Regarding Group 1’s Presentation in Week 2 – Hypertext

“My Body”

Here are a few things to think about in relation to this work as a dynamic hypertext:

  • Do all the extra features and interactivity of the text detract from the narrative?
  • How do the images serve as “markers”– how do we learn to use them to help determine how much we have read?
  • Can the same terminology apply to a hypertext, or do we have to invent new literary terms? Ex. is an “unreliable narrator” the same as it is in print as it is online?
  • Is it easier to know the “tone” of a piece or the tone of the author because they can use text and images to their advantage. How can this also mislead readers?
  • Does the form have a deeper symbolic meaning? Ex. does discovering her body in a jumbled way say something about how we form body image?
  • Did you have any other expectations because it was an electronic text? Ex. were you expecting a video or visual piece at the end of the story? Did it disappoint in any way? How do readers have different expectations when reading in print?  What happened when you tried to click a hyperlink and it didn’t take you to another page? Did this detract from the narrative or did it add symbolic meaning?
  • Do certain types of narratives render themselves better to the hypertext format? Or can all genres be converted to a hypertext?
  • When reading a hypertext, to what extent do we try (as readers) to morph it into a written text, For instance, do we pretend we are reading a book, or are we always aware of this digital medium. Will we read it any better or any differently if we try to read it as a written text? How or when do we become most conscious of the medium? How may the author choose to make his readers aware or ignorant to the medium?

Hope this incites some great thought and helps everyone with their projects.

-Jasleen Singh

The majority of our group’s discussion centred around the issues and anxieties we found whilst doing this week’s reading and exploring the rest of the collections. Such a new and radical way of presenting and reading the thing we are accustomed to calling ‘literature’ led to many more questions than answers (which can only be a good thing).

Personally, I found fascinating the final question that Jasleen brings up, about whether such texts might work better in print, if at all, and vice versa. In her article about Media-Specific Analysis, Katherine Hayles emphasises the fact that hypertext fiction could in fact be in print as well as on a computer. The examples she gives immediately brought to my mind the Oulipo group (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oulipo) whose name stands for “workshop of potential literature.” This group included writers alongside mathematicians who arrived practically together with the dawn of computing. A quick browse of their ‘canon’ reveals use of algorithmic techniques as well as formal constraints to produce literature. For notable examples see ‘Yours for the Telling’ by Raymond Queneau and perhaps his most famous, ‘Cent Mille Milliards de poèmes’. The Oulipo’s works seem to be precursor’s to this electronic literature, with the use of computer processes and logic as an inspiration to their print literature. Certainly, I would see an electronic version of ‘Cent Mille Milliards de poèmes’ as the definitive one, giving  totally random nature to it (see: http://www.bevrowe.info/Queneau/QueneauRandom_v4.html).

In the final chapter of Hayles’ book ‘Electronic Literature’, she gives examples (including our favourite ‘House of Leaves’) of how “digital technologies have completely interpenetrated the printing process” both through their creation but also through two ways that she names as “imitation” and “intensification” (Hayles 163). The former means print works that have characteristics of digital texts; while the latter is described as “declaring allegiance to print” through the enhancement of characteristics unique to that medium (162). Print novels, Hayles argues, are becoming more and more influenced by the digital through the use of various types of codes and other reminiscences of digitality actually printed and used as a device in these stories. Her conclusion is that “books will not disappear, but neither will they escape the effects of the digital technologies that interpenetrate them” which is a statement I am inclined to agree with.

P.S. Apologies for the perhaps disjointed structure of my post, I just wanted to give a more in-depth idea of one of the specific thoughts we discussed in our group.

P.P.S. Check this: http://i.imgur.com/CMOGT.jpg

– Paul Simpson

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