SEMIOTIC MACHINES: by Louis Armand (Joyce, McLuhan, Shannon, Weiner, Von Neumann)

SEMIOTIC MACHINES: by Louis Armand, presents a number of passages that see James Joyce, McLuhan, Shannon, Weiner, Von Neumann, criss-crossing and pollinating the tale of the tribe with a Joycean, atomic, digital glossing. Also invoking Orson Welles through the reference to expanded cinema of Gene Yougblood, this essay exhibits the highest standards of critical writing on Joyce IMHO, and in the kind of prose i would like to see utilized to help explicate the questions of the tale of the tribe as defined by Robert Anton Wilson, Ezra Pound, Buckminster Fuller, and Joyce.--Steve fly

Above all, the importance of Joyce for McLuhan resides in the decisive role of Finnegans Wake in re-defining the late stages of print culture and the advent of digiculture (the so-called “postmodern moment”). In this sense, Joyce’s text assumes a pre-eminent status among the agents and historians of late modernity—among them John von Neumann, Norbert Wiener, Claude Shannon, Lewis Mumford and Siegfried Giedion—and, along with the Mallarméan critique of the book and Marcel Duchamp’s satirisation of mechanical rationalism, the Wake becomes something of a benchmark in the early discourse of cyberspace.

Joyce’s technique of “verbivocovisual presentement”(5)—reprising the symbolist preoccupation with effects of synaesthesia—bears directly upon the conceptualisation of virtual reality and emersive signifying environments. Gene Youngblood’s Expanded Cinema (1970?), which proposes the integration of computing technology and other forms of telecommunications for the synaesthetic and syncretistic expansion of film, is heavily indebted to McLuhan’s reading of Finnegans Wake in Understanding Media (1964) and The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962). “The stripping of the senses and the interruption of their interplay in tactile synaesthesia,” McLuhan writes, “may well have been one of the effects of the Gutenberg technology”—of which Finnegans Wake is considered a kind of apotheosis.(6)


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