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Despite the story Twelve Blue being a hard read for me, I understood some parts of the page and how to get around to other parts of the story. Unfortunately, I got confused as to where to go for part 9, so that took away from my experience and I became disengaged with the story quickly after.

At first, when reading the article, I overthought the concept of navigating through elit. I feel confident that I will identify stories that are easy to navigate through on a computer without losing the story. I have never read a book online, but I’m sure it would be a much easier read than if I read a hard copy.

On Navigating Electronic Literature

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That line can apply to countless types of situations, but in this case I’m applying in a rather personal sense. I’m talking of course, about my absolutely triumphant return to studying electronic literature.

Back in 2014, I decided to take Intro To E-Lit (not much of an intro anymore I suppose) during an absolutely stacked semester. I took 15 credits instead of 12, the insanity. Despite this, there was a certain respite that the class had provided that I couldn’t really put my finger on at the time; I entered each week with a sense of excitement, not dread. I now know however, the main reason behind this feeling.

A lot has happened since my first venture into E-Lit back in 2014, in technology, in literature, and even in myself as a person. And the very concept of electronic literature, the storytelling, the narrative, and the visuals, has sat on an interesting, almost neutral plane the entire time, not quite taking advantage of the new enhancements that technology has offered, but rather placing an emphasis on design and style to compose most E-Lit works Focusing on the role of navigation in electronic literature can lead to valuable discussions not only about individual works but also about electronic literature in general and its relationship to traditional literary studies, says Jessica Pressman on Navigating Electronic Literature. And with a quote like that, I think a good part of E-Lit can be framed into a mode of discussion, one with examples that can be learned from.

Take Michael Joyce and Twelve Blue, the E-Lit reading this week. If I had read it in the previous class then I had forgot my experience with it, and this has allowed me to explore it again with fresh eyes. It’s a labyrinth of exposition and dialogue, monologues and introspection. It could mean a whole lot as much as it means nothing, and it seems to favor the latter.

Twelve blue isn’t anything. Think of lilacs when they’re gone, the story urges me to do when I decide to seek advice on reading it. There are passing links within the text on the right as well, but these, once followed, go away. Never has advice been so cryptic as it was informative.

The difficulty of identifying the “text” in electronic literature is made even more apparent in interactive works that engage the reader as a character navigating through the narrative, Pressman wrote in her article, and I think Twelve Blue is a quick example of just how true that can be. If there’s a story here that I’m supposed to absorb, it’s lost on me. But for what I can take at face value, the text that is presented in the non-linear format, it’s quite engaging, with the links to the new page being a key line in the text, or the borderline nonsensical text at the end of one of the “routes” that encourage you to check out another one.

Twelve Blue may not have been as coherent as I remembered it, but it did remind me of the importance in the navigation of E-Lit, not everything is going to be straightforward and if it is, it’s closer to a proper e-book.

It also reminded me of just what I hope to get out of yet another semester of studying E-Lit; to better understand the composition of it and in doing so, bring a new appreciation of the collaboration of my two favorite forms of media together. I felt slightly rushed when I took this class back in 2014, but now I feel as if I can take my time with this, even if it’s just a little more than before. Being back feels good.

Twelve Blue: My First E-Lit Experience

After reading Jessica Pressman’s “Navigating Electronic Literature”, I was feeling a bit more confident about navigating E Lit on my own for the very first time. Boy, was I wrong! Opening up “Twelve Blue”, I was immediately overwhelmed by the deep, blue color, and even more thrown off by the light blue text. All this hypertext almost immediately gave me a headache. The next hour of my life was almost guaranteed to make me dizzy.

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Navigating through the different links and reading the different stories wasn’t much more comforting at first. I found myself reading, and then re-reading these stories, wondering why I wasn’t connecting with the lexia on my screen.

Twelve Blue is….interesting. First off, the blue color gave me a feeling reminiscent of 90’s font colors, I’m not sure how my mind ended up there, but it did. The next thing I noticed was that the font sizes changed from link to link, the larger font in some of the stories made it a bit easier to read, the stories with smaller font, made me feel frustrated. I was turned off the by color and the font. The stories themselves were all very different, some more engaging than others.

Some stories have hypertext within the them, or towards the end, some of them don’t and you have to click on the lines on the left to navigate to the different readings. As I continued to read, I found that many of the stories lend the reader the opportunity to almost come up with the rest of the story on your own. None of these pieces feel finished, they are almost all missing a beginning and and end. This bothered me, so I had to use my imagination to piece the stories together on my own.

For my first experience, this was quite the challenge. Navigating through the hypertext was easy breezy but trying to connect to it, wasn’t. I am hoping that as I get more comfortable with this kind of literature, I will begin to enjoy it a bit more.

Until next week!

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Twelve Blue: what kind of blue?

Pressman writes in her essay  “Navigating Electronic Literature” that navigation is a very strong characteristic of elit. One approach of navigation is hypertext.

Then I read Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce to experience hypertext on my own.

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Every time I read it, it is different from the previous version. Different hyper links lead to different story lines and I never know where the hyper link is going to take me. On the left, there are twelve lines, sometimes go parallel, sometimes intersect. Every inch of the picture can be clicked and then you are in a different section. Sometimes the plot is consistent, sometimes it ends abruptly without any hyperlink on the page.

The color “blue” seems to be the core image of this work. The web page is blue, the words and phrases are blue, the word “blue” appears many times in the text. Also, blue plays an important role as emotion of the characters. Blue is sadness, or a mysterious impression, or a dim thought… I cannot tell which kind of blue the story tries to present. This work makes me feel dizzy and confused.

These stories take place in Canada but there are many exotic elements such as the Chinese poet Li Bo, a Portuguese lover, and the US. These stories are told in third person narrative in a peaceful tone, like memorizing some household things. Nevertheless, I can see harassment, murder, death, lust, unhealthy childhood, etc. Underneath the clear blue water is darkness.

The story also makes me think of one’s roles in life. A woman is a daughter, a mother, a wife, a lover, and a farmer. She can also be a murderer or lifesaver. One can have so many roles in one’s life but with great balance among them. Everything changes and evolves, like the myterious hyperlinks in the story. “He loved his wife once”, “her father died”, both divorce and death can cause the change of one’s roles. What are my roles in my life? I’m a woman, a daughter, a student, a helpful person, an indifferent person, a writer, a customer… Life is as complex as spider web but five hours ago I still thought life is simple.

“Life is hard as coal.” This is a quote from the story. Everyone in the story seems to be helpless and drifting in fate, regardless of their occupations. They seek for and enjoy themselves in little happiness that appears from time to time, like sparks burst on coal. This is what life feels like.


Hypertexts and Joyce’s Twelve Blue

    Twelve Blue is a very creative hypertext fiction by using hyperlinks. The hyperlink, as Pressman states, is a typical navigational structure in e-lit. “Navigating a hypertext is … about the structure and signification of literature itself” (Pressman). Joyce used navigations to develop his story. On each page, we can find the underline texts which link to the next page. When I clicked the hyperlink, I moved to a new character and learned her story. Sometimes, a picture would jump out. It seems to be pretty interesting to explore the e-lit.

     However, I was stuck as many other readers did when the first time I read the fiction. The homepage gave me an uncomfortable sense of aesthetics. Disappointingly, the background is dark blue and the font is light blue. The ambiguous color really bothers me. A confusing image is centered on the page. URLs are numbered at the bottom. I hoped to find an instruction which can tell me what I should do next. Becasue I was not sure if I should go with the number consecutively. Hence, I clicked “3” randomly. Then I found the hyperlinks are placed not only at the end but in the middle of texts. When I was reading the URLs, like “Abandon wasn’t in her heritage, she had had to grow into it”, I felt they may have special meanings, which direct me to more information. That is just like an adventure or an escape game. However, I was very perplexed with those implications and wanted to figure out the intention of the writer. It is said the navigation is not only how readers are involved but how they “produce and experience” them (Pressman), but I felt little engagement neither a great experience in the first e-lit reading. The navigations probably complex the whole structure of the fiction. In other words, readers are not easy to find a breathing for the first time.

    My second discovery of the hyperlinks is that when I returned to the former page, the URL vanished. It was very creepy because I found the whole texts were still complete when something is missing. Why did the writer design the disappearance? Does it have extra meanings for the fiction? To find the answers, I read Zachary Sheffler’s Blog. She had a very similar experience as me, but she figured out some reasons. She said, the 12 treads in the image on the first page, as well as the treads on the left pane, are presented as 12 characters or personalities. That was the connection she found. Additionally, “Each thread has two hyperlinks, one goes back and one advances the story” (Shellfer). I did not find the “back” and “forward”, but I discovered that the treads are changed a couple of times. Every time I clicked the treads on the left pane, they are removed and stretched to different directions. If those threads represent the different characters, as Shellfer suggested, then there should be somethings changeable on them. That idea force me to keep reading the fiction.

    Pressman said, the navigation is the key to reading electronic literature. The delicate hyperlinks attract me a lot, but they also took both my time and effort. But all in all, it is a quiet amazing reading practice. I will keep exploring  the Twelve Blue and wish to have new discoveries soon.

Work Cited

Electronic Literature: New Horizons For The Literary :: Essays. Accessed 16 Sept. 2018.

Joyce, “Twelve Blue” | Zachary Sheffler’s Blog. Accessed 16 Sept. 2018.

Twelve Blue: Michael Joyce. Accessed 17 Sept. 2018.


Diving Back In~

“‘…there is no story at all; there are only readings’ (124)”.

Flux & Flow

So…. I’m back at it again.

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Doing the ELit thing, writing the feelings whatever those are down, being “insightful”… You know, the usual.

Anyway, let’s get down to business.

I don’t remember what I thought of Jessica Pressman’s “Navigating Electronic Literature” the first time I read it eons and eons ago but this time around, I found it to be thought-provoking, informative, and intellectually engaging. The article articulates the challenges and nuances of interacting with ELit, especially in a classroom setting, rather well. In my experience, I’ve found just articulating what ELit can be and what it can do to be a challenge in and of itself. So, kudos Jessica~

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Pressman’s emphasis on navigation in ELit texts, too, I found particularly deft. Having a wonderful wealth of experience interacting with ELit–even creating my own work!–myself, I know how integral to a work its navigation can be–but, also, how much confusion a work’s navigation can create. More than that, I know how a work’s navigation can complicate reader/interactor understanding of literary purpose and overall merit.

If anything, this time around, I was most interested in the points Pressman was making about problems of conceptualizing, or, really, re-conceptualizing storytelling and authorship when it comes to ELit. Do affordances such as hyperlinking allow readers enough agency to make them co-authors of an ELit work, like Landow suggests? Or, are readers merely explorers of a work, trying to uncover all avenues of story rather than decide them? More, to what extent do readers decide meaning in works like this? Can an inherent meaning be embedded/programmed in these works anymore than meaning can be imbued in a written text? Or, is meaning ultimately decided by the reader?

Are there any stories at all in Elit? Or, is it all just readings?

I don’t have any answers and I love it.

The experimental, the uncertainty, the trans-formative, the de-contextualized, the room for possibility—is what I love about ELit. To me, it is the curiosity and the search for discovery and meaning-making that ELit spurs that makes ELit literary/a literary experience. The literariness exists in what we are given/in what we receive from a work, the questions it generates and the challenges it creates and asks us to tackle.

While I think the binary–stories/readings–is apt in some ways for describing differences between ELit and traditional literature, forgetting that there are readers behind both– story and reading–neglects a vital aspect of understanding new forms of digital literature and media. The underlying depth to ELit, I believe, is something that has to be realized in the reader.

Underlying Depth

And sometimes the nights last for months

And sometimes the nights last for months… Maria Guia Pimpao (I have the Google Arts & Culture extension on my browser which allows a new work of art to be the background whenever I open a new tab. When I opened a new tab to open Twelve Blue, this was the image that popped up and I thought it was rather appropriate, considering the work I was about to read, and so I wanted to share it with you~ #theinternetworksinmysteriousways

“So a random set of meanings has softly gathered around the word the way lint collects. The mind does that.” from On Being Blue William Gass

In my opinion, Michael Joyce’s Twelve Blue is one of those powerful works of ELit. Like, it’s a seminal work for a reason not just that it was the first work of Elit. I think I forgot that until I “reread” it this weekend.

The work is a piece of “simple”, hyperlink fiction, progression through the work and its lexia triggered by the reader clicking on one link or “thread” to open a new window with new lexia and so on. Readers aren’t really given a set story or direction–there are no guiding signs or whatnot (other than a “Begin” button when one first opens the work).

Here are the first few “pages” I read:

Click to view slideshow.

Instead of clicking “all over” the threads, which I know from prior experience with the work would take me on all kinds of adventures, I decided to click on the links provided from one page to the next–just to see where the story goes, trying for a “pure reading”, so to speak. This went well…till I came across just a screen with a painting on it??? I had to click on the painting and, the next screen I got, didn’t have a link to click on??? So, I had to dive into the sea of threads anyway #whatever~~~~

But, it was interesting to just see where the work would take me (not purely on its own–as I was clicking on the agents spurring the story forward). I read a few excerpts about Lisle and her daughter and then about Javier(?) and his daughter. Nothing that really connected in any linear way. It’s clear from the text, though, that this “story” is taking place across multiple time periods and generations. I read about an accidental drowning that took place years ago and then I read a selection about the friend of the girlfriend, who’s boyfriend drowned, and how this friend remembered the somber atmosphere at school in the days following the mysterious accident. No clear time line is established and yet, the sense of time passing and moving, the sense of people holding on and letting go of time, is so vivid and so visceral. (“What choice do we have but love, what season after?”)

The design and navigation of this work is a topic of discussion that could–and will–continue for a while but the actual text of this work is so rich and fascinating in its own right. Small example but, I mean, how many creative and inventive uses of the word blue did you note while reading this work??? (“She had never been lonelier, never more blue.”) And did you notice each page is titled differently–mostly related to blue words, though–in the tab?? (i.e cornflower)

A strong swimmer out of grief

“She became a strong swimmer out of grief.” This page, in particular, touched me. The longing and sorrow are somehow enhanced that much more my this work’s infinite loop, like there’s always this girl on the edge of the ocean, longing for the mother she never knew.

There’s something distinctly literary about this work’s text, if not its nonlinear navigation. To me, though, if anything, the infinite looping in on itself of this work only serves to enhance the story it is “weaving”/telling. Each page is like a still life, perhaps disconnected from some greater whole, but capable of telling a compelling story in and of itself. For some, that disconnectedness may translate as “brokenness”, the lack of coherence or persistence of narrative over time, as a fault, but, again, I find the questions that exist in those perceived narrative “gaps” in works of ELit like Twelve Blue to be what keeps me coming back. Though, of course, I want answers, I also enjoy not knowing. It creates this mental space for me to explore possibilities–something not always offered IRL, where “pinning things down” is so highly valued these days.

Additionally, I think Twelve Blue gives readers a slight taste of the reciprocity ELit is renown for. (At least, it’s one of my fave parts of ELit.) This reciprocity is realized in the simple act of the readers clicking a link on the screen and being rewarded with a new screen, with new information. The work functions on reader input–slight reader input but still an action the reader must take in order for the work to “move on”. That’s a smidge more agency than most traditional forms of literature have been able to allow for a long time.

Riding the Waves

All in all, if you couldn’t tell, I’m looking forward to diving back into ELit and discovering new ways to tell compelling stories through new digital media. I think Twelve Blue is an excellent place to wade in with. It’s new in many ways but also recognizable in others. And, of course, the work is so beautifully, heart-breakingly, heart-achingly written.

I hope the rest of our class is at least half-excited as I am looking forward to diving in deep on ELit!



*Feel free to check out some of my notes on this week’s article and respond to them if anything I’ve said resonates or triggers another idea~ Though I’ve been resistant in the past to using, lately, I’ve found it to be a good tool for taking notes maybe I just don’t like being told I have to use it and now that I don’t have to use it, I’ve got to rebel in the other direction????

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*Feel free to follow me on Twitter as well~ In between sharing sappy poetry and prose, I sometimes say some witty things??? #debatable??? #claimthecave

~Till next time ^.^~

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