“In the beginning was the Word. Then came the f**king word processor”*…
The story of writing in the digital age is every bit as messy as the ink-stained rags that littered the floor of Gutenberg’s print shop or the hot molten lead of the Linotype machine. During the period of the pivotal growth and widespread adoption of word processing as a writing technology, some authors embraced it as a marvel while others decried it as the death of literature. The product of years of archival research and numerous interviews conducted by the author, Track Changes is the first literary history of word processing…
More at HUP’s page, and
- Visit Matthew Kirschenbaum’s Track Changes Tumblr for materials related to the book
- Read early coverage of the project from the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Atlantic Wire
- At the HUP Blog, read an exchange on the tools of literary production between Kirschenbaum and Hannah Sullivan, author of The Work of Revision
- Listen to a 2011 lecture based on the book’s first chapter, presented by Kirschenbaum at the New York Public Library
* Dan Simmons
As we stretch for the backspace key, we might recall that it was on this date in 1893, in the text of Alfred Jarry’s play Guignol in L’Écho de Paris littéraire illustré, that the term– and the concept of– ‘pataphysics first appeared. Jarry defined ‘pataphysics (derived from a contracted Greek formation that means “that which is above metaphysics”) as “the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments.” Jarry insisted on the inclusion of the apostrophe in the orthography, ‘pataphysique and ‘pataphysics, “to avoid a simple pun”… indeed Jarry’s aim was to compound the puns: The term pataphysics is a paronym (considered a kind of pun in French) of metaphysics. Since the apostrophe in no way affects the meaning or pronunciation of pataphysics, this spelling of the term is a signal–a sly notation– to the reader, suggesting a variety of puns, among them patte à physique (“physics paw”), pas ta physique (“not your physics”), and pâte à physique (“physics pastry dough”).
Jarry’s concept was resurrected after World War II with the foundation (in 1948) of The Collège de ‘Pataphysique, a “society committed to learned and inutilious research” (“inutilious” = “useless”). Its members have included Raymond Queneau, Eugène Ionesco, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Julien Torma, Roger Shattuck, Groucho, Chico and Harpo Marx, and Marcel Duchamp.