Sunday Book-Thought 85

As Georges Poulet reminds us, a book is not just an object among others: it gains its essential life only when read. No text is ‘a space that resists all intrusion’ and the only closed text is one that has never been opened. Once read, a book has a life beyond its physical or authorial confines, and that life is always interactive, even when the reader lives with the memory of the book, constructs him or herself as the dialogic counterpart of the author. At this stage, hypertext vividly illustrates the complex network of processes by which an active reader reads a work: it provides an external correlative for patterns of thought established in a culture of print.  Proponents and visionaries of the new discourse would do well to emphasise these continuities: the genius of hypertext resides in its unprecedented facility for making exterior mechanisms of consciousness which have been developed over the millennia since the invention of writing. Here one would want to add to the interiorisation thesis a related thesis of exteriorisation.
– Seán Burke, The Death and Return of the Author: Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault and Derrida, 2nd edn (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998), p. 198

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