« Infocult on the road to MIT | Main | Exorcism errors, continued »

January 23, 2004


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I'd argue that much modern mystery is more about characters than the solving of the puzzle per se (don't know enough about the history of the genre to say when the shift occurred - post-Chandler?).

Perhaps espionage fiction is a better fit, but even there there's overlap with technothrillers and celebrations of ubercompetent Jack Ryan types and such.


Bryan wrote: "Information architecture, as per Jane: there are texts formally structured this way, like the Dictionary of the Khazars, or Ballard's "The Index." What's the relationship between this form and info lit more generally?"

Ah, that's where things get interesting. The relationship is recursive: literature that's structured around a syntax of information (as opposed to a semantic of, oh, plot or meaning) is turning back upon itself an awareness of its own contingency. By contrast, literature that thematizes information implicity (rather than explicitly) evokes that contingency, but only as a plot device.

Bryan also wrote: "Let's go further: would religious texts focusing on communicating rules, cosmologies also be info lit?"

Curioser and curioser. Are rules and cosmologies information, or are they more about the ways in which information is scripted and organized (i.e., a semantic device, like plot)? I'm tempted to say that Leviticus and the Gita wouldn't count as info lit because they're focused more on content than on process and thus tend to suppress contingency rather than open it up. But, of course, to the extent that they provide rules and categories for behaving and knowing, they prescribe certain processes for both. BUT there's no recursive awareness of their own contingency as such.
So there!

Of course, I may be invoking a totally specious notion of information here. I'm rather glibly tying together information with contingency to reflect my own rather visceral sense that information always has the wetness of emergence behind its ears. It could always be otherwise, and probably already is. Info lit, as I think of it, revels in its awareness of this on as many levels as possible. This sets up a rather slippery slope for defining the genre, but, then, that's always the thing with genre, right?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Twitter latest

    follow me on Twitter




    Become a Fan