Isolating Vocabulary in Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly

By Mary Learner

Lately my task has been to comb through lists of words, generated by Adam McCune’s scripts that run through Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly to search for misspellings, a task which he recently described in another blog post. My section includes all unique terms that begin with lowercase s-z. I evaluate each word, particularly lingering on red squiggles that signal the unsanctified according to Microsoft Word. I time-travel through the journal as I investigate contexts for alphabetically-organized misspellings, reading blips of scholarship that span the past fifty years. These word lists often form “Latour’s litanies,” a phrase coined by Ian Bogost to refer to the

Lists [….] [that] appear regularly in Latour’s works. They function primarily as provocations, as litanies of surprisingly contrasted curiosities,” giving examples like “A storm, a rat, a rock, a lake, a lion, a child, a worker, a gene, a slave, the unconscious, a virus.[i]

Of course, these lists lack the intentionality of Latour’s. And arguably, and interestingly to me, the wordlists can be interpreted as the result of a computer performing on BIQ a “deformance” of the sort that Jerome McGann and Lisa Samuels invent and use on poetry in “Deformance and Interpretation.”[ii] …read more