Tagged: Stories

Reconfiguring Narrative

I’m still playing catch up a bit with the readings on hypertext after a very hectic week last week. Elliot asked us to consider what we would think of a story that changed every time we read it (I’m recalling here and could be wrong so apologies if I go down an entirely divergent track – but that’s kinda the point of this class no?)

Anyway my immediate reaction to this question was “But they do change every time we read them, or at least the good ones do” Because as we get older, and we go back to favourite novels and each time bring with us a year’s more life experience and different priorities we notice completely different things or empathise with a character in a completely new way or suddenly “get” what that character was doing etc.

The reason I bring this into the hypertext discussion is because it’s all about variables, and in the unlecture Brian spoke about how everything has a precedent and I think there’s some link between how much of a variable we can be in the experience of a story that’s the traditional beginning/middle/end structure, and that maybe that’s part why our curiosity has drawn us into hypertext… I’m not quite sure how to draw it all together but there’s something there for me.

The Reconfiguring Narrative lay these variables out quite clearly:

1. Reader choice, intervention, and empowerment

2. Inclusion of extralinguistic texts (images, motion, sound)

3. Complexity of network structure

4. degrees of mulitplicity and variation in literacy elements such as plot, characterization, setting and so forth.

And I guess what I got from this is that there’s a spectrum of stories and narrative structure and hypertext and depending how much each variable presents itself, how many of the variables are present and how they interact dictates where in this spectrum they fit in.

The reading also spoke about linearity and the readers need for closure. That if each lexia provides some form of closure the reader’s needs can be satisfied while still facilitating the hypertext experience. It was really interesting to consider author’s like Dickens as the precursor to this with the serial and the necessity to provide some form of conclusion while still leaving the broader story open to continue. In the world of hypertext though,

Linearity, however, now becomes a quality of the individual reader’s experience within a single lexia and his or her experience following a path, even if that path curves back on itself or heads in strange directions.

It is mind boggling to me to think of tackling so many variables whilst being able to provide for some kind of linearity at the same time.

This also leads me onto a though from the unlecture where Adrian was speaking about music and how we accept repetition within music but not through text. That was really interesting to me and trying to conceive of how coming across the same text via various contexts within the one “world” would feel… and maybe that brings me back to what I was discussing at the start of the post about re-reading books and bringing new experiences which lead to new discoveries through the text.

Reconfiguring Narrative also discusses how in informational hypertext there is the necessity to employ rhetorics of orientation, navigation, and departure to orient the reader. Conversely the reading argues that successful hypertext and poetry does not always facilitate the navigation in this way which results in the readers being unable to make particularly informed or empowered choices.

I am going to come back to this, fatigue is getting the best of me.