An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Interactive thesis

Our old mucker McEskimo sometimes drops us a link or two and the ones that aren't in Finnish are usually interesting - who knows the ones in Finnish may well be even more interesting we are in no position to judge - a recent example was a link to a thesis escaping from the University of Bergen - the department of Humanistic Informatics - by one Jill Walker and its title and ostensible topic was Fiction and Interaction. No, really - it's true. Come on - even Shaun couldn't make that up. It's a dryish read but not unrewarding. 189 pages of PDF - tough on the eyes if you read it onscreen but, like I said, not uninteresting. Now I don't want to spoil it for you but I had a few problems with the very foundations of her central thesis - you may not have, see for yourself. For openers, she describes in some first person detail her experience of reading (in a how it feels to her to read, what she does in response to the text, etcetera - the process of reading as it is to her) and to be honest it's hard for me to imagine a textual experience more different to my own. Does she read like that because she's a reader and not a writer? Do I read the way I do because I am a writer? Do more people read her way than mine? Does everybody read differently? How can we know the quiddity of such a deeply subjective, interior, personal experience as experienced by another? Is the experience itself even tellable? I cannot know the answers to any of those questions but that divergence immediately undermines everything that follows and is based upon it. Unfortunately she compounds my initial skepticism for her thesis treatment by demonstrating a terrifyingly narrow literary experience - she seems hardly to have heard of the modernists, the British experimentalists, the american and french oulipians, or any of the other genuinely interesting exponents of the text in the last 100 years. She seems wedded to that tranche of literature - the most tedious and hidebound of literature's span - that succeeded Sterne and Rabelais and ended up with early Hardy. How can I take someone seriously on the topic of fiction who has not experienced great fiction? Who has no love of it? Who doesn't know how modern fiction and great fiction work? Her ostensible interest is in the topic of textual interactivity but she seem not to have interacted with books like Finnegans Wake. She knows Calvino but not Alina Reyes. She namechecks Sterne briefly but ignores Sorrentino completely. I beg to differ with her from this fundamental frame of reference. That is not to say that the thesis has no merit - it does in fact point to a few interesting interactive works online but their own very substances are wafer thin and exploitative at best and perhaps for that we should praise her work - it might just be signposting where online interactivity is bound.

Here are the two links worth checking from her thesis

David Still
Online Caroline

I'd give you a link to her thesis but I cannot look it up on Finn's blog (SpymacV problem) - another time perhaps

1 comment:

  1. Here's the link you missed: