“Catharsis” by Pedro Valle Javier

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

“Catharsis” by Pedro Valle Javier

This hypertext poem takes a simple concept and makes it a tour de force. Each word is a link to an image, not of any image, but of photographs which use blurred motion and other effects to convey a sense of speed and evoke the speaker’s tone. The title suggests that either the speaker is in need of catharsis, or the poem itself is the cathartic artistic expression.

The spatial arrangement of the lines lead to readings that speed up and come to hard stops through spatial and orthographic punctuation. The punctuation marks, normally barely noticeable on the page, stand out with their whiteness on the brownish-grey background color, particularly when accompanied by all the orange link texts. Why are there no links in the punctuation? Is it because it divides, rather than link (at least when read aloud), pausing the reader in his desire to run and get away?

The linked photographs that open in new windows (or tabs) take you away from the poem, providing a sense of movement, but they are images that contain information but lead nowhere else, echoing the speaker’s frustrated desire to go away. Consider how the content of the images, particularly the blurred motion photographs, capture motion in a still medium, like the words on the screen capture time in space.

Our eyes run from left to right, only to come back to the left margin. Over and over. We click on each word and go to the next window or tab. And close it to return to the poem. Over and over. And at some point during that feedback loop, we understand.