Node 1: Charting
The *system* is the art, not the output, not the visual screen, and not
the code. I want to let the data express itself in the most beautiful
--Net artist Lisa Jevbratt, in Alex
"Perl is My Medium"
- From its very inception, hypertext has had the question of its
ontological difference from analog text as one of its core themes.
Indeed, from the earlier wave of critics such as George Landow, Michael
Joyce, Jay David Bolter, Stuart Moulthrop, and Jane Yellowlees Douglas to
the more recent work of Raine Koskimaa, Terry Harpold, Espen Aarseth,
Mark Poster, and N. Katherine Hayles, virtually the entire history of
hypertext criticism and hypertext itself has played out in terms of this
very question. Generally organized in units called nodes or packets and
interconnected through links--a syntactic, structural, and distinctive
feature anticipated within the visionary labor of Vannevar Bush and Ted
Nelson--hypertext is stationed upon the problem of itself as a discrete
form of textuality. Despite its
claims for difference and the claims of a great deal of hypertext
criticism for the same, I must say from the outset that it is not
possible to locate a strict or fundamental difference in the metaphysical
sense: this mode of distinction must always be fated and any binary that
is constructed between the analog and digital is bound to be unraveled or
dissolved. There cannot be a metaphysical or ontological difference
between the analog and the digital, and yet it cannot be denied that
something different happens when one works with, even performs,
hypertext: the difference this difference makes is the problem that
concerns me and hypertext itself.
Up to this point, the question of what constitutes a difference between
the analog and digital--with regard to language, text, material
substrate, modality, reader, or author--has been answered at length in
practical, rather than theoretical terms. While a certain reduction is
required to do so, we can discern a significant divide within critical
commentary thus far between those commentaries holding that the digital
an epistemological break, and those holding that the digital extends,
amplifies, or overlaps with the analog, or even that these categories are
not adequate to describe textual properties that extend across media.
Whether the line between the two is fixed, fluid, or obliterated, the two
sides share the same inclination toward practical, functional standards.
So, the question of the difference of digital textuality has tended to
produce a standard litany of responses, whether in the mode of elegy or
- Different media produce different readers, different reading
environments, and different reading practices;
- The book retains a kind of democracy by virtue of print technology and
public libraries, while the computer is technologically and economically
elitist; or, the digital retains a kind of democracy by virtue of its
circumvention of the modern institutions of publishing and circulation,
while the book is bound to the elitist institution of the school;
- The modern figure of the author is no longer a tenable idea in the face
of WYSIWYG editors and web rings; or the author persists as an
author-function, a juridical category preserved by the renewed attention
to copyright and the ownership of digital information;
- The digital text is non-linear, open while the analog is closed, and
interactive; or, the analog is itself non-linear and interactive, from
the I Ching and "Choose your own adventure stories" through
to artists' books and the novels of Julio Cortazar, Italo Calvino, and
- Computers have displaced, even killed off, the cultural authority and
relevance of the book; or, the beauty and sensuality of the book can
never be equaled by the flat pixels of the screen because the book
maintains voice, presence, and materiality;
- The analog book is the repository of canonical cultural value; or,
despite its connection to the archive, the digital book can never be a
repository at all, much less bear the weight of culture--it is too
ephemeral, too closely aligned with the dot-coms, too prone to
fluctuations and arbitrary standards of evaluation and appreciation.
Critical treatment of the discrete and particular qualities of digital
textuality is by this point quite extensive and even ubiquitous: it has
been played out in such widely-divergent forums as the notable "Culture
and Materiality" conference at UC Davis (1998), online forums at
FEED and Wired magazines, chat settings,
academic syllabi, and mainstream newspapers. These debates may not
reiterate the exact terms that I have outlined, but they share a
fundamental set of criteria: authorship, reading, the physicality of the
book, the materiality of language, data access, utility and ease of use,
speed and temporality, narratological form, and cultural value. As the
noted hypertext critic and author Michael Joyce remarks on the
distinctiveness of electronic textuality and his critical project that
culminated with the recent Othermindedness: "[my work has
been] an attempt to isolate a distinctive quality of the experience of
rereading in hypertext. The claim that hypertext fiction depends upon
rereading (or the impossibility of ever truly doing so) for its effects is
likewise a claim that the experience of this new textuality is somehow not
reproducible in the old" ("Nonce" 586). In the end,
reproducibility is the de facto or most significant criteria for the
distinctiveness of hypertextuality for Joyce; that is to say, it is the
irreproducible and even unfixable effect that makes difference
paradoxically manifest. He goes on to claim that "It is not a literary
stratagem but a matter of fact that the particular experience of the new,
albeit parallel textuality of reading hypertexts is somehow not
reproducible in the old" (588), but the general differences in
hypertextual writing and reading ("wreading") practices that he describes,
signified as well with shifts in his own prose, are not obviously "new,"
and rereading as such can easily be named as inherent to language
processing itself. Without a precise neurological map of cognitive
functions, in fact, the irreducible difference of rereading hypertextually
cannot be situated as a "matter of fact" at all. It is more compelling
and accurate to argue, as he hints, that "differences show as differences
are allowed" (587), differences which he locates in the practice
of (re)reading hypertextually. Moreover, his emphasis on the uniterable,
untranslatable "experience of this new textuality" highlights
what for me is a crucial component of the performance of hypertext: the
connection and interaction between the user-operator and the
machinic-operator, both language processors, but of a different order.
Within a different critical context, Mark Poster, although not
over-invested in the idea of specifying an epistemological break,
nevertheless suggests that the analog and the digital belong to
fundamentally different material regimes of authorship and that the
emergence of digital writing was anticipated by Foucault: in both are
the author's presence and reference to a founding creator eliminated. In Poster's analysis, books offer a
technology of the analog because they reflect and reproduce the author.
Moreover, technologies affect practices, and a shift in the material mode
of inscription from paper to the computer thus elicits a re-articulation
of the author-function (and, more widely for other critics, a
re-articulation of the meaning of literacy). But his more extensive claim holds that the
differences between the analog and the digital can be delineated in terms
of copyright and ownership, spatial fluidity, the materiality of the
medium, and a shift in the trace (What's the Matter 78, 92-3,
100). With respect to
the last, to argue for a shift in the trace is to say that with
digitalization, the material form of language changes: electric language
severs, in the last instance, reference to a phonetic alphabetic code
that Poster reads as analog and not digital (81-2). Alphabets, though, are themselves digital--Greek
letters, for example, are units that do not bear resemblance to either
sounds or things--and thus the binary Poster establishes begins to
founder. So, how exactly has the material form of the trace changed and
become destabilized in the transition from print to digital? How exactly
can one register the difference between analog and digital through the
material dimension of language or linguistic systems of reference?
One great utopian promise of much hypertext criticism has been that the
reader is in charge of ordering the information in front of her on the
screen in a manner quantitatively and qualitatively distinct from the
page and in a manner that constitutes authorship in its own right. Such
a promise is worthy of further scrutiny not simply on the basis of its
untenability, which Aarseth has exposed in his typology of cybertext by
noting that reading and writing, using and developing, are spatially,
temporally, physically, and epistemologically distinct activities. This
illustrative promise of difference is worthy of further scrutiny, though,
because it stations, receives, reads, and classifies the digital in terms
of the analog. It in fact preconceives, preorchestrates, and preordains
hypertext in terms of analog textuality. It traps the digital within the
purview of print, and, without a mode to emerge on its own terms, digital
textuality stands to be erased from its very beginnings. Why, after all, should the digital exist in the
world of the analog? Such an imprisonment dissolves its difference in
the world of the analogical; it calls an end to the performance of its
difference before it is permitted to announce itself as such. This is
not a call, I should note, to exaggerate context: I have no particular
stake in the historical bounding of digitization evinced by the claim
that the category and mythology of the author in the modern period is
bound to print technology. But it is to say that the quest to situate
metaphysical difference and sameness alike--George Landow's vision of
hypertext as performing, if not the literal death of the author then at
least a literal evacuation, for example--cannot provide the terms we need
to think about difference. The
problem is a difficult one, and it is not for nothing that hypertext
theory often breaks down and dissolves into almost-impossible and
nonsensical abstraction at the point at which it attempts to make clear
distinctions between page and screen. Witness Mark Amerika on the
experience and "being" of hypertext: "Rather, hypertextual
consciousness will not have been a book (real or potential) due to its
mediumistic discharge into the foundation of cyborgian life-forms whose
'archi-texture' is the deterritorialized domain we call virtual reality"
certain covering over of a conceptual gap is almost
inevitably found within the claims for the special status of hypertext.
The search for difference has produced valuable heuristics and compelling
insights along the way, from Poster and Hayles (both following in part
Friedrich Kittler's Discourse Networks, 1800/1900), and from
Jay David Bolter's early analysis of the ever-alterable digital writing
space, to Steven Johnson's more recent analysis of the empirical
component of writing and the somatic adjustment to the machine. But the
question of a theoretical difference, of a difference in kind and not in
degree, is as yet unanswered.
The problem of ontological difference can be initially displaced with an
investigation of the ways in which hypertext fiction and hypermedia
(primarily net art) have themselves handled the problem of their own
difference, how they have imagined themselves as a distinctive form of
textuality, precisely because they are strongly concerned with both
theorizing and aestheticizing themselves, unlike primarily communicative
and informational modes of writing (e.g., CNN.com). Digital textuality,
or what I am calling hypertext, functions partly by creating itself as a
discrete textual object, by referring to itself as itself. Instances of the use of self-referentiality as such
a stylistic and thematic marker are too numerous to catalogue in their
entirety, but examples can be found in Matthew Miller's Trip
("No leads, no help, no future, no way.... We had no money, and almost no
direction.... Better to know where you're going than to know where you
are"); M. D. Coverley's "Fibonacci's Daughter" ("and you, dear reader, did
you expect a map?"); Shelley Jackson's Eastgate novel, Patchwork
Girl ("I can see only that part most immediately before me and
have no sense of how that part relates to the rest"; "I sense a
reluctance when I tow a frame forward into view.... I will show you the
seductions of sequence and then I will let the aperture close"); Jane
Yellowlees Douglas's Eastgate novel, I have said nothing ("He
can't seem to get the narrative order of events quite right"); Linda
Carroli and Josephine Wilson's water always writes in plural
("But I fear that waiting will be extinguished by the pursuit of pure
speed, flat and undiscerning"); or, Judy Malloy's l0ve 0ne
("the room appeared to have no exits").
- In its tendency toward
self-referentiality and self-ironicization, hypertext participates in the
stylistic, linguistic, and formal games played out in what is variously
categorized as the literature of chaos, meta-fiction, or postmodernity:
Julio Cortazar's and Ana Castillo's chapter orderings in
Hopscotch and The Mixquiahuala Letters,
respectively; Donald Barthelme's interruption of Snow White
with a questionnaire for reader-response; the novelistic fragments in
Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler; the problem of
closure in Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters, and others;
linguistic hybridity and fragmentation in Joyce's Ulysses
and Finnegans Wake; the self-referentiality and attention to
the mechanical process of narrative transmission in Art Spiegelman's
Maus I and II; and the often-cited
meta-criticism of Borges's fiction. Because hypertext emerges out of
postmodern fiction and uses a similar set of symbols, it is unlikely that
its allegorizing structure and systems of reference would be materially
different. It is not simply that hypertext is inherently about itself in
a postmodern or metafictional mode, however, but that it has constituted
itself around the problem of its difference; self-referentiality is not
just another or exchangeable move in the game, but a necessary move.
Katherine Hayles, following an unpublished MS by J. Yellowlees Douglas,
similarly remarks upon the distinguishing rhetorical and formal properties
of hypertexts, a category that she outlines so that it includes the media
of print and the computer. She delineates hypertext in terms of three
central components: "multiple reading paths; text that is chunked
together in some way; and some kind of linking mechanism that connects the
chunks together so as to create multiple reading paths" ("Transformation"
21). Acknowledging that the
distinction between print and electronic texts is not inviolate, she goes
on to note that "the boundary is to be regarded as heuristic, operating
not as a rigid barrier but a borderland inviting playful forays that test
the limits of the form by modifying, enlarging, or transforming them"
("Print" 6). Artists' books--one of her primary
examples of texts that illustrate a formal connection between print and
electronic hypertexts--and children's pop-up books are in fact able to
stretch the medium of print to its limits, but they are not able to
exploit the resources of language in the way that code is able to do. In
contrast, Hayles comments on the "significant" differences in narrative
between print and electronic texts with a claim that does not
necessarily exclude print artists' books such as Tom Phillips's A
Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel from the category of hypertext:
"In electronic hypertext fiction, narrative takes shape as a network of
possibilities rather than a preset sequence of texts" ("Transformation"
21). My argument here is that different modalities of
textual performance must necessarily lead to the classification
of print-precursors as precisely that: precursors and not hypertext per
se. Digital textuality is able to achieve a spatial and temporal fluidity
precisely because it is able to activate and manipulate the resources and
complexity entrapped within language itself. Within analog text these
spatial and temporal resources remain present, but only as potential and
My thesis thus proposes that hypertext must be conceived in terms of
performance and that approaching the problem of a difference between the
analog and the digital must be done in a mode through which digital
textuality can emerge on its own terms. To that end, this essay proposes a theory of
practice for hypertext by articulating its form and aspect of performance,
a performance that functions to separate the digital from the analog. To
link hypertext writing to the play of performance is also to allude to the
mechanism of high-performance computing, the linking of computers and
computer networks for the purposes of performing complex tasks. It is also
to speak of this writing as a map that produces its object rather than one
that replicates pre-traced structures. Such a focus on writing and
textuality need not evade, obscure, or evaporate the materiality and
material substrate of the text, as Mark Hansen argues in Embodying
Technesis. The materiality of the medium and the technological
substrate, primarily the chip, cannot be over-emphasized, but it is
important to remark as well that we are still dealing with texts whose
materiality lies in the modality of its own structure and performance, in
its code. In this sense, we do not have a hyper-discursivity, but a
materiality of hypertext that itself cannot be fixed, especially insofar
as there is no "tape" per se. Echoing Clement Greenburg's construal of
modernist art, isolating the medium tends in the last instance both to
revive the distinction between matter and information and to locate
materiality and specificity in the physical components of the medium.
However, the machinic component of the text cannot be disregarded or
distilled: all texts are performative in some way but this does not mean
that there is a not a significant change when the medium changes. As
Anne-Marie Boisvert similarly notes, "in the reading of hypertext, the
necessary, if not enforced relationship with the machine can't be long
Put more directly, both operator and machinic processor are crucial
components of the performance of the system. The performance that
encompasses user and the machinic system is an interactive one and to
some degree collaborative. Further, the performance collapses processing
and product, ends and means, input and output, within a system of
"making" that is both complex and emergent. My task in this article is thus to
articulate a mode of understanding hypertext in terms of two components
of performance: that of the user and that of the system. The latter
suggests the processing done by the computer, which itself performs or is
even performative, and the former suggests the performance of the user
who operates as a functioning mechanism in the text, an idea whose
genealogy includes performance art's situation and inclusion of the
viewer within its boundaries, as well as the literary theorizations of
the reader in terms of interaction, encounter, agonistic struggle,
dialogue, and experience. As Jim
Rosenberg notes of the synergy of agent and the constructivism of code:
"the code might act as a *coparticipant* in the constructive act... [but]
one constructs with and against and amongst code" (qtd. in Calley,
"Pressing"). In this sense, the interactivity of the viewer is
a functioning instrument in the work. We can say, then, that the
experience of digital textuality is different from that of
analog. In that it bears a certain similarity to the temporal and
empirical structures of performance art, digital textuality is itself a
The difference as such between hypertext and text, therefore, is not
ontologically discernible and is locatable only in effect. Indeed, it
is precisely that which cannot be revealed in the analog sense: its
difference cannot be located in analog code, but only in digital. To
conceive of this difference within the discursive frame of the
analogical, in other
words, is to frame it in terms under which it cannot emerge. The texts
produced from HTML coding manuals--including those produced in other
digital platforms and with other manuals and coding languages--are
linked neither metaphysically nor ontologically, but through embedded
practice, codes that ascribe a certain relation among them on the basis
of their performance. Hypertext optimally performs a different order of
code, then, one that cannot be demonstrated metaphysically, but that can
be analyzed in terms of complexity and emergence, that moment when the
system programs and operates itself. Complexity appears as a discourse
and occasional metaphor within hypertext criticism (e.g., in the rhetoric
of dynamic systems, breakdowns, and so forth), but we need to move beyond
this rhetoric and address complexity and emergence as paradoxically
concrete. Complexity and emergence are not metaphors in my analysis but
are instead scientific phenomena--aspects of hypertextuality and thus an
inherent part of a logical system. Neither is quantifiable, which lends
an even greater force to my locating them as non-locatable systemic
In a complex system, the addition of discrete units does not equal the
combined effect of the units; the sum is greater than the interactive
parts. When discrete computers are linked to form a complex system, one
cannot know in advance what the networked system will do. It is
also impossible to predict in advance what the effects and significance
of one alteration to the system will be. All one can know is that the
system will be different. As John Holland, the inventor of genetic
algorithms, notes of complex, generated systems: "The interactions
between the parts are nonlinear; so the overall behavior cannot
be obtained by summing the behaviors of the isolated components... more
comes out than was put in" (225).
Emergent properties, however, produce recurrent and persistent patterns
in generated systems, as with weather patterns (42-5, 225-31). These properties and behaviors are
internal to the system itself, and they are capable of producing
auto-generative moments of self-organization, i.e., systemic states or
systemic output that emerges without external input. "Evolutionary
computation," or genetic or automatic programming, is the means by which
this mode of artificial intelligence is achieved (Tenhaaf). A recent Katherine Hayles article points the way
toward articulating the relationship between performativity and
complexity in terms of emergent behavior. In "Simulating Narratives:
What Virtual Creatures Can Teach Us," she also reads Poster's manuscript
on analog and digital textuality and transposes textuality into virtual
realities. For Hayles, analogical relations are structured on a depth
model; that is, the analogical requires links between the surface and
depth units (13). For the analogical, complex codes produce a simple
surface, and here we might think of the mythology of the Author that
holds that a kind of complex interiority lends the text its depth. For
the digital, on the other hand, a complex surface is produced by
underlying simple models.
There are moments, then, when a complex system formulates itself into an
operating system, when the system becomes so complex as autotelically to
run itself, or to program itself to solve problems. That a system whose
future state is unpredictable and indeterminate until it actually emerges
and comes into being should bear a certain connection to hypertext has
been provisionally suggested by Hayles in a different context: "The
actual narrative comes into existence (emerges globally) in conjunction
with a specific reading" ("Artificial" 213). More apropos to my analysis,
however, is her suggestion in the same article
that a hypertext program is a "self-organizing system" capable of
undergoing "spontaneous mutation" autotelically or collaboratively with
other users (218). While she notes that print texts
might require a similar syntactic organization, she also notes a
difference in degree by extolling the "pay-off in redescribing spaces of
encoding/decoding through the dynamics of self-organization [which] is
obviously greater for electronic media rather than for printed words.
When the words have lost their material bodies and become information,
they move fast" (215). The difference in degree is
reiterated in her claim that reader, technology, and text are all
mutually and simultaneously constitutive "in a deeper, more interactive
sense than is true of print texts" (214). The notion of
self-organization, though, achieves its critical apotheosis in her
analysis of "flickering signifiers" in How We Became
Posthuman, wherein she articulates the differences in the material
functioning and appearance of language:
Such "metamorphoses" and "transformations" can be conceptually
reprogrammed to include emergent behavior, which, like complexity, is a
manifestation or quality of a system that cannot be thought of as summated
as a whole or in terms of its component parts. It is that which
cannot be fixed with any degree of totality, precision, or accuracy, that
which cannot really be captured at all. Because it is not possible to
locate the moment that brings together the computer units to produce
something new, the quantum shift that changes the structure and system,
complexity is itself not locatable. Nor can complexity be metaphysically
demonstrated; it exists only in action, in performance, in terms of the
influence of one component part over another. To remove its performance
is to take away its difference; it is as if the computers were returned
to their discrete units. That difference, the performance, is the trace,
a moment in which hypertext itself performs. The operative difference of
hypertext can only be revealed in the performing and tracing of itself,
in its own instantiation. This, then, is the trace performance of
hypertextuality--an argument in terms of performance rather than
[Flickering signifiers are] characterized by their tendency toward
attenuations, and dispersions. Flickering signifiers signal an important
shift in the plate tectonics of language.... When a text presents itself
as a constantly refreshed image rather than a durable inscription,
transformations can occur that would be unthinkable if matter or energy,
rather than information patterns formed the primary basis for the
systemic exchanges. (30)
oil on canvas
© Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
- The exemplary illustrative device for digital practice is the
anamorphic, a visual trick of perspective based on hidden codes and
structures of signification. Apart from its theorizing by Lacan and
Zizek, anamorphosis has been important for hypertext critics such as
Aarseth because of its reliance on visual perception, labor, and the
active production of the text. For my purposes, Jasper Johns's anamorphic
painting Flags (1965) is the ideal visual emblem for the
trace performance of hypertext.
Johns's painting of the two flags (one orange, black, and green, and the
other monochromatic until the red, white, and blue colors are optically
projected) is an illustration of the trace in that the anamorphic allows
for meaning, the second flag, to appear. To perform Johns's painting and
allow it--Flags--to emerge, one cannot hold both objects,
both flags, in view simultaneously or analogically. Meaning happens in
the exchange, but the exchange can never be fixed--it just happens.
Meaning exists in the interplay between the two flags. As with Nam June
Paik's multi-screen video installations, Johns moves into the realm of the
untotalizable: neither a stable spectatorial position nor a fixed meaning
is available. To fix on one image, one flag, one screen, one layer, is
to exclude the others. Although the perspectival optics of the postmodern
aesthetic require that the reader-viewer hold all of the various
fragmented semiotic parts in her mind before she assembles them into a
whole, we do not have a consciousness or mode of perception that would
allow us to view the work as a complete whole. Flags is in
fact a proto-hypertext, situated in a space between text and hypertext and
gesturing toward a hypermedia effect. To say that hypertext is an effect
is to name exactly the play that Johns knows: both flags cannot be held in
the same moment of the sign. One flag must be there opaquely for the
other to emerge; one flag cannot come into being without the other; one
flag is marked only by losing the other. This is the performance aspect
and modality of hypertext. It
cannot be denied that something different happens when we work with
hypertext, but we cannot fix what that something is--it exists as effect,
as the trace. To describe it verbally is to destroy its effect, again
because it cannot be placed within the analogical, but only in the mode of
its performance--its location, not locatable in the metaphysical sense, is
thus under erasure. The nodes that follow in this article--Combinatorial
Writing, An-anamorphosis, and
Linking--will be a continued displaying and
situating of this new aspect of performance in the digital terms of
hypertext. However, given the temporal acceleration and mass diffusion of
hypermedia production, notwithstanding the collection work performed by
journals, meta-lists, and installations, my analysis of digital practice
cannot claim to be totalizing, comprehensive, or even complete. True to
my own thematic, such a clear picture of the state of digital textuality
can only be an unrealizable fantasy.
Node 2: Combinatorial Writing
And so I spent whole days taking apart and putting back together my
puzzle; I invented new rules for the game, I drew hundreds of patterns,
in a square, a rhomboid, a star design; but some essential cards were
always left out, and some superfluous ones were always there in the
midst. The patterns became so complicated (they took on a third
dimension, becoming cubes, polyhedrons) that I myself was lost in them.
--Italo Calvino, The Castle of Crossed
Combinatorial writing in a digital environment often involves the use of
new technologies to literalize, make visible, or otherwise animate the
themes and stylistic features of contemporary writing. Perl scripting is a dominant mode of generating
these texts practically and theoretically produced on the fly, and
prominent examples include the cut-ups of Dadaism and William S.
Burroughs, the permutational play of Raymond Queneau's Exercises in
Style, a story in about one hundred variations, and Italo
Calvino's tarot card literature machine in The Castle of Crossed
Destinies, a text that partly informs Solitaire
(Thorington), which is at once game, program, and story. These literature machines are essentially
machines for generating texts according to a pre-existing code or
procedure. But what words, phrases, events, or combination of words,
phrases, and events, is necessary for a story to emerge, or for the
system to change? I emphasize "story" here because much permutational or
combinatorial writing--after the early experimentation with animating and
translating the work of those such as Burroughs, Tristan Tzara, and the
Oulipo movement--has been in the mode of narrative. These machinic story
programs, also framed as participatory, collaborative, and interactive,
function by addition and accretion. One enters the database, alters the material
therein, and leaves behind a record of the visit in the form of an added
phrase, an added word, an added twist in the narrative, or a completed
and signed story. The interactive text network Assoziations-Blaster is
one such example: "Anyone, including you, is allowed to contribute to the
text database," it advertises, "so with your contribution you can help to
build up a non-linear map of all things that exist." As a contributory
visit to one of these sites can attest, language and narrative gaming in
the particular context of hypertext fiction--assembling words and phrases
into a whole--can be read as terroristic in the Lyotardian
sense that every combination of phrases, every reading and
writing, stands to cancel out other phrases and produce a kind of
homogeneity, singularity, and univocality as a result (often puerile in
content). But such combinatorial
language gaming also operates on the principle of complexity: it, too,
is a system based on accrual whose principal is that of the network and
whose outcomes are unknowable and not univocal or totalizable. The
semiotic effects of addition, accretion, and linking in such a system
will be unpredictably magnified.
When André Breton began l'écriture automatique, he
could not have predicted what the outcome of his performance was to be. Automatic writing is Roland Barthes's
scriptorial project made visual, performative in that the text comes into
being at the moment of its digital birth. Michael Joyce draws a comparison similar to mine
between hypertext and the performative: "Electronic texts present
themselves in the medium of their dissolution. They are read where they
are written; they are written as they are read" (Of Two
Minds 235). While Aarseth
takes issue with this mode of collapse of reader and writer by insisting
on their ideological, epistemological, and geographic separation, the
first part of Joyce's claim strikes the chord of performance, as well as
of dissolution, destruction, and a failure of realization and completion.
In these terms we can also understand the moment of the digital text's
emergence--its coming into being at the moment of its performance. Such
an understanding of language almost released from the subject has
resonated strongly within hypertext criticism. Indeed, it is the condition
of possibility for the argument in favor of the liberatory potential of
hypertext, which is imagined to follow in the wake of Barthes's reading of
the text as "that social space that leaves no language safe or untouched,
that allows no enunciative subject to hold the position of judge, teacher,
analyst, confessor, or decoder" (81).
Hypertext has been read as the fulfillment of the promise of contemporary
critical theories of the death of the author, the network, the supplanting
of the work by the text. Although skepticism about the rhetoric of the
exemplum is necessary, the link between high theory and digital textuality
is in fact already embedded in hypertext and media art, as it is Bill
Seaman's Red Dice, which recasts Stéphane
Mallarmé's "Dice Thrown Will Never Annul Chance"/ "Un coup de
discussion jamais n'abolira le hasard" and combines techno-soundtrack,
spoken text and images of old technology so as to produce and meditate
upon the problematic of "new writing," "computer-mediated poetic
The explanatory system of reference has thus necessarily expanded beyond
and prior to hypertext criticism and theory, and digital textuality has
been conceived as a "docuverse" (Nelson), montage (after Eisenstein),
collage (Landow, Jameson), "an evolving virtual electronic collage"
(Gaggi 138), recombination or "utopian plagiarism" (Critical Art
Ensemble), assemblage (Talan Memmott), and as a "virtual graft" (Bill
Seaman). Nearly all suggest the impossibility of synthesizing the parts
into a complete and totalizable whole capable of being apprehended by the
mode of perception and consciousness available to us now. However, the
new media technologies have brought us to a point whereby collage is not
simply a "feeble name" for the assemblage of discontinuous parts--as
Jameson suggests in the context of his reading of Nam June Paik's video
installations, which he uses as an illustrative example for the geometral
optics of the postmodern aesthetic, practiced by viewers who try
impossibly to "see all the screens at once, in their radical and random
difference" (31). Collage, also, is
too material for a postmodern aesthetic and digital textuality alike.
Complexity, in my analysis, is not a substitutive metaphor for collage
but an inherent part of the system of hypertext itself. In this sense,
it speaks to the liminal moment we inhabit between the consideration of
hypertext as a genre, in terms of its formal and stylistic properties,
and the consideration of new computer and scientific technologies and
ideas, both as they are incorporated into electronic writing and as
artifacts that themselves have effects and properties, such as autonomous
behavior, that are inherent to the system of hypertext.
John Cayley uncannily invokes the themes of performance and complexity
with respect to compositional programming: "It points to an area of
potential literature which is radically indeterminate (not simply the
product of chance operations); which has some of the qualities of
performance (without departing from the silence of reading)" ("Beyond"
183). Computer-generated and processed texts, for Cayley,
allow for an innovative and even subversive
departure from the standard node-link model of hypertextual
composition--an escape into potentiality. Cayley persuasively argues that the "digital
instantiation" of his work makes for substantive, "non-trivial
differences" between his text-generation procedures and those of Emmett
Williams, Jackson Mac Low and John Cage, all of which achieve a
relative fixity through print: "any aleatory or 'chance operation'
aspect of such work is only fully realized in a publication
medium which actually displays immediate results of the aleatory
procedure(s). Such works should, theoretically, never be the same from
one reading to the next (except by extraordinary chance)" ("Beyond" 173).
The use of transformational or generative algorithms in his work results
in texts that, in a significant sense, program and emerge from themselves.
As he says of one component of Indra's Net, chance
operations and the accrual of data input mean that "the procedure
'learns' new collocations and alters itself" (180).
What is it about hypertext, then, that lends itself to the discussion of
accrual, connectionism, the combinatorial, networks, patterns, the
scriptorial, classification? As
Ted Nelson writes of "transclusion," the document per se is made up of
the sum of parts materially located in different documents. The terrain
of the document is marked by "transclusive quotation"--additive,
inclusive content blocks assembled together and treated in the moment of
reading as if they were isolate, closed or shut off from other, similar
documents. That is, hypertext
works by connection, assemblage, and combination--by connecting content
blocks, phrases, phrase regimes, nodes, computers, programs, and lines of
code. It is not about signification but mapping: not ordering, tracing,
and fixing, but transmission, relay, and movement. Revolutionary
becoming, one of the great emancipatory promises of hypertext, has thus
been bound to the combinatorial, to connection, variation, movement, and
invention (Deleuze and Guattari 77, 106). It is not accidental or
incidental that one of the operative concepts here--connectionism--is
itself connected, as Paul Cilliers has shown, to a Saussurean concept
of language, because connectionism as a paradigm for complex systems,
like language for Saussure, functions in a relational mode, by the
position of nodes in relation to other nodes, or signs in relation to
other signs. Systems must have rules in order for patterns and
significance to arise, and patterns can only be traced through the
establishment of differences among the components of the system and the
elimination of that which is "superfluous." A hypertext system, then, is
paradigmatic; not all of the parts are necessary to the system, and the
aesthetic whole can be sustained even through the destruction of a
singular part (a node, perhaps) because the pattern rests with the code
of production. Within a syntagmatic system, on the other hand, there are
internally coherent but not necessarily linked patterns, and the removal
of a singular part would affect the overall aesthetic pattern because the
organic totality of the work would be entirely disrupted. Hypertext does not adhere to a fixed, rule-based
system; rather, it takes on the quality of disturbed, deferred, bifurcated
movement. In that its performance is that of the trace, emphasizing not
only the play of difference, but also open systems, feedback loops, a
flattened network, links, and the interval between links, its dynamic is
more différance than difference.
Node 3: An-anamorphosis
A text is a text only if it hides the law of its composition and the rule
of its game from the first glance, from the newcomer. In any case a text
remains an imperceptible text. The law and the rule do not dwell in the
inaccessibility of a secret, put simply, they do not deliver themselves
up to the present or to anything that could rigorously be called a
--Jacques Derrida, Plato's Pharmacy
In the "Conclusion" to his book, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic
Literature, Espen Aarseth introduces the tension between the
metamorphic (a text in which there is no final revelation or state of
knowing) and the anamorphic (a text that presents an optical illusion as
a vital hidden principle waiting to be discovered by a user that
influences and produces the outcome, such as Jasper Johns's
Flags, William Scrots's Edward VI, 3D pictures,
and some ASCII art). Complex in its internal variations, Aarseth's
typology of cybertext includes interactive fiction, synchronous and
asynchronous chat settings, and print hypertexts such as the I
Ching, all of which are distinguished by the work the reader must
perform in order to "traverse" the text. Because the anamorphic forces
the reader to perform the qualitative work of orienting the text, it
occupies the space of hypertext. Within the anamorphic text, there are
hidden codes: its structures of signification and perception are
concealed and a certain perspective is required in order to make its form
and content visible. The anamorphic is a visual trick of perspective,
and its regimes of perception and imperception are optical. The mode has
been an important one for much hypertext fiction and criticism because of
its emphasis on visual perception, labor, reader-construction, and the
production of the text. But the anamorphic does not really belong to the
order of the code; it belongs to a slightly different episteme than that
of the fractal, for example, which is essentially a digitized code, a
code of information made visible.
The anamorphic, on the other hand, is a physical instantiation of what is
done in the act of reading, searching for "the one right combination,"
the singular figure in the carpet, bringing it into focus, reducing
complexity into perceptible patterns. Reading, animating, and righting the perspective
of an anamorphic text, bringing it into being--and this is not bound to a
particular medium--involves not only going, doing, choosing (or
"narrative drifting" as Mark Amerika puts it), but also searching and
finding, structures of reading and navigation that replicate the
structures of gaming. Like
Borges's novel-labyrinth The Garden of Forking Paths in the
story of the same name--an important point of reference for Stuart
Moulthrop and many first-generation hypertext authors and critics--all
possible outcomes are imagined to be coded into the hypertext and traced
by readers who can discern the structural logic of the system. This is
the model of Borges's book, one of endless possibility, in which anything
that can happen, does, and each possible plot outcome is pursued and
multiplied into a seeming infinitude. Like knowing to go to the left in
certain labyrinths, the key to reading the anamorphic text is
meticulously to decode the system, to discern patterns and fault lines,
and to attempt to bring the picture into focus.
To read and to see is to attempt to impose a certain performance on the
system; it is to engage with the system such that it performs and
produces a coherent and legible output. In this sense, and in that it
contains at least two mutually exclusive pictures and perspectival
positions within its frame (e.g., Hans Holbein's painting The
Ambassadors <http://www.artchive.com/artchive/H/holbein/ambassadors.jpg.html> contains a "correct" picture of the ambassadors or of
the skull, but not both simultaneously), the anamorphic has a strong
connection to Eduardo Kac's holopoetry. Kac identifies the primary
formal quality of his holopoetry as "textual instability," "the condition
according to which a text does not preserve a single visual structure in
time as it is read by the viewer, producing different and transitory
verbal configurations in response to the beholder's perceptual
exploration" ("Holopoetry" 193).
Such visual and
verbal instability, whereby "the linguistic ordering factor of surfaces
is disregarded in favor of an irregular fluctuation of signs that can
never be grasped at once by the reader," is achieved through what Kac
terms the "fluid sign," which resembles the anamorphic in the description
of its operation: "[A] fluid sign is perceptually relative.... [it is]
essentially a verbal sign that changes its overall visual configuration
in time, therefore escaping the constancy of meaning a printed sign would
have" (193-4). The perceptual change for Kac, however, is one achieved
through time rather than dimension. Holopoetry strives for temporal
mutability, so it is not a true anamorphic, but Kac's theorizing of
fluidity and the impossibility of a stable perceptual position does speak
to the hypertextual process of construction, making, and interactive
performance. With its dense textual and iconic layers and its
abstraction of geometric, mathematic, lexical, and iconic arrangement,
Talan Memmot's Lexia to Perplexia similarly invites such a
performance. Lexia to Perplexia presents the reader-user
with difficulty, entanglement, abstraction, confusion, unreadability,
even obfuscation. Rather than moving into clarity and visual focus with
each link, the text assemblage gains a greater opacity and density and
moves from signal to noise. To achieve this effect, it utilizes
punctuation that intrudes upon the word ("Exe.Termination"), embedded
commands and command structures ("PER[(p)[L(EX)]]ia"), and a creolized,
mechanized language characterized by syntactical and semantic errors. In
that it moves from encryption to an even greater encryption, the central
trope of the text assemblage is interference, the mechanism by which
chaos is produced and the text paradoxically emerges. In this sense, the
text partly thematizes decomposition, incompleteness, the gap, a mode of
perception not yet achieved, the mechanical and operational failures of
code, and digital texts that do not "work."
My central anamorphic text, Johns's Flags, itself fails
within a digital environment. That is, the effects of Flags
are not translatable to the screen, a setting where it does not work and
cannot be brought correctly into focus. This failure, though, is less illustrative of
mechanical or material failure than it is of conceptual difference. When
Johns's painting is projected in a digital environment, in other words,
it produces a historical difference between the analog and the digital, a
trajectory from the painterly to the hypertextual. Johns's anamorphic
image extends beyond and above the physical limits of the painting and
produces an illusory effect of depth and dimension. Depth in this
instance is a trick of perception. That is, Johns's is already in some
sense a flattened or postmodern anamorphosis, not the depth and
dimensional model of the early modern anamorphic of Holbein, but a
surface model that does not play with volume: not anamorphic, but
An-anamorphosis--the digitized version of anamorphosis--paradoxically
references the anamorphic but flattens out its volume. It simultaneously succeeds and collapses, and it
contains within its collapse the trace, remainder, ghost image, negation,
and evacuation of the anamorphic. Anamorphosis is a matter of correcting
or adjusting one's spectatorial position so as to locate a correct
perspective. An-anamorphosis, on the other hand, presents us with a
spectral image of collapsed depth--a smooth, flat, discrete surface rather
than a modernist shattered surface that betrays an underlying depth. The hidden code suggests a depth model
but it remains a projection and illusion of depth. An-anamorphosis
illuminates the operative codes of the new media in that it, like
hypertext, does not, and indeed cannot, articulate a border or attain a
perfect realization. Neither an-anamorphosis nor hypertext can be full or
finished but are instead incomplete--an axiomatic principle for computers
that alludes also to the condition of digital textuality. This claim does
not suggest that one cannot make sense of a hypertext, but that hypertext
makes the blocking of knowledge manifest in its embedding of a range of
unknowable forms, blind passages, and visual aporias within the code, from
the cracked screens of Moulthrop's Victory Garden, the blank
screens of Jane Yellowlees Douglas's I have said nothing, the
dead ends of Matthew Miller's Trip, through the
undecipherable linguistic and iconic layers of Memmott's Lexia to
Perplexia. The anamorphic, the figure in the carpet, the "law of
its composition and the rule of its game," is offered and then withdrawn.
The anamorphic does not just fail; it is withheld and sabotaged.
Node 4: Linking
Linkages are very, very quick, you know.
--Jean-François Lyotard, "Links, The
Unconscious, and the Sublime"
Links and linkages suggest connections, signification, conversation,
intertextuality, and even context, insofar as context, as Lyotard notes,
"is the result of a series of linkages" (111). They range from
ostentatious to demure, frenetic to sedate, unenclosed to hidden, anchored
to ambient, animate to inanimate, associative to disassociative, random to
ordered, and syntactic to paratactic. They leave behind the traces of
their presence, their performance, recorded in history trackers (also a
formal feature of Eastgate) and emblematized by the after-effects glow of
fading pixels. In a felicitous link, meaning is constructed so that the
next link might be submitted or followed, but links can be coded both to
open up and to simulate the end of the play of signification. As part of an early attempt to
theorize the function, linguistic meaning, and philosophical import of the
link, Stuart Moulthrop asks: "In what sense is a dynamically computed,
implicit link analogous to turning a page?" ("Beyond Node/Link"). The
answer is that it is analogous only up to a point, insofar as the page has
historically been the organizational paradigm of codex. So, too, is the
link the primary quality, device, mechanism, formal feature of
hypertext, even as it operates in different modes: contextual (emergence
or disappearance dependent on the state of the user or the system);
"discovered structures"; "computational nodes"; and "virtual hypermedia."
Eastgate's "guard fields," for example, allow the writer to create
dynamic and conditional links, which are somewhat interactive in that
they guide the reader and are dependent on prior user choices. They allow the writer to assign
priorities to the various links and thereby define and force paths and
control the reader's access to the text. Because they preserve the
architecture and structure of the text (with narrative as a specific
consequential effect), guard fields often produce a sense of gaming, such
that navigating becomes akin to finding hidden objects and surmounting
obstacles so that a higher level might be reached. Within more complex coding systems, however, the
link opens up the potentiality of hypertext: it is one means by which it
can be truly innovative and sever the ties both to the form of the page
and the historical category of print literature. While many hyperfiction
and hypermedia artists want to move beyond the node-link model,
especially in light of the expansion of coding systems beyond the
relative simplicity of HTML, Marjorie Luesebrink argues that "it is
precisely the link (and the varieties thereof) that provides the
most fertile ground for literary expression... the hypertext link enables
the spatial and temporal aspects of multilinear electronic texts to
function as an erasure of hierarchies.... Links have just begun to
provide us with a vocabulary of new literary gesture and movement". According to Luesebrink,
the link traverses space and time and has its own syntax, which we are
still in the process of creating and revealing. I also want to retain
the node-link model within critical view because the link is both the
mechanism for the performance of hypertext's difference and the means by
which that difference is recognized.
Form and content achieve a near-perfect suture in the first selection in
the Eastgate Web Workshop: Judy Malloy's lOve One, a
first-generation hypertext composed in the generic form of a diary, with
linked entries that enforce both non-sequentiality and the illusion of
sequentiality. Its genre, that is, allows for a kind of retroactivity
whereby a doer may be placed behind the deed, and causal triggering
mechanisms established. But its most compelling and emblematic
structural and thematic feature is its links: Malloy uses images of
cathode-ray tubes that refer literally to the text displayed on the
screen. Akin to reversing a garment's seams, the cathode-ray tubes are a
visible manifestation of the technological substrate of the text. Cathode-ray tubes, in fact, literally
convert the electronic to the visual in that they are animated by
electrons that are first pulled in all directions in order to produce a
concentrative beam that leaves behind a trace of its presence by marking
the spot at which the electrons hit the screen. In this structural
aspect, lOve One is in line with other hypertexts'
foregrounding of the mechanism of their own performance, with code,
directories, speed, waiting, trips, archives, paths, and bifurcations
figuring as thematic and graphic elements. "Waiting will not be
permitted to bring the nuanced possibilities of in-between," announces
Water always writes in plural, thereby thematizing the link,
and its own interlinked, interconnected, even inter-networked, parts and
the necessity of both piecing together and reading the space between
those parts in order to move forward. Such a textual suturing must
necessarily involve textual haunting, a reappearance of the paths taken
and not taken: "my parts will remember me," promises Patchwork
Girl, not just about its re-created Frankensteinian monster, but
also about itself.
Terry Harpold comments upon the theme of navigational paths in his
extended discussions of links and endings. A "hypertextual detour," he
suggests, might be articulated as
Harpold's psychoanalysis of electronic textuality draws a parallel
between the pervert and the inefficient or even weak reader of
hypertext: if the neurotic overrides or denies the
effects of castration trauma by finding an object to fill in the lack,
such a reader would perform as the pervert if she were to override, deny,
or miss the gap in the link and try instead to substitute linear
narrative. So Harpold suggests that we have to acknowledge that the
ineradicable gap ("missingness") forces us into a different narrative
strategy, and if we deny that difference and supply the narrative turn,
then we use the link-as-fetish to fill in the lack.
a turn around a place you never get to, where something drops away
between the multiple paths you might follow.... Doing something with the
hypertext link substitutes narrative closure for the dilatory space of
the gap between the threads. It disavows the narrative turn, and
fetishizes the link. I want to stress this point, because it seems to me
that the instrumental function of the link exactly matches the
psychoanalytic definition of the fetish object.... For the pervert, the
missing phallus is still there: no lack, no gap, no cut. To read the link
as purely a directional or associative structure is, I would argue, to
miss--to disavow--the divisions between the threads in a hypertext.
"Missing" the divisions is how the intentionality of hypertext navigation
is realized: the directedness of the movement across the link constitutes
a kind of defense against the spiraling turn that the link obscures.
("Threnody" 172-3, 81)
Extracted from his article, "The Contingencies of the Hypertext Link,"
"doing something" might be translated for the purposes of my thesis so
that it becomes part of the context for performance, for my
claim that links somehow always present us with the failure of
realization signified by the older 404 messages. Linking, then, is both
complex and a performance of complexity. Along with Harpold, Luesebrink
argues that the link "represents a rupture in the ontological world."
Finally, prefacing his own analysis of "breakdowns," Moulthrop
glosses Harpold on the "deeply problematic nature of links" and the
inevitability of their failure ("Pushing Back" 664). Despite his
interest in the failure, brokenness, and incompleteness of the system,
however, Moulthrop does allow for an ultimate and singular realization of
the link, in that he will say that it does arrive, even if it fails to
arrive at its intended or predicted destination: "only one possibility is
realized, and likely as not it will not be what the reader anticipated"
("Pushing Back" 665). This moment of possibility, while conceived in
breakdown, is simultaneously the spectacular moment of the birth of
digital text, "the point of impact" ("Traveling"). The crash, then, is a productive one: out of the
ashes of the wreck, "new order" may emerge ("Traveling").
Links, and the phrases, nodes, words, icons, and images that are linked,
realize their meaning in relation to each other. Thus there is no
inherent, originary, final, totalizing meaning behind their
ordering--meaning only comes once they are assembled. Meaning, in fact, is
a reverberation of the effects of linking. This illustrates the trace
of hypertext once again. The patterns and the system become not only
complicated, but complex--that in which one not only gets lost, but also
vertiginously loses stable and totalizing perception. The patterns they
form are thus those of reiteration, recurrence, and frequency, on the one
hand, and dissolution, disintegration, termination, on the other. During
the time lag that occurs before a link is actualized, that interval or
period of waiting while a page loads from the top or fills in an outline,
it is usually possible to make out the text that is emerging, and yet one
might get it wrong. In the moments of waiting, as one waits for speech
to emerge through a stammer and wants to speak for, to fill the gap and
complete the utterance, there is an implicit invitation for the link to
be written for, to be written through, to be reloaded, to be completed.
The condition of the link is such that it is not occasionally broken--it
is always broken and almost anti-presence, high-speed
network connections notwithstanding. Links, in other words, are not
stable, set systems that can entirely emerge from themselves. It makes
intuitive sense, then, that hypertext should contain gaps and ellipses
apart from the link, even that ellipses themselves should function as
links, and that it should never come to rest with a period, a note of
finality, or a demarcation of the end. Hypertext does not, and indeed cannot, articulate
a border or attain a perfect realization. It is never full or finished.
It is in fact incomplete.
Without a complete systems crash, hypertext by its very nature cannot
come to rest partly because kinetic modality, or movement, with its
emphasis on dynamism, process, fluidity, metamorphosis, transformation,
is one of its defining formal properties. André Vallias, for
example, writes of "continuous mutation" as the distinctive quality of
digital media, derived from the progressivist movements of R&D and the
haunting specter of an inevitable future obsolescence. However,
Vallias's commentary on the "permanent process of making and remaking, of
endless 'work in progress,'" of "instability" and "vertigo" is even more
apropos with respect to my commentary on performance as the operative
difference of hypertext (152). That is,
what the <entropy8zuper.org>
designers call "the physical need for wonder
and poetry" is not fixable or locatable in, but required and produced by,
and in movement with, the digital object, particularly with the movement
and motion facilitated by new media technologies and specific software
programs like Flash . Again, the
hypertext system itself performs, but the human operator is another
component of its performance. To return to my central visual examples:
looking at a painting by Jackson Pollock is not absolutely different from
looking at Jasper Johns's Flags, but Johns forces the viewer
into a certain performance, into the fluctuation of the trace that his
painting performs. One of Jasper Johns's flags must necessarily recede
in order for the other to emerge, but the realization of the work can
never be a perfect one, and in this respect it illustrates the way that
hypertext code functions because hypertext itself cannot achieve a
complete or finished realization. As a complex system, hypertext is
internally inconsistent, and it gives a new resonance to Peter
Lunenfeld's claim that electronic textuality is in a state of "unfinish"
and Michael Joyce's claim that "electronic text can never be
completed" (qtd. in Moulthrop, "Traveling"). In
such a system, systematization itself is impossible.
Department of English
University of California, Santa Barbara
COPYRIGHT (c) 2001 RITA RALEY. READERS MAY USE
PORTIONS OF THIS WORK IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FAIR USE PROVISIONS OF U.S.
COPYRIGHT LAW. IN ADDITION, SUBSCRIBERS AND MEMBERS OF SUBSCRIBED
USE THE ENTIRE WORK FOR ANY INTERNAL NONCOMMERCIAL PURPOSE BUT, OTHER THAN
ONE COPY SENT BY EMAIL, PRINT OR FAX TO ONE PERSON AT ANOTHER LOCATION FOR
THAT INDIVIDUAL'S PERSONAL USE, DISTRIBUTION OF THIS ARTICLE OUTSIDE OF A
SUBSCRIBED INSTITUTION WITHOUT EXPRESS WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM EITHER THE
AUTHOR OR THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS IS EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN.
THIS ARTICLE AND OTHER CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE ARE
AVAILABLE FREE OF CHARGE UNTIL RELEASE OF THE NEXT ISSUE. A
TEXT-ONLY ARCHIVE OF THE JOURNAL IS ALSO AVAILABLE FREE OF CHARGE.
FOR FULL HYPERTEXT ACCESS TO BACK ISSUES, SEARCH UTILITIES, AND OTHER
VALUABLE FEATURES, YOU OR YOUR INSTITUTION MAY SUBSCRIBE TO
PROJECT MUSE, THE
ON-LINE JOURNALS PROJECT OF THE
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS.
1. This piece could not have emerged
without the maieutic aid of Russell Samolsky, who withstood and responded
to more questions than I could possibly enumerate. Karen Steigman helped
me to find valuable material, online and in print. Jennifer Jones and
Timothy Wager read and commented on an earlier version, entitled, "How to
Make Things With Words: Hypertext and Literary Value," which was
delivered as a talk for the Transcriptions Colloquia in the English
department at the University of California, Santa Barbara
(<http://transcriptions.english.ucsb.edu/>) in May
2000. I am grateful to
Alan Liu and Bill Warner for the invitation and the necessary
inspiration. Students in my Electronic Literature & Culture
(undergraduate; Spring 2000) and Hypertext Fiction & Theory (graduate;
Winter 1999) classes at the University of Minnesota made a willing,
enthusiastic, and provocative audience for parts of the thesis. Another
section of the article was presented at the ACLA 2001, and I am grateful
to Espen Aarseth and Mark Hansen for posing questions that re-oriented my
thinking. Finally, Katherine Hayles's critical suggestions have been
instrumental, and her latest NEH seminar, "Literature in Transition,"
provided the perfect environment to complete the revisions.
2. See Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think,"
Atlantic Monthly (Jul. 1945); Ted Nelson, Literary
3. Mark Poster, "What's the Matter with
the Internet," UC Davis lecture, April 1998, published as the chapter
"Authors Analogue and Digital" in his recent book, What's the
Matter with the Internet? Poster's delineation of the digital text
in this book echoes his earlier analysis of the "mode of information" in
the book named as such, wherein he makes the following related claims:
"Electronic communications are new language experiences in part by virtue
of electrification. But how are they different from ordinary speech and
writing? And what is the significance of this difference?"
(Mode 1); "I do assert the emergence of a certain 'new'"
(19); "After this point the
natural, material limits of spoken and written language no longer hold"
(74); "Digital encoding makes no attempt to represent or imitate and this
is how it differs from analog encoding" (94), a claim that is a precursor
to the discussion of waves and grooves in the Matter book;
and, finally, "Electronic language, on the contrary, does not lend
itself to being so
framed. It is everywhere and nowhere, always and never. It is truly
4. In spite of, and at times because of,
the burgeoning academic fields devoted to computer-mediated
communication, cyberculture, internet studies, and the digital
humanities, there is still a commonly held assumption that digital
literacy is incompatible with traditional literacy practices, and even
that digital culture has trained students out of the market for
print-bound literary texts in particular. In this sense, a facility for
reading computer screens is imagined as both unrelated and opposed to
knowing how to read a poem or novel.
5. By contrast, Paul
Levinson claims in general terms that the phonetic alphabet was the
"first digital medium" in that the bits, the letters, correspond to sound
and not things (Soft Edge 11-20).
6. Michael Joyce suggests that digital
textuality ultimately resists such entrapment: "Electronic text--the
topographic, truly digital writing--even now resists attempts to wrestle
it back into analogue or modify its shape into the shape of print. Its
resistance is its malleability" (Two Minds 237).
7. Poster's argument in "Authors
Analogue and Digital" (What's the Matter with the
Internet?)--that the digital is not just supplementing
but replacing the analog--differs from Landow's in that he is not using
Foucault to talk about obliterating the line between the reader and
author; rather, he wants to uphold a set of distinctions between modes of
authorship, though it is implicitly the case that his sense of digital
authorship would lead to a reconfiguration of the role of the reader.
Bringing together the technical conditions of authorship with the
theoretical question of authorship (although Espen Aaresth would have
problems with this linking) lends itself to a rethinking of the figure of
the reader and it also implies a dichotomous or even substitutive
relationship between reader and author.
8. Jurgen Fauth takes issue with the
tendency of hypertext to be endlessly self-reflexive (which often is, as
Bolter notes of Afternoon, "an allegory of the act of
reading" [qtd. in Fauth]). For another articulation of the pitfalls of
pervasive self-referentiality of hypertext, see Robert Kendall, "But I
Know What I
Like," SIGWEB Newsletter 8.2 (Jun. 1999); also posted at
9. Such a meta-critical and
self-reflexive mode is acknowledged within much hypertext criticism, as
when Michael Joyce notes that "most hypertext fictions include these
self-reflexive passages" ("Nonce" 591). Also see Greg Ulmer's
"Grammatology Hypermedia" on "reflexive structuration, by means of which a
text shows what it is telling, does what it says, displays its own
making, reflects its own action" (par. 7).
10. For the same claim ("multiple reading paths;
some kind of linking mechanism; and chunked text"), also see
Hayles's "Print is Flat" 5.
articulates an 8-point typology of hypertexts in digital form as
follows: "Electronic Hypertexts are Dynamic Images; Electronic
Hypertexts Include Both Analogue Resemblance and Digital Coding;
Electronic Hypertexts Are Generated Through Fragmentation and
Recombination; Electronic Hypertexts Have Depth and Operate in Three
Dimensions; Electronic Hypertexts Are Mutable and Transformable;
Electronic Hypertexts Are Spaces to Navigate; Electronic Hypertexts Are
Written and Read in Distributed Cognitive Environments; Electronic
Hypertexts Initiate and Demand Cyborg Reading Practices" ("Print"
12. As will become clear throughout
the article, this claim is not structured so as to disavow Espen
Aarseth's typology of cybertext as much as it is to offer the beginnings
of a parallel and alternative typology.
13. In a different use of the
performance paradigm, game-designer Brenda Laurel has employed theatrical
metaphors in order to understand human-computer interaction and suggested
that the ideal interface should correspond with the theatre. For Laurel,
Aristotle's Poetics is the best functional metaphor for
computer art, and a program needs to be thought of as a performance for the
user, one that masks the technical component of production and its
artificiality. The power of the theatrical metaphor for the interface is
that the theatre is "fuzzy" and thereby necessarily involves repetition
with variation and difference (23).
14. Timothy Allen Jackson also
comments on the new media aesthetic in terms of process and the dynamic
quality of the system: "Such an aesthetic is projective rather than
reflective, complex and dynamic rather than simple and static, often
focusing on process more than product, and resembling a verb more than a
15. For example, the theme of
performance in relation to the reader could be linked to literary
theories of reading proposed by Ingarden ("encounter"), Bakhtin
("dialogue"), Jauss ("convergence"), and Iser ("interaction").
16. In a different forum, Rosenberg
argues against Nick Montfort's review of Aarseth's
Cybertext and subsequent
alignment of hypertext with Chomsky's hierarchy of grammars (finite
automata) by noting that one "simply cannot conclude that hypertext 'is'
a finite state machine," whether or not it maintains a strict node-link
model ("Positioning"). Montfort gives a primacy to the computational
cybertext machines, which he distinguishes on the basis of their ability
17. On temporality and the digital
aesthetic, see Marlena Corcoran, "Digital Transformations of Time: The
Aesthetics of the Internet," Leonardo 29.5 (1995): 375-378.
On anti- or non-object art, see John Perreault, "Introduction,"
TriQuarterly 32 (Winter 1975): 1-5; and Tommaso Trini,
"Intervista con Ian Wilson/Ian Wilson, An Interview" Data 1.1
(Sep. 1971): 32-4. Conceptual art also separates out
product--"art"--from material substance. For critical commentary on
conceptual or dematerialized art, see Alexander Alberro and Patricia
Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art (Berkeley: U of
California P, 2001); Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson, eds.,
Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (Cambridge: MIT Press,
1999); Lucy Lippard, Six Years (Berkeley: U of California P,
1973); Tony Godfrey, Conceptual Art (London: Phaidon, 1998).
18. Also see Holland, Hidden
Order:How Adaptation Builds Complexity (Cambridge: Perseus Books,
1995). On complexity, see Paul Cilliers; Brian H. Kaye, Chaos and
Complexity (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1993); Roger Lewin,
Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos (New York: Macmillan,
1992); and M. Mitchell Waldrop, Complexity: The Emerging Science At
the Edge of Order and Chaos (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992).
The analysis of complex systems is sustained even through management
theory: "the whole shows behaviours which cannot be gleaned by examining
the parts alone. The interactions between the parts are crucial,
and produce phenomena such as self-organization and adaptation" (McKergow
721-22). Mark C. Taylor's forthcoming book, The Moment of
Network Culture (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2002)
speaks to my concern with emergence as a component and effect of the
hypertextual system, but it arrived too late to be incorporated within
19. My discussion of patterns
vis-à-vis hypertext refers in a general sense to systems theory, a
topic that has been explored by theorists of science and literature such
as Hayles, Cilliers, William Paulson, and John Johnston. On systems
theory, see What is Systems Theory?,
Cybernetics, Systems Theory and Complexity,
A Curriculum for Cybernetics and Systems Theory,
John Gowan's General Systems HomePage, <http://www.people.cornell.edu/pages/jag8/>. On
chaotic systems and chaos, see James Gleick, Chaos and
Chaotic Systems, <http://dept.physics.upenn.edu/courses/gladney/mathphys/
Pamela Jennings touches on intedeterminacy, chaos theory,
fuzzy logic, and open structures in relation to new media in "Narrative
Structures for New Media: Towards a New Definition,"
Leonardo 29.5 (1996): 345-50.
20. Also see <http://www.genetic-programming.org>, as
well as Genetic Programming, Inc. <http://www.genetic-programming.com>.
21. Jasper Johns, Flags
is online at <http://www.walkerart.org/resources/res_pc_johns2.html>.
For historical and technical analyses of the device of the
anamorphic, see Jurgis Baltrusaitis, Anamorphic Art, trans.
W. J. Strachan (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1977) and Fred Leeman,
Hidden Images: Games of Perception, Anamorphic Art, Illusion
(New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1976).
22. In the catalog for Jack Burnham's
"Software" art exhibition at the Jewish Museum (1970), Ted Nelson also
conceives of hypertext from its conceptual genesis as "writing that can
branch or perform." See "The Crafting of Media,"
23. The phrase "combinatory
literature" can be traced to François Le Lionnais's afterword to
Raymond Queneau's Cent Mille Milliards de poèmes
(Paris: Gallimard, 1961). It is later developed by Umberto Eco with
respect to narrative forms, and by Oulipians such as Harry Mathews.
24. The mathematical formulas of the
Oulipo movement have been an influential genealogical and stylistic
precursor for hypertext, particularly since some Oulipians were
themselves inspired by programming and had already begun the work of
using computers as an tool in literary production, and early hypertext
work frequently cited and even programmed their work so as further to
"animate" and apply their algorithms, e.g., Permutationen
The work of the French
literary group, Oulipo, of which Queneau and Calvino were members, based
its poetics on permutational possibility and procedure. In that both
tend on occasion to work with elemental units--the Reader (addressed) and
reader (actual) for
Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler, for example, or
lipograms, or the famous bricks of Carl Andre--Oulipo could be profitably
linked to the so-termed Minimalist artists that came to prominence in the
1960s and 1970s, particularly Andre, Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, and Robert
Morris. Also see Stéphane Susana, "A Roundup of Constrained
Writing on the Web," ebr 10 (Winter 1999/2000)
<http://www.altx.com/ebr/ebr10/10sus.htm>. For an
collection of their work, see Warren Motte, ed., Oulipo: A Primer
of Potential Literature (Lincoln, NE: U of Nebraska
P, 1986). On Calvino and the combinatorial, see Jerry A. Varsava,
"Calvino's Combinative Aesthetics: Theory and Practice," Review of
Contemporary Fiction 6.2 (Summer 1986): 11-18.
25. In the larger project, I pursue
the topic of computer and computer-generated poetry at greater length.
After Rosenberg, see Philippe Bootz, "Poetic Machinations," Visible
Language 30.2 (1996): 118-37; and Charles Hartman's memoir,
Virtual Muse: Experiments in Computer Poetry (Hanover:
Wesleyan UP, 1996), with a downloadable Mac platform program at
english/cohar/programs/> With respect to the
analogy between poetry and technology, Carrie Noland, in her genealogy
from the nineteenth-century avant-garde French lyric poets to U.S.
performance poetries (particularly those of Laurie Anderson and Patti
wonders whether the "technopoems of the future" will embrace technology
to the extent that they risk "losing the integrity of poetry as a
language-based and voice-generated genre" (216, 15). Also see Rosenberg
on Balpe generator poetry and the French poésie animée
school (Jean-Pierre Balpe, Trois mythologies et un poète
aveugle, an installation featuring poem-generating and
music-generating robots [Centre Georges-Pompidou 1997]).
26. Koskimaa also comments upon the
intimate relation between reading and gaming: "the aspect of mastering a
computer environment is an essential part of the hyperfiction reading
experience, an aspect common with playing computer games."
27. In reference to the collaborative
"International Internet Chain Art Project," Gaggi makes a related point
concerning unpredictability, although his argumentative focus is the
radically reconfigured notion of authorship that results from the
critical and practical challenge of the ideas of individuality, autonomy,
and genius: "Each participant alters, adds to, or comments on whatever
he or she receives. Under such circumstances, surprise--as well as
disappointment--is always possible. Although contributions are matters
of conscious decisions individuals make--except when technical problems
result in 'corruption'--those who create an image or text cannot predict
or control what will happen to it" (139).
28. For a discussion of the principle
of "psychic automatism," Breton and Philippe Soupault's Les Champs
magnétiques (1919), and Breton's Manifeste
(1924), see Elza Adamowiccz, Surrealist collage in text and image:
Dissecting the exquisite corpse (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998)
5-10. It was not just Surrealism but Fluxism as well that maintained an
interest in automatic writing. Jackson Pollock's painting would be
another instance of the scriptor at work.
29. As Russell Samolsky notes, the
felicity or "efficacy of any performative is always, in some sense, the
death of the author," a notion whose literal effects he demonstrates in
the example of Kafka's relationship to the Holocaust (191).
30. On the
liberatory argument, see, as just one of many examples, Gaggi 103-5.
31. Also, Noah Wardrip-Fruin links new
media particularly to Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand
Plateaus (371). Seaman's Red Dice was exhibited at
the Art Gallery of New South Wales (3-26 Mar. 2000) as part of the
Telstra Adelaide Festival 2000. See
32. Lacan treats "geometral" or "flat"
perspective and the commingling of art and science in his reading of
anamorphosis and the gaze; see The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book
XI, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: W.W. Norton, 1977).
33. In the Montreal electronic art
magazine, CIAC, Sylvie Parent provides another typology for
electronic literature based on the variant processing of text by the
computer: collaborative texts, text's new space, text generating
programs, language atomization, and moving text. See
34. On connectionism, see Cilliers,
35. Ted Nelson, Literary
Machines 93.1 (1993 preface, unnumbered page 5).
36. See Peter Bürger's schema for
the organic and the non-organic artwork in Theory of the
Avant-Garde, trans. Michael Shaw (Minneapolis: U
of Minnesota P, 1984): 80.
37. In a way this is a modern vs.
postmodern distinction, but one does not have to choose one over the other.
38. See Henry James, "The Figure in
the Carpet" 381; and see also the passage that introduces the figure
itself: "the thing we were all so blank about was vividly there. It was
something like a complex figure in a Persian carpet" (372).
39. With hypertext, "readership has
been restored but not transcended" (Aarseth 94).
40. Also see
Kac, "Key Concepts of Holopoetry," ebr 5 (Spring 1997)
and his website, with examples of his work, at <http://www.ekac.org/>.
41. I am grateful to Richard Helgerson
for asking a variation of the question that produced this line of
argument: does it matter that the Jasper Johns is a modern text not
meant for the screen?
42. My nomenclature here might appear
to connect to the bilingual, Flash-intensive "electronic and interactive
journal that examines the human condition in the digital
age"--Chair et Métal / Metal and Flesh: The Digital
Anamorphosis of the Universe
does not have an immediately obvious significance. Rather, the concept of
the an-anamorphic arose in a conversation with Russell Samolsky; from
this collaborative moment, the concept and Jasper Johns as an
illustrative example came into being.
43. Martin Jay comments on anamorphic
vision, which "helps us understand the complexities of a visual register
which is not planimetric but which has all these complicated scenes that
are not reducible to any one coherent space" (qtd. in Foster
84). Planimetry deals with the measurement of surfaces, so complexity of
vision here has to do with volume. The postmodern anamorphic or
an-anamorphic, however, puts us back in the register or space of the
44. For a discussion of linking in a
hypertext environment, see George P. Landow, Hypertext 2.0
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997) 11-20;
Harpold, "Threnody" and "The Contingencies of the Hypertext Link"; and
"Conclusions," Hyper/Text/Theory, ed. George Landow
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1994): 189-222. Also, the hypertext author
Jeff Parker is currently at work on a formal analysis of the "poetics of
45. See Mark Bernstein on "volatile"
hypertext, "Architectures for Volatile Hypertext," Hypertext '91
Proceedings (Baltimore: ACM, 1991): 243-60; robin, "Hypertext for
Writers: A Review of Software," EJournal 3.3 (Nov.
entry for "conditional links" in the alt.hypertext FAQ; Bolter on guard
fields in Writing Space; J. Yellowlees Douglas on the
seemingly contradictory harmony between varied and multiple links and
reader expections in "Wandering Through the Labyrinth: Encountering
Interactive Fiction," Computers and Composition 6.3 (Aug.
1989): 93-101; Robert Coover on the differences among links in
and Robert Kendall, "Hypertextual Dynamics in A Life Set for
Two," Proceedings of the Seventh ACM Conference on
It is precisely guard fields that lead Raine Koskimaa to argue that the
bricoleur metaphor so present within hypertext criticism is illegitimate
vis-à-vis the Eastgate texts, primarily because the texts withhold
information about their own structures. Without clear maps, Koskimaa
suggests, we cannot properly speak of bricolage (VII). Finally, it is
important to note that Storyspace, Flash, related authoring platforms,
and HTML itself all to some degree limit the behavior of the hypertext
system, but this is not to say that the system is either deterministic,
with standardized and predictable behavior, or incapable of autonomous
46. With software-produced and
-mediated hypertexts, a variety of links and a kind of structure are
possible, while with net-based hypertexts, there is presumably a lesser
degree of structure, and links need not proceed from window to window, or
lexia to lexia. See the description of the Storyspace software in the
alt-hypertext FAQ. For a comprehensive student project on guard fields,
see Loran Gutt, "Hypertext," <http://www.princeton.edu/~lzgutt/hypertext/paper3/node2.html>.
47. See, for example, Stuart
Moulthrop, "Beyond Node/Link," a node in The Shadow of an
Informand: An Experiment in Hypertext Rhetoric; John Cayley's
"Beyond Codexspace: Potentialities of Literary Cybertext" and Jim
Rosenberg's "Structure of Hypertext Activity." Calls to augment and
restructure the node-link paradigm were made by Frank Halacz in his
keynote addresses at the Hypertext '89 and Hypertext '91 conferences
Also see Steven J. DeRose, "Expanding the Notion of Links,"
Hypertext '89 Proceedings, ed. Norman Meyrowitz (New York:
Association for Computing Machinery, 1989) 249-59; and H. Van Dyke
Parunak, "Don't Link Me In: Set Based Hypermedia for Taxonomic
Reasoning," Proceedings of Hypertext '91 (New York:
Association for Computing Machinery, 1991) 233-42.
48. Also see Ted Nelson on the
cathode-ray tube (Dream Machines 84-5).
49. Also see
Adrianne Wortzel on the openness and dynamism of links, which she
theorizes as the spaces that "allow chance, desire, and drive to drift
50. David Miall briefly argues that
Moulthrop's claims for the
difference of hypertext, notably the qualities of multiplicity and
breakdown, are not tenable as such and that the particularities Moultrop
ascribes to hypertextuality "replicate something we have always known
about the form of literary texts."
51. J. Yellowlees Douglas remarks
briefly hypertext's presentation of "discrete pieces of information and
ellipses" in "Wandering Through the Labyrinth: Encountering Interactive
Fiction," Computers and Composition 6.3 (Aug. 1989):
52. The allusion to Gödel's
theorem with respect to hypertextual incompleteness is just that, an
allusion, rather than an application.
53. There is a
conjunction between the two in that Vallias belongs to one branch of
artistic production that has moved toward movement as both concept and
integrative device, a "movement" to create what E. M. de Melo e Castro
terms "videopoetry," which has been flourishing in Brazilian and
Portuguese experimental poetry circles and shares the formal interests of
the various North American experimental poets who work with software
applications such as Flash to create poems experienced spatially,
temporally, visually, aurally, and linguistically. See, for example, Thom
Swiss, "Genius" <http://www.differenceofone.com/genius/genius.html>
Similarly, Ladislao Pablo Györi's brief manifesto on "Virtual
Poetry" calls for the production of poems "experienced by means of
partially or fully immersive interface devices" (Visible
Language 30.2 ). The manifesto and examples of his work can
be found at <http://megahertz.njit.edu/~cfunk/gyori.html>.
54. Now authoring-design software
applications such as Flash and QuickTime have taken design to the point
whereby the text objects may be watched as film and media installations,
e.g., the digital poems and works from Born Magazine
and the curated site Poems That Go
both of which rely almost exclusively on Flash.
Aarseth, Espen. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic
Literature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997.
Barthes, Roland. "From Work to Text." Image-Music-Text.
Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977. 155-64.
Boisvert, Anne-Marie. "Cybertext." CIAC (2001).
---. "Hypertext: Feature on Electronic Literature."
CIAC 9 (Dec. 1999).
Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the
History of Writing. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1990.
Borges, Jorge Luis. Ficciones. Trans. Anthony Kerrigan. New
York: Grove Press, 1962.
Calvino, Italo. The Castle of Crossed Destinies. Trans.
William Weaver. New York: Vintage, 1997.
Cayley, John. "Beyond Codexspace: Potentialities of Literary
Cybertext." Visible Language 30.2 (1996): 164-83.
---. "Pressing the 'Reveal Code' Key." EJournal 6.1 (Mar.
Cilliers, Paul. Complexity and Postmodernism. New York:
Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus.
Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 1980.
Derrida, Jacques. "Plato's Pharmacy." Dissemination.
Trans. Barbara Johnson. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1981.
Douglas, Jane Yellowlees. I have said nothing. Eastgate
Druckrey, Timothy, ed. Electronic Culture: Technology and Visual
Representation. New York: Aperture, 1996.
Fauth, Jurgen. "Poles in Your Face: The Promises and Pitfalls of
Hyperfiction." Mississippi Review 1.6 (Sep. 1995).
Foster, Hal, ed. Vision and Visuality.
New York: New Press, 1988.
Gaggi, Silvio. From Text to Hypertext: Decentering the Subject in
Fiction, Film, the Visual Arts, and Electronic Media.
Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1997.
Galloway, Alex. "Perl is My Medium--An Interview with Lisa Jevbratt."
Rhizome.org 2 Feb. 2001.
Gleick, James. Chaos: Making a New Science. New York:
Penguin Books, 1987.
Gödel, Kurt. On Formally Undecidable Propositions of
Principia Mathematica and Related Systems. Trans. B. Meltzer.
New York: Dover Publications, 1992.
Hansen, Mark. Embodying Technesis: Technology Beyond
Writing. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000.
Harpold, Terry. "The Contingencies of the Hypertext Link." Writing on
the Edge 2.2 (Spring 1991): 126-37.
---. "Threnody: Psychoanalytic Digressions on the Subject of
Hypertexts." Hypermedia and Literary Studies. Ed. Paul
Delaney and George Landow. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991. 171-181.
Hartman, Charles O. Virtual Muse: Experiments in Computer
Poetry. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan UP, 1996.
Hayles, N. Katherine. "Artificial Life and Literary Culture." Cyberspace
Textuality. Ed. Marie-Laure Ryan. 205-23.
---. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies
in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: U
of Chicago P, 1999.
---. "Print is Flat, Code is Deep: The Importance of Media-Specific
Analysis." Forthcoming in Poetics Today (Fall 2001).
Unpublished MS 27 pp.
---. "Simulating Narratives: What Virtual Creatures Can Teach Us."
Critical Inquiry 26.1 (Autumn 1999): 1-26.
---. "The Transformation of Narrative and the Materiality of
Hypertext." Narrative 9.1 (Jan. 2001): 21-39.
Holland, John H. Emergence: From Chaos to Order.
Cambridge: Perseus Books, 1998.
Jackson, Shelley. Patchwork Girl.
Eastgate Systems. <http://www.eastgate.com>
Jackson, Timothy Allen. "Towards a New Media Aesthetic." Reading
Digital Culture. Ed. David Trend. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001. 347-53.
James, Henry. "The Figure in the Carpet." The Figure in the
Carpet and Other Stories. Ed. Frank Kermode. New York: Penguin,
Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism; or, the Cultural Logic of Late
Capitalism. London: Verso, 1996.
Johnson, Steven. Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms
the Way We Create and Communicate. San Francisco: Harper, 1997.
Joyce, Michael. "Nonce Upon Some Times: Rereading Hypertext Fiction."
Modern Fiction Studies 43.3 (Fall 1997): 579-97.
---. Of Two Minds: Hypertext Pedagogy and
Poetics. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1995.
---. Othermindedness. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2001.
Kac, Eduardo. "Holopoetry." Visible Language 30.2 (1996):
Kellert, Stephen H. In the Wake of Chaos: Unpredictable Order in
Dynamical Systems. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1993.
Koskimaa, Raine. "Visual Structuring of Hypertext Narratives."
ebr 6 (Winter 1997/1998).
Landow, George. "Hypertext as Collage-Writing." Lunenfeld 151-170.
Laurel, Brenda. Computers as Theatre. Reading, MA:
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1992.
Levinson, Paul. The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the
Information Revolution. New York: Routledge, 1997.
Luesebrink, Marjorie. "Of Tea Cozy and Link." ebr 11
(Winter 2000/2001). <http://www.altx.com/ebr/riposte/rip11/rip11cov.htm>.
Lunenfeld, Peter, ed. The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New
Media. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999.
Lyotard, Jean-François. "Links, The Unconscious, and the Sublime."
Ellipsis 1.1 (Spring 1990): 109-129.
McKergow, Mark. "Complexity Science and Management: What's in it for
Business?" Long Range Planning 29.5 (1996): 721-722.
Merrell, Floyd. Simplicity and Complexity: Pondering Literature,
Science, and Painting. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1998.
Miall, David. "Moulthrop: celebrating multiplicity
and breakdown" (7 Aug. 1999). <http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/~dmiall/hyperead/moulthp1.htm>.
Miller, J. Hillis. Fiction and Repetition: Seven English
Novels. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1985.
Montfort, Nick. "Cybertext Killed the Hypertext Star."
Rev. of Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic
Literature, by Espen J. Aarseth. ebr 11
(Winter 2000/2001). <http://www.altx.com/ebr/ebr11/11mon/>.
Morris, Robert. Continuous Project Altered Daily.
Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993.
Motte, Warren F., Jr., ed. Oulipo: A Primer of Potential
Literature. Trans. Warren F. Motte, Jr. Lincoln, NE: U
of Nebraska P, 1986.
Moulthrop, Stuart. "Beyond Node/Link."
WWW version 1994.
---. "Pushing Back: Living and Writing in Broken Space." Modern
Fiction Studies 43.3 (Fall 1997): 651-74.
---. The Shadow of an Informand: An Experiment in
WWW version 1994.
---. "Traveling in the Breakdown Lane: A Principle of Resistance for
Hypertext." Mosaic 28 (Dec. 1995): 55-77.
---. Victory Garden.
Eastgate Systems. <http://www.eastgate.com>
Murray, Janet. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in
Cyberspace. New York: The Free Press, 1997.
Nelson, Theodor Holm. Computer Lib. Tempus Books of
Microsoft Press, 1974. Revised and updated with Dream
Machines on the flip side, 1987.
---. Literary Machines. Ted Nelson, 1981. Edition 93.1,
Noland, Carrie. Poetry at Stake: Lyric Aesthetics and the
Challenge of Technology. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1999.
Poster, Mark. The Mode of Information: Poststructuralism and Social
Context. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1990.
---. What's the Matter with the Internet?
Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2001.
Rosenberg, Jim. "Positioning Hypertext in Chomsky's Hierarchy of Grammars."
ebr 11 (Winter 2000/2001).
---. "The Structure of Hypertext Activity."
Ryan, Marie-Laure, ed. Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology
and Literary Theory. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1999.
Samolsky, Russell. "Metaleptic Machines: Kafka, Kabbalah, Shoah,"
Modern Judaism 19.2 (1999).
Tenhaaf, Nell. "As Art Is Lifelike: Evolution, Art, and the Readymade."
Leonardo 31.5 (1998): 397-404.
Ulmer, Greg. "Grammatology Hypermedia." Postmodern Culture
1.2 (Jan. 1991). 19 pars. <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/postmodern_culture/v001/1.2ulmer.html> and </text-only/issu
Vallias, André. "We Have Not Understood Descartes."
Visible Language 30.2 (1996): 150-7.
Wardrip-Fruin, Noah. "Writing Networks: New Media, Potential
Literature." Leonardo 29.5 (1996): 355-373.
Wortzel, Adrianne. "Cyborgesian Tenets and Indeterminate Endings: The
Decline and Disappearance of Destiny for Authors." Leonardo
29.5 (1996): 354-372.
Amerika, Mark. "Hypertextual Consciousness."
Carroli, Linda, and Josephine Wilson. water always writes in
Cayley, John. Indra's Net series.
Coverley, M. D. "Fibonacci's Daughter."
Malloy, Judy. l0ve 0ne. <http://www.eastgate.com/malloy/>.
Memmott, Talan. Lexia to Perplexia.
Miller, Matthew. "Trip." <http://raven.ubalt.edu/guests/trip/>.
Queneau, Raymond. "A Fairytale As You Like It."
<http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~cantsin/queneau/conte/conte.cgi>. (Temporarily offline due to copyright negotiations.)
Thorington, Helen, with M. R. Petit and John Neilson.