Giorgio Agamben has identified the “State of Exception” as the emergent principle of governance for the 21st Century. Parallel to this crisis in politics, there is the increasing currency of the term emergence in literary criticism, media theory, and cultural studies to describe the general state of change. In this paper, Heckman considers electronic literature in the “state of emergency,” as both a laboratory for formal innovation and a site of critique. Specifically, this paper takes into account the relationship between literacy, law, literature and criticism through a reading of Sandy Baldwin’s New Word Order, a work that reimagines poetry in the context of the first-person shooter game.
In this essay, Davin Heckman argues that works of electronic literature often provide occasions for cultivating attention in a mutable cultural landscape. Through readings of John Cayley, YHCHI, Rob Wittig, and Richard Holeton, Heckman points to a poetics of technical estrangement by which new media is opened up to deliberative reading, and thus presents contemporary readers with the opportunity to develop critical practices appropriate for the conditions of neoliberalism.
Serge Bouchardon and Davin Heckman put the digit back into the digital by emphasizing touch and manipulation as basic to in digital literature. The digital literary work unites figure, grasp, and memory. Bouchardon and Heckman show that digital literature employs a rhetoric of grasping. It figures interaction and cognition through touch and manipulation. For Bouchardon and Heckman, figure and grasp lead to problems of memory - how do we archive touch and manipulation? - requiring renewed efforts on the part of digital literary writers and scholars.