Ryan Ruby is a writer of fiction, a translator, and an independent scholar. Educated in Philosophy and Social Thought at Columbia, Oxford, and the University of Chicago, he has been a lecturer in History and Philosophy at York College, CUNY and an instructor in Creative Writing at the Berlin Writers’ Workshop. His debut novel, The Zero and the One was published in the United States in 2017. His short fiction, criticism, and commentary have appeared in such venues as n+1, The Paris Review Daily, The Baffler, Lapham’s Quarterly, Dissent, and Conjunctions. He has translated novellas by Roger Caillois and Grégoire Bouillier from the French for Readux Books.
He was awarded the 2019 Albert-Einstein Fellowship from the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, where, in conjunction with his work at the ICI Berlin, he will carry out research into his next fiction project. He is particularly interested in the way that poets have functioned as early adopters of media technologies and their role in the construction and deconstruction of the subject and the corresponding political institutions of which the Subject is the basic unit.
Into the Middle of Things
ICI Affiliated Project 2018-19
This project is a technogony. Borrowed from the Greek term theogony, which describes the descent of the gods, Into the Middle of Things (IMT) describes the descent of communications technology from before Homer’s time to our own. It takes as its premise that communications technology constructs the environment of its user. It will conclude that the communications technologies we take to be paradigmatic—literate technologies—are actually only a historical parenthesis, as is the Subject—variously known as the soul, psyche, or self, an immaterial being equipped with ‘I-effects’ like mind, interiority, agency, and personal identity—to which they gave rise.
Instead of taking the approach of a media theorist to make this argument, IMT will be composed of a series of linked texts that blend fact and fiction, theory and prose poetry, history and biography to create a narrative that attempts to do formal justice to our fragmented, oversaturated information age. Ranging widely in time (from 1450 BCE to the present) and space (from Siberia to Silicon Valley), IMT is concerned with the historical personages—philosophers, poets, inventors, academics, lawmakers, translators, explorers, entrepreneurs, and computer scientists—central to the development of oral, literate, and digital media technologies and environmentalities.