Cognitive Fictions

Cognitive Fictions

Cognitive Fictions

Cognitive Fictions

Synopsis

The first close reading of contemporary American writing in the light of systems theory and cognitive science, Cognitive Fictions makes sense of how moment-by-moment operations of human thought find narrative form in today's world.

Excerpt

To say that this book presents close readings of some exemplary American novelists is perhaps less of a transparent claim than it seems. For I am offering close readings at a moment when the almost dead metaphor of proximity comes alive again. I am writing a book about books when many of the assumptions specific to print no longer constrain interpretation, and I am identifying a new mode of writing about the self when measures of both selfhood and literary evaluation are up for grabs. Electronic environments have recently brought to the foreground writers who work selfconsciously with narrative as an artistic medium—one medium among many possible media struggling for representational primacy. The print monopoly that made a norm of certain romantic and realist conceptions of the novel (for a period lasting, let's say, from the establishment of English patent rights for book publishers to Charles Babbage's imagination of the Difference Engine) has through the generations given way to a multiplicity of different media. The history of that intermedial struggle can be read— even as the terms in a well-made sentence activate one another, and vie with one another for weight and emphasis—in the ongoing tradition of formal experimentation within literature and the arts.

Arrangements of visual, verbal, and aural media, which Marshall . . .

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