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Rewiring the Real: In Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo (Religion, Culture and Public Life) [Hardcover]

Mark Taylor

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Book Description

15 Feb 2013 Religion, Culture and Public Life
Digital and electronic technologies that act as extensions of our bodies and minds are changing how we live, think, act, and write. Some welcome these developments as bringing humans closer to unified consciousness and eternal life. Others worry that invasive globalized technologies threaten to destroy the self and the world. Whether feared or desired, these innovations provoke emotions that have long fueled the religious imagination, suggesting the presence of a latent spirituality in an era mistakenly deemed secular and posthuman. William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo are American authors who explore this phenomenon thoroughly in their work. Engaging the works of each in conversation, Mark C. Taylor discusses their sophisticated representations of new media, communications, information, and virtual technologies and their transformative effects on the self and society. He focuses on Gaddis's The Recognitions, Powers's Plowing the Dark, Danielewski's House of Leaves, and DeLillo's Underworld, following the interplay of technology and religion in their narratives and their imagining of the transition from human to posthuman states. Their challenging ideas and inventive styles reveal the fascinating ways religious interests affect emerging technologies and how, in turn, these technologies guide spiritual aspirations. To read these novels from this perspective is to see them and the world anew.


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This book exemplifies what an entire area within religious studies -- 'religion and literature' -- should be yet has never quite become: a genuinely interdisciplinary, existentially attuned, and constructively ambitious enterprise engaged with our most timely social and cultural questions. -- Thomas Carlson, University of California, Santa Barbara provocative, engaging, significant... -- N. Katherine Hayles Los Angeles Review of Books 6/15/2013 Rewiring the Real is a collection of wide-ranging and incisive conversations about contemporary fiction and useful... primer to Taylor's thought... Taylor is a gifted explainer with a remarkably direct and personable style... College Literature Vol 41, No 2 Spring 2014

About the Author

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion, chair of the Department of Religion, and codirector of the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University. He is the author of more than twenty-five books, including, most recently, After God; Field Notes from Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living; and Refiguring the Spiritual: Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real has to be reimagined 9 Jun 2013
By schlmiel #32 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mark C. Taylor is among a handful of American thinkers whose vision reaches beyond the superficial enchantments of our time of grave disenchantments. He suffers both the enchanted and the disenchanted with what writers such as Powers, Gaddis and Delillo see in the waking sleep of American life and culture, and he does so free of the dreaming cheats of the system's monstrous frailties and deceits. Forget easy solutions; forget sentiment and apathy; forget the received language and customized comforts of our age of commodification and market solutions. Taylor cares about art without embracing artifice, and sees the mythos of our time with the same visionary acuity as the writers and artists he studies. He is always well worth the time and thought required. His gift is to show with ease the diseases with which our discourses and imaginations are both plagued gifted.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant insights into art and culture 18 Feb 2013
By Michael E. Lewitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mark Taylor is rightfully considered one of America's leading public intellectuals with an unparalleled range of work in art, culture, theology, philosophy, technology and economics. In Rewiring the Real, he combines these disciplines in creative and groundbreaking readings of four seminal modern novelists - Gaddis, DeLillo, Powers and Danielewski. His interpretations of these novels are incredibly insightful in revealing the structures of some of the most complex works of recent fiction while placing these works within the context of modern culture, technology and history. Taylor's readings of The Recognitions, House of Leaves, Plowing the Dark and Underworld enables the reader to understand the design of their creators in ways that more limited readings do not. Rewiring the Real operates at a more elevated level than other literary or cultural criticism because of Taylor's unparalleled ability to draw connections among so many different parts of life. This is a brilliant book by a brilliant and groundbreaking interpreter of our modern condition, and I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
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