Associative Thoughts

“Ideas are only meaningful in relation to where they have been”  (Barnet and Tofts, “Too Dimensional”).

Like people, ideas travel. Ideas have memories, lives of their own. They change their faces to meet their contexts in the classroom, the essay, the living room, the holiday resort, the political protest.

“A computer filing system which would store and deliver the great body of human literature, in all its historical versions and with all its messy interconnections, acknowledging authorship, ownership, quotation, and linkage” (Barnet and Tofts).

Not so long ago, the record of writing was contained in card catalogues in libraries or referenced and cross-referenced in books. I was pretty proud when I learned to navigate these.


“Human knowledge, and particularly literature, has a networked structure to it which is deeply at odds with conventional forms of indexing.” (Barnet and Tofts)

I had an acquaintance who organized the books on his shelf based on who he thought each author might enjoy speaking with. I wonder if Thomas Pynchon would enjoy speaking with Charles Dickens or if Pynchon would find the old moralist insufferable.


“Hyper” means exceeding, over, beyond, above — more than what presents itself to the eye.

Then also to the ear, the nose, the fingertip like Bouchardon’s “Touch” ? Or perhaps like the work of the poet in Coleridge’s “Aeolian Harp” whose imagination brings life to what the eye sees in nature, plays that vision, makes it audible, musical, meaningful.

And what if all of animated nature
Be but organic Harps diversely framed,
That tremble into thought, as o’er them sweeps
Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze,
At once the Soul of each, and God of all?

“Everything would be deeply interconnected” (Barnet and Tofts on the vision of the WWW)

In The Crying of Lot 49, Oedipa looks for connections—more than meets the eye but her eye is overwhelmed by connections everywhere—signs that direct her to a world below the surface of the world she inhabits. She believes that everything she sees has an underlying life, an inside meaning. But Oedipa seems unconnected, unable to navigate the network of connections she finds herself in. She becomes lost in the connections with no clear path out.


 Like a spiral, she unravels.

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