Sunday, August 5, 2012

Text of Times

Advisory: Wherever one comes across the word ‘text’, do not understand it merely as a written group of letters, but as any experience or events where somebody(thing) else is involved.
We all are accustomed to hypertexts, especially those net-savvy who have seen the cursor magically turning a pointed finger when placed over certain text in a webpage. Well, that is just the tip of the iceberg of what is informationally available beyond.
Before a computer started to connect to other computers, it was just a tool but now it has become a portal to look into a virtual world created elsewhere and where you can peek into someone else’s projects. That signals the rising of a digital culture or more aptly what José B. Terceiro has dubbed as the homo digitalis in lieu of homo sapiens. Incidentally, the word ‘digital’ literally means ‘pertaining to fingers.’ When one speaks of information at the fingertips it sounds as if the information is ‘present-at-hand’- vorhanden (to borrow from existential phenomenologists)- as reified. When a piece of literature is seen just as a juxtaposition of chunks of texts which are situationally disparate in their origins (eg. When one fabricates an essay by fishing the material out from a searchable electronic text) what is at stake is the coherence of the idea. Conversely, an author who has created an original piece may find it difficult to find a reader who has enough willingness to traverse an “unsearchable” text (by ‘searchable’ we mean that which is able to return results for a particular ‘search string.’) Suppose one is reading a voluminous printed text which has no subject index. In that case a reader who is looking for a particular idea in the text will be bound to follow the logical structure of the work. In that way he tentatively participates in the original logic of the author. Then there is a more degenerate option at hand- to make a cursory scan over the text, one that is disinterested about any other details, and to locate the one that concerns us. What the computer search algorithms of our times have accomplished is the augmentation of that disinterested search. No matter how intelligent the algorithm is, it cannot represent the participation in the mind of the author.
Hypertext links can facilitate a non-sequential reading of the text. One of the most important aspects of information revolution is that it can accommodate private schemes. One wants to read on Sartre and goes to a Wikipedia page, and one finds numerous openings for digressions and random access of diversified topics concerning Sartre. This way, one develops a private scheme of interpreting the text on a pragmatic basis. This is the great tragedy that can befall on an author- when a reader approaches the piece of literature with a vested interest the authors scheme is aborted. That is inevitable, some may say, but it shall not be forgotten that the worst malformations of ideas have been triggered by a text being torn out of context. These private schemes or customizations are possible, as is familiar in digital media players too, by way of playlists (a playlist is a list of music to be played which the hearer can pick; contrast this with the earlier ways of cassettes which would play only sequentially and one had to traverse the length of the tape mechanically to reach one’s hotspot. That is called a sequential approach). Nowadays all the information storage devices are built with the idea of random access in view. (So you get what you wanted at click of the mouse.) To accommodate an element of surprise in the sequence (playlist) some shuffled modes are possible, but be assured that there is no absolute uncertainty over what is going to play but only a diminished probability. In real life this can amount to a nomadic wandering vis-a –vis a guided tour. In a private scheme we pre-ordain the events. A private scheme is detached from the original rendering, is pragmatic and often exclusivistic interpretation of the original text. Very often we miss the silence intended between the lines of the text- a room for brooding over. In a private scheme the utilitarian chunks of texts are juxtaposed in a very dyslogistic manner which often has no relation to the source.
St.Cyprian has made a very insightful comment as he said that the Word of God remained silent when He was led to the Cross. It is the very nature of word to communicate, but when it remains silent know that we are treading on a plane where no words can avail. In the hegemonical plot that leads Jesus to Calvary , atleast under the mirror of time, the script of the high priests was being enacted. It was their private scheme and they took it to be ordained course of events. Therefore the silence that pervaded Calvary and the Sepulchre was musical to their ears until the tomb tore open and let Him out, whom nothing can contain. There the silence is broken and the Eternal Disordination happens.

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