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Victory Garden October 2

Page history last edited by yleavel@... 11 years, 9 months ago

Background

     Born in 1957, Stuart Moulthrop went on to pursue English at George Washington University.  He received his Ph.D from Yale where he taught for four years, then went on to teach at UT in Austin, and finally Georgia Tech. It was there that he met Jay David Boulter, co-designer of the Storyspace software in which he wrote Victory Garden. .  He was influenced Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, and has written other hyptertext fictions which can be found on his website. He currently is a professor at the University of Baltimore in Maryland .

     We also discussed a few classic hyptertext works including Patchwork Girl, by Shelley Jackson, and Afternoon, a story by Michael Joyce

 

Main Points

     The (hyper)text seems to be taking place around the start of the Gulf War, and is related through snapshots of various people who are affected by it either directly or indirectly. The story unfolds differently depending on where you start in the maze, and as the author says in the beginning, there are familiar places that appear again and again, but sometimes are slightly changed. There are "words that yield" which seem to follow certain thematic threads according to their own logic rather than the logic of the narrative.

     We also discussed the possible roles of media in the story, and drew a lot of parallels to the Baudrillard and Virilio readings, and going a little further back, McLuhan. Both Baudrillard and Virilio mention CNN, and Ted Turner, as the sort of directors of the dramatic, television creation of the Gulf War as a non-war, a media war. Harley echoes Nefastis in his strange need for media feed during sex. We also talked about letters as a source of "the real dope", actual news from an eyewitness on the ground as opposed to news broadcasts recyled and edited to the point of non-meaning. Interesting however to remember that the letters we have seen come from postal clerks, not necessarily the front lines, and that the letter is as subjective and biased as any source.  Boris and his virual reality work were mentioned as a convenient way of talking about the war. We also made a distinction between media in the text, such as the preceding, and media of the text, such as the pictures of Schwarzkopff and the triangle diagram. We distinguished the pictures as Moulthrop's tools to tell the story.

     Finally we asked again, What would McLuah Say? after which we mentioned that he is directly referenced in the text as MacArthur's Patron saint, and then made the following lists of traits pointing towards the work as either electronic or textual:

 

     Electronic: 

          information must be accessed

          links

          tailored for user (aural culture is interactive)

          interactive

     Text:

          ordered

          resembles a book

          logical flow of phonetic alphabet.

     We eventually decided that it is a difficult distinction to make, and that the text is a little too interactive to be part of the passive electro-tribal realm, but also clearly not as comfortably static as a traditional print publication.   

 

Passages:

[Feed]

Macarthur had TV's set up along three compass bearings (Urquart's color set, plus the old black-and-white from the guestroom and his own Watchman). The VCR was active, taping away. He'd tuned the stereo to an all-news AM station in New Owrleans with the volume down to a murmur. The fax machine in the study was churning off a dispatch and the printer on Urquhart's PC was cycling. Macartuhur has his own laptop jacked in to the phoneline and seemed to be splitting his primary attention between Compuserve and CNN.

"Interesting?" Urquhart asked.

"Not yet".

Urquhart noted that the microwave was running with nothing inside. Macarthur apologized. "I got a little confused".

     This passage illustrates the instantaneous information overload of the electro-tribal world that so threatens McLuhan, and which Virilio predicts will put an end to reflective, thoughful democratic action. Macarthur is so caught up in plugging to as many sources as possible that he accidentally turns on his microwave, as if trying to reach all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum in his quest for news.

 

Character Profiles:

 

Harley: 35 years old, African American, former CNN reporter; chose to take a stress leave rather than be assigned to the gulf; dates Veronica and always watches TV during intercourse.

 

Veronica: About 24 or 25; a waitress at the Just Say No Café; Emily’s sister; dates Harley.

 

Madden: An F.B.I. agent who works with Tate; involved in research to aid the war effort

           

            Victor: Rather nondescript; pursues Emily; notoriously sex-starved; he's pursued by Jude.

 

Thea: Professor at the University of Tara; paranoid and depressed as a result of her participation in the “culture wars,” a 1980s cultural movement that sought to redefine the literary canon; has a 15 year old son named Leroy.

 

Emily: Stationed in the gulf, working at an army post office; a graduate student and one of Thea’s advisees; pursuing an M.A. in cultural anthropology, fluent in Spanish; has been dating Boris for about three years.

 

Boris: Born in 1957; a professor of computer science researching “interactive dreams”; his work is somehow connected to the war effort; possibly insane; alter-ego: The Prophet Uqbari, a Saddam Hussein look-a-like.  

 

Jude: A sixth-year grad student in Boris’ seminar; confesses to being mentally unstable, tried to commit suicide as a teenager; dresses up as Emily in order to seduce Victor.

 

Heidel: Thea’s rival and fellow faculty member; opposes in her in her “cultural war” efforts.

           

            Tate: University provost; amateur astronomist

 

Billly Van Saxgutter: Fraternity member; looks like Lyndon Baines Johnson and speaks with a fake Texas drawl; excited that the war has begun; a force for chaos.

 

- Although there is factual information about the characters available throughout the story, we agreed that each reader can have a different perspective of the characters depending on how each reader reads.

 

Terms

 

Intertext- is like an allusion but on a grander scale, one text makes meaning by protracted reference to another text. The Garden of Forking Paths is an intertext for Victory Garden, which seems to appropriate some of its structure and themes, for instance the idea of playing out all the possible

 

allusion/imipolex- we discussed the example of immoplex as an allusion to  Gravity's Rainbow in Hacker and the Ants. Immoplex is mentioned as the hard plastic that the tiny ant army is made up of, and is a fictional material invented by Pynchon.

 

culture wars- movement in the 1980s that pushed for the widening of the literary cannon from classic, dead, white, male writers to include female, African American writers from their time and ours.  A cultural widening of perspectives by including non-traditionally acclaimed but equally valid in perspective writings.  

 

Links:

Hyperizons

It's a little bit dated, but someone put together a nice collection of hypertext fiction, reviiws, links. It's Organized by author.

Why Hypertext?

This website answers the question "Why Hypertext?" and explains why it is used along with its advantages.

First CNN Gulf War Broadcast

Just a note, this is only part one but if you want to watch the whole broadcast, there are links to it after the video.

 

Comments (2)

Adam Al-Sayed said

at 5:06 pm on Oct 6, 2008

Just throwing those notes down as a placeholder, guess I'll work on characters if that's cool with everyone else?

yleavel@... said

at 12:11 am on Oct 7, 2008

hey all, so most important stuff, we need to post passages. I posted a few suggestions, but if you guys have other passages, go for it. Also I couldn't think of too many other main points, but please go add stuff. Also we have no links yet, I think we should post a link to a) Stuart Moulthrop's page at the university, it has a bunch of his other stuff on it. Maybe we could link to something about the gulf war, maybe if there are any youtube clips of old news footage from CNN, it would be cool. I'll check it out again tomorrow morning, keep editing and whatnot. See yas!

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