Welcome to the digital installation component of “Refreshing Self-Reliance” by Sam Hamilton from Issue 10: Originality in a Digital Culture of New American Notes Online. This installation component plus the “Essay 2.0” make up the whole of “Refreshing Self-Reliance.”
What it is & How it Works
This digital installation component of “Refreshing Self-Reliance” is a random quote generator that cycles through some pithy aphorisms from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1841 essay “Self-Reliance.” It used to be that when you hit the ↻ or “Refresh” button in your browser, a new statement from Emerson’s essay appears. Now, it’s a sort of randomly generated choose-your-own-adventure path through both Emersonian aphorisms and my reflections/ruminations on those aphorisms and their application to 21st century digital authorship and self-reliance. And those aphorisms now appear two places. In the toolbar to the right of this post →. And also in the footer below this post ↓. The aphorisms are presented and cycled through using a WordPress widget called the Flexi Quote Plus. And, the aphorisms presented and cycled through using this widget constitute the “first layer” or the digital installation component of “Refreshing Self-Reliance”.
In some of Emerson’s statements in the first layer, a key word or phrase serves as a hyperlink to a new page featuring my reflections and ruminations. These reflections constitute the second layer of this digital installation component of “Refreshing Self-Reliance”.
Initially, I “hosted” both the first and second layers through an end-around “cheat” using public folders in Dropbox, before Dropbox eliminated this cheat.
Then, I hosted both layers on webspace provided by my graduate institution, the University of Pittsburgh. When I graduated, however, that space was no longer available to me.
At its core, “Refreshing Self-Reliance” seeks to perform and explore something quite close to Emerson’s original essay. Both, I think, seek to reveal the true emptiness of the idea of “self-reliance,” not just within the contemporary Digital Age, but indeed always and forever. At this point, I think the story of creating and hosting the text of the digital installation component of “Refreshing Self-Reliance” reveals this emptiness just as effectively as the reflections and ruminations made within the text itself.
That said, sorting through the gnarly messiness of the text itself — a messiness made messier by all the technical SNAFUs encountered during the composing and hosting of this text — may not be worth it. So, if you prefer, you can read the “Non-Randomized Reflections” and also consult my “Works Cited, Consulted, and Considered”