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2+2=5. The Poetics of Dyscalculia, or the Word and the Number in the Blind Spot of Digital Humanities

Susanne Strätling


Historically and systematically, the word and the number are closely related in many ways. The number often represents the stable, rational and literally calculable super-sign, while the word is associated with impermanence and indeterminacy. When the digital humanities convert texts into tables, they assume that more reliable and well-founded statements about literature can be made on the basis of numbers. But this conviction overlooks the fact that literature itself has written an extensive history of miscalculation. Indeed, literature counters the rampant numerical compulsion with an alternative – number dissidence. Using the example of the unequal equation 2+2=5, the article reconstructs this poetics of miscalculation.


digital humanities; dissidence; miscalculation; word-number relations; arithmetics; logometric; antinomic speech; literature and mathematics.

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Apparatus. ISSN 2365-7758