Reading Hypertext: Reading the Link Part I

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Mary-Kim Arnold in Lust writes of John and Jeffrey. John has “sand colored hair and eyes of sea” and Jeffrey “had a past. He wrapped it around him like a blanket to keep him warm, to keep him safe from harm.” But “she” the unnamed point of view of Lust “has no need for blankets” (She Expects). We will learn that she cannot have one. In She Expects, a “him” is expected, “nearly naked.” Dave, however, “was a guy’s guy. . . . He wore a baseball cap, only touched her when they were in bed.”

In Michael, Arnold writes, “And when the traces of salty sweet lay on her skin like a blanket of breath and tears, she thinks of him, thinks of him, always thinking of him.”

In a space called Wishing, “The morning comes. Summer sun, heavy, falling across the carpet fibers. She is on her knees, facing the child.”

It is already a thrill to read and to feel.

Lust can be read many ways and should be. The reader cycles through words, images, and windows, feels the grit, the constriction of the throat.

She falls to her knees. She counts to ten slowly, deliberately. He is heavy. He is cold.

His carpet is stained with blood. There are loose fibers. She tries to speak to him. She can only scream.

If the reader lingers, remembers and reflects, a breathtaking image develops. If the reader lingers on She Aches, the hypertext bursts into a face of loss, where every other instance comes together, like several automobiles meeting in a common though tragic center.

We reflect because

His face is soft like a child’s.

She touches his face, running her hands across he surface of his skin. He is undressed.

She undresses him. She does not speak to him. She does not touch him.

He screams. He does not remember morning.

Summer sun and the child. (She Wishing)

Lust is a short, echosome text. Recurrences open and freshen contexts. “Dyed in the woolen blanket . . . She remembers the child.”

The reader will remember the child too and the “smells of sun and oranges.”

Fibers.jpg

The link is about connections, whether sourced from a word, space, or other syntactical unit, such as a phrase. They are about creating human connection. Connection between reader and image, character and action. In Crime and Punishment, Raskalnikov connects a letter from his mother badly to what may or may not be real. The reader finds hope in the letter. Raskalnikov dashes it. In Lust, a woman struggles to know, and we root for her not to, because what happened may be too much, the memory of loneliness too powerful.

Links go beyond machine reading or processing. The link may be between meaning. The link makes a triplet–the origin, the link, and the destination, an action to another, an image to an image. In Lust, these triplets form greater accumulations of texture and frayed fibers; it is ultimately a frustrated recounting for the woman, with holes boring deep between the flashes of tangible, tactile memory:

She counts to ten, breathing slowly, deeply.

She screams. She picks up the knife, thinks of his face. She touches the blade, running it gently across the surface of her skin.

I don’t remember anything else.

“Try.”

I can’t.

We want her to remember. And not. Maybe John could help. But he’s gone. All the woman can connect to at the moment is the voice that speaks, “Try.”


One response to “Reading Hypertext: Reading the Link Part I”

  1. gibb says:

    It took a focused mind to read this and I finally made the time to do so. Brilliant in its simplicity of concept.

    I see the idea of imminent forgetting as a combination of the two things that are in/out of human control. A second passed is past instantly. When you bring in Beowulf, it becomes obvious that man’s nature is to improve upon the past, or history actually in two ways: to embellish the past, and to overcome it.

    The example of Picasso is exquisite in its clarity of image to represent the event that happens, so to speak, simultaneously from all angles–all differently, yet all the exact same event. Bolstered by the image of the severed finger, the point is driven home by how fact becomes fiction (and it does instantly, anyway) slanted by the perceptor’s own pov–and this, formed by even more ‘fictional fact’ twisted by memory, desire and passion.

    This seeing of all angles at once, performed by Picasso and in hypertext, Arnold, reminds me of Edwin Abbot’s Flatland, particularly in the imperceptibility of those residents and their struggles to accept two-dimensional and three-dimensional worlds.

    As you’ve illustrated, hypertext can overcome our limitations of perceived time and space. Or, have we just not learned yet the key to the reality?