J. Alfred Prufrock: Digital or Analog

To me, T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is interesting in that it starts with an uncited quote from Dante’s Inferno. When thinking about Peters’ description of the digital, this reference came to mind as being a reference, or pointer, from T.S. Eliiot’s poem to Dante’s. These six lines and possibly the later two references to the bible could also be categorized as modules, because T.S. Eliot identified them as standalone and didn’t even provide citations. The examples I mentioned above go to how the content of the poem could be described as digital, but how could the actual copy of the poem be digital? What comes to my mind is Manovich’s description of computerization: “computerization turns media into computer data”. Knowing that it was originally written on paper because it was published in 1915, this is how the poem got to my page. At some point or another, the words were converted to computer data, which the creator of the pdf organized on the page and shared. I’m sure that being published in 1915, there are still some copies out there that were produced totally manually, and so therefore would be completely analog.


2 thoughts on “J. Alfred Prufrock: Digital or Analog

  1. To me the beginning of the text, that begins with the excerpt from Dante, can also be seen as a type of hyperlink. The reader either sees the text get’s an appreciation for knowing already what it means and the context of the poem, or the prelude prompts the reader to go find out what the old Italian text could mean. This is a symbolic way in which the analog and digital could be seen as connected or at least in the reactions intended for either formats reader. I think an interesting point that your post leads to is how much the digital has affected everything in today’s society. You would have to go back and find a copy of the poem from the 1915’s to not be affected by digital media in some form.

  2. Great points of view. I would like to add that the language in the poem is not meant for the average reader. I think the author is selective of whom his readers should be, making it only the high intellectual people. He shows this by not quoting several important quotes like the aforementioned Dante’s Inferno, or the Bible. The tone of the poem overall seems very bitter, ”For I have known them all already, known them all:
    Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
    I know the voices dying with a dying fall” (Prufrock).
    The author makes it seem like his life is measured, and there are no thrills to it. As for ”How the poem is digital?” I will agree with WDO120, Manovich’s description of Computerization is the only way I could merge the digital with this poem.

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