Re-Media-ation

In class we had remediation explained as a way of breaking down the elements of one media and built up in other. Dylan was joking about this other day, refusing to call this “remediation,” and instead insisting on “re-media-ing.” I just accepted the idea that remediating television in a book is what it says it is, though I kept getting caught up in the way the presentation of “The Familiar” can get in the way of the understanding of the story.

But, in doing my other readings for class (“The Silent History”) a character describes mediation as being the barriers between us, and that got me thinking about this idea of remediation and presentation getting in between you and the text. OED defines mediation either in terms of standing between or separating into two. Remediation is defined in terms of repair and remedy. And of course, media is a means of mass communication.

For me, many of the presentation tricks in the book at best add little, and at worse actually get in the way of understanding. For example, Özgür’s font, Baskerville, means little to me (though I understand its relation to detective stories etc…) but it does not get in the way of understanding him. On the other hand the embedded layers of parenthetical text in Astair’s actually impairs my ability to track the events of her chapters. I understand at an intellectual level, these tricks can add characterization, but in practice, they don’t do so much for me, not as much as what is said, shown, etc… Does the use of Minion as Xanther’s font add anything for you?

So I guess my real question is, does what Danielewski is doing help or hinder your interaction with the text? Is it re-media-ation, remediation, or re-mediation for you? Is the presentation separate from the remediation (which ever meaning you choose) or is it integral?

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About Trevor Byington

English Major, CW Emphasis @ Weber State University, Linguistics Minor

4 responses to “Re-Media-ation”

  1. griffid2015 says :

    Because each of the characters starts their story in medias res, I find the remediation to be helpful because it tells us more about the characters than we would have time to understand otherwise. Additionally, each reader can have a more individual reaction because everyone reacts to things in different ways. The quotes that open each section for instance, will all mean very different things to different people- some might have significance for some and be new to others. Some people think things written in different fonts are interesting or significant and to others they are just annoying. I think the remediation (or whatever you want to call it) definitely hinders some understanding, but offers more than it takes away.
    As far as my interaction with the text, I think the remediation definitely enhances it and it has surely enhanced our discussion here. Because I have to work harder to understand the sections characters and references, I find myself engaging with the novel in ways that I’ve never engaged with any novel before. In my opinion, written more traditionally The Familiar would lose a lot of its meaning and interest.

  2. kieragardiner says :

    Honestly, I can’t see this novel being presented in any other way than how Danielewski has chosen to showcase it, though I can relate to it being a rather difficult style to understand. At times it felt like style was overriding what I felt like I should be getting out of the novel but at other times it felt like something that couldn’t be separated from The Familiar without losing some sort of meaning. I don’t know if the idea of how Danielewski is choosing to present his novel can be separated from how he is doing so because it seems so firmly integrated into his style of storytelling.

    I feel like I’m interacting more with The Familiar than I have in the past with other novels, even if that interaction is largely based in confusion. I’m not sure if I’m interacting with it in quite the correct manner but the formatting is definitely helping me do so more than I would without it.

    • kieragardiner says :

      *I don’t know if the idea/theme Danielewski is choosing to present in The Familiar can be separated from how he is doing so because it seems so firmly integrated into his style of storytelling.

      (I apologize, I just realized that this sentence didn’t quite make sense when I read through it again. Here’s something closer to what I meant to convey.)

  3. jasongomez1 says :

    It goes without saying that The Familiar is an unconventional novel. As far as how Danielewsky presents the story, I see where you’re coming from. More than a few times I had to re-read a number of pages in order to understand what the printed words were communicating while filtering out the ornamental formatting.
    On the opposite end, however, I think it adds another dimension to the novel. The Familiar wouldn’t be the same if it were presented with predictable structure where the reader reads left to right. Personally I felt more engaged while reading and was immersed in Danielewsky’s world, but it didn’t necessarily strengthen my comprehension.
    I have chosen to view it as “playing with every crayon in the box”. The author is utilizing lots of tricks like concrete poetry, images, and doing things we don’t expect. We’re used to reading a novel from top left to bottom right, to the very end of the book. I don’t think it takes away from my understanding; it just challenges the reader to cooperate with the author.

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