Thinking through some thoughts: Part One of many meanderings

If you want to go straight to my questions about Modernism, materiality, and the digital medium, please jump.
It’s been suggested by my advisor that I start blogging about my readings. I immediately ask myself a few questions. Why write it instead of talking it out? First, most don’t have the time to listen or respond; others who are stuck with me late at night without pants or on a long drive after a visit to his parents after which he kind of probably feels like he owes me, don’t have all the vocabulary although the attempt is well meant and usally right on. Second, if you do the reading (and I have) many (Ong, Bolter, MacLuhan, Hayles, and Aristotle, etc.) will argue that writing (and in particular typing) provides for a different kind of thinking, perhaps mroe analytical, perhaps more linear, perhaps–most importantly of all for my upcoming exam–the kind of thinking and analysis within which the humanities academic scholar is grounded, and the kind I need to be doing right now.
This is warm-up. I’m stretching my fingers.
So, then the question becomes why blog? It’s public/published/ and my subject matter: what kind of difference does the digital medium make? Also, perhaps my advisor will read it sometimes when he is bored and others will read it if they get down this far into it and make pithy comments that help me work through some of this mess.
Some of this mess being . . . the medium vs. the messsage, content vs. form, material vs. immaterial, computability vs. incomputability, and all the other binaries that I can come up with that seem to me to central to the conversation I am about to begin:
might digital representations of Modernist texts inform/shape/change interpretation?
So, this sounds simple (maybe it’s not even really my point), but I began with thinking about editorial concerns in particular. Now, I’m starting to think of all levels of analysis from editorial iterations of “original” materials to new interpretations or derivatives or creative adaptations. My basic question/concern is that I think the electronic environment has more “range” let’s say than the book (not that I don’t LOVE the book) and it seems to me that the medium is adaptable (on more than the level of interface–I’m talking encoding, database structures, searching algorithms) to a particular aesthetic or philosophic or historic epistemology. In particular, for my interests, modernism.
Now, I am not the first to go through this. Drucker has talked about the Modernists and word versus image. McGann and Bornstein and Martha Nell Smith have discussed the Modernist iconic page. But in light of my director’s work with the materiality of all things digital, why can’t there also be room for a discussion of how Modernist movements like Imagism, Vorticism, and Cubism (to name a few) are philosophical considerations that may directly shape digital materiality. Finally, in an environment in which “material” is (or is not) at play, how does the digital medium play into these issues? I guess what I am trying to ask is whether the digital medium allows us to move around/outside/ DIFFERENTLY with concepts of materiality? If “form” is differnt, is the Modernist aesthetic/philosophy re-negotiable in such a way as to say something different to us today?

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