Anatomies of a Virtual Self

By Joe Amato

Subjects: Communication
Series: SUNY series in Postmodern Culture
Paperback : 9780791434024, 190 pages, July 1997
Hardcover : 9780791434017, 190 pages, July 1997

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Table of contents


The World's Body as Information Network

Anatomy of a Mind:
Writing: the life and death of the mind

Anatomy of a Soul:
For and Against Virtual Space: The Anxieties of Writing in Real Times

Anatomy of a Heart:
1001 Onlines: 4 Anthems

Anatomy of a Body:
Academy of Pop: A Critical Essay in Four Parts with Instructions Reproduced Here for Your Viewing Pleasure

Anatomy Cosmic:
glue: a monologue to be heard out & about the neighborhood of somebody's virtual community

Enacts and evokes the changes and creative possibilities emerging from contemporary literary technologies (electronic media).


Bookend challenges distinctions between prose and poetry as well as between popular and academic culture, embodying a wide array of poetic techniques to argue that form and structure are themselves essential to artistic and cultural meaning. It critiques the current media environs, a hybrid reality in which the individual encounters his or her public and private selves in the midst of a crisis of values. Each of the five anatomies represents both a personal and a local account of where the author finds himself in social and educational terms, and an attempt is made throughout to situate this individual experience against a global imperative.

Joe Amato is Assistant Professor of English in the Lewis Department of Humanities at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and author of Symptoms of a Finer Age.


"Bookend sets the stage for a new kind of writing. Part poetry, part theory, part scholarly exegesis, Joe Amato's book cruises the Information Network, sweeping along, in its rush toward revelation, the flotsam and jetsam of daily life--especially life in the academy--as it is playing itself out in the 1990s. The various 'anatomies,' especially the Anatomy of a Heart, allow us to enter the author's consciousness, and yet Bookend remains curiously depersonalized. Amato tells stories, ruminates on poetics, works on his computer, and arranges every page visually as well as verbally. The lettrist 'breakdown' of the last pages is thus entirely anticipated." -- Marjorie Perloff, Stanford University

"Joe Amato's passionate, acrobatic, and audacious engagement with the limits of discursiveness aims to repixelate our reception of virtual culture. Like a test pattern coming from just beyond the Guttenberg Galaxy, Bookend's static is a call for us to readjust our sets." -- Charles Bernstein, David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters, State University of New York at Buffalo

"Situated somewhere between the world of print and cyberspace, Amato's Bookend is an amazing read--fast, provocative, learned, hypertextual, fun. The work departs from standard academic discourse but is at the same time astonishing in its breadth. Part poem, part narrative, part academic argument, Amato uses a wide range of contemporary scholarship to inform his thinking. Yet the book elicits a personal rather than a cerebral response. Through considerations of family, ethnicity, computers, sexuality, lived experience, Amato brings mind and culture to bear on the construction of self." -- Gail E. Hawisher, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

"The verbal energy, intelligence, intensity, and integrity of the vision in this book are compelling. The author brings seemingly contrary texts, concerns, linguistic practices, and discourse to bear upon fundamental problems of our culture, the humanities, and poetics in an almost hypertextual matrix of narrative, philosophical, playful, and poetic discourses. This is a difficult book aware of its joys; a joyful book aware of its difficulties." -- Michael Joyce, Vassar College