Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Writing on the Wall

Yesterday, I was trying to bring this blog, and you my readers, up to speed. I have managed something along those lines, but now I have to continue the thoughtstream, so what am I to talk about? Well, yesterday I was talking about some of the things I want to do in this blog and now I want to continue on that concept to talk about things like hypertext narrative and other kinds of strange literature.
See, I like a challenge, I like to make my mind-gears whir overtime, and overclock my cortex to a point where I feel like it doesn't fit in my skull. I like thinking BIG, so even when I tackle something potentially 'simple' I like to see if I can complicate it. For example: Writing.
Writing itself isn't easy to do, but it's such a straight-forward task putting words to paper. It's not that it's boring - It's awesomely fun! But I like writing that pushes the boundaries and asks for a little more. It's a little hard to explain, but would you believe that there's a word for this kind of writing? The Word of the Day is: 'ERGODIC'.

Ergodic /er'godik/ adj. 1. Mathematics Of or relating to certain systems that, given enough time, will eventually return to previously experienced state. 2. Statistics Of or relating to a process in which every sequence or sample of sufficient size is equally representative of the whole. 3. Literature Of or relating to a text requiring non-trivial, or extranoematic, effort on the part of the reader to allow for coherent reading.

This phrase is a new one, so it's not all that prevalent, but I love Ergodic Literature. Wikipedia has a page about it, but it's not required reading for this post. Basically, Ergodic comes from the Latin Word erg- meaning 'work' and hodos meaning 'path'. This is because with this kind of literature the reader is required to work a little harder to find their path through the text.

So a hypertext narrative and certain iterations of interactive fiction (especially text adventures) are Ergodic Literature, because it requires the reader to literally choose the path of the text.
There's also concrete poetry, visual poetry and calligrams, all forms of poetry where the shape of the text and the orientation of words can form a picture which aids or alters the meaning of the poem, but it also requires the reader to read through the strange patterns of the imagery.
If we go far enough, Finnegans Wake by James Joyce is another kind of Ergodic literature, as it's written in gibberish which the reader must decipher. Though, if I'm to be honest, I think that is asking too much of readers.

I see it as a kind of literature that pushes against the boundaries of what we see as 'normal'. It asks: What if the words weren't written left-to-right? What if you didn't just turn one page at a time? What if reading wasn't just a passive activity, but rather an aggressive one that required readers to go on their own adventure, along with the characters in the story?

I am quite a lateral thinker, I enjoy testing what we consider 'normal'. One idea that I've had for a while is that of 'exhibition literature'. When I lived in the city, I used to love walking along the river. There was this long boardwalk type construction, which creaked and groaned beautifully, and it had a smooth handrail all along the side.
I always thought it would be interesting if someone wrote a short story along the handrail. It was at least 20 centimetres thick and maybe half a kilometre long. What if someone wrote a story, about walking along the river, and then painted it along the banister? Hell, you could write a different story on each banister, so that you had a different story whether you were coming or going. That way, if you've walked that walk before, you can either read the story or watch the river. That could be a fun idea.

I also wondered about taking it a step further, and creating a two-storey house where words were written on the walls, on the steps and on the doors. [I guess that would make it a one-story, two-storey house]. The idea is that by reading the words, you'd walk through the house and read it's story.
Of course, this would be expensive, so you'd have to either do it with an old property or create your own building at a theme park or something (then you'd also have to worry about vandals), but I think it's an interesting idea, if a very expensive one.

I am also interested in the idea of 'self-guided tours'. I mentioned during Parody Week, in my Hyperbole and a Half parody, that Brisbane is the second most haunted city in the world. Well, what if there was a guided tour around the haunted sections of the Brisbane CBD, which gave you directions, but also told you the ghost stories as you walked from place to place?
I must admit though, while I know that I can walk and read a book at the same time, not everyone can, so this may not be the best idea . . .

Okay, some of these ideas are stupid (although I stand by my Exhibition Literature idea!) but you get the idea.

The reason I'm talking about this, is that it's something that I also like to implement in this blog. I like to blog here as usual, belching opinion and ideas, but I also like to stretch the boundaries of what I can do with a blog.
I've been learning bits and pieces of html in the hopes that I can further play with this new medium. a blog isn't a piece of paper or a book, so why treat it like one? That's why I hyperlink to related ideas and draw a picture for every post.
But more than that, I am learning html so that I can write different kinds of stories. I am here to write not only better, but different.

Thus far, I haven't found a way to write upside-down, but I can still change the style. I can write in a way you weren't expecting. I'll write until you can't read anymore.
It may be strange, or hard to read but I want to do things differently . . . 

Because this isn't about changing the way that you read
stories. this is about changing the way
that you think about

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd. Writing Different. Reading Different. Thinking Different.


  1. I think learning html has been one of the hardest parts of blogging.
    Your idea of the house with the stories written on the wall sounds amazing. I think it would be pretty cool :) You should build it, it could be your ark.

  2. For those of you that are curious what the poem is, in the Illustration:

    Diggin' this Hole -

    This head is not for thinking, but this back was made for [aching];
    These arms were made for diggin', and these bones were made for breaking.
    I'll dig this dirt, I'll dig this dust; I'll dig until my shovel's rust.
    I'll dig this trail on the dusty track; cos' my darlin' left and she won't come back.
    I'm working till my toes all bleed; diggin' this hole on a one-way street;
    Diggin' this ditch, I'm on my own; but, I keep on diggin' cos I can't go home.
    When the work is done, what will I do then?
    Keep diggin' this hole till the hole in my heart fills in . . .


Feel free to make suggestions, ask questions & comment . . .
I would love to read your words.