The weight of the book in hand, the quality of the paper to support the reproduction of the photographs, these are things I notice because my first read of Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan by Rita Leistner was on screen where the reader floats on a plane or plateau from text to image to text where scrolling is not met by the flicker of turning pages.
I now wonder if my eye would have settled on the same passage if I had encountered the codex version first. The points of entry might be different but I suspect the destination would similar. I like to think that the implied narrative of the closing sequence of photographs: landscape, view point, and figure walking into the landscape stand as a reminder of the journey traced in reading Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan — there is no end of observing, noting and reporting.
These are two field notes from that fly by reading of the text and images on screen. They are addressed to the author. Notice how they avoid seduction by McLuhan’s tetrads — — — — the I negotiates a kind of deconstructive homage.
Re: Prophylactive Therapy
I really like the implied tension here between before and after (prophylaxis is to prevent and therapy is to ameliorate trauma, wound, ailment).
Very prominently displayed in the book is the term “prophylactive”
This is an intriguing neologism (the adjective is “prophylactic”). One of its echoes is a combo: profile + active. Such a combo is a subliminal reminder of the need to be an engaged reader of images. As well “prophylactive” shares an end sound with “laxative” and hints at activities of purging.
So sensitized, we take on the tetrad’s magic…
On another note, I was thinking about the heuristic value of the tetrad and your deployment of the tetrads at the end of the book. In a moment of reflexivity I considered what it would be like to construct a tetrad of the form of the tetrad. Your book had me thinking of the layered connections between maps, series, stories and points of view/perspective. And so regardless of recuperation or obsolescence, I can now sketch out at little diagram with “tetrad” at the centre and surrounded at four points by “map” “series” “story” and “point of view perspective”.
Why stop there? Why not put your innovative “iprobe” in the middle? Mischievously, the “iprobe” is surrounded by four “iprobes” … : ) It all implodes or it expands outward into a plane of interlocking discursive moments.
All this came to me because of your statement that the book was designed to be “off the grid” which I took not only to reference connection to electrical supply but also the very design principle itself at work in the organization of the material — it’s very strongly a “grid” layout which of course makes reading off the grid the default position. There is the homage to Quintion Fiore in the typographical display — but it’s still grid-like where Fiore would put in an oblique or two or even a vortex. And the grid is perfect for the “series” display — each section works through a reproduction of form or genre. The “series” when layered together provide a “map” and each map deserves an interpretation or story. It becomes obvious that the single image needs to be viewed in the context of a series of images in order to become a faithful map to a situation.
Very intriguing. The iProbe masters the grid to generate some off-grid thinking.
As Julian Stallabrass writes in the forward “action, purpose and subject matter cannot be downplayed as mere side-effects of media.” We need voices like Rita’s to guide the looking and the analysis and guard against any side effects of the prophylaxis.
And so for day 1145