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The Memory Palace Hypertext: An Exercise in Form, Forgetting, and Paranoid Enlightenment

In my previous post I mentioned that an intimate acquaintance with the creative process behind making [an online hypertext] gives me a totally different awareness of e-textuality and the connectivity of it. Below is a rather lengthy excerpt from the appendix to my final project that elaborates on my loaded use of the term "connectivity." Mostly I'm posting this because I'm very curious whether any of the rest of you had similar experiences while creating your hypertexts, or if it was just me and I really did go completely insane for a little while there (and that "little while" is misleading, because I'm definitely still feeling the effects…). At any rate, here are some words regarding hypertexts and paranoid schizophrenia:

Everything's connected. Or, in Henry James's words, "relations stop nowhere." I am convinced that the memory palace is the perfect analogy for hypertext, but what the experience of creating this final project has done is lead me toward believing that, given enough thought, anything could be. Case in point: I wanted to make a joke about how a statement like "everything is connected!" is the classic claim of the paranoid schizophrenic, but to make sure my joke would be as accurately self-mocking as possible, I googled the search string "'everything is connected' paranoid schizophrenic," and this article by Stuart Moulthrop was my fifth hit: "Polymers, Paranoia, and the Rhetorics Hypertext."

In skimming over Moulthrop's article, it quickly became apparent that I could employ its theory to analyze my practice:
It should be evident that [Pynchonian] paranoid enlightenment contains a strong parallel with exploratory hypertext, a system of expression in which everything is indeed connected… Because the paranoid perceiver is still rooted in reality and history, his cognition depends in part on rational constructs--connections and correspondences, lines of influence and causality. This condition of paranoia, the stage of plotting and counterplotting, maps onto the exploratory aspect of hypertext. Indeed, every exploratory hypertext is a kind of informational conspiracy.
From this notion of all-inclusive mapping, Moulthrop goes on discuss hypertexts as "delusional systems, structures of compound association," and given that my hypertext is literally an architectural structure that houses a narrative of nightmare, phobia, delusion and hallucination, these two texts (mine and Moulthrop's) could have a field day together. However, we didn't actually read the Moulthrop this semester, and in furtherance of my paranoiac claim of endless connectivity, I should proceed with my pre-Moulthrop outline because I had a sufficiently difficult time paring down all the potentially relevant texts on our syllabus to a number that might fit on five pages.


Finally, it is Michael Joyce, with his captivating, recursive prose that always seems, to use Hayles's words about a very different author and writing, like it has been broken and reassembled…achiev[ing] the compression of poetry, becoming allusive and metaphoric rather than sequentially coherent (82), who best evokes my experience of navigating the ambiguity of the hypertextual rivers (83). My delusions of infinite association and analogy only became full-blown once I finally reached the stage of piecing together the content of my hypertext, and when I began to look back over the semester's readings to pick the ones I'd use in this appendix, it was rereading Joyce's essays, or as Joyce himself would say, unreading them, that most mimicked the feeling of what I now know to call "paranoid enlightenment." In particular, I felt myself to be engaging with and revising this argument: that an independent system of reading exists in parallel with the current system of reading in hypertext; that…the system of reading hypertextually is intimately related to what is called rereading in the parallel system of reading print…[and] that reading in hypertext means to re-create the writers experience of rereading in the process of composing printed works (139). Here, my reading of Joyce's print text felt like my writer's experience of rereading in the process of composing hypertext--the links and homologies became so profuse that my mind gave up on trying to enumerate them and became itself one of Hayles's "flickering signifiers," oscillat[ing] between representation and world," and then between "the process of confusion and exhilaration as [it shifted] (Joyce 64-5).

Joyce provides an excellent excuse to attempt to write prose paragraphs as lyric fragments and link them like music (63), but (somewhat) more concisely and explicitly, the wonderment I'm trying to express is this: who knew that Chile and Italy and the state of Virginia; Rilke and Borges, Lisa Jarnot and Cormac McCarthy and Noelle Kocot, Wallace Stevens and both the James brothers; encyclopedia and wikipedia entries; and my own writings past and present would all fit so well together under one roof? And who knew that Joyce did know and would be literally assigned to tell me: as more and more becomes linked it is arguable that what is passed over becomes more strongly linked on that account…hypertext links there thus become the severing of one screen from another…Exclusion and inclusion interact, the outside defines the center, and so increasingly it is not the substance of what we say but its expression and construction that communicates (65). In other words, "Oz, the reason that all the disparate pieces of your hypertext interact the way they do--and by interact I mean piece together so uncannily that you've been concerned for your sanity--is that the form you created dictates that they do so."

i could not have possibly

i could not have possibly put it better myself