|In this number of New River, we bring you a micro-hypertext from Deena Larsen, and a cinepoem from Adrian Miles. Don't feel too bad if you've never before heard of a micro-hypertext or a cinepoem. I'm pretty sure the authors made the terms up. Strange as they might sound at first, both strike me as impressively simple and accurate descriptions of the work. In "Mountain Rumbles," Larsen has devised a limited structure appropriate for her subject. She uses the Japanese kanji for mountain as a hypertext map, which the reader is invited to use for navigation. As the reader points a cursor at different parts of the kanji, different sections of the work appear in a box to the right. The number of sections is limited by the lines of the kanji, creating a short, spatially limited hypertext: a micro-hypertext.
Adrian Miles refers to his cinepoem, "I know that somewhere here this is a homage some where," as a "mixed media appropriation." Astute readers will notice right away there's nothing particularly hypertextual in Miles's piece. There are no links. The reader has no say in the progress of the narrative. You might even argue that there's no narrative, though I would disagree. Still, this piece strikes me as terrifically interesting and pertinent to the various questions raised by hypertext and hypermedia. True, the reader can't navigate the work--but look at all the fascinating links embedded in this forced yoking of Nelson's words to Wells's images. And at the center of it all is Xanadu, which serves wonderfully as a metaphor suggesting the unfinished and unfinishable work of the imagination. That strikes me as appropriate enough to belong in New River.
To anyone who has ever tried to write a hypertext and wrestled with the problems of structure, I recommend Alice Fulton's new book of essays, Feeling as a Foreign Language: The Good Strangeness of Poetry, from Graywolf. Though all of the essays in the collection are a pleasure to read, Fulton is of most interest to hypertext writers when she calls for a postmodern analysis of poetic structure that is informed by fractal theory in particular and science in general. She may be analyzing poetic structure when she talks about "manageable chaos" and "constant digression and interruption," but she might just as well be considering the questions inherent in structuring hypertext.
Letters to the editor, by the way, are encouraged. We're interested in your thoughts on the pieces we publish, or on any of the issues raised by digital writing. If we get enough responses, we'll publish a letters section in the next number.Ed Falco Blacksburg, VA