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The staged and stagy microworlds of murder mysteries resemble bureaucratic comedies. These stand-alone and repeatable artworks make the world of modern office work appear in the world. It makes a world of repeatable motions plausible. Agatha Christie’s novel, Appointment with Death, is a virtual blueprint of the media union of modern society. In effect, systems theory through the shortcut of kitsch. The recent novels of Tom McCarthy-- particularly Remainder, a crime novel of sorts too—provide another live blueprint of art in the systems epoch, and outline what social and aesthetic forms of repetition and citation mean today. These...

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