Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich - A manic dialogue of thought and image: cyberculture's hidden legacy in literary theory, surrealism, and semiotics

Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich, Memory Trade: A Prehistory of Cyberculture, Craftsman House, 1998.

"Memory Trade is a pulsating romp through the pre-life of our digitized age. It is a hybrid stitch-up of text and image going mano-o-mano page by page. It is hyper-caffeinated scholarly musing with a touch of lysergic acid. It is a world where Samuel Beckett and Roland Barthes trade cigars with Jorge Luis Borges, Philip K. Dick and Giles Deleuze while William Gibson and James Joyce talk emailia and cyberspace.
First published in 1998 in analog form, Memory Trade was conceived by Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich as a manic dialogue of thought and image. Like Greil Marcus’ Lipstick Traces, it is an ‘imaginary’ history of often unlikely, but all too accurate linkages. Memory Trade is an exploration, in text and image, of the unconscious of cyberculture, its silent, secret prehistory. From Plato’s Cave to Borges’ literary labyrinths, Freud’s Mystic Writing-Pad, and Joyce’s bairdboard bombarment, Memory Trade is an hallucinogenic palimpsest of contemporary culture."

Memory Trade rapidly sold-out and has been much sought after ever since. Fourteen years after it first appeared Memory Trade refuses to age or become irrelevant, thus 21C is proud to see it arise, phoenix-like, as an e-book that is as sumptuous as the original" – Ashley Crawford

“Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich have made a valuable contribution to an emergent field. The irony, of course, is that rather than recycle outdated ideas in fancy computer hypertext, they have come up with an original way of thinking and writing the world in the familiar form of the book.”– McKenzie Wark

“Memory Trade is directed against the new-fangled, self- important idea that, in our cyber age, "the book", meaning old-fashioned literature, is dead and buried, along with all rational, linear thought. This book argues that we are always in between the old and the new, between the historical and the possible – and it argues that the poetic forms we already have already contain the possibilities for the slow revolution that will beset us in future cybercultures.” – Adrian Martin

“To speak of the prehistory of cyberculture means to manufacture one such context, and simultaneously to look into our future-past in search of the questions that we need to ask of the present. It is important work, and I’m happy that this great book is now set to resume it.” - Giovanni Tiso Bat

“Memory Trade is an impeccably researched and stimulating book... Murray McKeich’s diabolically beautiful digital images reveal a clear resonance between writer and artist. The machine is firmly embedded within classical flesh in McKeich’s dark montages, echoing, but with more menace, Tofts’ arguments.” – Megan Heyward

“You should make room on your bookshelf next to Marshall McLuhan and Walter J. Ong because – love it or hate it – you will want to own a copy of Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich’s Memory Trade: A Prehistory of Cyberculture. Any text that gives birth to so many possible areas of future investigation is a rare read and one that invites us to return again and again.”– Carolyn Guertin

“Memory Trade is a major contribution to the current debate. This is an elaborate, complex and compact book which is as remarkable for its splendid satiric posthuman illustrations and its high quality production as for the intellectual and perceptual richness and the intensity of its writing.” – Donald Theall

“Part coffee table book, part academic analysis, Memory Trade blurs some boundaries with impressive results. There is a kind of palpable glee at work in the book as Tofts embraces his ideas with the playful relish of an idea-hacker who has stumbled onto a cache of good info, breathlessly linking theorist to theorist, idea to idea.” – David Cox

“McKeich’s images echo the aliens’ fighting machine in the neo-Gothic Alien movies, the contorted dolls of Hans Bellmer, the graphic inventiveness of Svenberg and the acuity of photographer artist Frederick Sommer’s minutia. There is a sense of knowing here that amplifies the erudition of the text to produce an effect that counters the pundits and spin-merchants of the multimedia superhighway. – Mike Leggett

“In this tightly written volume, Australian author and academic Darren Tofts (internationally known for his essays with the fine science/cyberculture journal 21C) surveys cyberculture's hidden legacy in literary theory, surrealism, and semiotics. Tofts takes great care to critically reference his material, and the lavish artwork vividly conveys the book's high production values. Necessary reading to track the pre-World War II aesthetics and artistic culture that would give rise to Eisenhower's military-industrial complex, showing how artistic movements mutated as 'life conditions' (mass psycho-social, memetic, and economic baselines) changed into radically new forms.” - Alex Burns

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