Intimidating and Serene

Class notes February 18, 2013: “While reading hypertexts you are in a different words: initially stranded in one spot (in front of the screen) but things come to you, you do not go to it. You are unable to have control. Things have ideas; each link and page is a thing on its own)… Trust in the composition/body of the text, not the phenomenon of the writer’s brain matching your own brain while reading their words.”

When we read Hemingway or Baudelaire or Virginia Woolf or [insert modernist/great Canon literary figure here], we think of the author’s psyche and their work in relation to that psyche. We think of the author’s brilliance, the reverence, in attempt to steal something from them, be it a piece of their minds through their words or the way they form words on the page. With hypertexts, however, I have come to find that we cannot attempt to connect with the mind of the writer or composer (what they intended or the specific techniques they chose and why), but instead to look at the body of work as a living organism in itself. That is not to say that the authors and creators of hypertexts should not get the credit they deserve, but I might argue that they care more about the active experience of reading (this visual, non-static, always-moving experience) than the promotion of some specific, unalterable voice. Because both of the texts we had to read this week were all about alternations.

First, the “The Mandrake Vehicles” was all about the transformation of words and letters and the hidden messages that creep within. Approaching the text, I felt the seriousness of it: the stark black and white block of text squared off on the edges—and the sentiment of the word images matched the sentiment of the page image. With the lack of capitalization and the incessant use of parentheticals and punctuation, the passage drew such poignant attention to the words. It was a feeling of being stuck, like Oni Buchanan the work wanted you to not be able to escape the visceral, yet bizarrely delicate images and words it threw at you. I also literally shivered on page three of the text as the words slithered down the page like creepy-crawling ants, finding their seemingly-unordered place at the bottom of the screen. It was a visual effect like that in movies, reminding me of some magic trick that might be used in Harry Potter to illuminate some hidden message. When you aren’t supposed to understand everything (when you can’t read the cryptic, unfilled message), I realize you aren’t supposed to: it’s the experience of seeing. The emotional effect it has on you to see un-full prose turn into structured poetry: both intimidating and serene.

“The Unknown” was vastly different in both approach and experience. It was one of those works I looked at briefly and then immediately shut my computer, intimidated by the amount of underlined words on the page that I would somehow have to uncover (approaching it, of course, like a book to be read or a task to be completed). I then re-read my notes from class and put myself in the mindset of swimming. I began on the sort of philosophical first page (once again) and ventured out into the waters. As I proceeded, it got easier and easier. I found myself taking the essence of the various narratives on the page (reading much quicker than I normally do), eyes excited/stimulated by the underlined words, jumping to see which link/storyline/idea I would want to follow next. I navigated my way through the piece by those words, feeling unexplained resonance with random words that I peaked my interest in that moment. Going through the text I kept wanting to go faster, clicking on various words that I wanted to see the connection—I became obsessed, wanting to see what was behind doors that stood out to me (I have finally put behind the idea that I will be able to uncover every door).The hypertext gives you the feeling that there is no stone left unturned (a wild range of meaningful and meaningless tangents, equally meaningful) yet that there are no real stones to be upturned. Subconsciously I realized that it is both impossible to turn over every stone not only because of time and the threat to my sanity, but also because stones exist on one planar field. This was multi-dimensional, getting into the minds and words of both the authors and the characters on the page, as well as seeing visual post-cards (blue-cards) or pictures of their shenanigans. The story was not a series of re-writes, but of add-writes–a new possibility for experiencing a published work.



~ by khughes80 on February 24, 2013.

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