Spirit Duplication

“Every technology is a metaphor. That much is clear. The difficult matter is to sort out whether this is a primary or secondary function.

CABINET has published a brief essay by Yara Flores called Spirit Duplication. As a child, the author’s traditional Catholic school abruptly switched from a ditto machine to a photocopier. The nuns’ handouts went from ethereal purple to earthy black, and her faith in the catechism was disrupted.

Sheets fresh from the ditto machine came doused with their intoxicating vehicle. They were limp and delicate and heady. One breathed deeply, and felt a lightness of the spirit. Like the page, one was softened to receive the purple words. By contrast, these strange new handouts were made of static ash, of a nervous kind of soot. They felt brittle, dusty, lifeless.

Even the cheapest and dirtiest modes of mechanical reproduction have their own inherent signs and markers, and with them their own inherent power to persuade. (It’s worth reading this article just for the surprisingly beautiful images from the 1962 New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism.)

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Categories: Critical Discourse

2 Responses to “Spirit Duplication”

  1. RL Tillman says:

    Thanks, Jennifer.
    From the sublime to the ridiculous!