life.

Following the camping, hack lab, free radio, TAZ, tent of cure, debates, workshops and party style, we will be among the ITAPECO permaculture institute and the Cultural house of Aldeia Velha of the Pataxó indigenous people.

An article explaining technoshamanism by the Brazilian writer and scholar Fabiane Borges, originally written as a presentation for Transmediale 2014 is available as a PDF with notes, images, references etc. here

Thursday, April 03, 2014

"The Augmented Plateau: Art and Virtual Worlds in HUMlab 2007-2013"

10 April - 30 April 2014 @ HUMlab-X, the Arts Campus at Umeå University, Sweden

Opening Hours: Monday - Friday, Noon - 4pm, closed on weekends (17, 18 and 21 April Closed)

Opening: 10 April, between 4pm - 6pm

PARTICIPANTS (in alphabetical order):
Alpha Auer, Avatar Orchestra Metaverse, Fau Ferdinand, Garrett Lynch, Katerina Karoussos, Pyewacket Kazyanenko, SaveMe Oh, Selavy Oh, Oberon Onmura, Maya Paris, Kristine Schomaker, Goodwind Seiling, Alan Sondheim, Eupalinos Ugajin, and Juria Yoshikawa

With Loving Support of:
Marx Catteneo, Jo Ellsmere, Mab MacMoragh, Steve Millar, and Evo Szuyuan.

HUMlab is a humanities-led, interdisciplinary digital lab at Umeå University in Sweden. For the last seven years, HUMlab has given support to Second Life (SL) artists by hosting their works on SL HUMlab Island for constructions as well as organising exhibitions at HUMlab's Real-Life multimedia venue.

In 2007-08 Humlab hosted on its Second Life sim Goodwind Seiling's "N00sphere Playground" for the Virtual Moves exhibition at the National Gallery in Copenhagen. Later, it further supported Avatar Orchestra Metaverse for their constructions and premier performances of "XAANADRuul" and "The Heart of Tones" before providing a home for the Yoshikaze "Up-In-The-Air" virtual artist residency programme in 2010. Since then, HUMlab has been a host for nine Second Life artists in Yoshikaze artist residency as well as one artist talk by Kristine Schomaker on her project "My Life as an Avatar." The work conducted in HUMlab and Yoshikaze by virtual world artists and creators has led to a number of academic publications and conference presentations and also resulted in two self-published artist books. Another outcome of HUMlab's engagement for the advancement of virtual worlds and art was their assistance in bringing an ambitious mixed-reality project by Goodwind Seiling to fruition. The project "Experimentation #1" was based on the use of Kinect to control avatar movements and would have been unable to be realised without HUMlab's support.

This year between 10 April and 30 April, HUMlab and Yoshikaze proudly present a group exhibition with all the artists who have been involved in shaping HUMlab's engagement in supporting SL artists and their art. This include, besides those mentioned above, Alan Sondheim, Juria Yoshikawa, Garrett Lynch, Selavy Oh, Katerina Karoussos, Fau Ferdinand, Pyewacket Kazyanenko, Oberon Onmura, Alpha Auer, Maya Paris, Eupalinos Ugajin and SaveMe Oh. We would also like to acknowledge the following SL artists for this show: Machinimatographers Marx Catteneo, Mab MacMoragh, Steve Millar, and Evo Szuyuan, as well as Puppeteer Jo Ellsmere. The exhibition takes place at the newly acquired HUMlab-X at the Art Campus of Umeå University.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Triumph of the Dandy

"Harking back to a time when people really believed that splendour and refinement were states of the soul, not mere acts of display" - Mick LaSalle, The Spectator

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film that presents a dandy in immaculate proportions. The cologne aficionado extraordinaire and lover of mature women Monsieur Gustave H. is played by Ralph Fiennes. Gustav H. is a study in Libertine Dandyism. Exactly how it is so I would like to explain here.

Firstly, the film The Grand Budapest Hotel is a work of fantasy and escapism, but it has two clear  underlying concepts that are steel-hard in a fluffy glove of old-world class, etiquette and delicate pastries. Firstly is the idea of tolerance. The film is laced with tension points that seem to show the cruel injustice of intolerance. Violence is never far behind when someone judges someone else as being 'wrong' in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Secondly, the film features a Europe that is imagined by people who do not live here (i.e. Americans). In the film Europe is a place where disfigured but beautiful young women make pastries by hand in ancient buildings, it is snowing all the time, fluctuating war is constant between almost indistinguishable ideologies (all based on cruelty), the aristocracy are remote, aloof and dazzling and eccentricity is widespread. Its a bit like if Baron von Münchhausen took over Disneyland during a particularly long and bitter winter in the Bavarian Alps and made it an adults only theme park. This is the cynical version of what is a charming and due to the underlying message of tolerance, brilliant film. But I am most interested in the return in these barren times of the dandy.

M. Gustav H is the concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel and his word is law in the establishment. 

Concierge: 1640s, from French concierge "caretaker, doorkeeper, porter" (12c.), probably from Vulgar Latin *conservius, from Latin conservus "fellow slave," from com- "with" (see com-) + servius "slave" (see serve (v.)). 

M. Gustav H likes the ladies, old/er rich blonde ladies. Gustav H also enjoys tailored clothes, perfumes, food, drink and the society of his peers. He lives alone in modest circumstances within the hotel, eating his meals (often simple affairs of bread and soup, alone. But society is important for Gustav H. Apart from his women, workers and friends he belongs to a secret society, The Society of Crossed Keys, a network across Europe made up of the concierges of the best hotels. The members of The Society of Crossed Keys assist each other regarding their concierge work and get help regarding any difficulties they may find themselves in. Gustav H. is loyal to his values and colleagues (preserving an order of class and occupation). He twice risks his life for "my lobby boy" who is an immigrant is menaced by fascist thugs. Gustav H. also states he "goes to bed with all my friends" and is of the view that "there still are faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity." This civilization is the code of the Dandy.

A gentleman is cultured to the point of refinement, but a dandy is cultured to the point of decadence. To alleviate his boredom, he will often grow overstated, perverse, toying with vulgarity. The dandy is responsible to no one other than himself. Being consistently well-mannered is far too bourgeois for the dandy: he holds to the more aristocratic character, in that he often feels himself above such workaday concerns as manners and accountability. In order to avoid being thought banal or trite, he becomes impossible to predict: tender and kind one moment, cold and cruel the next. He has transcended any dowdy middle-class notions of what 'refinement' is. There are good reasons why the dandy was reviled: he was a self-absorbed, egotistical, useless prick. Nineteenth century books are rife with this dandy vs. gentleman distinction, even having adjoining pictures of each species for clarification. (The Dandy as Libertine)
The inspiration for The Grand Budapest Hotel is the work and reputation of Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, letter writer, biographer, socialite, commentator and essayist. George Prochnik, the author of the forthcoming book, “The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World” reports that early on, when the writer resided in his first bachelor-pad in Vienna, he enjoyed entertaining guests. Zweig served them “liquors sprinkled with gold leaf in rooms that were buried in books and painted a deep red that one friend described as the color of the blood of 4,000 beheaded Saxons. Rich, handsome, a dreamy sensualist who chain-smoked Virginia cigars and once had an essay he penned about Handel printed entirely on silk, Stefan Zweig was the quintessential dandy cosmopolite.” (From Greg Archer)

The Grand Budapest Hotel’s production notes contain an essay, entitled “The Cosmopolitan Apocalypse of Stefan Zweig,” by George Prochnik, which may help explain—more than the film itself—why Anderson is attracted to Zweig. It argues: “Today, when governmental surveillance and the official documentation of every aspect of existence are once again multiplying so aggressively that many people feel their core individuality to be threatened, Stefan Zweig’s impassioned pursuit of personal freedom seems more relevant than ever. His anguished existence of exile has lessons for us all about the values of civilization that we should be fighting to save in our own time” (From Joanne Laurier).

These values are emphasized and exemplified in the dandy. The dandy personified in contemporary times is Sebastian Horsley, recently deceased. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Horsley;

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Close Reading Space in Interactive Digital Literature (Thesis Extract Chapter One - Methods and Background)

Close reading  cannot be applied equally to all media as a single method of analysis. For example, the difference between close reading a novel and a digital work can be grounded in the roles of space and interaction and how both contribute to narrative. David Ciccoricco examines this compatibility between close reading and the interactive potentials of digital literature, concluding “we are left with an inherent contradiction for close reading digital literature: one simply cannot close read digital text in the New Critical sense, for reading a text as a text does not work when you can no longer take the "text" to be an idealized abstract site of formal interplay” (Ciccoricco 2012 np). However, Ciccoricco does go on to answer this challenge by referencing I. A. Richards’ famous statement, “a book is a machine to think with” (Richards 1). By developing a close reading that includes the material Ciccoricco proposes a re-evaluation of it as a method of analysis that is related to the re-creation that takes place in all reading. This close reading of digital literature includes a focus on the meaning-making machine that is the material work. It is the contention of the following study that the material specifics of the digital work as a text are dominated by the spatial in a system that is both interpreted and interacted with, for the purposes of narrative formulation.

Close reading can explain the interpretive possibilities as well as the changes brought about by reader interaction with  the spatial and multimodal dimensions of digital works of literature. In order to analyze such interaction and interpretation, my close reading follows Jan Van Looy and Jan Baetens’ method whereby

Reading is always an act of dismembering, or tearing open in search of hidden meanings. ‘Close’ as in ‘close reading’ has come to mean ‘in an attentive manner’, but in the expression ‘to pay close attention’, for example, we still have some nearness […] when it comes to close reading the text is never trusted at face value, but it is torn to pieces and reconstituted by a reader who is always at the same time a demolisher and a constructor (9-10).

Van Looy and Baetens’ material metaphor of dismemberment combines design and address in the creation of narrative. “The text is never trusted at face value” and reading follows a process of interpretive interaction (“pay close attention”) and physical process (“torn to pieces”). Opening the digital text and its interpretation include a presence for the reader within its spatial structures, searching for an epiphany in its “hidden meanings”. In opening up these works as spaces, and studying closely how they can be navigated and re-arranged, it is the material components that guide interpretation. The material elements combine in the design of space in perspective and the emphases of the monumental. This process is a combination of “a pre-digital historical conception of close reading and the sort of materially-conscious hermeneutics that digital textuality requires” (Ciccoricco 2012 np). I demonstrate the combination of traditional close reading with an interpretive awareness of the material in my attention to the spatial possibilities of the digital works.

My close reading combines the material components of the digital texts in its focus on the spatial. David Ciccoricco describes such a reading as the “close analysis of the individual components that comprise its topology” (Ciccoricco 2012 np). Ciccoricco argues “scholars of digital textuality are determined to move away from the dominant paradigm of a textual topography, and instead speak more accurately of textual topology” (2012 np).  This contrast between topography and topology is important for understanding how I apply close reading to the spatial dimensions of the digital works. Topography "originally meant the creation of a metaphorical equivalent in words of a landscape. Then, by another transfer, it came to mean representation of a landscape according to the conventional signs of some system of mapping. Finally, by a third transfer, the names of the map were carried over to name what is mapped" (Hillis Miller 3-4). Thus topography represents space, but is not spatial of itself, with the three examples cited by Hillis Miller (i.e. metaphorical equivalent, representation and the name of what is mapped) being instances of  symbols standing-in for a physical entity. Thus topography is not interactive in the sense space is in the digital works, where the search for Van Looy and Baeten's "hidden meanings" demands a level of interaction that does not operate just on the level of the symbolic. Rather, it is necessary to combine interaction and interpretation in a close reading of the digital texts on the level of topology.

The linearity of topography can be contrasted with textual topology, or  “the material form of network narrative” (Ciccoricco 2007 57), as my focus of close reading the digital interactive works. Hanjo Bresseme qualifies this network as how “structure, texts, images and sounds can be mapped onto and inserted into each other […]. The various media are no longer framed in and thus framed off from each other”  (34). The interdependent framing results in an interactive space

The hypermedia topology is characterized by a conflation of and oscillation between surface and depth, because although the textual traces always appear superficially on the user’s screen […], hypermedial space consists of a multiplicity of levels and layers that are successively folded onto this surface that is, furthermore, used for both reading and writing purposes that thus conflates not only the surface and depths but also the active and the passive onto one spatial plane (Bresseme 34-35).

It is precisely the movement between surface and depth that is realized in reading perspective, focus and the monumental in the digital works of my study. I contend that like all forms of space, the hypermedial is profoundly material in its “multiplicity of levels and layers that are successively folded” (35).[1] I combine the interpretive materiality of surface and depth, levels and layers with the dismemberment of Van Looy and Baetens to create an interactive form of close reading that interprets spatial dynamics in design and address.

By combining topology with the dismembering of the text I devise a close reading that includes the written word and image as well as the spatial dynamics of the navigable, interactive and ergodic in the digital texts. In this way my close reading follows the idea that any analysis of interactive narrative works “must consider the formal, material, and discursive elements of each work as at once distinct and inseparable, each integrated toward the production of meaning” (Ciccoricco 2012 np). The formal is present in the prefaces to the digital texts as prescriptive guides and authorial instructions for reading. The material is made a part of the interpretation of the text in its design. The discursive operates in addressivity and indicates the limited range of responses that can be made to them by the reader. The spatial provides a frame for the integration of these “formal, material, and discursive elements of each work”, and this is what my close reading takes up. I argue throughout my study that the spatial represents a juncture between the materiality and the interpretive possibilities of the digital works. The point of Ciccoricco’s argument, that "digital media do not dispossess us of an interpretive reading practice" (np), strengthens my approach that finds the spatial as interactive and dominant in the formation of narrative. 

In my close reading of the digital works I analyze formal, material and selected discursive elements according to how they are produced by the spatial. Both material and addressive criteria are parts of close reading in the “consideration of the formal, material, and discursive elements of each work as at once distinct and inseparable, each integrated toward the production of meaning” (Ciccoricco 2012 np). The monumental, place, addressivity and perspective are ‘the individual components that comprise its topology’ in my close reading of the spatial. My focus on these elements aligns with Ciccoricco argument that, “it is also necessary to extend discourse of 'spatiality' as it pertains to reading and rereading. It is necessary, that is, to move over and away from the ‘Line’ and into the space of the network ” (Ciccoricco 2007 44). It is precisely this movement from the line of conventional narrative discourse, into the governance by the spatial of interaction with the digital works that is the subject of the following close readings. The shift in analysis from “the ‘Line’” to networked and interactive elements is accomplished through my adaption of the spatial theories of Henri Lefebvre. Space in the digital works is coded according to Lefebvre's concepts of representation of space and representational space.

[1] Bresseme references the “immateriality of the texts” (35), but this seems to contradict the concept of hypermedial space characterized by surface, depth, levels and layers.

Works Cited

Bresseme, Hanjo. 'One Surface Fits All: Texts, Images and the Topology of Hypermedia”. Text and Visuality: Word & Image Interactions 3. Martin Heusser, Martin Heusser, Michèle Hannoosh, Leo Hoek, Charlotte Schoell-Glass & David Scott (Eds.). Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 1999. 33-43. Print.

Ciccoricco, David. “The Materialities of Close Reading: 1942, 1956, 2009”. Digital   Humanities Quarterly, 2012 Volume 6 Number 1. 16 August 2012. Web. 25 August 2012

Ciccoricco, David.  Reading Network Fiction. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2007. Print.

Hillis Miller, Joseph. Topographies. Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995. Print.

Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Oxford: Basil-Blackwell, 2007. Print.

Richards, I.A. The Principles of Literary Criticism. London: Trubner, 1926. Print.