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October 7 - Victory Garden, Day 3

Page history last edited by cstroeb@... 12 years, 8 months ago

Main Points 

  • How does one read a hypertext?

The reader can attempt to progress linearly through the text by pressing the Return key, just like turning the pages of a print novel.  Alternatively, the reader can attempt to make use of the tools provided by the hypertext format (the links, the map, the Back button, the Links button, the Writing Spaces feature) in order to further the story in a particular direction or avoid discontinuities.


The reader can also decide when to stop the story.  Generally frustration, fatigue, confusion, and distractions caused the students to stop reading, rather than the students' having found a stopping point in the text. Hypertext makes it difficult to get where you want to go. 


  • Can a hypertext work be considered a story?

Being an experimental format, the hypertext novel departs from the Aristotelian concept of a linear plot arc, causing problems for most readers who are used to that traditional format.  Experimentation with new formats is important because it draws attention to the fact that the older format is merely an accepted cultural norm, not inherently natural.


Hypertext stories could be considered the extreme of the idea that all stories are to some extent detective stories, since they require piecing the story together from all the multiple possibilities that the text presents.


  • To what extent does the reader have control?

Arguments against the reader's having control in hypertext:

  1. The unfamiliarity of hypertext is distracting.
  2. Guardfields deny reader access to parts of the text.
  3. Hypertext lacks linear organization.
  4. It is an experimental process 

Arguments for hypertext enabling control of the reader:

  1. The diagetic and use of second person within lexias which involve the reader.
  2. The reader progresses through the story by choosing which links to click.
  3. There are lexias which allow the reader to build sentences by selecting words.
  4. Boris' interactive dreams show how hypertext works off of providing word prompts to the reader.
  5. The reader decides where to start and stop the story.


Key Terms

achronological/anachronological:  Prof. Croxall suggests the former term to describe stories that have nothing to do with time or in which time is a non-issue and the latter term to describe stories that are not arranged in the order of time.


hypertext:  According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “a computer-based text retrieval system that enables a user to access particular locations in webpages or other electronic documents by clicking on links within specific webpages or documents.”  Victory Garden is a novel written in this format.


intertext:  An extended allusion to another text.  The Garden of Forking Paths serves as an intertext for Victory Garden.


plot:  According to Sparknotes.com, “the arrangement of the events in a story, including the sequence in which they are told, the relative emphasis they are given, and the causal connections between events.”  Sparknotes suggests chronological, achronological, and non sequitur as possible types of plots.



"The freedom of movement in a hypertext brings with it an excess of narrative possibilities, some of which may lead you away from your original destination.  The destination may shift dynamically, as other routes, other ports of call appear on your itinerary.  As the density of the textual fabric increases and the paths traversing the document grow more numerous, so does the potential for misdirection.  You might not get to where you were going." --Terry Harpold "The Contingencies of the Hypertext Link"

[Where are you going?]

Within this lexia, Moulthrop explains the nature of hypertext within Victory Garden.  This passage is of interest because Moultrop includes criticisms of the hypertext format within the text itself; he is very aware that he is embracing an experimental medium.



[And Now...]

This lexia is of interest because it marks what could be considered an "ending" to the story; the reader cannot click a link or press Return to continue.  However, because the reader can always choose to back up or start over, there cannot be a definitive ending until the reader himself or herself actually decides to stop reading.


"We're linear animals.  We're born; we live; we die.  That's pretty much inescapable.  We make choices, we take the consequences.  As for your hypertexts and multiple simulations, well how nice for you.  But what do they mean in the real world?"

[Plain Enough]


"No, wait," Macarthur maintained, "you're not getting it.  We're talking about possibilities and alternatives.  Try for a minute to see beyond necessity, beyond determinism.  Who says there's only one way?  Who says it only happens once?  If we use our imaginations we can learn to see the world differently, and with that vision we can create systems that aren't constrained to singularity.  Multiple values, multiple horizons.  That's what the shift to virtuality is all about--to create new worlds that make room for difference.  Why, someday we might even be able to bend time itself..."


The characters discuss Borges' The Garden of Forking Paths and subsequently, the nature of time.  Macarthur tries to convince the students that the story's interactive approach toward time has merit, but Jude argues that the traditional, linear approach towards time is more practical.  Jude also points out that although the story is ostensibly about the open-endedness of time, it has exactly one definitive outcome.  Macarthur makes the connection between time and virtual reality; time contains all potential futures; this is the message that the media of virtual reality and hypertext pres.




Here is a link to another hypertext story that uses a slightly different format from Victory Garden. http://ezone.org/ez/e2/articles/conway/jump1.html


In the Ask Wizards segment for August 21, 2006, a flavor text writer describes the difficulties with chronology in the medium of card games.



Wikipedia gives a rough overview of Victory Garden here: 



One of the best know hypertext stories is Afternoon, a story by Michael Joyce. Here is a link to it with a brief blurb and how you can purchase it.





Comments (3)

amccutc@learnlink.emory.edu said

at 10:07 pm on Oct 7, 2008

Since we have the extension, I'm just going to make these edits and come back to it on Thursday. Basically, I just wanted to make sure that these three main points were made explicit, and that we at least had some key terms and transcribed passages.

(I'm kind of confused about "achronological" and "anachronological." While the distinction we made in class makes sense to me, I wasn't able to find any other sources that used both of those terms in the same way; the best I could do was the Sparknotes page. It seems like their "achronological" corresponds to our "anachronological," and their "non sequitur" corresponds to our "achronological.")

amccutc@learnlink.emory.edu said

at 7:45 pm on Oct 9, 2008

A whole day and no comments. Well, so much for the spirit of collaboration...

I'm wondering if the organization of Victory Garden might be considered "poly"-chronological. It isn't the case that there is no order to the story, but it also isn't the case that there is a specific order that's been rearranged.

I also wanted to include a link to Larry Niven's story, "All the Myriad Ways," but the website I'd found it on online before doesn't seem to be working.

I'd also like to be able to work in the mention in class we had of Victory Garden having several possibilities and whether a reader can (or cares to) find them all. It reminds me of something Raph Koster once wrote, about how some games can be divided into two categories: games where the goal is to get to the other side of the map (like say, Donkey Kong) and games where the goal is to visit every place on the map (like say, Pac Man).

Brian Croxall said

at 1:13 pm on Oct 17, 2008

Alphonso, I like your idea about the polychronology of Victory Garden. But in some ways this seems different than its being mixed up (anachronological, as I called it in class). Anachronological just means that the events are told in a jumbled order. Polychronological, on the other hand, suggests that there are multiple ways to order the events. Some of the events are fixed to fairly specific moments. Others can be arranged in relation to these events, but that order can still vary.

I'd be interested to see a reference to that Ralph Koster piece, as that distinction is a good way to understand different reading processes in Victory Garden as well as other novels like Milorad Pavic's novel _Dictionary of the Khazars_.

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