Writing Machines is the course website for English 170L at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
We've all sort of put up a hue and cry here for some sort of, well, what Derrida might call a "center", or as Lulu and thisismycheese mentioned (both on the blog and in class), at least a table of contents.
We do, after all, get one in our books, on our websites, from blogs like this one. And not having it in a hypertext was (is) a bit unsettling.
And that uneasiness is something that Joyce seems to lash out against. It's something he believes we shouldn't be unsettled by. See his railery against Yahoo and alta vista, or his condescension towards library patrons who read the catalog entries and tables of contents more "than they read from the volumes themselves" (54). In fact, he goes even further: "The notion that editors are 'necessary' to filter out the mass of information insists upon a hierarchy of information and implies one of human beings" (54). It's really terribly radical: he's not calling for a generation of pacifist hippies, he's calling for militant communists. Joyce wants to take away the power position of a publisher, of an "expert", of whoever it is that writes the introductions to critical collections. He wants all of us to go back to reading and discovering on our own, in our own time, on our own, un-influenced terms.
But then, as Frabby and others have pointed out, Joyce does away with the power of the external editor only to exercise more power of his own. Without that curtailing influence, he expands to fill the vacuum himself. He wants to get rid of the tyranny of the editors--he wants people to read without being dictated to about the meaning of the subject matter--but he doesn't dream of putting the reader on the level of the author. Maybe that's where his argument falls through--maybe that's where his anti-web paranoia gets the better of him. He wants a democracy--but only if he can control it.