The essay explores how literary practices of listing, cataloging, and inventorying are altered by the shift from classical, premodern, and early modern regimes of data scarcity (within which every piece of information is considered valuable a priori) to modern regimes of data surplus (within which information has no a priori value). Three examples are analyzed in depth: the heroscopía from book 6 of Virgil's Aeneid, in which Roman history is portrayed as a triumphal procession; Astolfo's voyage to the moon in canto 34 of Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando furioso, with its inventory of everything that has been lost and forgotten on the earth's surface; and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's 1914 words-in-freedom epic, Zang Tumb Tumb, in which commercial inventories are used as overlays to explode (rather than preserve) memories.
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September 1, 2011
Jeffrey T. Schnapp; The Chatter of People and Things. Modern Language Quarterly 1 September 2011; 72 (3): 319–339. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-1275154
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