A recurring theme of the book is that most of our media forms and practices are teleological. They are materially so, since they have physical real last pages and physical real last frames. Hypertext, radically, simply, and elegantly, matters perhaps most because by refusing or at least showing the possibility of discursive forms that are otherwise to this they also offer ways to think with things and make arguments that might not be teleological.
Academic writing, in spite ourselves and our arguments, is resolutely teleological. As academics we participate in and make arguments, after all, which ideally are causal evidenced based chains of reason. They are things on the way to somewhere, and these destinations tend to be implicit in the causes. I am frustrated and suspicious of this. This seems to only describe part of how I think and work, not all. I’m also reasonably confident that the world I find myself in is made up of a considerable amount of things that matter to me that also aren’t teleological. Things just happen. They have effects, I’m sure they have causes, somewhere, but that is a very different claim to saying they have an end, as their aim.
This book is in some ways a materialised or concrete engagement with this. It returns to a small number of what could be described as my academic concerns (in the way that Latour describes a discipline as the making and maintaining of things that are its matters of concern), prodding and poking them in a persistent, repetitive, indeed even obsessive manner. The writing is quite explicit about this, as it returns to have another go at a problem, returning to some ideas, again, and finding new avenues, new facets, by which to think about it, or with it. It finds causes, it makes arguments, it goes places. And returns, again.
Perhaps, in this repetition, these circles and contours (rather than the nearly straight line that is teleology) that I could theorise via Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the nomadic and Walter J Ong’s orality offers an alternative to teleology? Musical rather than linguistic, poetic rather than prosaic, is there a viable knowledge being performed by these returns and worryings?