Update your bookmarks!
Gerry Canavan's blog has moved.

Dear Friends,
Due to unfortunate considerations of time and cost, Backwards City is no longer a print journal. However, we will maintain our presence on the web that, however meager, we hope you might enjoy.

Who We Are
How to Subscribe
Submission Guidelines
Support BCR


Email Us * RSS/XML Feed

Lit Blogs [+/-]
Rake's Progress
Tingle Alley
The Elegant Variation
Arts & Letters Daily
Yankee Pot Roast
Poetry Daily
Verse Daily
Literary Journals [+/-]
AGNI Magazine
Alaska Quarterly Review
Bat City Review
Ballyhoo Stories
Bellevue Literary Review
Black Mountain Review
Black Warrior Review
Blue Mesa Review
Born Magazine
Can We Have Our Ball Back?
Carolina Quarterly
Cincinnati Review
Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art
Creative Nonfiction
CUE: A Journal of Prose Poetry
Denver Quarterly
Dos Passos Review
Exquisite Corpse
Forklift, Ohio
Fourteen Hills
Fourth Genre
Ghoti Magazine
Glimmer Train
Gulf Coast
Harpur Palate
Hayden's Ferry Review
Hunger Mountain
Ink & Ashes
Instant City
Land-Grant College Review
LIT Magazine
Mid-American Review
Missouri Review
New England Review
New Orleans Review
NOÖ Journal
Octopus Magazine
One Story
Orchid: A Literary Review
Oxford American
Paris Review
Pettycoat Relaxer
Plaztik Press
Poets & Writers
Post Road
Professor Barnhardt's Journal
Red Mountain Review
River City
River Teeth
Rosebud Magazine
Roux Magazine
Santa Monica Review
Sewanee Theological Review
Sonora Review
South Loop Review
Spire Press
Talking River
The Atlantic Monthly
The Baltimore Review
The Capilano Review
The Chattahoochee Review
The Florida Review
The Formalist
The Georgia Review
The Greensboro Review
The Iowa Review
The Kennesaw Review
The Literary Review
The New Yorker
The South Carolina Review
The Southeast Review
The Sycamore Review
Threepenny Review
Tin House
Comics [+/-]
Dial B for Blog
Monitor Duty
Comic Treadmill
Scott McCloud
The Comics Reporter
Paperback Reader
Exploding Dog
Toothpaste for Dinner
A Lesson Is Learned but the Damage Is Irreversible
Pop Culture [+/-]
Ain't It Cool News
Television Without Pity
The Dust Congress
Meta [+/-]
Boing Boing
Gravity Lens
The Show (with Ze Frank)
Games [+/-]
Jay Is Games
Little Fluffy Industries
Grand Text Auto
Our Writers[+/-]
Issue 6
David Axe & Matt Bors
Eric Greinke
B.J. Hollars
Cynthia Luhrs
T. Motley
Lynne Potts
Peter Schwartz
Sarah Solie
Jennie Thompson
NOÖ Journal"
Reene Wells
Issue 5">Idiot Comics

Ira Joel Haber
Jonathan Baylis & David Beyer Jr.
Kathleen Rooney
Issue 4
Kristy Bowen
Abigail Cloud
Will Dinski
Toothpaste for Dinner
The Flowfield Unity
Tom K
Dispatches from Roy Kesey
Austin Kleon
Kristi Maxwell
Marc McKee
Sheryl Monks
Renee Wells
Issue 3
Rafael �vila
Lynda Barry
Melissa Jones Fiori
Eric Joyner
Jonathan Lethem
Brian MacKinnon
Clay Matthews
Jesse Reklaw
Matthew Simmons
Amish Trivedi
Debbie Urbanski
Bart Vallecoccia
Issue 2
Jeremy Broomfield
Nick Carbo
Adam Clay
Kurtis Davidson
Lisa Jarnot
Patricia Storms
Chris Vitiello
Issue 1
Tom Chalkley
Peter S. Conrad
Cory Doctorow
Arielle Greenberg
Gabriel Gudding
Paul Guest
John Latta
K. Silem Mohammad
Jim Rugg
Marcus Slease
Tony Tost
Kurt Vonnegut
Friends & Associates [+/-]
UNCG Writing Program
Meme Therapy
Desert City Poetry Series
The Regulator Bookshop
Mac's Backs Paperbacks
Bull's Head Bookstore
Quail's Ridge Books
McIntyre's Fine Books
Chop Suey Books
McNally Robinson Bookstore
Adams Books
The Writer's Center Book Gallery
Project Pulp
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Association of Writers and Writing Programs
Small Beer Prees
Ed Cone
The Green Bean
New York Pizza
Triangle Bloggers
Greensboro 101
PClem's Music Blog
Our Frappr Map

May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
December 2007
March 2008
July 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
October 2009
November 2009

Copyright © 2004-2007 Backwards City Publications of Greensboro.

All rights reserved.
Saturday, April 07, 2007

'Double-Click Communication'
Just in time for Easter, here's a link to a provocative and eminently worthwhile talk from theorist Bruno Latour (later published under the title "Thou Shall Not Freeze-Frame") on a new way to think both religion and science outside either the tired notions of "culture war" or "nonoverlapping magisteria," which should benefit believers and non-believers alike:
To put it simply —but I hope not too provocatively: if, when hearing about religion, you direct your attention to the far away, the above, the supernatural, the infinite, the distant, the transcendent, the mysterious, the misty, the sublime, the eternal, chances are that you have not even begun to be sensitive to what religious talks tries to involve you in. Remember, I am using the template of love addressing, to speak of different sentences with the same spirit, the same regime of enunciation. In the same way as those love sentences should transform the listeners in being close and present or else are void, the ways of talking religion should bring the listener, and also the speaker, to the same closeness and to the same renewed sense of presence —or else they are worse than meaningless. If you are attracted to the distant, by religious matters, to the far away, the mysteriously encrypted, then you are gone, literally you are not with me, you remain absent minded. You make a lie of what I am giving you a chance to hear again tonight. Do you understand what I am saying? The way I am saying it? The Word tradition I am setting into motion again?

The first attempt at redirecting your attention is to make you aware of the pitfall of what I will call double-click communication. If you use such a bench mark to evaluate the quality of religious talk, they will become exactly as meaningless, empty, boring, repetitive as misaddressed love talks, and for the same reason, since they carry no messages, but transport, transform the messengers themselves, or fail. And yet, such is exactly the yardstick of double click communication: it wants us to believe that it is feasible to transport without any deformation whatsoever some accurate information about states of affairs which are not presently here. In most ordinary cases, what people have in mind when they ask ‘is this true?’, ‘does this correspond to a state of affair?’ is such a double click gesture allowing immediate access to information: tough luck, because this is also what gives the lie to ways of talking which are dearest to our heart. On the contrary, to disappoint the drive towards double click, to divert it, to break it, to subvert it, to render it impossible, is just what religious talks are after. They want to make sure that even the most absent minded, the most distant gazers are brought back to attention so that they don’t waste their time ignoring the call to conversion. To disappoint, first, to disappoint. “What has this generation in requesting a sign? No sign will be given to them!”

Transport of information without deformation is not, no it is not one of religious talks’ conditions of felicity. When the Virgin hears the angel Gabriel’s salutation, she is so utterly transformed, says the venerable story, that she becomes pregnant with the Saviour, rendered through her agency present again to the world. Surely this is not a case of double click communication! On the other hand, asking ‘who was Mary’, checking whether or not she was ‘really’ a Virgin, imagining pathway to impregnate her with spermatic rays, deciding whether Gabriel is male or female, these are double-click questions. They want you to abandon the present time and to direct your attention away from the meaning of the venerable story. These questions are not impious, nor even irrational, they are simply a category mistake. They are so irrelevant that no one has even to bother answering them. Not because they lead to unfathomable mysteries, but because their idiocy makes them generate uninteresting and utterly useless mysteries. They should be broken, interrupted, voided, ridiculed —and I will show later how this interruption has been systematically attempted in one of the Western Christian iconographic tradition. The only way to understand stories such as that of the Annunciation, is to repeat them, that is to utter again a Word which produces into the listener the same effect, namely which impregnates you, because it is you I am saluting, I am hailing tonight, with the same gift, the same present of renewed presence. Tonight I am your Gabriel! or else you don’t understand a word of what I am saying —and I am a fraud…

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?