America

Blake & Virtuality: An Exchange

In a three-part interview, a group of Blakeans and digital artists discuss their endeavors to represent Blake's thought in virtual environments. They explore the practical and theoretical ramifications of Adam Komisaruk and Fred Yee's The Blake Model, and of Steve Guynup's Crystal Cabinet. Issues on the agenda include: the genesis of the projects; the problems of mediation and systematization; spatiality and temporality; identity and difference; determinacy and indeterminacy; multimedia and interdisciplinarity; creativity and the body; praxis and theory; the business of art and the work of the spirit; esoteric and exoteric traditions; the virtual frontier and the future of video gaming.
January 2005

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William Blake and the Study of Virtual Space: Adapting "The Crystal Cabinet" to a New Medium

In re-envisioning virtual reality, we look beyond the simplistic recreation of the physical world and grow to understand it in a Mallarinéan-Blakean fashion, as a program that executes orders upon the senses. From this vantage point, the work of William Blake is a uniquely powerful departure point for the exploration of virtual space. Compared with the conventional works that seek to mirror reality or employ the virtual in support of video game narratives, his work forms a beachhead of compelling insight for a new and undiscovered medium. Within the Virtual Crystal Cabinet, Blakean textuality engages our new computer-driven reality. Poetic text, images, and architectural elements are blended through graphic design techniques, filmic conventions and theories of human computer interaction.
January 2005

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Living Inside the Poem: MOOs and Blake's Milton

Blake designed his work to do more than sit on a page. The performative quality of Milton is examined and then enacted in a digital environment. The MOO provides an interactive space for re-creating Blake's space and relationship among characters. The digital project serves as a heuristic for reading the transformative quality of Blake's visions. Ultimately, the reader is not able to maintain an "objective" distance from the visionary work.
January 2005

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"If the acts have been perform'd let the Bard himself witness": William Blake's Milton and MOO space

This essay explores what MOO space can tell us about Blake's Milton and, conversely, what Blake's Milton can tell us abut MOO space. Specifically, this essay maintains that the performative potential of the immersive textuality of MOO space opens new possibilities for critical approaches to one of Blake's most challenging poems. By eliminating the distance between the fictional character within a text and its reader/player, MOO space arguably allows for a sense of the aesthetic experience as an intersubjective event. In this way, Blake's Milton in MOO space allows for the experiential realization of the non-linearity of Blake's text in ways that are inaccessible for traditional modes of scholarly practice.
January 2005

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History against Historicism, Formal Matters, and the Event of the Text: De Man with Benjamin

The essay argues that Paul de Man, far from being simply opposed to history or the historical understanding of literature, comes closer to the contrary position, and indeed argues that close reading must be literary history. This is elaborated primarily in the essay "Literary History and Literary Modernity." De Man, not unlike Walter Benjamin, posits the text as a kind of historical event that has to be read accordingly. Though de Man's appeals tend to be programmatic and abstract (without the texture, say, of Marxist literary historiography), the claims about history need to be taken seriously. It's not a matter of indifference that de Man's appeal to a certain kind of history against historicism coincides in striking ways with Walter Benjamin's outlining of a similar position in his "Theses on the Philosophy of History" and elsewhere.
May 2005

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Mitchell and Broglio, "Introduction"

This volume summarizes and utilizes the arc of Gilles Deleuze's work while turning it toward Blake, Kant, Shelley, and Wordsworth. It serves both as a primer for those not familiar with the idiosyncratic vocabulary and concepts of Deleuze as well as a thoughtful intervention in Romantic criticism in order to open up new terrain on travel, the sublime, and the revolutionary. Contributors include David Baulch on representation and revolution in Blake's _America_, Ron Broglio on Wordsworth and the picturesque narrative of encounter, and Robert Mitchell on P. B. Shelley's sublime, with a responding essay by David Collings.

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Baulch, "Repetition, Representation and Revolution: Deleuze and Blake's America"

The purpose of this paper is to explore specific ways Gilles Deleuze's Difference & Repetition provides a productive critical framework for thinking about revolution in William Blake's America a Prophecy and, in turn, the way that America's peculiar dramatization of revolution offers a specific political dimension to a Deleuzian ontology.

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