Michael Marcinkowski

The Reality of Multitudes

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.         In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!         What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons? Allen Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California” One of the biggest questions for the Ambient Literature project has been how these novel works of ubiquitous and technologically-driven literature function as they encounter the really existing conditions of readers’ everyday lives. As literary works that only really exist as they are activated by a reader’s engagement with the text as it functions in concert with the context within which they are experienced, it’s…

Making Ambient Literature in the Digital Humanities

While most of our posts here on this blog have focused on defining and discussing critical issues surrounding the development of the idea of ambient literature, I want to take a step back and consider more broadly how the mode of research we’re engaged with fits in with adjacent topical and methodological trends. In particular, I want to look at our project’s relationship with the growing cluster of practices falling under the term “digital humanities,” specifically the way in which the ambient literature project might offer a model for a different or expanded understanding of digital humanities research. As it has developed out of humanities computing, the field of digital humanities has been committed to establishing computationally-based methods for the modeling and analysis of data generated from research in the humanities, which could include areas such as anthropology, history, literature, and art history, among others. In this, the aim is…

Artifice and Representation in Ambient Literature

One question that comes up frequently in discussions of ambient literature is how it is connected to other forms and other traditions that have interrogated the place of writing and performance in the world. In particular, I want to pick up previous threads that have discussed ambient literature’s connections to poetry and certain versions of the idea of the artifice as it functions in ambient literature. In many ways, these issue dovetail with a few of the seminars around ambient literature that have been held, particularly as they gesture toward ambient literature’s connections to the history of the book and understandings of reading in general. For me, these ideas coalesced in a recent (re)reading of Charles Bernstein’s (1992) A Poetics. Published in 1992 (with many sections of the book finding their origins as far back as 1985), A Poetics is a collection of essays on the avant garde traditions of…

Was Tom Raworth’s Ace the start of ambient literature? No, but . . .

This is a picture of my copy of the Edge Books reissue of Tom Raworth’s Ace (2001). Initially printed in 1974 and reissued in 1977 and 2001, it was given to me years ago by poet and editor of Raworth’s selected poems, Miles Champion. It was Miles who first introduced me to Raworth’s work and seemed to have an endless stack of copies of Ace sitting around to put into receptive hands. It can’t really be made out in the photo, but the spine of the book is permanently rolled from the months (or maybe years) that I spent carrying the book in my back pocket. For me, the book is deeply connected to the time that I spent reading it while on the F train on my way to and from work when I was living in New York. Maybe “reading” is too strong a word. At least in…

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