CHAPTER 3
The Writing of Van Gogh

According to J. Hillis Miller, the 'second industrial revolution was

the shift in the West, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century but accelerating
ever since, from an economy centered on the production and distribution of
commodities to an economy increasingly dominated by the creation, storage,
retrieval, and distribution of information. Even money is now primarily
information, exchanged and distributed all over the world at the speed of light
by telecommunications networks. (Miller, 2000)

In his description of his development of the telegraph Morse emphasized that his particular contribution was what he described as the 'philological position', based on the literal meaning of the Greek tele graphos, 'I write at a distance' (Silverman, 2003: 420). Unlike previous forms of telecommunication or even other electric telegraphs, Morse's invention actually inscribed the messages, rather than relying on an operator to transcribe them as they were transmitted. This was evinced in a number of developments and transformations in the means of communication and concomitant shifts in how language and writing operated and were understood, which took place between 1800 and the 1840s and coincided with the emergence of new, more efficient and faster means to circulate signs, goods and people. Without the telegraph it would not have been possible to manage the complexities of the railway system. It also enabled the rise of the modern commodity. Increased communications both encouraged the growth of markets and changed the nature of those markets.

According to James Carey, the telegraph along with the railroad enables a radical shift from local markets' conditions of supply and demand to national

-53-

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Art, Time, and Technology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1: Breaking the Time Barrier 13
  • Chapter 2: Morse's Inventions 35
  • Chapter 3: The Writing of Van Gogh 53
  • Chapter 4: Taking off 73
  • Chapter 5: John Cage's Early Warning System 89
  • Chapter 6: Art in Real Time 113
  • Chapter 7: Is It Happening? 139
  • Chapter 8: Short Films about Flyin 159
  • Bibliography 179
  • Index 189
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