Caroline McCracken-Flesher

Digital Interfaces, Embodiment and Ex-istence in But ’n’ Ben a-Go-Go

Matthew Fitt’s But ’n’ Ben a-Go-Go foregrounds proximity. Whether it be a shocking future reconceived as the near present, the sea flooding the land, age usurping youth, or a blood-borne virus overwhelming a body, a marriage, and a love, what should be distant and different proves close by, upon us. Otherness proves intimate, and irresistible, self seems unstable, unlocatable, and being the more intensely felt. Does Fitt’s novel model the interpenetrability of elements, illnesses, peoples, times, spaces? Or with its digital interface between lives and loves, does it point to the generative possibilities of difference in a boundary zone that is simultaneously about contact and its deferral?

This paper will invoke N. Katherine Hayles’s theories of digital interfaces and embodiment, alongside Jean-Luc Nancy’s problematizing of what it is to ex-ist. It will consider the vagaries of being in a future negotiated despite and through the barriers of regional language, time and place—whether the language is Scots, or binary code.

Caroline McCracken-Flesher, University of Wyoming, USA