Sunday Book-Thought 123

Founded on faith in the possibility of insight – the Joycean epiphany, the Poundian image that can flash in an instant of time; on faith, too, that technology need not consign the arts to irrelevance, the Modernist enterprise evolved its verbal technologies, its poem- and novel-machines of intricate interacting discrete pieces. The technology on which it drew for tacit analogies is largely obsolescent now: as much so as, say, Dante’s Earth-centered cosmos. The Dublin trams are long gone, and the linotype machine; the typewriter is going; Bloom’s watch with hands will some day need a footnote. Already students need the explanation that when a telephone whirs and a man says ‘Twentyeight. No. Twenty. Double four, yes’ [7.385] he has cranked the magneto and is now requesting a number. That world survives now, like Dante’s world, in art. Its assumptions survive in the structures of its art: complex artifacts we even sometimes take apart for maintenance.
Hugh KennerThe Mechanic Muse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 110-111.