Category Archives: Hypertext

eLit Camp

Come to eLit Camp. It’s going to be very cool.elitcamp.jpg

E-Lit Camp is an informal weekend gathering for writers, artists, and programmers currently involved or interested in electronic literature. Work on your projects, give a presentation, collaborate, and learn from others.

If you’re a writer, artist, journalist, coder, or some combination of the above, E-Lit camp is for you. Have a project? Bring it. Don’t have one? Bring your skills and creativity. Fiction is fab; documentary is cool. Bring your camera, laptop, projector, ideas, and anything else you need to be creative. Bring electronic works, Interactive Fictions, and videogames that you like, so we can try them out!

This is an Unconference, loosely based on BarCamp and RailsCamp. Think of it as a weekend-long writers colony for electronic literature. If you have something to share, bring it along; there’s no approval process.

One evening, some of us are hoping to see “Sleep No More”, a hyperdrama at the American Repertory Theatre.

Time: Friday afternoon, 11 December, to Sunday night, 13 December.

Location: Eastgate Systems, Watertown Mass.

Registration info


1. Open export folder for Cadif
2. Open iPhone and story.css in editor
3. Open Tinderbox file for Cadif (it synthesizes poetry and prose)
4. Pick up on last action before leaving to blow leaves, which was to find individual poem spaces and crowd the stanzas
5. Click note and open html view and reduce tags to appropriate breaks
6. Continue till all spacing is correct (some tweaking must be done in the individual export files)
7. Go back to css and consider the aesthetics of color and font (1em or .9em?)
8. Persist
9. Remember to go back into html individuals and tweak whatever needs tweaking

2666 and Some of its Parts

2666.jpgRoberto Bolano’s novel 2666 is a turbulent structure. The reader may be interested after reading “The Part about Archimboldi” to go back to “The Part about the Critics” to rethink the timing of events–when do the critics venture to Mexico in their hunt for Archimboldi? And where is Archimboldi while the critics are in Santa Teresa, chasing ghosts?

In addition, The “Part about the Crimes” demands a re-read because we are re-introduced to Klaus Haas, Lotte’s son, and Lotte’s Hans Reiter’s little sister, and, of course, Hans Reiter is the great Benno von Archimboldi, whose story is told in The Part about Archimboldi.

2666 indicates its structure through titles. The novel is broken into Parts and Parts provide a frame for thinking about how each character, each section, and each story is associated. The reader can read 2666 as a history of accumulating relations. Appropriately, 2666 begins with Pelletier, the French critic, “discovering” Archimboldi. The Part about the Critics begins with a series of Archimboldi discoveries and these discoveries form the link between Pelletier, Morini, Norton, and Espinosa. The sequences of discovery goes like this: Jean-Claude discovers Archimboldi (Reiter) in 1980 at Christmas; Piero Morini in 1976; Liz Norton reads Archimboldi in 1988. Manuel Espinosa’s discoveries are treated differently. We know he wrote his dissertation on Archimboldi in 1990, but we aren’t told when he first reads Archimboldi, but we do know that he comes to Archimboldi by way of other failed enterprises.

Bolano wants the reader to consider dates, as he persistently glues the narrative with them. He also wants us to know context: what was the date, what was the circumstance. In “The Part about the Crimes” each revealed murder comes with circumstance, but these have nothing to do with solving murders (circumstantial evidence leads nowhere, typically) but everything to do with what detectives are doing day to day. This leads to an interesting question: how does one “solve” mass murder? In “The Part about the Crimes” finding the murderer or murderers comes off as a trivial expectation, as it does in “The Part about Archimboldi,” as the meaning of World War II’s murderous scope and all other mass murders in history become frames of reference not events “to solve.”

The reader is thus provided with a way of putting sequences of events together for later association. We can conclude that Pelletier’s Christmas discovery is a contiguous part of the world contained and developed in 2666. Each revealed part adds to the world’s puzzling complexity; they reveal more puzzles. This additional knowledge does nothing for the other characters, whose vision is limited by their own field. Take Lotte as a case in point and the reader. Lotte lives most of her life knowing very little about her son and her brother. Likewise Archimboldi knows very little about Lotte and his nephew. The critics, who are well versed in Achimboldi’s novels, don’t know the writer’s given name, Hans Reiter. This is only one of 2666’s great jokes. But it’s an interesting joke, as the joke is also on Reiter, who alters his identity to avoid charges for murdering a civil servant, who, during the war, dispassionately killed hundreds of Jews. The reader knows nothing about Archimboldi’s novels, though can infer much about them from his experience of the world in “The Part about Archimboldi.” The reader understands that the critics are members of an enamored academic club but that it’s their private lives that form the energy of this first part of 2666, which is entirely absent of romance conventions.

For a while, Ezpinosa and Pelletier wandered around as if possessed. Archimboldi, who was again rumored to stand a clear chance for the Nobel, left them cold. They resented their work at the university, their periodic contributions to the journals of German departments around the world, their classes, and even the conferences they attended like sleep-walkers or drugged detectives. They were there but they weren’t there. They talked, but their minds were on something else. Only Pritchard [a love interest of Norton’s], the ominous presence of Pritchard, Norton’s constant companion. A Pritchard who saw Norton as the Medusa, as a Gorgon, a Pritchard about whom, as reticent spectators, they knew almost nothing about.

After reading “The Part about Archimboldi, there will be no recognizing the Archimboldi of the Serb (The Part about the Critics) to the Reiter of “The Part about Archimboldi,” as these parts are causally indeterminate. 2666 is not a novel to read for deterministic plot. The very notion of causation is made strange in the novel, a curious human concoction.

We know when the critics becomes critics. We know when and the circumstances behind their meetings and movements. Norton’s and the other critic’s internal landscapes are rich, wondrous, and frightening. The critics won’t gain meaning from their studies, however, or from their professional connections. They can’t be intimate with Archimboldi, which is a privileged knowledge reserved for Mrs. Bubis; they have difficulty being intimate as friends. A reader may be left wondering what true intimacy might mean for them. We’re left at the end of “The Part about the Critics” with ironies so think, the puzzle is nearly impossible to solve:

“Archimboldi is here,” said Pelletier, “and we’re here, and this is the closest we’ll ever be to him.”

and Norton writes to her friends

I don;t know how long we’ll last together, said Norton in her letter. It doesn’t matter to me or to Morini either (I think). We love each other and we’re happy. I know the two of you will understand.

Pelletier and Norton are wrong on several counts. But this is exactly why they’re fantastic.

It bears more consideration, but Bolano, in 2666, has written a novel that’s a kind of opposing force to Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. In Marquez frail love and intimacy are ripe as fruit; in 2666, love is out there somewhere, but it’s escaped us.

Sonnets and Hypertext

I’ve been thinking about sonnet sequences. Why? Because I’ve been thinking a lot about links, linking methods and aesthetics, and other forms of possible digital signatures. Here’s what I mean by signature. Most people who’ve read classic sonnets can tell the difference between Shakespeare and Sidney:

With what sharp checks I in myself am shent,
When into Reason’s audit I do go:
And by just counts myself a bankrout know
Of all those goods, which heav’n to me hath lent:

Sidney’s sonnet 18 of Astrophel and Stella bears a certain stylistic signature. After several studies of the work, Sidney begins to sound like Sidney. The sonnet as a form has a lot going for it, mostly its definitional restrictions: rhyme scheme, numerical line requirement, just to name a few. Within those rules, there are very few limitations: imagery in the sonnet is limitless.

Tree of Life Web Project

Picture 2.pngI find this kind of project incredibly interesting, as the underlying hypermedia structure makes for a fine cognitive simulacrum. Thanks to Tiltfactor for the link.

The Tree of Life Web Project

. . . is a collaborative effort of biologists and nature enthusiasts from around the world. On more than 10,000 World Wide Web pages, the project provides information about biodiversity, the characteristics of different groups of organisms, and their evolutionary history (phylogeny).

100 Days and Word Counts

The following image is a snapshot of my 100 Days Tinderbox “Published” adornment, which backgrounds the monthly containers for the project. With the help of Mark Anderson, I now have each month displaying total word counts.

The graphs are also an indication of daily word count jumps. One of the ideas I’ll be looking at in the future is what the “diminishing” word counts mean in terms of story aesthetics.

Picture 1.png

The Dumpster

At the linkspace Mrs. Diamonte in The Dumpster, after following Danny and Mike, everything feels clean. The reader is prepared.

The link “asleep” has narrative meaning. But does everything depend on Mr. Diamonte’s and Mike’s fear?

Story Plotting

Here’s today’s story plotting by word length in Tinderbox, using this bit of code as a rule: $Pattern=”plot($WordCount)”.


Considering length hasn’t been much of an issue, as the internal questions about plot and character have taken precedence. Day to day writing prohibits length, but the upper parameter of length hasn’t been much more than a thousand. The longest story is The Champion at 1203 words. At 238, The Children works out as the shortest. Average length works out to about 650.

Repost on Associations

Here’s something I’d written about a year ago on units of meaning. It’s fresh in the mind again:

Kafka’s The Trial never grows stale. The Kafkan, however, as a descriptive modifier, has become a cliche. The Borgesian suffers similar potential for emptiness, while the fictions live on with every encounter. And what political commentator hasn’t used Yeats to describe the current state of affairs? In my view, Victory Garden must not “prove” anything. There is something implicit in the voice and feel of interactive fiction, something impressive in its often powerful imagery and relationships, something impressive in its infinite possibility of forms, and, finally, something in its ideas that can be expressed in no other form, something that will “create afresh the associations.”

Flake on the Cantor set sent me back.

Day 25 Reflection

We’ve hit the 25th day of 100 Days, which has been relentless work. I’m curious to know how other people are working, what they’re working with, how they’re working through problems, and what their “workbenches” look like.

Day 25 for me saw a return to Computer Leon, who persists for me as a fun and comedic character. He could get into all kinds of interesting problems. One of the items I’ve realized is that I don’t want to leave Pelgram and The Rabbit stories alone for long. But returning to these characters and their narrative implications requires distance as they really don’t taste of serialization.

I still have a lot to think about with experiments. But a major insight I’ve had about my own writing is that 1) I work with internal voices in two ways: I listen for narrators and for how characters sound and 2) following 1) I listen for how structure and plot emerges from the language and 3) I try to feel out action and event from the ideas I’m interested in.

Stylistically, I’m aiming for story language that conveys as much with as little as possible but, hopefully, doesn’t restrict for restrictions own sake, a language that keeps cutting away at the slab, the stone, or digging at the dirt for that unlikely or unknown nugget. That might be key, and is something I look for in my colleagues’ work. I’ve discovered a number of things: Leon, Pelgram, and all the other hes and shes that have emerged, and would never have emerged, without these stories. This is significant: withal, I’ve uncovered new voices, new places, new people, more ideas to consider.

For example, Cruz in The Mirror was a nice find for me, but he didn’t become a find until Maricela ends the story with a statement about Cruz: “The Cruz that not even I, and you, can escape.” The story progressed in fairly linear fashion. Cruz gets an idea about mirrors, Maricela just happens to be his girlfriend, and he follows his line to a point and the notion is closed by Maricela. But she throws an idea into the mix that made me think about future issues with Cruz, who sounds somewhat focused/obsessed and interested in mysteries. Maricela, who is the same Maricela of Weeping Bird, can’t escape Cruz. What does this mean? And how did Maricela get from an island in danger of attack, and out of a TV program, to Cruz? Cruz must be pretty interesting to attract an ex-special forces, bisexual bird-woman.

I could spend the next 75 days following each of the characters in these stories. I could also write the next 75 stories in one of several rooms or with a hat on or with a ribbon tied around my pinky finger. The point is not to plan on anything. For example, at this moment, I’m thinking about the Oedipus myth and how that might be fun to play with. And what if Computer Leon decides to reprogram his mobile phone? Is Pelgram in Shantou? Or is he that smoker smoking in the dark near a coffee shop on Carlisle?