(the cyber-theories of Michael Epstein and Umberto Eco)
The title of this text is sheer compilation. Exactly: it is based on two significant texts presenting two very interesting concepts. First belongs to the Italian semiotic Umberto Eco explaining the history of the writing, and the other – to the Russian literary theoretician Michael Epstein, considered freely as a manifesto of a transcultural way of thinking. This two concepts are incorporating the postulates of the modern dialogism whose commencements are located in the Bahtin`s theory about double voicedness of the word, although supplemented by the theoretical and philosophical expressions of Julia Kristeva, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, gaining its image today, in the powerful idea of hypertextuallity.
It is to revise the common trait of this two texts moreover what do they theorize.
Opposite the radical thesis from the sixties of the twentieth century, expounded by Marshall McLuhan1F and those from the beginning of the nineties of the Robert Coover2F, the Italian Academy of Advanced Studies in America allowed the well-known semiotic Umberto Eco to give interesting lecture named “From Internet to Gutenberg“ somewhere in November 1996. Whereat the lecture treatises the role and the significance of the printed media thus giving optimism for the future of the book. Nevertheless, the defence of the writing as a technical appliance which stimulates the thinking does not deny the importance of the electronic media. On contrary. Although, we have no longer been in a fear that the alphabet would kill the memory – as the Plato’s Socrates claimed in “Phaedrus” – spreading the useless information books are going to estrange us from the summit values (Eco: Blesok no. 16) – nowadays we bear witnesses of the existence of certain more sophisticated and more complex devices and tecniques than the ones from the classical Gutenberg Galaxy, whose linear model of thinking is repressed by certain far more charismatic medium (the electronic). Even though it is on path to success in having picturesque orientation aiming to expel the literacy, our civilization is still civilization of the written word: “The Computer is first of all alphabetic instrument-Eco assures-Words are moving across its screen, so everyone who at any rate wants to use calculator must be capable of reading and writing… People who spend their nights entering the endless Internet conversation, in principle work with words…” (Eco: Blesok no. 16). Meaning: the computer screens represents an ideal book which does not understand a mere new and disoriented space of reading, demands emerging of one “schizophrenic” organism, of one crossed (not linear) viewing of the signs markers. Truly, it does not dispute that traditional mimiotic concept of thinking, originated from the linear logic of the printing press, but replaces it with another, much more global way of accepting and comprehending the writing. Admitting or not, today’s concept of writing undermines the bases of the classical logo centric experience. Understanding such hyper textual poetics which comprise more media and create one multidimensional open network. Yet, Umberto Eco`s dream of “open text” does not deny the laws of the “final” world of the book, as the Gutenberg Galaxy can not be replaced but supplemented by the capabilities of one new, Visual Galaxy, opened for endless number of thinking. “The unique device that allows creating numberless texts, has existed for already millennia and is called alphabet” (Eco: Blesok no. 16), reminds Eco. Therefore, today we see writing as a game. It is insemination: seed and seed:“hybridization” which creates new category called (by Richard Dawkins, the author of the book Selfish Gene) memes 3F which understands the imitation distinctive for the traditional mimes but also the duplication.
Can we suppose that the thesis for the modern dialogism rest itself on a new science for the text, on a new history of the thinking seen as the history of texts, as culturally established history of the development?
Before we answer this question let’s recall all we have been thought through the powerful theories about the text.
The text – work in action
The text exists only in the act of creation, claimed Roland Barthes. His field was the field of signs, his logic– the endless game of the markers. It placed him beyond the borders of the doksis and made him paradoxical (Barthes: 1986:183).
Julia Kristeva saw the text as a system of complex connections. She described it as a linear model, as a structure of paragrammatic networks. “The term network, she said replaces the single-voicedness… and suggests that each entirety (each sequence) is a product and the beginning of one plurivalent relation” (Kristeva, 1969:123). Constructed from anonymous quotations and references, the text for the French poststructuralists, became net of codes, “stereographic plural” which led the reading and writing into the dialogue interrelation. In eternal weaving,
the subject transformed himself into “spider, which dissolved itself into the building secretion of its own net” Nevertheless, we do prefer neologisms – said Roland Barthes –the theory of the text can be called hyphology. (Barthes: 1975:86). Hence. In the world of networks, the nature of the text become interdisciplinary, and the literature – intertextual: the traditional receiving was in doubt. Any further the text can not be only language but also writing – trail of differences which contains remaining from one archaic-writing called by Derrida différAnce4F. It could even no longer be called structure, but open endless process of structuration5F. While the new (hypertextual) poetics were structuring it in a modern way, long history of the writing was striving to limit it with the power of the line. But the text could not longer retain between the covers of the books. It developed in “open, plurivoc work”, requesting immense intervention. (Eco: 1965:55), the “increase of information” (Eco: 1965:87), made it spacious and opened for new kind of reception, no longer originated from one single source, but from vast springs, whose heterogeneous system of thinking deprived the rectilinear history of the writing. Did so, the time line of the traditional writings enter one “hopeless maze”, in the nonlinear cyber-space whose intellectual and multy voiced technology praised the plurality of the discourses?
We will try to reach the answer of this question in the project of Michael Epstein.
1. “The Gutenberg Galaxy” by Marshall McLuhan
2. An American writer, nevertheless professor of creative writing at the Brown University in USA. Famous for the essays: “The End of Books”, The New York Times 1992 and “Hyperfiction: Novels for the Computers”, The New York Times, 1993
3. By analogy of the term genes, the English zoologist-geneticist Richard Dawkins creates the term memes as “unit for cultural transmitting”, propagandizes and replicates itself through the process of communication”, – (Sebicni gen, Vuk Karadzic, Beograd, 1979, 241-255)Analogue to all this, in a conversation to Sklovskij, Michael Epstein stated: One secret whisper from that kind, from ear to ear, composes also the culture but where does it come from, from the genes or the genius, it is not known to us…” (http//www.russ.ru/ist_sovr/99-05-24/shklov.htm).
4. Différance as a heteronomy experience from differences in the act of writing, as a result of the single difference in the text; différance-as a total heterogenization of the textual praxis and its pluridimensioned articulation.
5. Opposite to (lisible) texts indented for reading, Roland Barthes recognized (scriptible) the writing texts, presenting patterns for productivity, uninterrupted presence; representing ourselves in the act of writing, said Barthes (Roland Barthes: s/z, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1970, p.5) Opposite the monotonous confidence of the first, the plurality of the “writing texts”, seemed so mysterious and desirable. It stimulated the dream for the performative writers and critics out of whom none of them could proclaimed himself in charge, as all could equally participate in its creation.