The Electronic Labyrinth

Illumination and the Electronic Sign

The concept of illumination as a light shining through the text has an interesting parallel for the age of the electronic text. The electronic sign, too, illumined on the screen of the computer monitor, shines through the text. The word no longer requires, as the printed word did, that a light be cast upon it to make it visible. Glowing in its own phosphene splendour, the electronic word takes on an altogether different aspect; it does not require us to reveal it but reveals itself. Emanating from a space beyond the writer, from the space of writing itself, the electronic sign has a kind of assuredness and autonomy from the author, from the source of its utterance, that fascinates even as it frightens. It is perhaps to the self-illuminated quality of the electronic sign that the writer of hypertext fictions must attend, and to discover there the secret of its light.

See also: William Blake and the Illuminated Book, John Ruskin, William Morris and the Gothic Revival, Manuscript Circulation, Marshall McLuhan and the Gutenberg Galaxy and Judy Malloy.

© 1993-2000 Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar.
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