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ColoradoGuy
05-25-2008, 08:46 PM
There is an interesting article (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21514) in the June 12 the New York Review of Books about the future of libraries in the internet age. Much of the article is in some ways predictable stuff about the accelerating speed of the news on the internet, but there are some interesting historial tidbits. One of these is about how the "news" has never really been much different from today's bloggers, because it has built-in instabilities about what really happened and who said what. To illustrate this he gives a detailed account of how Europe reacted to the news of Washington's defeat at the Battle of Brandywine. The various printed descriptions all pirated from each other, like blog posts without the links, and people's reactions to the "news" had far-reaching effects, such as on the stock market.

The text of a book was not stable, either. From the article:

"Piracy was so pervasive in early modern Europe that best-sellers could not be blockbusters as they are today. Instead of being produced in huge numbers by one publisher, they were printed simultaneously in many small editions by many publishers, each racing to make the most of a market unconstrained by copyright. Few pirates attempted to produce accurate counterfeits of the original editions. They abridged, expanded, and reworked texts as they pleased, without worrying about the authors' intentions. They behaved as deconstructionists avant la lettre."

It's an interesting read.

Higgins
05-26-2008, 09:47 PM
There is an interesting article (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21514) in the June 12 the New York Review of Books about the future of libraries in the internet age. Much of the article is in some ways predictable stuff about the accelerating speed of the news on the internet, but there are some interesting historial tidbits. One of these is about how the "news" has never really been much different from today's bloggers, because it has built-in instabilities about what really happened and who said what. To illustrate this he gives a detailed account of how Europe reacted to the news of Washington's defeat at the Battle of Brandywine. The various printed descriptions all pirated from each other, like blog posts without the links, and people's reactions to the "news" had far-reaching effects, such as on the stock market.

The text of a book was not stable, either. From the article:

"Piracy was so pervasive in early modern Europe that best-sellers could not be blockbusters as they are today. Instead of being produced in huge numbers by one publisher, they were printed simultaneously in many small editions by many publishers, each racing to make the most of a market unconstrained by copyright. Few pirates attempted to produce accurate counterfeits of the original editions. They abridged, expanded, and reworked texts as they pleased, without worrying about the authors' intentions. They behaved as deconstructionists avant la lettre."

It's an interesting read.

I'm somewhat puzzled as to how "instability" relates to the "nostalgia for origins"...the nostalgia for one archtypical original is something that Derrida suggested was always a problem for Western Philosophy...but does the literal fact of instability suggest anything particularly problematic for the deconstruction/non-deconstruction distinction? Are we to suppose that somewhere there is a constructionist or non-deconstructionist or anti-deconstructionist who is just absolutely sure there is a more original and therefore more valuable version of everything all the time?
Maybe there is such a being. Or maybe "deconstruction" is just a codeword for things we have always known, but wished that we didn't (a kind of reverse version of "always already").