Category Archives: Digital narratives

Prelim rationale v 1.1

I’m working on a v 2.0 of my rationale, but thought I’d post this second version for the sake of posterity/transparency.

I’ve opted with the 1.1, as though it dose contain some substantial changes, I don’t feel as though it is necessarily more than a small departure from the first draft. Mostly, I’ve added some explication and connections.

In the upcoming (in a few days) v 2.0, I’ll largely try to do the opposite: discretize these blended areas in order to more clearly define them. I’ll also be following up with a reorganization of my booklist, which is currently on Evernote. I’ve been reluctant to match the list to my areas, as I personally cannot not see many texts applying to more than a single area. Alas, it is time to try!

Rationale after the break… And, as always, comments welcome!

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Digital Project

For my digital project, I created an interactive supplement to my essay on ARG player production using Inform 7, a language used for writing Interactive Fiction.

I chose to do this for a few reasons. The main reason is that I wanted to gain some experience working in Inform 7. This is a contextual programming language that looks very different from most code that I’ve previously tried to work with. As I’m interested in interactive narratives and games, I figured learning this language was beneficial to me, personally, as both a writer and academic (which is most of the time a meaningless distinction for me).

My interest in interactive narratives, however, also reveals why I chose to mediate this digital project in the way that I did. In general, I’m interested in exploring different patterns, ethics, and logics for “texts”, modes and media. By working in Inform 7, I can still work with type on a screen/page, which is both comforting and potentially subversive (I hope!). It is comforting, in that this project uses writing, just as a print (or digital copy of a print) essay does. I hope that it is subversive, as it allows the reader (or interactor) more agency in determining the shifting logics and coherences of the work, through making choices within the possibilities I have written.

You can visit the (rather generic) homepage for the project here. Clicking on “Play In-Browser” will allow you to do just that.

On inexactitude in mapping

we shall have to think up signs,
sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan
on the double page
of day and paper.
Tomorrow, we shall have to invent,
once more,
the reality of this world.
-Octavio Paz, “January First”
Trans. Elizabeth Bishop
A novel examines not reality but existence.  And existence is not what has occurred, existence is the realm of human possibilities, everything that man can become, everything he’s capable of. Novelists draw up the map of existence by discovering this or that human possibility.
-Milan Kundera, The Art of the Novel
Peter Turchi’s Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer begins with the two above quotes, framing the metaphor of writing as cartography.  What follows in the opening chapter of the book is an extension of discussing writing in terms of exploration and guidance, mapping the fictional territories of the imagination.  While Turchi’s discussion is interesting–and written in a very accessible manner–it is also reliant on a central concern of pre-modern aesthetics, assuming that mapping is an exercise in imposing order on the world: textual, visual, temporal.  While this is sensical, my interests in mapping Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire lay outside of the imposition of a different order on a text.

Exploring Pale Fire's paratext with Google Earth

Well, after a bit of prodding from myself and the excitement of sharing this project with the world (and maybe a few with genuine interest!), I’ve plodded my way through the last 20 hours of hand coding to produce…

Pale Tour

Pale Tour: a remediation of many of the narratives found in Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire “Commentary” section.

Upon reading this pseudo-hypertext for the second time, I found Kinbote’s commentary to contain many temporal cross-references between his personal narrative and those of Charles Xavier (whom I do assume to be Kinbote), John Shade, and the regicidal assassin Gradus/Jacques D’Gray.  These “time-stamps” looked to be a useful way of charting the many narrative pathways of Pale Fire and, with a bit of closer reading, many spatial cross-references and overlaps can also be found.

Clicking on the above link will send you to my UW-Milwaukee web space, specifically to the home page of Pale Tour.  You can navigate to Charles’s and Kinbote’s narrative tours from that link; Gradus’s tour should be coming shortly.  More information is available on the Pale Tour homepage, such as source files and my method of hand coding.  I encourage all to use my files under the defined Creative Commons license–and be sure to tell me what you’re working on!

I’ve got a few future wrinkles I’d like to add, such as polygon paths to show a more permanent visual record of the narrative trajectories, as well as potentially time-coding the narrative arcs in a single tour that does a better job of visualizing the relationship between narratives.  Until then, enjoy!