Signals, whether they travel across forty years or almost a hundred and fifty years, can get scrambled. The connection can become frayed, if not broken. Messages, mailed at one moment and intended for more or less immediate delivery, can, if delayed or misplaced when sent on, fail to arrive, or otherwise become degraded, subject to translations and ciphers for which they could not have been prepared. Everything depends on maintaining the network. And yet, the web of tissues, filaments and connections is not only always subject to interruptions, it is always in the process of being restructured, upgraded, redesigned, with different modes of delivery, different languages, protocols and so forth. The question is one of the transferability between operating systems. It concerns how what becomes transmitted to whom. If the media are encrypted in languages and according to protocols to which we no longer have access, how do we gain access? To what extent, Eliot might be read as wondering in Middlemarch, is the recent past as much a Rosetta Stone as some more distant relic, composed of sigla, glyphs, and hieratic signs, numerous.
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