Aesthetic divinations: making sense and (non)sense of Mystory

Mystory represents the first steps towards a quantum leap from literal, alphabetical thinking into the world of electracy. It allows us to build up the confidence to think across several discourses (often simultaneously) while using the skills acquired by practicing in the literacy apparatus (reading and writing text). It is an aesthetic exploration with a psychoanalytic twist, incorporating Lacan’s symptomes and Proustian refrains (signified most famously in his use of the Vinteuil sonata as a recurring motif in The Recurrence of Things Past). According to Ulmer, such practice of cognitive mapping would ultimately help us become more self-aware denizens of the public sphere by understanding the processes by which the internet and new media shape us (understand the underlying problem) and by gaining the skills to “divine” the solution to the proposed problem — often by achieving an epiphanic moment.

It is difficult to describe this without using the theoretical jargon mentioned in “The Learning Screen” chapter and in his tapes. Perhaps this is why Ulmer himself extensively uses analogies to explain his theory. So, to stay true to the form, I’d like to propose another analogy. What the internet did to human connection/communication is what Mystory is doing to human invention. This may be a bit far-fetched, but only in a sense that it will take other forms of invention based on the principle of Mystory to shift from inventing from within a discourse to cross-discourse thinking.


1. Even though Ulmer makes it clear that all definitions of electracy are shifting and that it is the role of the public sphere to participate in active defining, using previous apparati as analogies is necessary but problematic. What are some of the complications of using analogies in definitions? In other words, does is serve us well to say things like “public sphere is an atmosphere that filers out harmful rays, similarly to the ozone layer”?

2. People experiencing themselves as images is described as the negative side of electracy. Are there positive aspects of this as well? What are some of the ways in which to counteract the troubling ascendancy of the “selfie”?

3. How does Mystory work around the idea of “manufactured memories”? Does it matter if the memories conjured up are real or not?
4. Is it possible to experience “the epiphany” without being first introduced to the four discourses and other functions of Mystory? In our class seminar we were asked to create Mystory without the theoretical rationale for doing so. Are the results in any ways different in such “blind” exploration?
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