Johanna Drucker’s Deterring Discourse (1993)

Project Statement: This book was a direct response to the conditions we were experiencing in the early 1990s. The sense that public discourse had taken a sharp, Orwellian turn away from any relation to a referent in the real, and that a newSpeak sensibility was proliferating was accompanied by an anxious sense of repression. Self-censorship and overt attacks on real public dialogue were increasingly prevalent. Where a balanced discussion on a news program had once reflected a broad range of political beliefs, conversations were increasingly between extreme and middle-of-the road conservatives. The feeling that poetry, creative language, political essays, direct writing, and other forms of alternative cultural expression were essential to keeping open a window or space in the rapidly closing, locking-down realm of language was urgent and compelling. It still is, more than a decade later, writing this commentary in 2006.

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