Running Head: STEP ASIDE
And now I invite you to immerse yourself in this text. To start, I ask that you read the following text aloud (starting now) for two reasons: 1. to allow yourself to receive the massage through two mediums; and 2. to experience acting on the medium you are both creating and receiving. Presently, your eyes are receiving the print as your ears, hearing primarily your own voice and only partly the other sounds in your room (although now you are no doubt pausing to focus on the periphery), are receiving the sound.
I suspect some of you have declined my invitation to read aloud. Some of you are likely in a public space, surrounded by strangers sipping coffee. Who are these neighbours? What might they think of your reading this text aloud? More importantly for this thought experiment, who are you? Or, as Lewis Carroll’s caterpillar emphasizes, who are you? Please allow this question, led by new visions of human subjectivity and discourse (e.g. those advanced by Foucault) to guide you through the following anti-essay. If you have been reading aloud, you have this text’s permission to stop now.
The issue implied above and expanded below is the incoherence of the human subject in the global condition [wait… did you click on one of the blue links above? Are you returning from or returning to?]. If you are hesitant, perhaps thinking that nothing has happened to the human subject as a result of technology, consider relations between various subject positions in the global village. Now what?
How does the interactive function of hypertext redefine notions of the human subject? Does it displace the human as the subject? Does the human of the subject become a notion, as in, the subject of the human? Is the reflexive modern subject reflecting on a condition that does not exist?
Here I argue that hypertext has repositioned the vanishing point of art, and thus, technology. Hypertext is closer to McLuhan’s antienvironment, countersituation, than the one he himself described, because it is more elusive and confusing than the broadcast media of the 1960s. This, more than ever before, is our global condition: a nonlinear countersituation.
Acknowledging this is hugely helpful for depicting one fragment of the global: I am now attempting to depict the present using knowledge of the past. I am stuck describing knowledge of the past to explain the present (McLuhan). And I am trying to predict what comes after the future. The reason I can’t understand the complexity of the global is because I can’t understand what is happening in the present from my vantage point. The hypertextuality of everyday life (Barth) allows us to contemplate location as presently and as instantaneously as possible.
In conclusion, hypertext does not ‘displace’ the human subject. Even practically speaking, I am [a human body] at my computer [at a coffee shop in downtown Ottawa. It is raining outside, and passersby are being hit by drops of rain waiting for the light to change] waiting for a page to load. I click [on all 6 of my main bookmarks: gmail.com, then facebook.com, then theguardianweekly.co.uk, then globeandmail.com, then nytimes.com, then vivelevegan.blogspot.com] on a link that navigates me to “read on” [about how celebrity chef Paula Deen told one of the View co-hosts that she would eat dogfood before she would eat HER chickens]. It is true; I do not have access to the context of what Paula Deen said that day until the page loads. In fact, that page may never load. I may be redirected to [Wheat-Free Baking Tips and Recipes] another page that is unrelated and undesired. Nonetheless, I clicked. I clicked.