The Aura of Decay: The Concept of the Book in the Age of Hybridity

Posted in 2008 Journal


The following paper takes up the tradition of aphoristic writing in order to examine the concept of the book and the image of the palimpsest in the age of hybridity. The digitization of culture has resulted in the increasing irrelevance of the material object of the book. Nevertheless, the concept of the book remains a powerful metaphor that structures virtual spaces and infiltrates contemporary culture. In contemporary art, the concept of the book has appears in many iterations, but must prominently in the image of the palimpsest, I examine this image as it is taken up by Anselm Kiefer in his work Heavenly Places; William Gibson and Kevin Bego’s Jr. book Agrippa (a book of the dead); and Peter Greenaway’s film The Pillow Book. Furthermore, the paper is not guided by a single thesis, but rather by a series of questions. I ask: What is the status of the book in the age of hybridity? What is the function of decay? In what ways is it enacted? What might the concept of the book reveal to us about the status of nostalgia and aura in the contemporary moment?
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