Distance Reading and Magazine Reading

 Having read the Moretti and Clement pieces, it occurs to me that distance reading and graphing larger sets of texts has a lot in common with what Dr. Latham and Scholes and Wulfman describe in the reading of magazines.  In the way that a magazine acts as a storehouse for elements that have identifiable coherences and differences, distance reading larger corpuses of works could function in a similar way.  In discussing the way concepts "emerge" in the study of magazines, Dr Latham says: 

"a particular kind of complexity that arises not from the individual elements in a system, but only from their interaction.  These interactions pose a particular challenge, because they cannot be predicted or quantified and thsu cannot be described or computed. Instead, they reside in a complex series of feedback loops within a system, each changing and shifting the other" (15). 

Is it fair to say that a similar type of complexity emerges across larger samples of texts such as what is generally thought of as, just as an example, the canon of Victorian novels?  Does the fact that there is no editor change the situation?  Does distance reading produce the same type of effect as Dr. Latham describes in magazines: "For the editors and scholars of magazines ... emergence provides a powerful way of thinking about how all those textons that we can mark and measure in a text manage to produce something more than the sum of their parts: an ergodic, interstitial, contingent array of meanings" (15).  

I think the absence of a managing (in all the senses of the word) editor actually provides a more interesting set of critical and scholarly possibilities.  Tracking the similarities across texts that aren't consciously arranged or necessarily written with a common audience in mind could reveal some interesting things about how information moves from one type of genre, form, and time period to another.  It brings to mind the concept of the meme as Richard Dawkins described it.  Rather than thinking of discrete authors writing from some wellspring of creativity, I think analyses such as these would reveal the recursivity of elements from one text to another.  Actually, this seems to be just circling back to what we already do as scholars of a particular period so perhaps the comparison is conservative more than anything.