Focus World Wide World

Grafik WorldwideWeb
© Julia Praschma

The world is shrinking. Globalization and digitization have changed it: Some people, even though they are thousands of kilometers apart, suddenly have something to do with each other. Some people have nothing to do with each other, even though they live next door to each other, and the distance between them is growing.

How can we describe this world, which for some is worldwide and for others ends at the garden fence, or at the beginning of the desert, or beyond it, at the Mediterranean Sea? And how to grasp the wanderings of some and others in this world? Has the Web actually added a second world? Or has the existing one only changed? And are we, when we have the smartphone in our hands, in an in-between world?

In the focus World Wide World, we at the Center for Literature think about what these processes mean, how literature - in its incomprehensibility - can come to grips with them.

What does digital thinking and acting mean for writing? If written poetry evolved from speaking and singing, how can it change again today, in a medium (the web) that brings together hearing, seeing, reading? Or is poetry moving away from its origins in the oral, preferring to flirt with programming languages? At least they create worlds.

Or are all these considerations even superfluous, since photos on Instagram have long since become the new, thoroughly concrete poetry? The only thing that's certain is that the global world is neither real nor virtual; it's in between.

Mohsin Hamid, the Pakistani novelist, gets it exactly right when he writes of his characters, "The devices had tiny integrated antennas, and these antennas scouted out, as if by magic, an invisible world, a world that was everywhere around them and at the same time nowhere, transporting them to places far and near, and to places that had never existed and never would." (Moshin Hamid)

How can these places become utopian again?