After spending a large portion of this semester discussing, analyzing, and creating annotations in my Doing Things with Novels course, I approached this assignment with a developed understanding of the approaches to scholarly marginalia that I have most benefitted from as both a reader and as a producer. As I worked through Laurence Scott’s The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World, I sought to provide examples of my typical approach to annotation and its focus on the creation of connections and the expansion of the text’s scope through the inclusion of relevant resources and references to theoretical approaches through which the reader might reinterpret their reading of the annotated text.
My first annotation responded to Scott’s statement:
“Increasingly, the moments of our lives audition for digitisation. A view from the window, a meeting with friends, a thought, an instance of leisure or exasperation – they are all candidates, contestants even, for a dimensional upgrade.”
I’m reminded of Byung-Chul Han’s recent work Non-things: Upheaval in the Lifeworld (2022), specifically his discussions regarding the notion of se produire, or to “play to the gallery” in relation to the production of digital identity through the production and staging of information online (14). He goes on to suggest that “digital images transform the world into available information,” intensifying the production of a world enframed purely through curated imagery and amplifying a sense of the Baudrillardian hyperreal. Not the most novel of thoughts but I love Han’s text because his approach can get a little woo-woo at times with statements like, “The decorative and the ornamental are characteristic of things. They are life’s way of telling us that life is about more than mere functioning. In the baroque age, the ornamental was theatrum dei, the theater of the gods. If we submit life fully to functionality and information, we drive the divine out of life. The smartphone is the symbol of our time… it is not embellished in any way” (23). I imagine his work would be a fun read if one was looking to develop a comparative analysis between a theoretical thinker broaching similar subject matter and Scott’s work in Four-Dimensional Human.
My intention with this annotation was to create connections for the reader and to expand their scope of inquiry as they scrutinize this pivotal point in Scott’s piece. Ideally, by pointing them to texts, concepts, and quotes that allowed me to create connections between Scott’s piece and the greater conversations dealing with technology, the production of identity, and time-and-space as impacted by both the digital and capital, it will encourage them to explore, respond, and even disagree with my connections. Any of these would be a fantastic result, as long as it triggers some exploration of the text through searching outside of the text.
My second annotation responded to Scott’s statement:
“Social media, for example, makes a moment four-dimensional by scaffolding it with simultaneity, such that it exists in multiple places at once.”
Having read a decent amount about David Harvey’s notion of time-space compression (or, the rupturing of our experience of time and space as the flow of capital accelerates) this semester, it would be a fun exercise (though maybe redundant) to dig into Scott’s idea of reality “scaffolded with simultaneity” via social media through the theoretical lens of Harvey’s work (+ maybe Virilio’s idea of speed-space or Han’s work in The Art of Lingering).
Though stylistically similar, I’d like to focus on a different portion of my approach that exists in each annotation. In both, I tried to provide the reader with a prompt of inquiry. In the first annotation, this prompt was advancing the idea that a comparative analysis between Han and Scott’s work might act as an interesting rabbit hole to wander down. In this annotation, I suggest that a worthwhile exercise might be exploring Scott’s suggestion of simultaneity in conjunction with analyses of time and space as affected by capitalism through the work of David Harvey, Paul Virilio, and Byung-Chul Han. My intention here is to provide not just possible connections but a prompt for them to explore if such connections actually exist as suggested and whether or not they are worth investigating further.
Essentially, my primary goal for the reader (and for myself) is to encourage a more comprehensive consideration of the text and to enjoy the search that comes with creating and developing intertextual connections.