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Lettered Selves and Beyond

Rejecting the claims made on behalf of spiritual forces, abstract thought, and
consciousness, the philosopher Gilles Deleuze paraphrasing Spinoza, urges We
do not even know what a body can do what a body is capable of. (Nietzsche
and Philosophy, 39) One reason why this might be so is we do not know what
the alphabet -- the vehicle of conscious, abstract thought -- has done, is doing
to us, to our bodies. Only recently have we begun to understand our subjection
to the letter, to see the extent to which alphabetic inscription has determined
western beliefs, subjectivities, and metaphysics.

The literate West


Alphabetic writing is coterminous with the Wests philosophical and theological
origins. From its inception it has served as the Wests dominant cognitive
technology (along with mathematical writing); the medium in which its legal,
bureaucratic, historical, religious, artistic, and social business has been
conducted. Certainly, its hold over the Wests project of organizing, imagining,
and philosophizing the world is deeply-rooted and total in its reach. Its modes
of analysis, the affects it ignores and invents, the semiotic pathways it lays
down, the conceptual tropes it promotes, in short, its logic, operates as an
unexamined given within rational discourse and all forms of (textually mediated)
narrative. The result: an all-pervasive and seamless alphabetic environment, a
textual shaping of thought, imagination, subjectivities, selves, and affect
unaware of its own activity as a medium. A discourse so taken for granted as a
transparent, neutral and unproblematic coding of speech, as to be unable to see
itself at the origin of the very systems of thought and metaphysics it
understands itself to be merely conveying. Of course, any medium attempting to
explicate itself faces intrinsic difficulties. When further the medium defines the
means of explication, the task sits on the edge of a disabling circularity. Only if
there are outside forces, different media, alternative modes of understanding
and affect which challenge or delimit it, and so enable an exterior perspective,
can such recognition by a medium of its own mediality become feasible. It
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would seem that the arrival of digital media might provide an opportunity for
just such an external purchase on the alphabet.

Certainly recognition of its media effects, its deep and pervasive presence within
thought and its hold over psychic life, is emerging. As Ivan Illich and Barry
Sanders, for example, observe, for the last half millennium the very concept of a
person has adhered to that of a lettered self, an individual psyche inextricable
from the apparatus of alphabetic writing describing, articulating,
communicating, presenting, stabilizing, perpetuating, and framing it. In the
society that has come into existence since the Middle Ages, they observe, one
can always avoid picking up a pen, but one cannot avoid being described,
identified, certified, and handled like a text. Even in reaching out to become
ones own self, one reaches out for a text. (1988, x) Plainly, western thought
in all its rationality, articulated subjectivity, and expressions of selfhood -- is
imprinted by the alphabet. And was so long before the invention of printing.

The alphabetic body


No encounter with a mediating apparatus can be reduced to its mental effects or
its declared signifying and representational means. Media interact with the
bodies of their users. They alter nervous systems, cause visceral changes,
induce affect, exert force, restructure relations of distance and temporality. In
order to function at all, they demand, at a level beneath their manifest effects,
psycho-physiological changes in the bodies of their users at the same time as
they disincarnate the objects being mediated. As Steven Shaviro remarks for
film, We neglect the basic tactility and viscerality of cinematic experience when
we describe material processes and effects, such as the persistence of vision,
merely as mental illusions. Cinema produces real effects in the viewer, rather
than merely presenting phantasmatic reflection to the viewer. (1993, 51) What
is true of the psychophysiology of cinematic experience holds for any
encounter with a mediating apparatus alphabetic, computational, telephonic,
televisual, photographic, audiophonic, telegraphic, or any other: always the user
is used, the psyche-body of the one who views, writes, reads, listens, speaks,
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computes is transformed by forces outside the apparatuss explicit


instrumentality and acknowledged effects.

The alphabet mediates spoken language. It is taken to re-present speech: texts,


it is said, inscribe utterances, coding them as sequences of letters tied to
sounds. But texts do not in fact inscribe utterances. Texts code only individual
words that compose them. Words which are themselves objects isolated by
writing. (Making linguistics the science not of lingua but of its written forms).
About the dynamics of the words, how theyre said, the living feel of them, the
manner in which their saying informs the utterance they comprise, alphabetic
writing is necessarily silent. This is because a text cannot notate tone of voice
and so cannot represent what is conveyed or induced by it, namely affect. The
affect proper to human speech, which pertains to moods, feelings, passions,
attitudes, convictions, and emotions, lies in tone, that is, in the gestures of the
vocal apparatus that are the auditory movements and presence of the body
within utterance: the voices hesitations, silences, changes of pitch, emphases,
rhythms, sharpness, timbre, musicality, elisions, and other elements of
prosody. The alphabet, limited to isolated words with no means of inscribing the
liaison between them or the movement of speech, knows nothing of all this. In
other words the alphabet allows a toneless speaker to come into being, a
virtual voice unmoored from a body whose prosodic gestures are never absent
from speech.

This external effect of un-embodiment is accompanied by, and is inseparable


from, an internal form of corporeal disassociation, a specific psycho-
physiological restructuring of the non-literate brain. Learning ones alphabet,
acquiring the ability to read and write alphabetic inscriptions, requires a suite of
neurological innovations. Reading and writing, the cognitive business of
hallucinating speech from and into letters, demands a permanent alteration of
their brains that takes human children a protracted period of repetition and
practice to master. Neurologically, the requirements of literacy implement a
literacy module, a neural complex within the neo-cortex dedicated to
writing/reading purely textual entities. A module dedicated to handling the
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production and reception of phonemic strings that constitute written words


shorn of their prosodic content and associated affective fields; words decoupled
from the moods, feelings, desires, and regulatory activity routinely evinced (and
induced) by spoken utterance. The complex is centered in the frontal-occipital
lobes and essentially disassociated from the midbrain. It is distinct from the
speech areas in the lateral-parietal complex governing the generation and
reception of spoken language. Alphabetic writing splits the unified co-
occurrence of limbic affect and cortical signification, of tone and words, that
constitutes speech in two, and replaces the purely signifying half by a text. In
this way, each act of writing/reading activates and consolidates the cortical
override of the midbrain that makes it possible.

Hierarchy
Evidently, any system for writing speech establishes relations of cultural
dominance over the oral practices it colonizes; a move seemingly intrinsic to the
creating and furthering of a literate culture. Alphabetic writing intensifies and
particularizes this dominance, stabilizing it into a series of hierarchical relations
of a new, more comprehensive order. By identifying itself (in writing) as a
medium inscribing speech without significant loss, and hence being indifferent
to what might turn on the radical disjunction of speech and writing, the
alphabet masks its role in the construction of disembodied agency. This erasure
of its own mediating effects allows what at the neurological level is a
disassociation -- limbic affect bypassed by a text-processing cortex -- to
become the invisible legitimating source of the paired rankings that have
permeated the intellectual mainstream and values of western culture. By this is
meant not simply the persistent derogation of the body, the subordination of its
force and affect in favour of signification and abstract thought that abets our
ignorance of what a body can do. But more than this are the metaphysical
entities behind these rankings, namely a spiritual psyche Mind superior to
the mortal soma and a transcendent Jahweh God -- over and above the
human. In which case, its necessary to ask: How, by what material, cognitive-
affective, cultural means, did the entities God and Mind come to be to exist, to
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be known, to have agency, to be objects of belief and affect within western


culture?

Ghosts
The answer I propose is a mediological one. God and Mind are ghosts of writing,
facilitations, artifacts, media effects of the alphabet; each a supernatural
agency that emerged in the sixth century BCE within the respective Jewish and
Greek deployments of their alphabets. Each born at a point when the medium of
alphabetic writing had become sufficiently naturalized, when speech and
inscription, utterance and text, could appear interchangeable, when any
difference between them was a practical matter of no theoretical or
philosophical significance.

To avoid misunderstanding, let me say that by ghost I mean something other


than the customary spirit of a deceased person or a site of social repression, a
social figure signifying a haunting (Avery Gordon). If indeed we are surrounded
by ghosts in a supernatural world (Jennifer Egan The Keep) it is I suggest --
because our psyches in this world are permeated by new media. The ghosts I am
interested in are invisible, technologically induced entities that emerge, under
appropriate circumstances, as self-enunciatiating agencies. Their character and
action result from the medium in which their existence is manifest; and their
efficacy as objects of belief deriving from their lack of acknowledgement --
their effacement -- of this very fact. However, though distinct from social
hauntings and specters such as individual revenants like the ghost of Hamlets
father, media ghosts are nonetheless never free of the supernatural affect
surrounding the fate and habitation of the dead. As Friedrich Kittler asserts
The realm of the dead is as extensive as the storage and transmission
capabilities of a given culture. (1999) A claim surely pertinent to the medium of
telegraphic transmission. By providing real-time live communication with
remote, invisible, and unknown persons, telegraphy allowed spirits of the dead
to come to life, delivering a population of ghosts remote, invisible,
disembodied agents -- who transmitted their messages by (appropriately
enough) Morse-code like taps through the medium of a human medium. But
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telegraphy descends from the older, more primal medium of alphabetic writing,
its electromagnetic unheimlich as Erik Davis describes it, echoing the
unheimlichkeit inherent in disembodied vocality, the psychic shock of utterance
from elsewhere and elsewhen, of a voice stored in scrolls of skin and papyrus
waiting to be ventriloquized into living speech. A voice at its most uncanny and
ghostlike when -- by the magic of writing -- it refers to itself.

The I
There are two forms of self-reference at play here, the spoken and the written
I, and they are radically distinct: they project different affects, have different
relations to embodiment, operate differently in their milieus, and enunciate
distinctive forms of subjectivity. The classic definition of the former I refers
to the act of individual discourse in which it is uttered and it designates its
speaker (Benveniste) -- has no parallel for the I of a text. There is no unique
act of individual discourse, no physical body tied to it, and no necessary
connection (let alone identity) between the one who may have written, or caused
to have written, I, and the one or thing or fiction tha might or might not be
designated by it. But, nevertheless, it proves possible to ignore these
differences and imagine an I-er, an agent who is behind the written I as no
different from the one who speaks I. The result is a new kind of entity, a hybrid
agency, fusing features of an embodied speaking I with the floating,
disembodied presence of the textual I. According to Pascal Boyer, hybrids of
this sort, created by violating an ontological attribute of some familiar being but
allowing all attributes and inferences not affected by the violation to remain in
place follow a principle of ghost/god formation found in diverse human
cultures. For the Jews the hybrid was the invisible, external Jahweh who
announced his unique and monadic self I am that I am within an alphabetic
text subsequently fetishized by His presence within it. For the Greeks the hybrid
was psyche, a divine, internal agency that became Mind, the source of thought,
separate from but somehow its lasting mystery -- attached to the mortal
soma.

Alphabetic logic
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To the lettered selves the alphabet fosters, the supernatural hybrids of an


external God and interior Mind are real and credible. Selves and hybrids co-
evolved and are governed by the same logic. A logic that is
mono-tropic, favoring the monad, the self-enclosed whole, the One, by virtue
of its very constitution; and linear, operating serially, constrained to process one
thing after another rather than many things at once.

The alphabets proclivity for the monad stems from its original remit of
correlating letters to sonic fragments, designated sounds of the body
independent of and unrelated to each other. These body noises, phonemes, the
smallest sound bits identifiable by their hearers, are in themselves
meaningless. That is, they are sonic rather than semantic atoms, in contrast to
morpheme-based writings of speech (such as Chinese) based on minimal units
of sense. Having no links, being immersed in no larger field of relations outside
themselves, the elements of the alphabet are monads: irreducible, independent,
self-contained things in themselves. The mediums mono-tropism making it an
apt resource, it would seem, for constructing a unique, sufficient unto itself
mono-being.

The alphabets linearity, its obeisance to serial ordering, one-dimensional


forms, and its corresponding suppression of pluri-dimensional parallel
thought has two, quite different sources: the exigency of speech-determined
ordering, and the principle of alphabetic ordering. The first, the spatially-
ordered linearity of the text, is an immediate, obvious and seemingly inevitable
result of mimetic or iconic re-presentation of speech: the spatial ordering of
letters in a word following the presumed temporal order of sounds the order of
words in a text corresponding to the presumed linear nature of utterances, and
so on. (Of course the mimesis is limited: the analogue flow of speech is
rendered digitally; its co-occurring prosody eliminated.) The other source of
linearity, alphabetic ordering, has nothing to do with the coding of sounds, with
alphabetic writing per se, but originates in the deployment of abcedaries, lists
of letters in a fixed order, that appear to have been used from the alphabets
inception. Though theoretically irrelevant to the functioning of alphabetic
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writing, originating perhaps as memory aids, this mode of ordering allied to


alphabetic inscription of words (and the synergies of place-notation inscription
of numbers) has vastly potentiated the linear character of western literacy, being
responsible for dictionaries, thesauruses, indexes, Dewey classification,
bibliographical scholarship, encyclopedias, concordances, as well as nonsense
verse, crossword puzzles, cyphers, and Borges fiction of a self-cataloguing
library.

Parallel logic
But the glory days of this ordered linearity are numbered. The age of the text, of
alphabetic graphism and its logic, is drawing to a close. Already, beginning in
the 19th century the totality of its domination of western culture encountered its
first real resistance, its monopoly challenged by new media, technologies that
have since appropriated much of what had so long been discharged and
organized by alphabetic writing. Thus, the alphabets hold on factual description
and memory broken by photography, its inscription and preservation of speech
sounds eclipsed by the direct reproduction of sound by the phonograph and its
descendants, its domination of narrative form, fictional and otherwise,
increasingly upstaged by documentary and film art, and its universal necessity
compromised by televisions ability to report/construe the social scene, via
images and speech, to the non-literate.

This dethroning of the alphabetic text is now entering a new, more radical phase
brought about by technologies of the virtual whose effects go beyond the
appropriation and upstaging of alphabetic functionality seen so far. Though
enabled by the limit case of the alphabetic principle two letters 0 and 1 whose
words are numbers these technologies give rise to a parallelist logic
fundamentally opposed to that of the alphabet. Observe that in itself, the
opposition of serial/parallel is by no means restricted to the arena of alphabetic
writing. Given any two actions or processes they can occur serially, one after the
other, or they can happen at the same time, in parallel. The two poles appear
variously combined in many cultural fields and artifacts: for example, music
(horizontal melody versus vertical harmony), communication (discursive versus
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presentational modes), mathematics (arithmetic versus geometry, ordinal versus


cardinal numbers), film editing (Eisensteinian versus inter-cut montage), and
electrical wiring (series versus parallel circuits). Two further examples, of
particular interest here, are computation (serial versus parallel architecture) and
representation (textual signification against pictorial display).

Until the late 1970s the verb to compute was understood along the lines laid
down fifty years earlier by Turing who abstracted it from his analysis of an
isolated, individual person performing a calculation, one step at a time on an
ideal machine. When real machines were built after the second world war they
adhered to this model: computation consisted of executing linear algorithms,
lists of instructions performed one at a time in strict sequence. At the end of
this period the verb mutated from a serial to a parallel understanding. The
model of a computer switched from an individual, consciously calculating
human agent to biological or social systems such as Honeybee colonies,
corporations, bureaucracies, medical communities, committees, as well as the
sensory activity and physical maintenance of individual organisms. The switch
a belated recognition of collective, distributed processes rather than isolated
individual actions as the basis of mental processing -- has radical
consequences. It introduces into thought, into subjectivity, into self-reference
an ineradicable parallelism. Against the isolated linear, alphabetically lettered
self it promotes a plural distributed self. Parallel computing is in a sense a
handling by digital media of old and familiar deep seated biological and social
processes, from multi-cellularity to the division of labor, and its effects on
subjectivity promise to be correspondingly profound. By distributing an
individual linear consciousness, a monadic thinking self, over a collectivity,
parallel computing opens up and pluralizes the alphabetic I behind this
consciousness at the same time as it reconfigures the social multiplicity, the
they/we collective, against which it is defined.

So much for computing. What of representation? Does it too evince a shift to the
parallel and simultaneous? Yes, precisely this is the effect of digital imagery in
both its moving and still forms. I shall leave the former, more diffuse effects
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aside and focus on the stand-alone, single image. The contemporary visual
environment is permeated by a new form of still image, composed of an
assemblage of co-present images whose viewing demands a re-conceptualized
optical regime. Software control of electronic code rather than manipulation of
chemical imprints, means not only can an image be copied endlessly without
degradation, but any number of different images can be visually blended,
dissolved, fragmented, embedded, and fused to form a new type of image, what
one might call an imaged image. Depending on the mode of combination,
imaged images can resemble forms of collage and photo-montage which,
however, unlike their chemical precursors, can exhibit previously unattainable
flows of visual information and affect between their constituent images; or the
constituent images can be superimposed, one on top of the other, where the
effect is a certain kind of simultaneous seeing of differences. The latter, a
digitally engineered palimpsest, is the principle behind the cartographic
revolution of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) maps, which again realize a
shift from chemical precursors, from single, unchangeable maps on paper
viewed serially to electronic composites of co-present layers of information seen
simultaneously. Interestingly, this principle is migrating from the information-
bearing GIS map to art objects, manifest as an aesthetic of simultaneous seeing
in the work of certain contemporary artists. The effect is then a form of a virtual
movement, an internal dynamic, manifest as a vibration or shimmer within the
image. In all cases the imaged image differs radically from an immobile,
unitarily conceived image at the centre of itself.

Observe here a redoubling of the parallelism intrinsic to the image as such.


Thus, as one knows, however they might be scanned and examined serially,
images per se are not sequential objects, their content is given as a multitude of
effects, offering their meanings in no fixed or mandated order, but
simultaneously. Moreover, their parallel, inherently pluralizing and disruptive
action has always threatened the dominance and integrity of textual
particularly theological and philosophical -- meanings: hence the Biblical edict
against the making of pictures of any kind and Platos repudiation of images as
fictions of fictions. In short, the imaged image offers a doubled iconicity, which
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radically intensifies the threat to the serial protocols of alphabetic thought. And
at the same time it de-stabilizes the integrity of the alphabetic I by confronting
it with forms of self-depiction and enunciation foreign to it.

However, to attempt to describe what these forms are, what an I proper to the
technologies of the virtual might look like, would be premature: the
technologies and modes of self they make possible are still in flux. One can
nevertheless observe the current state of the lettered self exhibiting an
increasing dissolution as digital media and their outworks continue to
undermine and reconfigure the alphabetic matrix holding it in place.

A para-self
This opening up and coming apart of a psyche which had so long narrated itself
as a self-sufficient, autonomous I within the confines of alphabetic writing, has
a techno-somatic correlate. Neurological implants, vat-grown organ
transplants, and robotic prostheses are increasing the bodys externally derived
content and functioning. Genetic, cellular, pharmaceutical, psychotropic, and
bio-medical augmentation are altering the bodys organization and underlying
software. Machinic interventions through gene analysis, brain mapping, body
scans, and a slew of internal scopic procedures, are breaking down the
boundary between inner/outer knowledge and control of the body. The result is
a body which, though conditioned by its evolutionary lineage, is increasingly
exogeneous made and conceived from its bio-techno-cultural environs;
increasingly transparent less privately enclosed, subject to more public
inspection and survey through a multitude of techniques; increasingly porous
engaged in a constant flow of information and affect across its boundaries; and
increasingly heterotopic constituted as an assemblage of different processes
with their own histories, dynamics and itineraries understood collectively, and
conceived perhaps within a type of world full of an infinity of creatures
(Deleuze 1993, 109)

From a different direction, the body is also more recordable and writable
through new forms of corporeal graphism such as technologies of motion
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capture which allow the gestures of the body to be mediated detached, re-
routed, and realized anew -- in a widening array of instrumental, aesthetic and
artistic contexts from telesurgery to virtual theatre. Not coincidentally, at the
same time as the bodys movements through space are becoming digitally
mediated, our modes of interface with communicational networks are being
articulated, experienced and performed in gesturo-haptic terms of touch,
movement, and immersion. The dominant sense in this world of pervasive
proximity is no longer vision ... [but] touch. (Federer 2005, 8) And, as if to
emphasize the obsolescence of the alphabets aversion to gesture, Derek de
Kerckhove observes The internet is not really amenable to sight as much as to
touch. Navigating the net is a tactile affair. (2005. 1)

It would be surprising, given the selfs relation -- as a figure, as a product, as


an expression - to the body for there not to be an emergent I co-evolving with
and experientially appropriate to such techno-somatic forces. An I that would
be at once porous, heterotopic, distributed, permeated by emergent
collectivities, crisscrossed by networks of voices, messages, images, and virtual
effects, and confronted by avatars and simulacra of itself. Such an agency might
be labeled posthuman or transhuman, insofar as it is seen as surpassing or
transcending the self of alphabetic humanism, but a more media-specific
designation would be para-human, in that what is involved is the coming into
being of a parallel subjectivity which experiences itself as an I becoming
parallel to its (alphabetic) self, an I beside itself, a para-self.

A succession and co-existence of media


Perhaps the most visible attribute of the contemporary digital upheaval is the
ubiquity of the virtual -- virtual X -- where X ranges over of familiar and
previously stable, textually-framed objects and processes of social, cultural, and
scientific life. Thus, virtual space, virtual particles, virtual waves in quantum
physics; virtual machines and virtual memory in computer engineering; virtual
gene pools, organisms, and environments in artificial life; virtual molecules in
theoretical chemistry. And beyond these and other techno-scientific senses, a
still expanding field: virtual money, virtual shopping, virtual books, virtual
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universities, virtual bodies, virtual sex, virtual reality, virtual subjects, virtual
presence, virtual history, virtual keyboards, virtual warfare, etcetera, etcetera.
These virtual Xs are obviously the result of electronic technologies. The concept
of the virtual, however, is not electronic but a recurrent phenomenon, namely
the separation wrought by certain media between the effects and furniture of
the old world, what was real or actual before their intervention, and the new
versions they introduce, which simulate/substitute for them. Media, Kittler
proclaims, determine our situation. Well, maybe not determine, but, if, like
contemporary electronic technologies, they are powerful enough, they do
transform worlds. They re-calibrate space-time polarities of near/far and
then/now, reconfigure possibilities of presence and subjectivity, redraw the
boundaries of the dead, and install new sites of agency and enunciation.

The current wave of virtualization rides on the back of a previous one. As weve
seen, alphabetic writing introduces a field of virtual utterances texts -- which
function as speech at a distance and allow the spoken I to be fused with its
virtual form, the incorporeal floating alphabetic I; a fusion with dramatic
metaphysical consequences.

The virtual is however older than the writing of speech. Speech in turn is a re-
mediation. Just as the written I overlays -- substitutes for and simulates -- the
I of speech, so the spoken I is the virtualization of a previous act of self-
enunciation, an a-linguistic I which it likewise overlays and simulates. The
medium within which such an I occurs is gesture. Gesture, understood as the
affective/signifying movements of the visual, tactile, sonic body, is the primary
medium from which (and alongside which) speech emerged. A self-enunciation
in such a medium would be a projection of self-referential affect, a declaration
of identity/presence through self- and other-touching, pointing, posturing, and
signaling. The referent of such an enunciation, would be articulated through
iconic and indexical modes and experienced kinesthetically and proprioceptively
as a pre-symbolic -- Me. The advent of language introduced into the world of
such a being utterances, which function as projected gestures, gesture at a
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distance, virtual gestures, that allow the Me to be interfolded with its virtual
form, the symbolic self-referring I of human speech.

One can ask, in analogy with the written I, whether the spoken self-reference
is likewise the site of an un-embodied agency, whether a ghost effect emerges
with the saying of I. Interestingly, Terrence Deacon, towards the end of his
bio-cultural account of the co-evolution of the brain and language, introduces
just such an idea. The manner of the interfolding of brain and language, of
actual and virtual reference, the back and forth feedback by which human self-
reference emerges out of its iconic-indexical substrate over hundreds of
generations, offers a perspective, he concludes, on that curious human
intuition that our minds are somehow independent of our bodies, and thence
to beliefs about disembodied spirits and souls that persist after death. (454)

This prompts an immediate question arises: are we shall we in the future be


confronted by digital ghosts? After all, if writing I stabilized and made credible
an already present intuition of disembodied spirits, might one extrapolate the
move from writing to its virtualization within digital media? In order to respond
one would have to identify the forms of reflexivity, of self-enunciation, proper
to electronic code, what in other words properly constitutes a digital I. Proper
in the sense of enunciations natural to the plural forms and parallel, distributed
logic of digital networks, but unthinkable or at least inexpressible outside them.
And,there then arises the question of timeliness: writings ghosts appeared in
both the Hebrew and Greek milieus only some time after the introduction of
alphabetic writing, at a point when the medium had become naturalized, when
an actual speaking I and the floating virtual I' of the text could be (con)fused,
when a hybrid uniting them could be given credence as a real (and not merely
imagined/invented ) autonomous agency. No analogous large-scale
naturalization of the digital scene is yet in sight. Nor should one expect it, since
we are still in motion vis a vis the technologies of the virtual, under their sway
and in thrall to the novelty of their effects which seem not to have reached any
plateau or culmination. This being so, only fragments of ghosts, local
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manifestations of some larger distributed, plural agency, should such be in the


offing, are all that can appear.

But to finish this squinting into the not yet of the beyond, one thing seems
plain. In whatever guise their successors may or may not appear in our
technological future, the hoary old ghosts of a disembodied mind-soul and a
transcendental mono-being are growing less tenable, less credible, less real,
by the day, their philosophical infrastructure and accompanying alphabetic
mentalities revealing themselves as grand mediological achievements of a
departing typographic era - monumental in their time but no longer relevant or
appropriate to our needs.