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Hieroglyphic ModernismsWriting and New Media in the Twentieth Century$
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Jesse Schotter

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474424776

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474424776.001.0001

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Matrices and Metaverses

Matrices and Metaverses

(p.199) 6 Matrices and Metaverses
Hieroglyphic Modernisms

Jesse Schotter

Edinburgh University Press

The final chapter examines post-War American fiction and the imaginative connection forged, in theory and in fiction, between hieroglyphs and code, computers, and electronic writing. It contends that the association of hieroglyphs with universal languages and mixtures of media gets passed down to the newest of new media, digital code. From the postmodern novels of Thomas Pynchon through the literary-inflected sci-fi of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, from the Afro-Futurist works of Ishmael Reed to the mass market novels of Dan Brown, this pairing of hieroglyphs and digital code recurs across genre and style. By linking code with Egyptian writing, these writers emphasize the performativity of their language; just as code can create a simulation of reality, so words can call characters and settings into being.

Keywords:   Thomas Pynchon, William Gibson, Postmodernism, Digital Code, Neal Stephenson, Ishmael Reed, Hieroglyphs, Afrofuturism

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