“Paperwounds,” is an intimate look into the sometimes-surreal, often-manic realm of the suicidal and depressed. It is an intense snapshot of the numerous facets that go into the decision of taking one’s own life, each of its disparate parts aligning to form a piecemeal narrative readers may only ever really guess at in its entirety. Presented as a crumpled up piece of paper, readers “unwrap” the suicide note by clicking on the highlighted/pulsating words within its folds. Doing so exhumes other, shorter notes the writer placed within the virtual letter, each one a different illustration of–perhaps–what drove the fictional victim to this ultimate negation of self. The interface, technological sounds, and brief animations when you mouse over certain texts combined with the ruined state of the materials create a forensic tone for the work, casting the reader in the role of an investigator. The poem may be zoomed in on, zoomed out from, flipped, rotated, dimmed, and made completely invisible–though doing any of the aforementioned does not seem to change the nature of the text at first glance.
Minicontos Coloridos is a collaborative project conceived by Brazilian journalist, writer and teacher Marcelo Spalding in 2013. The short tales are structurally and conceptually associated with colors in a playful way. To access the stories, the reader should mix the primary RGB colors through a pull down menu available on the website in HTML which hosts the tales interface. The website offers three blending options for each of the three primary colors, totaling 27 short tales.
The Jew’s Daughter patterns itself upon a journey, moving between cityscapes of ports and trains, to internal monologues that outline mythical landscapes more closely aligned with nature. Positioning itself as a postmodern text that draws strongly on modernist roots, the novel plays not only with its self-reflexive embodiment – wherein the changing elements often attribute the same saying to multiple characters, shifting between first and second person, destabilizing the narrative and leading the reader to repeat the narrator’s question of “Whose horrible voices are these?” – but also evokes its own historicity and contemporaneity through multiple literary allusions.
For example, the novel’s fragmentary nature, its use of shifting narrators who are both male and female (who speak in both first and second person) while relying on a primarily male narrator, its constant moving landscape, the intercutting of a bar scene, as well as its play with popular tunes suggests a deliberate evocation of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Yet, at the same time, the primary male narrator appears rather Prufrockian, hesitant and unsure in his relationship with Eva and longing for more; the text’s abruptly centered lines on the page of prose describe a woman in a pearly white dress that might be Eva and her distance from the narrator. The Jew’s Daughter returns repeatedly to the image of the city and dogs, the singing that seems unrelated to the narrator himself and occurs mostly around him. In yet another parallel, the primary narrator’s return home, his alienated and crumbling relationship with his partner, Eva, his status as an Irish-Jew, all suggests an homage to James Joyce’s Ulysses. The possibility of this homage is further strengthened by Morrissey’s choice to name the novel ‘The Jew’s Daughter’, after an anti-Semitic folk song from the United Kingdom that is quoted in part in Joyce’s book. That is, Morrissey’s text opens itself to multiple possibilities and multiple interpretations – its play with stylistic and narrative conventions emphasizes the need for a plurality in terms of its reading encounter, as well as in any attempt at meaning making.
The novel states, “When the sacred builds itself, it dismantles us and then it is up to us to reassemble the things that linger in its wake, the brine and feathers that it scattered when it left… This is because its wholeness is our own. The broken sum of its parts is a great agonist. What are we without our histories? The work exhausts itself against us, and in our impotence we become great.” The Jew’s Daughter thus opens onto not simply discussion of the work as lived experience within our own shared histories, but also the work as a literary and philosophical construct. Given the text’s homage to Ulysses and Joyce’s as well as the text’s own suggestion of a link to Homer’s Odyssey – the questioning of the horrible voices, the repeated singing, the references to sea-journeys and ports, the decoration of the house with small black ram’s horns and oriental anchors, his return to Eva and the troubles that await him – it’s perhaps worth reading The Jew’s Daughter alongside Maurice Blanchot’s essay ‘Encountering the Imaginary’ which is itself based on Ulysses’ encounter with the Sirens.
In the essay, Blanchot suggests that the narrative is like a siren that beckons the reader towards meaning, that the entire event is a movement towards the distance of its conclusion. However, this promise is never revealed for the ‘truth’ of the siren’s song remains a secret never to be revealed – sailors are unable to survive the encounter, or else can only complete their course by blocking their ears to its song. The narrator’s choice to suggest that the work should exhaust itself against us without reaction would almost appear to repeat the Ulysses encounter with the siren – lashed to the mast and unable to give in, yet willing to encounter the experience – allowing the work to maintain its mystery and learning no truth but that of his singular journey. At the conclusion of The Jew’s Daughter, the text refuses simple meaning-making. For all that the reader is brought full circle in their journey alongside the narrator, the novel retains its complexity and plurality of voices – historical, literary, and fictional.
Note: Follow this link to read the first entry on this work.
Featured in The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1.
Reagan Library might be best described as exploratory hypertext fiction. In this work, Stuart Montfort has created an eerie world, reminiscent of the game Myst and its sequels, which seems to require a particular state of mind, a suspension of disbelief, and a total immersion into a new and unexplored universe.
Shelley Jackson’s My Body – A Wunderkammer is a 1997 hypertext that allows the reader to explore a fragmented recounting of the narrator’s relation to their own body, and to the memoirs and accounts produced by the nature of this embodiment, whether textual, linguistic, social or physical. The text opens onto the image of a female body that is subdivided into sections of the body and the reader simply has to click on the relevant section that interests them to read an anecdote involving that section of the narrator’s body, which then includes further links to other anecdotes or body parts which are often only tangentially related to earlier sections.
In “Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw,” Donna Leishman uses a series of animated images to tell the story of Christian Shaw, an almost eleven year old girl who lives in Balgarran. This is an exploratory piece that allows the user to experience Christian’s world.
Although there is some text, the piece is mostly non-verbal. The images change when the user chooses to hover over them and they show strange things happening. The world inhabited by Christian is filled both with terrible creatures that observe her from behind the barren trees or marvellous flora that changes in unexpected ways. Her experiences affect her perception.
Occupy MLA is back!
But don’t be alarmed just yet, since this resurgence of the controversial netprov, takes the shape of a published archive (linked to in this entry’s title). This documentation is exemplary, including a 3-minute introductory video, a link to an artists’ statement at The Chronicle of Higher Education (with a fascinating comment thread), an indexed and color-coded archive of the tweets, and an Excel file with the raw data from the four Twitter accounts that form the heart of this work. With this resource, you can read most of this timely performance that blurs the lines between fiction and reality, satire and activism, and virtual and embodied spaces.
Mark Sample has disappeared from Twitter, or has he? The link above leads to an archive of all his Tweets, which reference his final tweets, ostensibly from a Dulles airport that was sealed up by FEMA, including a link to an video of him sending a message to his wife and family, that “the book is not what they think it is.” What is this book and what is the whole situation about?