Open “Star Wars, one letter at a time” by Brian Kim Stefans
This Lettriste treatment of the screenplay for Star Wars: A New Hope (the 1975 4th draft as found in this fan site) focuses our attention on the script one fingerstroke at a time. I don’t say “letter” (as the title suggests) because we hear every letter (tap), space (bump), end of line (ding), and desk-jarring carriage return (ka-chunk), making us very aware of the materiality of a typewriter.
After a prolonged reading and listening of this work, a thought struck me: how confident this young George Lucas sounds with his typing! Where’s the hesitation between sentences? Where are the changing rhythms as he types easier or more challenging letter sequences (try to listen to your fingers while typing “star wars,” “Star Wars,” and “R2D2”— and no index finger tapping: place your fingers on the keyboard as God intended…)?
Whether Stefans imagined George Lucas as an ace typist copying a completed manuscript on a long roll of paper (there are no sounds of pages being pulled out and reloaded), or he wrote an ingenious program to “read” the spaces and line breaks of the text of the manuscript, presenting a letter and sound at a time, this piece does a good job of reminding us of the importance of a technology that allowed poets to more effectively inscribe space in their poems.
Featured in The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1.