Michael Joyce on afternoon: a story and teaching electronic literature

I find that my students are often much more able than I am to move easily between print and electronic media and to see the value in each. Remember that I am very much a creature of print culture and so always an alien to even the revolution in which I play a part. Like any reader and writer I still love the fetish of print, the beautifully bound volume, the sensuality of text. Increasingly I also value the vibrancy of electronic text, the dynamic of it. Everyone always focuses on the drawbacks of electronic media (“you can’t read it in bed”) which are transitory and largely artifacts of the current (brutish) state of technology. In time there will be beautiful, even sensual, e l e c t r o n i c objects which are utterly portable and transmutable (even transcendental) in ways that we cannot yet imagine for the book even after centuries of imagination of its beauties. Perhaps at that time we will come to see books for their multiplicity rather than their authority, learning from electronic media to appreciate that their lastingness was not in their supposed canonicity but rather their actual community. We will then live happily ever after.

Michael Joyce (1987)

Express yourself