What’s “digital born”? Who’s doing the large majority of digital birthing?
I am a digital mother, birthing electronic literature. If anyone has ever clasped a phone in their hand, typed a message, isn’t that giving birth to some kind of electronic literature?
Questions about art arose earlier in class this morning. Questions like, what constitutes art…what defines literature…what defines electronic literature? Too much can be said and quoted from Plate, Aristotle, Khant, Shaftesbury, etc. etc. about the answer to what is art, so entering that realm doesn’t seem to be very fruitful. But I’m just curious about the conception of electronic literature.
Each day, I distance myself from the world around me–ignoring the people, the trees, the plants, the space. I press my fingers to a screen which then senses the the heat from my finger and fires a reaction from that location of the screen to the brain of the phone. This kind of synapse–much like a brain–has no real relation to the English language or any language for that matter. Whenever a person engages in this quiet and somewhat magical screen-pressing (considering your phone has no keyboard), all kinds of electronic metaphors are enacting themselves. The locations on the screen correspond to certain kinds of information that is sent through the brain of the device in a computer-literate language. So many electronic processes happen with each click–so many mysterious and spectacular digital reactions. If I am to click the digital image of the letter T on my Iphone as I’m typing a text message, I’m opening a conversation between myself and the device. No real relation to the letter T exists in pressing that location, aside from the abstract notion of it just being there, made up of computer language to appear in an obtainable form that we humans can use. Text messages seem like a kind of electronic ventriloquism. But much more complicated than that.
But if these abstract engagements are just purely mundane moments of living that can’t possibly be related to digital birthing, then it seems that a definition such as being digitally born needs to be tightened, made more narrow. Because, as I participate in this digital conversation, I’m literally disconnecting myself from the world around me and giving birth to a synapse that is then translated into human intelligibility. My thoughts sent through the space and to another phone then become a kind of electronic literature, purely digital born. But since this medium of connection is so commonplace, the medium hardly is regarded as a form of electronic literature. So, I’m wondering, is electronic literature contingent on being placed on an uncommon medium? If not, the artists of electronic literature are vast and comprise most of the world. The artists are us…the quiet texters, engaging in a natural dialogue that is as real and colloquial as any dialogue seen in dialogue from a regional writer. These conversations, digital manifestations, are unique and thoughtful bits of prose and speech that can possibly be whatever the writer decides. Ginsberg considered this kind of unrestrained style of writing disembodied poetics, which translated to writing as the natural course of thoughts occurred.
So, here I am left thinking that we are all digital mothers, giving birth to electronic literature each and every day and filling the data realm with all of our thoughts and musings that we may have never considered to be electronic literature.