Monday, April 21, 2008

hypertext/?="The Metaphor is the Message"

Readers: Do you think in hypertext?

The era of the linear tome is dead, information is a web - who'd have thought it -
a net of knots in time and space, a palimpsest with infinite, self-referential layers.

I find that the model of hypertext has become the metaphor via which my thoughts, my research, finds form. I can't read one book at a time. Instead I skip between many, following an annotation in one, buying a bibiliographed reference, dipping into books by the same or similar authors in the bookstore, scribbling notes in one book about another. I make the world my internet; the library my world wide web.

Less I describe my journeys in hypertext, how about I carve them in hypertext, for you to explore?

Read on from Obvious Personal Cargo at


Anonymous said...

Great post mate. Have you by chance heard about or read Julio Cortázar's "Hopscotch"? This is considered one of the first literary experiments in a sort of hyper-text style. It's a very demanding read, but well worth it.

From Jana L. Perskie's review:

When Julio Cortazar published "La Rayuela" (Hopscotch) in 1966, he turned the conventional novel upside-down and the literary world on its ear with this experiment in writing fiction. He soon became an important influence on writers everywhere. "Hopscotch" is considered to be one of the best novels written in Spanish. This is an interactive novel where readers are invited to rearrange its sections and read them in different sequences. Read in a linear fashion, "Hopscotch" contains 700 pages, 155 chapters in three sections: "From the Other Side," and "From This Side" - the first two sections are sustained by relatively chronological narratives and so contrast greatly with the third section, "From Diverse Sides," (subtitled "Expendable Chapters"), which includes philosophical extrapolation, character study, allusions and quotations, and an entirely different version of the "ending."

The book has no table of contents, but rather a "Table of Instructions." There, we learn that two approved readings are possible: from Chapter 1 through 56 "in a normal fashion", or from Chapter 73 to Chapter 1 to... well, wherever the chapters lead you. The instructions are all in your book and are extremely clear. At the end of each chapter there is a numeric indicator to lead the reader to the next chapter. One never knows where one will be lead. Due to its meandering nature, "Hopscotch" has been called a "Proto-hypertext" novel. Cortázar probably had this work in mind when he stated, "If I had the technical means to print my own books, I think I would keep on producing collage-books."

dedroidify said...

Looks like a great book from here! Would like to try that.