- Reread afternoon, a story from the beginning
- Pick any series of four linked story “spaces”
- Keep track of the words that take you from one lexia to the next. What is their “texture” and what is their relationship to the title and text of the lexia they yield to?
- Analyze the lexia themselves: who is speaking, what is the context, what is the theme of the lexia? How does these lexia relate to each other and to the greater meaning of afternoon?
The initial three links pages that intrigued me was Page12, Page 51, and Page 52. The tension and the mood created in Page 12 narrative between Gina and Bent on their road trip peak my interest to want to know more about them. I want to know where Gina and Bent are going and why, therefore I click on the link that state “Next Stop” that brings me to Page 51 which appear to be a disconnected narrative. Before I get a chance to select on one of the four links after I finished reading Page 51 then the page automatically refresh to page 52 which continues the story of Gina and Bent.
The insert of Page 51 sandwiched between Gina and Bent’s original narrative seemingly stands out as an unrelated story. The visuals clues, such as background colors, font style, or structure of the words layout offer a hint of continuation or divergent from one groupings of narrative to another. Similarly, the title also signals that some pages are either from the same or different narratives. The title at the top of the narrative changed from “Driver” to “Cataglog of Dream #14.
Although Page 51 appear different, it is natural tendency to draw connections between them to establish a semblance of cohesiveness in the narrative, which is similar to the ideology described in J. Douglas’s article. The rational that can be given to justify the function of the break between Gina and Bent’s narrative is that Gina is probably dreaming and fantasying. Since the title of Page 51 is a “Dream Catalog”, also in the next link Page 52 Gina is described asleep in the car while Bent drove. So this three links merge together as if they are one whole narrative and complimented one another quite nicely.
Nonetheless, other times the separate links does not fit neatly together as if one cohesive narrative and the meaning between the link pages are harder to understand. I found the limit of only three linked pages to use as the bases in articulating a critical reading and interpretation of Hegirascope a difficult task to do. Hegirascope offer lots of possibilities of different narratives that it is hard to settle on just a small section of three linked pages. To facilitate with understanding of what I am reading in Hegirascope I made a simple map of the link that I have visited so that I can retrace my step. I like to explore majority of the possibilities and different variations the story can offer. In Gina and Bent’s narrative I am interested in what the original intent of the original story with the title “Drivers” and brown background. So I try to find out additional links that have the same aesthetic that distinguished this narrative from the rest of the others in Hegirascope. So far I traced about the story titled “Drivers” to ten different linked pages in Hegirascope. Also there are groupings of different story imbedded within Gina and Bent’s story. Second-degree removes from the original story there are links to the dream sequence, the Amanda, the number poem and many more other stories. The mix and match of all the different stories reminded me of the One Hundred Thousand Billion Poems by Raymond Queneau. By mixing and matching several different pages of story together one can recreate a completely different narrative.
All together the links and different stories inserted into the narrative create a broader and more comprehensive narrative. Through the selections of my links and the method of how I go about tracing down the links, Gina and Bent’s characters and journey changes from one encounter to the next, whereas, other readers might have a completely different understanding and experience in reading Gina and Bent’s narrative.
The Hegirascope is a collection of a couple hundred lexia that are linked between one another in many different ways. For each lexia (page), there are four links that accompany it. Each of these links link to another different lexia than one you’ve seen before — most likely. I stumbled upon three lexias that were able to be linked in a triangle. Just by randomly clicking one of the four given links on each lexia, after three pages, I was able to get back to the one I started at.
The first lexia that I have decided to start with is the one titled, “Catalog of Dreams #401.” I think that the author of this particular lexia is trying to illustrate a scene for us as the readers. The author describes the scenery of what is being presented by saying, “Here mesas, cacti, clouds, krazy hanging rocks are all left blank. There is just this rock which is red.” With the description the author gave, I picture in my head a dessert-type setting, except without any color — other than this red rock. The next paragraph then mentions that the rock isn’t only red, it is, “ruby, copper, gold, magenta, molasses, rust, ochre, burnt sienna, black and white and red.” Besides the black and white, the other colors are shades or tints of red — a color that can be closely associated with the dessert. A sunsent amidst the dessert is what I picture when I read this lexia.
From this lexia I clicked on a link called “rock.” The link took me to a lexia called “Education.” Education presents itself through the first person style of writing. It is about — I’m assuming what is a young man of about my age — talking about his educational experiences so far in his life. It takes place back in 1953 when he/she went to Esther Williams College to persue an adjutants degree. An adjutent is defined as a helper; it seems to be a pretty strange thing to major in. The narrator talks about how he met Lord Perfidious and they would drink tea and share atomic secrets. Taken literally, considering the era, they could have been sharing real secrets about maybe what they knew of atomic weapons. When thinking about how this links to the previous lexia — Catalog of Dreams #401 — I first noticed the opening line of Education where it states, “In 1953, at the age of three paving stones and a large piece of quartzite…” The obvious mention of paving stones and quartzite links to the red rock mentioned in the previous lexia. After thinking about this a little more in depth, however, I considered the colors mentioned in the Catalog of Dreams #401 — ruby, copper, gold, magenta, molasses, rust, ochre, burnt sienna … and red — and thought of those as colors of destruction, perhaps at the hands of an atomic bomb? Also, haven’t nuclear testings taken place in the dessert?
As I have gone through these lexias, I tried to click on the link that seemed to be what the author was talking about in that certain lexia. After the Education lexia, I clicked on the link called “schooling.” This took me to a lexia titled “Your Agent Called.” This one is written in what seems to be the second-person narrative. If I were to guess at what this is about — as I said, they all are rather obscure — I would suggest the stock market. The narrator mentions that a financial fugitive acquired the Hannah-Barbera cartoon library for ¥800 trillion. At the end of this lexia, the narrator suggests that one should buy Dotsex at ¥1,400 because research — which you are now privvy to — has proven that sexual stimulation will cure Alzheimer’s in some patients. After reading through this one a few times and studying it, I still find it difficult to find a concrete link between the two. As I mentioned above, an Adjutant is a helper, or an aid — like a secretary. You can argue here that the link between the two is that scientific research is being conducted year-round at the price of hundreds of millions of dollars to help and aid those who are ill. This third lexia talks about the cure of Alzheimer’s as sexual stimulation and that it is a proven cure for those who suffer.
The word Hegira refers to a flight to a more hospitable place. The word scope insights the act of narrowing down a search or focusing tightly on something. So hegirascope to me means the act of deeply looking at something with the intent of the main focus getting better or becoming what you want it to become. This relates to these excerpts from the lexias because these lexias can be taken almost any way you want. They can be molded down into whatever the reader thinks — to an extent of course. Just through some critical thinking, I was able to come up with reasons why I thought these three lexias linked together. There is no definite ending or sense of closure here. An interpretive strategy that can be applied to this is the text as a kaleidoscope strategy. The kaleidoscope is constantly changing with any iota of change. In a way, this is like the Calvino novel because you can pretty much interpret your own ending for all ten of those stories as well as the three lexias here.
- Continue exploring Hegirascope
- Pick any series of three linked pages
- What are these fragments about? What do they add up to?
- Analyze the lexia themselves, the “texture” of the link choices between them, the actual links, how the lexia relate to each other, how the lexia relate to the whole of Hegirascope and its overall meaning
- Post a 500-word critical "reading" or interpretation of Hegirascope to the blog (this does not replace the weekly reading response); be sure to include in your post links to the specific pages which you write about
I chose to create the mapping of my CYOA book using a software program called "CmapTools." http://mason.gmu.edu/~bpierso2/houseofdanger.jpg is where it can be found. You can see what Cmap is capable of doing by looking at the image. The method I used to create this map was to start at page one and then go to where the pages told me to go. As I did this, I mapped it. When it came time to make a decision, I would map both possible pages I could go to and then pick one and keep on mapping the numbers. I chose to just use each bubble as a page number with a line connecting each one. The font I used was a standard size-12 font. When it came to the end of stories, I chose to enlarge the text to 18 and make it bold. It was easy to keep up with the forks in the roads while mapping this because as I go to the end of mapping one storyline, I would just go back up and find any Ys in the map that weren’t completed. My book was fortunately very easy to map because none of the pages met up with any of the other pages. I never had to use the same bubble more than once (never had to read the same page twice, basically) This made it very easy for me to map and I was able to just go straight through the book without having to back track or figure out which bubbles linked to which others. This is what a reader wouldn’t see without mapping it. I didn’t think about the fact that they didn’t meet up again with any other pages and I don’t think the casual reader would notice this either without mapping it.
The structure of interactive narrativity is difficult to come up with here because it is very straight forward and flowing. I would say that it is more like a tree that branches out. It isn’t exactly like the Marie-Laure Ryan’s example of "The Vector With Side Branches" though because there aren’t any side branches that this story ventures to. It is strictly from one thing to the next. I never had to go to the same page twice ever while mapping or reading the book. It is similar to the Vector With Side Branches because that narrative is described as "chronological." Because my story never hits back to any of the previous pages, you can argue that it also is chronological. From a standard reading sense, however, you can’t say that any of these CYOA books are chronological; they jump around a lot. I think what I’m trying to say is that my book basically shoots straight through a story and doesn’t go back. I can picture in my head as an arrow that just keeps on going. The page numbers don’t necessarily ascend in chronological order as you read, but it just seems that figuratively, you are going straight through since you will never see the same page twice while reading different story. I would say that another narrative that this book is similar to is The Tree. Ryan states that "once a branch has been taken, there is no possible return to the decision point." (Ryan – 248) This is pretty much what I’ve been saying about how each story keeps going, rather than goes back to other pages.
If you’re stuck on your Choose Your Own Adventure map, here’s another one to look at. This is a map of The Cave of Time, the first and original book in the series. It’s big, so you have to scroll, but you get the idea. Notice how I used a color key to distinguish between the various endings.
I created the map using an freely available concept mapping software called CMapTools. There are versions of this development tool available for most platforms, so you may want to experiment with it. It definitely made the mapping experience easier for me. (The last one I did was with pen and paper and took much longer to plot out.)
Reflections upon your own "Incipit"
- Describe your general methodology for choosing the links you inserted into your Calvino "incipit."
- Pick four of the links you created in your incipit and explain your rationale for each of them, and then reflect on whether you were successful or not in what you tried to convey.
Reflections upon other "Incipits"
- Read two other incipits
- In a new post to the blog, write a reflection about how the links added or took away from the “meaning” or “coherency” of the incipit.
Here is a list (so far) of the Calvino-inspired "incipits" written in ENGL 343:
- Traversing through the Winding Road (Ann Luu)
- A Look Beyond the Bridge (Bertha Bey)
- When There is No Story at All (Jackie Kennard)
- From the Deep Dark Cells of Isolation (Bryan Pierson)
- Swimming Through a Sea of Defiance (Randall Ford)
- Across the Dark Expanse (Philip Miller)
- Cowering in the Darkest Chasms (Jennifer Parker)
- Neighborhood Lawns in the Middle of September (Wes Shephard)
- "Rock!" said Mary (Jason Obenschain)
- The Drawn Pavement of October Nights (Lindsey Williams)
For this exploratory assignment, write your own 2-page beginning of a “novel” which might appear in If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Try to model the form and style of Calvino’s truncated “novels.” Remember some of the common elements of all of the novels:
- Long, ambiguous titles
- Directly addressing the reader or referring to the act of reading
- Descriptions of what the novel is saying instead of the actual text of the novel
- Full of intrigue, including breaking off at a very suspenseful moment
- Tension between male and female characters
The assignment is due on Tuesday, September 13.