Feeling “Blue”

Michael Joyce’s Twelve Blue is a type of electronic literature that uses the navigation process in response to the interaction with the navigators. Despite its unusual narrating style, Joyce’s work is an impressive innovation in the literature world that passed the limits of traditional printed works and made it reach the next level.

Navigation is a component of electronic writing that extraordinarily influences the means by which readers peruse and associate with computerized texts. Dissimilar to print writing, electronic writing does not include usual letters and marks on a print page; rather, it is made as a processual creation across codes and hardware inside the computer based on the connections of the navigators. Such navigational associations run from tapping on a hyperlink in hypertext to composing a reaction to an account brief in intuitive fiction or moving a symbol through virtual spaces in a vivid storyline (Pressman).

The experience of reading Michael Joyce’s Twelve Blue was as described by ELiterature Organization “a unique form of literature that has its effect within digital textuality unlike the usual effect of printed or written literature” (Pressman). The most remarkable feature is the dark blue background that gives the observer the required feeling of “blues”, this technological innovation of literature is ensuring what traditional literature was limited to. The author used a simple-looking HTML interface involving multiple pages to navigate combined with other elements nurturing the sensation the author created in his work which is considered quite ambitious for his generation. The general observer might stay for a while discovering all the navigation options to make sure that everything is explored.

Surprisingly, following the order of numbers provided under the small square with dark blue font and bright lines across it was not the way to discover the story thoroughly; each number represents the story from the perspective of one its characters; therefore, to unleash the true story; the reader has to be patient enough to explore it through each character’s eyes, which ensure the unfitness of this type of electronic literature, the story is never complete unless everyone depicts it his/her own way. 

The “Twelve” in the title apparently refers to the twelve characters, and “blues” refers to their feelings or their sad stories. To start the thread with number one, the reader finds a girl talking about herself narrating past events when she once visited a carnival, the first impression does not give much detail to the reader, and the whole page has no navigation options except for a brief line in the middle depicting the phrase that kept repeating itself all over the page “follow me” (Joyce 1). The other numbers have a similar entity, only to discover the theme of the story, which seemed a bit vague at first glance, after finishing the reading, the story reveals its topics talking about miserable childhoods, a tentative of starting over for an unhappy woman, a child who was found drowned, in addition to other characters serving the plot. What is most interesting about this work is the efficiency of the author in making a single plot seems different; each time a new character is encountered reflecting an important fact about life which is the truth is relative; everyone believes his/her own sight to be the ultimate truth without considering other people’s views.

In conclusion, Twelve Blue is a work worthy of exploring of a talented author who managed to bring innovation to the traditional form of literature in a creative way. Michael Joyce succeeded in creating the atmosphere of the story’s theme through HTML navigation as he created a smart way to keep the reader interested until the end of the story.

Works Cited

Joyce, Michael. “Twelve Blue.” Https://, Eastgate Systems, Inc., 1996,

Pressman, Jessica. “Navigating Electronic Literature.” Electronic Literature: New Horizons For The Literary :: Essays, ELiterature ORganization,

Navigating Twelve Blue

Exploring Michael Joyce’s Twelve Blue was a unique and intriguing experience. After reviewing some of the other blog posts about this week’s readings, I realized that some people encountered stories and characters that never showed up during my interactions with the work. This lends credence to the idea posited in Jessica Pressman’s article “Navigating Electronic Literature” that in hypertext fiction “there is no story at all; there are only readings.”

My own reading of Blue was fascinating, if a bit confusing. Even after reviewing Pressman’s article—which makes it clear that, in hypertext fiction, readers have the ability to choose the order of the narrative—my initial instinct was to read the text the “right” way, going in the correct order to get the full story. I started by clicking a hyperlink labeled “1” and then continued to click on links within the text.

Sometimes, when no hyperlinks appeared, I had to click the panel on the left of the screen. I wondered whether clicking on a different thread would bring me to a different story, or if the varied colors and lines were simply an illusion of choice; this line of questioning also relates to the broader points made in Pressman’s article about whether the reader of electronic literature creates significance, or if all meaning is pre-programmed by the author. 

The meaning of Blue—whether it’s pre-determined or created by the reader—is tough to find while navigating the branching, non-linear narrative. Joyce sums up my confusing, haphazard reading experience with some clever meta passages, such as a section which gives the reader varied and circuitous directions to Route 9. One character—whose name, of course, I can’t remember—laments, “It is hard to keep the names straight.” She’s not the only person I lost track of: Who is Ed Stanko? How many people are named Javier? Who is the drowned boy? It’s tough to keep up when you can’t just turn back a few pages to reread a confusing passage.

In another seemingly self-referential lexia, Joyce writes: 

“In retrospect she realized that the illustrations in the children’s classics were almost surely tied to some episode or chapter but she knew she never really saw them as such. Instead they seemed another story in each story, wordless and isolate, as secretive as icebergs.” 

michael joyce, twelve blue

This passage perfectly encapsulates my experience with Blue; I could see that there was a deeper, hidden, overarching narrative, threaded together by recurring characters and motifs, but instead of piecing it together, I enjoyed the individual stories. 

Oftentimes, I grew attached to one of the individual narratives and wanted to stick with it, reading it chronologically until its conclusion. For example, I wanted to find out what happened to the family who bought an old carnival ride. According to Pressman’s article, though, that may not even be possible; she states that some hypertext fiction pieces “continue in endless loops of lexias,” leaving the reader to decide when to finish the story.

For me, the stopping point came after reading for a little over an hour. I refused to quit until I reached a passage without a hyperlink, so I could at least pretend there weren’t still endless narrative possibilities I hadn’t explored. I bookmarked the address of the last page I visited in the hopes of continuing the story; I’d like to find out if the second read will be as unique and intriguing as the first. 

Why do I write?

I write because it has been something I have always done. When I was a kid I bounced around between houses staying with my dad, or over at my grandparent’s house. Writing was the one thing I could bring with me no matter where I was. I still carry around little notebooks to write ideas down in. Writing helped me escape to a world that was of my choosing – not the one that was forced upon me.

And while I have been published in the past, I truly believe that Grad School will help me step up my game. Grad School will give me that glimpse into writing for the 21st century that I may not have seen or may have missed. A wise man in my life once said, “Most obvious is hardest to see.”

Getting into Elit!

Overview of the readings

When reading Pressman’s article Navigating Electronic Literature, we are introduced to the breakdown of electronic literature. The main aspect that I got from this article is the way electronic literature can be interpreted and read in different ways, by different readers. As stated in the article: Regardless of your view, however, navigating a hypertext not only promotes questions about the role of the reader and the reading practice but also about the structure and significance of literature itself.” 

From this point, this is where I tie it to the first piece of electronic literature of the semester: 

This piece of electronic literature was a very interesting introduction into the world of electronic literature. I am going to be completely honest, I was a bit intimidated by the use of hyperlinks to jump from different parts of the story (I see why we were instructed to read for 1 hour). There are so many different directions and patches you can go in the reading that the reader has the chance to see it both in a consent order/theme or in random order (or maybe this was just my experience. Nevertheless, this piece of literature uses hypertext to guide readers through the stories of each character

Deeper Reflection on Twelve Blue

When applying the knowledge from Pressman’s article to Twelve Blue, I mainly focused on how hypexted and hyperlinked embed images served as a guide through the story. After 15 minutes into the reading, I realized that this type of storytelling needed to be spoken aloud, rather than in the head. Again, I was pretty confused when trying to read Twelve Blue as an ordinary piece of literature. 

I was not necessarily confused by the content, but by the order in way the text would appear or navigate me to. Once I let go of trying to read the text as “normal”, the story began to flow. As I read this blue text, with blue background, with Blue essentially being within the title.. I decided to do a little research of what blue might represent for the reading. Calm, cool, water.. These themes surrounding blue are evident in each piece of hypertext present in this piece of literature. This idea of mother/daughter relationship, to father/daughter discussion of reproduction, the sea being compared to sperm… this reading is definitely one that needs to be read 4 or more times.