Getting Inside Simon Morris' Head cover

Getting Inside Simon Morris' Head

324 pages
information as material
2014



Getting Inside Simon Morris' Head is a performative retyping of Simon Morris' conceptual bookwork Getting Inside Jack Kerouac's Head (also published by information as material, 2010, ISBN 978-1-907468-02-5). Like Morris' original performance of retyping the scroll edition of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Joe Hale's project first appeared as a blog. At the rate of one page per day, like Morris retyping Kerouac before him, Hale retyped Morris' entire book and in doing so re-retraces Kerouac's famous adventure. Morris gave us all of Kerouac's pages in reverse order: each blog post presented one page and the default settings of the blog platform organised his posts in reverse order, from the newest to the oldest. Now inverted again, as a double negative, Hale has restored the direction of travel to the story and produced a wholly (un)original new text. This first printed edition takes the imitative gesture to a new extreme. It features an introductory essay by poet Kenneth Goldsmith and reuses Morris' paratext. From the cover design to the choice of paper, Hale tests the limits of conceptual extension.

"If the nascent internet gave conceptual writing its database logic, and the browser-based '90s offered a model of wholesale appropriation, the relay mode of Web 2.0 - retweeting, reblogging, forwarding, embedding, etcetera - opens a new horizon. Realizing the potential of the platform that supported its source, Getting Inside Simon Morris' Head is conceptual writing for the age of social media."

- Craig Dworkin, poet and Professor, University of Utah

"Someone retypes a text that already exists in millions of copies, and he retypes it day by day, word for word, not by simply copying & pasting the 'original'. This action sounds odd, even anachronistic, like a throwback to medieval times. But in fact Joe Hale's act of copying is at the cutting edge of literature and has unsettling implications: Once, in the medieval ages, the copyist remained anonymous; now he claims authorship. Once copying was an act of reproduction; now it is nominated as an act of creation. Once the copies, no matter how textually erratic, were considered to undoubtedly be instantiations of the pre-existing work; now they are proposed as distinct works, no matter how similar to their source they might be. The distinguishing qualities of a work of literature no longer depend, necessarily, on 'the work's' textual distinctiveness. This challenging idea is directly opened out by this book. Consequently, Hale's contribution to our understanding of literature is significant."

- Annette Gilbert, Professor, Freie Universität Berlin