Intuitions in Literature, Technology, and Politics

Part of the series American Literature Readings in the 21st Century pp 81-116

Spectral Conversions: James Merrill and Hannah Weiner

  • Alan Ramón Clinton


The notion of an angel as a medium—one that moves in multiple directions—broached in the previous chapter, constitutes one of the primary ideas motivating the digital logics of postmodernism. For, as we will see in more detail in the present chapter, the digital age produces communications technologies that, building upon those techno-spiritualisms of the modernist era (e.g., spirit photography), are more spectral than ever. The authors discussed in this chapter, the variously embodied spirits they invoke, and the means by which they invoke them are all mediums and media operating in a way that never fully resolves questions of senders and receivers, a complication that simulates the processes of digitalized capitalism even as it suggests more utopian, nonhierarchical parabilities.