In respect of a commencement of National Library Week this Sunday, 13 Apr 2014, we’re pity this engaging mention from Contemporary Fiction: A Very Short Introduction. As record continues to evolve, a approach we entrance books and information is changing, and libraries are invariably operative to keep benefaction with a latest resources available. Here, Robert Eaglestone presents a thought of a clearly elementary act of essay as a form of technology.
The essential thing about record is that, notwithstanding a iPhones and computers and digital cameras and consistent change, it is not new during all. In fact, tellurian civilization over a longest probable time grew adult not usually palm in palm with record though because of technology. Technology isn’t usually something combined to ‘being human’ a approach we competence acquire another gadget: a hint of record is in a origination of tools, record in a origination of tillage and in buildings, cities, roads, and machines. (p. 87) And maybe a many critical form of record is right here in front of you, you’re looking during it right now, this second: writing. It too—these really letters here, now—is, of course, a technology. Writing is a ‘machine’ to addition both a erroneous and singular inlet of a memory (it stores information over time) and a bodies over space (it carries information over distances). So it’s not so many that we humans done technology: technology also done us. As we write, so essay creates us. It is record that allows us history, as a available past and so a present, and so, maybe a future. So to consider about technology, and changes in technology, is to consider about a really core of what we, as a species, are and about how we are changing. As we change technology, we change ourselves. And all novels, since they are a form of technology, practically or explicitly, do this.
The word ‘technology’ comes from a Greek word ‘techne’: techne is a ability of a craftsman or lady during building things (ships, tables, tapestries) though also, interestingly, a ability of crafting art and poetry. ‘Techne’ is a ability of saying how, say, these pieces of joist would make a good list if sanded and used in usually that way, or saying a figure of David in a retard of marble, or in conference how these phrases will best paint a unhappiness we suppose Queen Hecuba feels in anguish her father and sons. It’s also a skill, in a age, of operative out how best to use resources to discharge a illness globally, or to broach high-quality education. But ‘techne’ has turn some-more than usually skill: it is a whole way of thinking about a world. In this ‘technological thinking’, all in a universe is incited into a intensity apparatus for use, all is a apparatus for doing something. Rocks turn sources of ore; trees turn intensity joist for carpentry or pap for paper; a breeze itself is prisoner by a windmill or, in a some-more contemporary idiom, ‘farmed’ in a breeze farm. Companies have departments of ‘human resources’. Even an underdeveloped square of healthy land, intentionally left composed by buildings and agriculture, becomes a ‘wilderness park’, a ‘machine’ in that to relax and recharge (p. 88) oneself from a strains of bland life. Great works of novel are incited into a apparatus by that to magnitude people, by exams or in quizzes. This is a indicate of a aged saw, ‘To a male with a hammer, all looks like a nail’: to a technological approach of thinking, all looks like a apparatus to be used (just as to a carpenter, all trees demeanour like intensity timber; to a university academic, all novella is a source of examination questions). More than this, a complicated networks that use these resources are bigger and some-more complex. Where once a windmill belligerent a miller’s corn to make bread, now a outrageous tellurian food complement moves food resources about internationally: bargain and regulating these networks are a career in themselves. This technological thinking, rather than a collection it produces, is a taken-for-granted ‘framework’ in that we come to see and know everything. Although many people have done this arrange of regard about a world, a successful and quarrelsome German philosopher Martin Heidegger, from whom many of a above is drawn, done it many keenly.
Is this a bad thing? It positively sounds as if it competence be. Who wants, after all, to be seen usually as a ‘human resource’? It’s precisely technological meditative that has put a universe during risk of sum destruction. On a other hand, record has offering so many to so many: in restorative illness and alleviating pain, for example. The doubt is too large to answer in these elementary terms of ‘bad’ or ‘good’. However, contemporary novella seems really disastrous about technology, positing dystopias and awful ends for humanity. However, we wish to advise that contemporary novella doesn’t find a universe definitely but hope, precisely since of technology.
Robert Eaglestone is Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought during Royal Holloway, University of London. He is Deputy Director (and before Director) of a Holocaust Research Centre. His investigate interests are in contemporary novel and literary theory, contemporary philosophy, and on Holocaust and genocide studies. He is a author of Contemporary Fiction: A Very Short Introduction and Doing English: A Guide for Literature Students (third revised edition) (Routledge, 2009).
The Very Short Introductions (VSI) array combines a tiny format with lawful research and large ideas for hundreds of subject areas. Written by a consultant authors, these books can change a approach we consider about a things that seductiveness we and are a ideal introduction to subjects we formerly knew zero about. Grow your believe with OUPblog and a VSI array each Friday, allow to Very Short Introductions articles on a OUPblog around email or RSS, and like Very Short Introductions on Facebook.