Firsrt Post of the DH day…

I tend to first spend about one hour daily (against all the best advice) checking my various on line email accounts, then FB/linkedin mails, Outlook (for about to be missed appointments) and messages from other selected on-line locations where I have memberships. Without fail, these always offer some kind of prompt from links or video or other sources to help me to contextualize my day. This was todays via FB: The Future of Publishing (UK)

Later it will be a mix of cyberworlds and the meataverse, I’ll be traveling some of the day today, viewing and reviewing two theater performances, and various other activity, now I’m off to Dublin….

Mechanical method or a dream within the machine

William Gibson apparently wrote Neuromancer on a manual typewriter – consensual hallucination from oily impressions. From my own experience of using a ribbon based smith corona over several years, ( a uniquely temperamental model not unlike the pictured stalwart ‘Underwood five’) such primitive machines were mechanically robust enough to survive the occasional hurl across the room, yet they did demand, among their many subliminal reverent requirements, the mundanity of a level surface and the specificity of an attitude of posture (in that physical sense) to ensure any sort or type of technological co-operation could be coerced in the erstwhile pursuit of any flowing flowering muse.

Assuming that sort of obtuse angle to my engagement with ‘digital humanities’ today I’ve attended a couple of real world events, taken some photos and scribbled a bit about interviews with real people only to later stain some observations into a moleskin notebook using a fountain pen. Over the next couple of hours (and days) I’ll write up those notes and gradually reanimate my own close reliance on modern sophisticated technologies to express myself, adding variety via this blog in a way that just isn’t possible using traditional methods.

My current academic (or should that be life ?) fascination centers on exploring the potential of modern digital technologies to facilitate some sort of ‘reformation/ remediation / rejuvenation’ of creative imagination – a topic to which I will no doubt return again during the next few hours – my central concern has been instigating discussion about our perception about that point where digital technology allows or indeed encourages us as creators / editors and critics to, in the first instance: ‘dream within the machine’.

Not We ?

In the multitudinous meataverse of the morning after the day before, I navigated, by way of awkward personal perambulation through the historic bar of templeness, midnight epicenter of the slobberfest into which yesterday’s St Patrick’s day festival in Dublin coulda, without suitable stout fortifications, musta deteriorated. Avoiding audibly horsing arounders, by certain circumventions I arrived sound and stable at the Smock Alley Theatre.

Exterior Facade of Smock Alley Theatre Dublin

As an Irishman of certain age, sulkingly wet cobblestoned streets do engender a kindred literary lie of the land within me, causing that urge, when even vaguely appropriate, to judiciously juggle language and play with whatever letter ‘n’ glyph bits that may pop out – if I did manage to somehow elude the gargantuan grammagutteraltological attendances of Joyce, Yeats, Shaw, Swift, Wilde, Synge, Goldsmith, O Casey, O Brien, Behan ….. then C.S. Lewis, Heaney, Kavanagh, Friel and others lie in wait for me when I get home to my own fire from Molly Malone’s Big smoke, nothing so simple as random onomastics or anxiety of influence, shoulders of giants or wells of souls, what is occurring exactly ? – all of those aforementioned have become industries, global intellectual brands, exclusive exploiters of the quill and pen, each in their own right of way, an individual creative journey within modern Humanities.

While I attend UCD, I live on the border in Ireland (a statement just occasionally sufficient to kill any conversation – let alone one that might impinge on digital humanities) equidistant between the two main population centres of Dublin and Belfast, adjacent to Kavanagh Country, in an area saturated with mythical and mystical tradition, yet Xerox have their European Headquarters metaphorically sitting on my door step, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other significant international tech centric companies have their own respective European Headquarters within a 50 mile radius – primary research and moving up the value chain have become new economic and academic mantras, a flawed weave of technological thread that should spin some complexity into traditional yarns, mostly seems to merely sublimate ideas before they can find meaningful expression, this unsettling quandary is (not) set to continue, until the thing is made and perhaps even well made, digital humanities concern continues to be constrained by digitizing humanities rather than evoking or creating a humanities that is somehow digitally native… The search for a strand of modern Irish creativity that’s indigenous to the digital humanities landscape is what I have been digging around searching for in my PhD …

I attended UCD’s school of English Drama and Film’s presentations ( part of their MA in theater directing) Beckett (whom I intentionally resisted mentioning earlier) constituted one half of the lunchtime drama menu. Partly because of his engagements with technology, I have been fascinated by the works of Beckett for quite a while, among other bits and bobs several years ago I recorded ‘Rough for Radio II’ with friends Dermot, Lillian and Jeff, so catching ‘Not I’ today always held the promise of being pleasurable at some level and an intellectual prompt at minimum. The undoubtedly talented Melissa Nolan performed admirably and evenly and gave appropriate voice and expression to the piece – under the direction of Keith Hughes (below) from Donegal – I of course mean Keith is from Donegal not his direction.

Keith Hughes

After the performance I met and cornered Keith, questioned and photographed him – I have his permission to include his image above. I asked Keith a couple of quick fire questions about his choices and decisions in relation to staging the work – The production choices constrained as they were (as essentially any/all end of year MA productions must be ) still needed to include some modern technology. (Giesekam Greg – staging the screen – the use of film and video in theatre. 2007 Palgrave, UK – provides a comprehensive starting point from which to begin considering such issues) Keith would have included a lot more given the opportunity – and theres the rub, the opportunity – which is the kernel of today’s activities for me – the opportunity to explore and discover more about the digital humanities than is possible by living (by choice) on a border in Ireland – that not quite technologically sophisticated enough to fully constitute a separate disciplinary strand of computer science border – that line that’s suggest experimental writings become tangential or semi isolated by obscurely technofetishised misreadings, that only serve to disconnect collective attempts to move forward.

So while reading such diverse and varied contributions today about activity that can be appropriately and succinctly classified or categorized as ‘digital humanities’ Who can or is even willing to shoulder such responsibilities for moving forward a discipline here in Ireland that may still be searching for its soul..