Abstract: While deeply rooted in a set of literary histories that stretch back through the eighteenth-century to the Renaissance and beyond, the novels of Tom McCarthy (b. Scotland 1969) are also notable for their engagement with contemporary technologies and the analytical frameworks these bring with them. Disquisitions on the aesthetics of the glitch, on servo-mechanism as the ground of human experience, or on stochastic patterns as a form of verse, all populate his fictions, which have been translated into more than twenty languages and adapted for cinema, theatre and radio.
As he starts his term as Miller Scholar, McCarthy reads from and discusses his work in the context of the systems — cybernetic, anthropological, corporate and corporeal — that it both evokes and according to whose logic it is structured. If ‘writing’ names a process of surveillance and narration (or ‘rendition’), how might writing also find the blind spots, gaps and pockets of resistance to this very process? And would the tendency to do so fall within the category of ‘poetry’, or ‘politics’, or ‘love’?