For all those in the department and beyond who are thinking about the digital humanities, this article from the Los Angeles Times is interesting and provocative.
The experience of the mystery of language is the original literary sensation. The exuberance of ancient literature — whether it is in the simple, inscrutable lyrics of Sappho or Oedipus’s tragic misunderstanding of the oracles — contains a furiously distressed joy that words mean so much more than they mean. Take any meaningful line in literature and the same fugitive release from the status of information is there. Take my favorite line of Shakespeare’s, from Macbeth: “Light thickens, and the crows make wing to the rooky wood.” What is the difference between a crow and a rook? Nothing. What does it mean that light thickens? Who knows? The lines, as data, are more or less nonsense. And yet they illuminate their moment radiantly.
I’m not sure if I agree with this – although I like the notion of the ‘fugitive release from the status of information’. It seems that this is as untrue as it is true, and the particulars of the reading of the line from Macbeth aren’t convincing. But there is a fundamental question here.