How is the Flood like the Tower of Babel?

Poe wrote on both!

Wait, shit, thats not right…

For real though, I think I finally figured it out: both are are stories about losing your frame of reference, of being so completely overwhelmed with splashings and speakings that you throw up your hands and cast the Jinx of Pork on your grandson because, hey, fuck it.

Okay, now that I’ve got (most of) the snark out of my system, lets talk hypertext, namely Twelve Blue and The Jew’s Daughter. Reading these works felt like drowning (as Twelve Blue was ever so kind and subtle to point out). I described in my previous blog post how My Body made me feel lost and confused, meandering from page to page with only the lightest and often overlapping causal linkages. This week’s readings were that times a hundred. Featuring a stated 96 pages (a number I didn’t even try to verify) Twelve Blue’s in-text links carried me forward through an line after line of abstract prose with only cursory lip service to establishing the setting, characters, plot–or anything really–of the stories I was reading. Instead I was thrown into deep end, trying to assemble a raft of coherent narrative from whatever often-recycled non-sequential story fragments floated my way. There were intersections, branches, dead ends, loops, and that infuriatingly enigmatic imprecise navigation sidebar (okay, I’ll concede that it was probably a very intelligently designed sidebar, but I personally found it irreducibly complex). Clearly, Joyce’s stories are not a stream meant to be parsed precisely, but rather a kegger to be chugged holistically.

The Jew’s Daughter takes this experience of cognitive deluge a step further. Joyce implements his narrative linked list at the structural level; Morrisey does him one better by implementing it at the prose level. As the reader progresses blocks and lines of text are transformed without any apparent pattern. The new text can relate to an entirely different scene or subject, yet is seamlessly inserted into the pre-esixting text, sometimes spliced into the middle of sentences. As Prof. Bianco said, hypertext heightens our awareness of having been conditioned to read physical codexes. With a codex there is a proscribed progression: left to right, top to bottom, first before last. But the Jew’s Daughter does not abide by these rules, resulting in the reader drifting fluidly from partial scene to partial scene in a dreamlike deja vu laden trance that is constantly broken by bursts of new stimuli that pull the eye up or down against its habitual flow.

I’ll be honest: I didn’t enjoy the hypertext readings. I don’t know how to enjoy a hypertext narrative. Just as the people of Genesis were suddenly deprived of their geographical and orthographical reference points, I’m completely lost when reading anything other than a codex. I was good at that codex shit man.


~ by Freddie on February 10, 2013.

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