Rhizome-ing my Way Through (new) Hyper-textual Waters

While I am used to examining a written text for its argument or lyricism or theme or…(insert way of approaching a text “academically”), both Michael Joyce’s “Twelve Blue” and Judd Morrissey/Lori Talley’s “The Jew’s Daughter” beg for me to speak of them in terms of aesthetics or the subjective experience of reading them. (Note: the word experience is significant as it is the “process as much as the product” Jay David Bolter points to in his chapter on “Hypertext and the Remediation of Print.”)

So I begin here, thinking back to my troubling and disorienting experience of reading these texts—because of their “newness,” because of my inexperience, and because they are just plain “weird.”

I found that Joyce’s “Twelve Blue” was a lot easier for me to read than “The Jew’s Daughter.” The page itself was aesthetically pleasing, with the nice royal blue and the lighter blue serving as a sort of zen, calm home-base for the story—the background never changed and I could count on it, even as the navigation bar on the left did subtly (eerily) changed shapes. I was anxious at first; I thought, “What is the right way to read this?” Then the word rhizome “flashed on and off in defective neon” in my mind, reminding me of the fact that there is no “right” way to read this text, no hierarchal order from which to begin, progress, and ultimately end. Instead, I would merely start somewhere and take my own journey through the text—not tracing my way in attempt to connect the dots between the sections, but rather go through the text and let the connections wash over me and understand that everything connects even without the semblance of order. After approaching the text several times (I attempted to read it multiple times, eyes glazing over and giving up), it finally clicked and I was able to enjoy myself. I found that it was more the sort of eerie sadness that connected it all together; the carnival ride was especially emotive to me and bizarrely connected everyone and everything together in this evocative, tender moment.

After experiencing “Twelve Blue,” I thought I would be ready for “The Jew’s Daughter”—I was sorely wrong. The block of text (literally a perfect rectangle on the white page) was intimidating in an aesthetic sense. Attempting to read it was disorienting, rolling over the highlighted words, the text moving like waves. I felt both sea-sick and ship-wrecked, abandoned in some stark, black-and-white room but also like I was flowing—then jolting—through the water. While the text within the block was moving, I felt as though I was going nowhere since there was no turn of the page or hyperlink to another; I was stuck there.  I was constantly worried that I would miss something, that the text on the page would skip over and I was reading it “wrong.” As a person who is invested in language, this was a very scary thought—to miss words would be like vandalizing the art. But it wasn’t my doing—no, it was seemingly as if I was being directed, out of control. I would flow, using my system of just gliding over the words whenever I got there, letting the text change and attempting not to care; but then my rhythm would be cut off and the bottom of the page would not flow to the top. But as the essay on rhizome speaks to, order isn’t significant because there should be no hierarchy of lines. The beginning is not necessarily as important as the end because there is no beginning or end. Instead, I floated around, letting the words roll in some bizarre consciousness, staring at moving words on a screen.

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~ by khughes80 on February 10, 2013.

 
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