Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Sept. 25, 2021, 7:06 a.m. Humanist 35.262 - pubs: in praise of preservation

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 262.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2021-09-24 23:46:00+00:00
        From: <>
        Subject: In Praise of Preservation


The publication of a new book by Matthew Kirschenbaum is always a cause for
celebration for the field of digital humanities. His latest, Bitstreams [1] is
goldmine. There is one particular nugget that would appeal to teachers and
researchers looking for a good story. It's the recounting of a digital
preservation project: the restoration of the hyperpoems of William Dickey [2].
Composed in Hypercard, they are now available through the Internet Archive [3].

In a LitHub article, Kirschenbaum has observed:

The HyperPoems were forgotten by all but a handful of dedicated students of
digital writing, who learned of them by rumor and reputation. [4]

You can view some of those dedicated souls in a superb panel discussion recorded
at this year's Electronic Literature Organization conference. [5]

Suffice it to say that Susan Tracz, William H. Dickey‘s literary executor
describes him as a man of “gentle erudite sophistication”. Certainly an apt
description for the Dickey’s three poems collected in the Erotica (Volume 2 of
the HyperCard poems). The erotic work displays a beautiful tension between
suggestive words and explicit found images. There is even a gem of invective
that nods to the heroes of the Greek Anthology. I forbear quoting here from the
"The Hazard" (the curious can find my favourite Dickey epigrams elsewhere [6]).

I am grateful to the team that brought these allusive and suggestive works to a
wider audience: both for the preservation work itself and for the modest
retelling of what exploits that work entailed. And so I inscribe here on the
Humanist bitstream a simple encomium.




"William Dickey's HyperPoems are divided into two parts with two separate pages
at the Internet Archive: Volume 1 contains the majority of the poetry from his
earliest, more simplistic creations through to his later, more complex work.
Volume 2 consists of the most complex creations from his late period: three
erotic poems. (Note: They are explicit.)”

[4] The Lost Digital Poems (and Erotica) of William H. Dickey
Matthew Kirschenbaum on Recovering Artifacts of Another Time
November 16, 2020

[5] ELO 2021: “Beyond Range of Air”: The Story Behind the 30-Year Deferred
Publication of William H. Dickey’s HyperPoems, May 27, 2021 <>


~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
François Lachance
Wannabe Professor of Theoretical and Applied Rhetoric

to think is often to sort, to store and to shuffle: humble, embodied tasks

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