Narrating Selves amid Library Shelves : Literary Mediation and Demediation in S. by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
Keskinen, M. (2019). Narrating Selves amid Library Shelves : Literary Mediation and Demediation in S. by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. Partial Answers : Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas, 17 (1), 141-158. doi:10.1353/pan.2019.0008
© Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019.
This essay focuses on the various forms of narrating, mediating, and interpreting selves within and around a book object, the novel S. (2013) by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. The novel S. is an experiment in producing a deceivingly realistic replica of a maltreated library book object, but its discursive practices also rely on familiar literary forms, harking back to epistolary commonplaces, as well as to marginalia, both ancient and modern. The book object S., which carries the text of the novel-within-a-novel, the readers' multilayered markings, and paraphernalia, forms an archive dramatizing the workings of memory, thought, and emotion. That archive also demonstrates how the characters collect, organize, and process data from a variety of media sources. S. also problematizes narration, mediation, and the representation of textual selves through its data overkill verging on unreadability. Modifying Garrett Stewart's notion, the essay considers the possible significances of narrative "demediation" in experiments with the nearly dysfunctional book form. The very act of demediating signifies conceptually, by its very presence, as conceptual art customarily does. In the case of S., it conceptualizes textual communication and minds in interaction even to a degree of confusion, not-reading, or veritable library silence in reception. ...