I am reading an excellent biography of Joyce by one of his friends and contemporaries. The author talks a lot about Joyce and his relationship to language. He mentions Joyce has a relationship to language that most people don’t have. For him there is a plasticity and a physicality to words themselves. He knows his own novels and stories backwards and forwards.
I do not have this relationship to language. Some words, give me pleasure, but words in general do not. I do not delight in puns, or word play. I love poetry, but I love the images and the metaphors, the rhythm and yes the language. But this seems to be beyond the materiality of language and more about ability of language to evoke or create meaning.
Hopefully this makes send. The distinction between the materiality or medium and what is expressed. I am not sure if this is an important distinction, but to me there should be something of material fetish for the artist involved in creating in a medium. What this says for mixed media artists or conceptual artists I have no idea.
I have been thinking of what medium I have a special relationship with and I would have to say it is computer code. The materiality of code is something that I have a fetishtic relationship with. I love the materiality of code itself, how different languages express concepts and processes. The product of code is something that I struggle with since there is no necessary relationship between code and the expression of a code.
When Joyce creates a sentence, there are perhaps many ways to interpret it but there is one way to render it – as a sentence. With computer code, there are many ways to interpret and render the code, or perhaps there is one way to interpret it and may ways to render it. Is the role of the reader or audience inverted? Are there two audiences?
There are two levels of appreciation: the code and the expression of the code. Is this similar to the appreciation of text as word and as a meaning or of anything with multiple levels of interpretation? I am not sure.