The theme of cycles and trends came up a lot in the second session.  With book shops becoming publishers, are things moving full circle?  This may actually be a flash in the pan example but Joyce’s Ulysses was published by a bookshop in Paris (ultimately because no publisher would touch it – additionally Robert McCrum’s The 100 best novels series currently being published in The Observer (it started about the same time I started this course) gives interesting notes on the publication of each text – its amazing with a lot of the early ones how many books first became big on the other side of the Atlantic from that on which they were written).  The blending of technologies, a la Brecht, is also something coming back as books become electronic and their future could mix with gaming; self-publishing makes a return as it becomes as affordable as it was in the Middle Ages; and mashups are what the Dadaists got up to.  We ended last week hearing about the history in the present – such loops and returns reinforce this idea.

Importance of medium… “The medium is the message,” said Marshall McLuhan many moons ago, also that art is a trap for your attention: advertising fights for it everywhere; book and album covers on shelves.  So much is invested in the medium itself: everything published, or more or less, will arguably only work in that one medium.  I can see how how you get your message across can be the message itself.  Or at least a part of it.  Probably the part that helps you remember it. Literacy is a form of awareness, McLuhan also says in a video we watched in class, which links in nicely with Information Literacy and knowing the gaps in your knowledge that need filling.  You need to be not only aware of available resources but what you what to get from them.

THE MEDIUM OF MY MESSAGE IS DEATH!

THE MEDIUM OF MY MESSAGE IS DEATH!

It was stated that there is only one copy of the Mona Lisa and there was also mention of Doctor Who.  Combined and taking Doctor Who as the serious historical documentary I believe it be, we know that Leonardo di Vinci actually made several copies of the Mona Lisa.  In an adventure written by Douglas Adams (and starring Grand Maester Pycelle while featuring John Cleese, it was also partially filmed in Paris and one episode had the highest Dr Who viewing figures of all time), City of Death shows that an alien visiting earth in the prehistoric era was split across time enabling him to force di Vinci to produce many Mona Lisas which he built into a cellar enabling them to be later sold on the black market (after stealing the one in the Louvre).  Therefore, there are, in fact, 7 Mona Lisas.

On a more serious note, I was also struck by the strangeness when viewing the Mona Lisa in the Louvre that Ernesto spoke of.  It is a celebrity painting, an adoring crowd always before it, kept back by a barrier not unlike those at concerts.  Even walking from one side to the other to see if the eyes follow is made difficult by this strange status I’m not sure is shared by any other work of art.  When there I found it rather nice to turn my back and view the painting at the opposite end of the gallery.  A painting that really shows how good it is to see the original because it is so flipping big.  Incidentally, after some thirty years of being told that the Mona Lisa “was smaller than I thought it would be” I was expecting something really tiny and was surprised by how big it was.  I think in art especially, the medium is, if not the message, then a huge part of it.

Finally (sorry I’ve drifted on so long), after Ernesto told us about his school typing lessons, I had meant to link to a new electronic typing tool called the Hemingwrite.  I didn’t last week, so here it is this week.