Rewiring the Real

Rewiring the Real: In Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Rewiring the Real
    Book Description:

    Digital and electronic technologies that act as extensions of our bodies and minds are changing how we live, think, act, and write. Some welcome these developments as bringing humans closer to unified consciousness and eternal life. Others worry that invasive globalized technologies threaten to destroy the self and the world. Whether feared or desired, these innovations provoke emotions that have long fueled the religious imagination, suggesting the presence of a latent spirituality in an era mistakenly deemed secular and posthuman.

    William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo are American authors who explore this phenomenon thoroughly in their work. Engaging the works of each in conversation, Mark C. Taylor discusses their sophisticated representations of new media, communications, information, and virtual technologies and their transformative effects on the self and society. He focuses on Gaddis's The Recognitions, Powers's Plowing the Dark, Danielewski's House of Leaves, and DeLillo's Underworld, following the interplay of technology and religion in their narratives and their imagining of the transition from human to posthuman states. Their challenging ideas and inventive styles reveal the fascinating ways religious interests affect emerging technologies and how, in turn, these technologies guide spiritual aspirations. To read these novels from this perspective is to see them and the world anew.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53164-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-X)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. XI-XIV)
  4. neχus
    (pp. 1-11)

    REWIRING THE REAL: In Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo complements and completes Refiguring the Spiritual. In the previous book, I examine four artists, one dead and three living (Joseph Beuys, Matthew Barney, James Turrell, and Andy Goldsworthy); in this book, I explore four writers, one dead and three living. I consider these artists and writers to be among the most important cultural figures of our era.

    Like everything else in my life, this book and the interests it represents began at the knees of my parents. Thelma Kathryn Cooper (1910–1988) taught literature and...

    (pp. 12-62)
    William Gaddis

    WILLIAM GADDISʹS The Recognitions is one of the most theologically sophisticated novels ever written. It is also one of the richest and most difficult works of fiction in any language. Gaddis’s ambition is as large as his book: his aim is nothing less than to write the last Christian novel. To read this prescient work is to gaze into a mirror and discover ourselves anew. The events recounted in The Recognitions take place in the time between belief and unbelief. While modernization and secularization make belief impossible for many erstwhile faithful, the memory of belief and the assurance it brings...

  6. 2 MOSAICS
    (pp. 63-108)
    Richard Powers

    I FIRST encountered Richard Powers indirectly—through his image rather than in the flesh. In the pre-Amazon days, when I still had leisure time to browse in bookstores, I stumbled on his arresting novel Galatea 2.2. I had heard of neither Powers nor this book, but I scanned the jacket description, and his work seemed interesting. At the time, I was reading about the recent advances in neuroscience and cognitive science that had grown out of the appropriation of models of complex adaptive systems for understanding mental processes. While long avoided by both philosophers and scientists, the problem of consciousness...

    (pp. 109-155)
    Mark Danielewski

    THE TEXT is about nothing—always about nothing. Nothing is what keeps the text in play by rendering it irreducibly open and in/finitely complex. The nothingness haunting the text marks its border by exceeding it. This excess is the siteless site where difference endlessly emerges. The void that empties everything of itself is the incomprehensible gift that never stops giving. Art figures the unfigurable by giving what cannot be taken.

    Today’s students live online and in the cloud. Far from a mere tool they occasionally utilize, the Web is a space they inhabit and that inhabits them. This house in...

  8. 4 ʺHOLY SHIT!ʺ
    (pp. 156-249)
    Don DeLillo

    with a high whine the garbage trucks slowly circling the pyramid rising intone the morning

    and atop the mound’s plateau birds circling hear and roil alive in winklings of wings

    denser than windy forest shelves: and meanwhile a truck already arrived spills its goods from

    the black hatch and the birds as in a single computer-formed net plunge in celebration, hallelujahs

    of rejoicing: the driver gets out of his truck and wanders over to the cliff on the spill and

    looks off from the high point into the rose-fine rising of day, the air pure, the wings of the


  9. 5 CONCLUDING UNSCIENTIFIC POSTSCRIPT: Two Styles of the Philosophy of Religion
    (pp. 250-286)

    IN 1946, Paul Tillich published a seminal essay entitled “The Two Types of Philosophy of Religion,” in which he maintained that every philosophy of religion developed in the Christian tradition takes one of two forms. While Alfred North Whitehead once suggested that everyone is born either a Platonist or an Aristotelian, Tillich argues that every philosophy of religion is either Augustinian or Thomistic: the former he labels the ontological type, the latter the cosmological type. The distinction between the two types of the philosophy of religion is based on the differences between the two classical arguments for the existence of...

    (pp. 287-288)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 289-306)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 307-322)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 323-324)