Channeling the Dead: Paper vs. Machine

‘All the passion of reading consisted of hallucinating a meaning between letters and lines: the visible or audible world of romantic poetry. And all passion of writing was (according to E.T.A. Hoffman) the poet’s wish “to pronounce the inner being” of these hallucinations “in all it’s glowing colors, shadows, and lights” in order to “hit the favorable reader as if with electric shock”

Electricity itself has brought this to an end. If memories and dreams, the dead and the specters have become technically reproducible, then the hallucinatory power of reading and writing has become obsolete. Our realm of the dead is not longer in books, where it was for such a long time. Not longer is it the case that “only through writing will the dead remain in the memory of the living”’
(Kittler 110)

According to “Gramophone, Film, Typewriter,” reading can be synonymous with communicating with the dead, and in introducing the phonograph and cinema, we change how this communication works. With writing as the main method of communication, one did not have to think about the face or voice of the author, and this made the peace more palatable and intense to some of those who took part in reading their work. This is the source of the writing’s hallucinatory power. One could implement their own perspective onto the writing, join forces with it creating ones own perception of the world of the text. Through writing, authors could become shapeshifters, morphing into who or whatever the reader thought they should be.
For example, Maya Angelou was convinced as a child that she was reading the poems of a black woman when she was reading Shakespeare, who to many if not most people, was a white Englishman. But in reading it, she was helped through difficult times with the abuse she underwent as a child. It is a common psychological response for someone to paint a relatable image of something/ someone they cannot see and with simply reading without any further context of the author, it is easier to do that. In Maya Angelou’s case, it produced a positive outcome. But is that the only way we should communicate with intelligent minds and souls of others. And what does that say about someone, if a person’s face and voice ruin the hallucinatory bliss that the reading above talks about. And if learning more about the author breaks the hallucination is this hallucinating always a good thing? Are we really communing with the dead, our are we just communing with our imagination?

With video and sound, human beings can see an authentic version of each other. And some would say, that makes the dead seem more alive and accessible than before. One can see their face, hear their voice, observe speech habits and ticks. All of this which adds to the perspective of the person and all of these things that get thrown under the carpet in simply pure writing.
For example, famous people who have died in the past decade Maya Angelou included, but also Prince, Davide Bowie, Gene Wilder, all have some kind of video recording of them. One does not have as much room to assume who these artists were. There are interviews, movies, that tag along with books of their own authorship, that is, if any were written. Instead of it harming the authenticity of the author’s spirit, these creations could provide a new authenticity and a wider range of perceptions. Not only can famous people who died, be able to communicate their bodies, minds, and souls to the world, a wider range of people, some literate and some not, can do this. One can view accounts from diseased vloggers from many if not all walks of life.

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