The articles presented in On-line/Off-line – Between Text and Experience
concern the status of words and literature in contemporary culture. Opinions about 'the death of words', words displaced by pictures, are no longer formulated with equal firmness as in the past. Word and image do not compete, they rather act as equally important 'ingredients' of today's culture. To revise popular judgments which reduce the meaning of the Word there is no need for detailed analysis, just observation of daily practices. The vast number of text messages, e-mails, tweets, comments, blogs’ or social networking’s posts written day by day confirms the strong position of words (language) in the new media. As the articles in this collection make clear, this is especially true of writing in our time, when old and new, online and offline, are mixing, mashing up and recombining so prolifically, no single theory could ever explain it all, let alone foretell its evolution. So it’s fitting that what we have in this volume is not a collection of definitive, supersession-like answers, but a multiplicity of fascinating questions explored in depth. Are microblogs a new literary genre? What happens when Japanese haiku leap across cultures? Is writing inherently an act of individuality or a modern, technology-rooted innovation? Such questions will swirl around us for decades to come, and to make our way forward we will need intellectual roadmaps with the wide-ranging curiosity, high aspirations and serious intent of this one.
Jaroslaw Pluciennik is professor of literary theory at the Institute of Culture at Lodz University.
Peter Gärdenfors is a professor in the department of philosophy at Lund University.