“Cannibal Dreams” by Lacy Cunningham and Justin Talbott

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“Cannibal Dreams” by Lacy Cunningham and Justin Talbott

This elegant hypertext poem consists of 28 links arranged on an excerpt from a book on bone biology. The links are barely distinguishable from the rest of the text, yet lead to poetic language that forms a distinctive contrast to the scientific text in the paragraph. The relation between the two texts isn’t simply tonal counterpoints: they are deeply interconnected, metaphorically and especially thematically. One key to understanding these relations is in the first link, which leads to the image below:

This diagram maps a relationship, showing alternatives paths a couple can take when faced with the kind of situation described in the scientific text. See where the paths lead and you’ll note recurring elements, most of which are not positive for the health of the relationship.

The controlling metaphor for this piece is that of the health of a relationship is similar to bone health is best understood when reading how each conceptual domain maps on the other. You’ll notice how gender helps you understand the language of this biological text, and  see how the processes and approaches described help you understand the relationship in the poem.

Once you’ve explored the hypertext and appreciated how the poem emerges from the interplay of these arts and sciences, take a look at the code for a more independent representation of the poetic text. You may also appreciate that you are not dealing with an old-school hypertext with many documents brought together with links, but with a minimal number of files using JavaScript links to lines within the same document— a code design that resonates with the themes of interiority and exteriority of bodies, bones, and relationships.