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?
Since I am only on page 384, this will be a short(ish) post, but I wanted to put this idea out there and see if it connected with anyone else. In my non-school life, I work for a software company and spend a lot of time programming, so I glance over the Anwar stuff with an eye for bugs, but not too critically (I am trying to get through the book after all). But I did catch a syntax error in the code presented on page 89:
// int main()
// std::cout << ‘My thoughts unaloud look like this!\n’
This is c++ code and the “//”s mean that what follows on the line is a comment (until the next carriage return, which is why I included the output as one line), but the return line is not commented out. If you were to try to run this through a compiler, you would get a syntax error. When I first saw this, I didn’t think it was intentional, but I didn’t have enough of the book read to feel like I could associate it with something. But while flipping through the book today after having read about the bug in the scene loading code on page 382 something clicked. “Bugs” in code are semantic errors, problems in meaning, where the error above is a syntax error, an error in the grammar of the language (grammar in the linguistic sense, the rules of language; possible sentences versus impossible sentences). You know who makes a lot of semantic errors in their speech? Xanther. But jingjing’s narrations make a lot of syntax errors, which makes the sections harder to read, your brain can’t compile correctly, and you have to debug the sentences.
I got to thinking, couldn’t the syntax and semantic errors run through all different layers of the book? That seems to me to be sort of the idea of the signiconic. It’s sort of a syntax error in the language of books, so we have to stop and debug it, figure it out.
It could also be that I am just very sleep deprived.