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Open “The Body Politic” by Jennifer Ley
In this multimedia hypertext poem, Ley foregrounds some ways in which the body is constructed and politicized. Using the HTML select tag as a way to structure lines of verse by hiding them under the first line of the stanza, she reinforces the metaphor of surface and depth as text and subtext. The pull-down menu produced by this tag carries a little functional baggage, that one is to choose an item from the list, which becomes something to be acted upon, such as information on a form or a link to another document. In this piece the reader can only select a line, which remains juxtaposed to the title, but nothing else happens. Is Ley highlighting the passivity of simply reading the text about women’s bodies and cruelty to animals in the cosmetics and food industries, if not accompanied by political action? On several pages she provides links to PETA inviting readers to take that extra step and get involved, rather than just enjoy the surface of things.
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