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LA Review of Books: Johanna Drucker on No Medium
The review is a comprehensive and well-satisfyingly-thorough look at Dworkin’s recent scholarship, and reading her thoughts about No Medium made us want to procure a copy for ourselves.
We’ll excerpt a moment from Drucker’s write-up, here:
The problem of understanding media can seem as intractable as those of the wave/particle distinction in physics: the phenomenon under scrutiny changes its character depending on who is doing the observing, where, and for what purpose. Is it better to understand media as having inherent properties or as a distribution of contingent relations? The question requires not so much an either/or decision as a recognition that the ways we think about media have been challenged by theoretical principles derived from the study of literature, archives, information, and history.
Dworkin focuses less on media or media studies than on a whole array of fascinating — some would say extreme — interventions in literary form, acts of erasure, obliteration, paratextual play, reflexive games at the level of language and media. Dworkin takes scraps, conceptual practices, the ghostly palimpsests, and barely-there remnants of once-extant, radically altered, or never-realized works, and turns them into points of departure for elaborate and well wrought turns of argument. Poetry and media studies have rarely had so much to say to each other. Experimental poetics has generated plenty of attention to materiality — the form, format, shape, and sound of performance, on and off the page — but usually outside the context of the history and theory of media. And students of media have almost never turned to theoretical poetics, drawing instead on variants of close reading and analysis derived from film and television, cultural studies, or from the history of science and technology. This makes Dworkin’s book all the more welcome because it fosters an intimate dialogue between theories of media and poetic, artistic, and musical experimental practices.