Saturday, August 13, 2011


Chapter Two

Preface Control of Reading

(First Lines to Paragraphs)

The digital works examined in this study have prefaces attached to them, which function as textual thresholds for the reader.
I identify a number of specific strategies in the prefaces according to how they guide the reader toward the works.
Attention to the preface is not extensive in the study of digital literature.

The Prefaces and the Works
The preface is “every type of introductory (preludial or postludial) text, authorial or allegorical, consisting of a discourse produced on the subject of the text that follows or precedes it” (Derrida 161).
The authorial preface is an attempt of behalf of the authorities “to ensure that the text is read properly” (Genette 197).
The digital prefaces follow two overarching conventions in regard to the reading of the texts they refer to.
The reader is inserted into the narratives via the authorial preface, such as with the personalized name spell in the introductory preface to Egypt.
The legal preface differs from the authorial in the obvious motivations related to legal control, but it shares connections to print media and references to spatial tropes.
The reader is often identified as a user in the legal prefaces and as a participant in the authorial prefaces.
Depth is a spatial trope used in the prefaces according to their classification as either legal or authorial.
A depth model of the digital texts in the prefaces is an intermedial reflection of print media.
The references to print culture and spatial modes in the prefaces are examples of intertextuality.
The prefaces direct the reader towards the works and ensure they are read according to particular sets of discursive assumptions.

The Legal Prefaces and Reading
The legal prefaces are sets of rule-based instructions that take the digital works as their subjects, presented according to the Berne Convention in the form of Copyright ©, as a contract in an End User License Agreement (EULA) and the Open Source inspired Creative
Commons License (CC).
Remediation in the legal prefaces operates according to three orders; firstly as the digitized word of the copyright statement and contract of use (EULA). These are written documents presented digitally in order to define multimedia works.
When compared to the options described in the authorial prefaces, the possibilities for responses represented in the legal prefaces are much narrower in scope.
The legal preface are based on contract and copyright law, and thereby rely on intertextual references in order to frame how the digital works should be read.

The End User License Agreement (EULA) attached to Façade extends claims over the text beyond those that are possible under standard intellectual property rights, and includes the specific wishes of the publisher/s and other authorities (See Halbert 44-45).
The EULA adapts print media discourse in relation to the images of the Original Author, the Work and Titles.
Titles are a paratextual device that fulfils many of the criteria of the preface in the digital work, coming before, clarifying and guiding the reader.

Creative Commons (CC) License
The CC License of Dreamaphage, like the EULA, permits the reader to distribute the subject work.

Copyright ©
The Copyright © statement provides a reference to standard copyright that operates under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works according to the World Intellectual Property Rights Organization (WIPO) treaty of 1996.
The logic of the Copyright © statement of Last Meal Requested is tied to an analogue resemblance with the creativity of the artist.

Reading According to Legal Prefaces
To summarize the influence the legal prefaces have over reading the works, the compulsory nature of the prefaces must be considered.
Material and interpretive unity of the works is a major theme in the legal prefaces, whereby a prescriptive approach to reading attempts to focus and preserve the surface of each one.
The use of the Copyright © symbol in Last Meal Requested implies an authority over the authored text, not only in terms of ownership or production but as an account of reality.

The Authorial Prefaces
The authorial prefaces are those paratextual elements that introduce the work using an authorial voice that is descriptive, as opposed to the prescriptive discourse of the legal prefaces.
Narrative tropes in the authorial prefaces address the reader in terms of reading and agency by positioning her in relation to the story.
The spatial tropes of the authorial prefaces are concerned with the navigation of the works and introduce the reader to what is understood as the optimal way of achieving navigation.

Depth and Agency in the Authorial Preface
Inferences to depth in the works are common to the authorial prefaces of Façade, Egypt and Dreamaphage, which propose that the ‘deeper’ one moves into the text, through the choices offered in its design and narrative, the greater the degree of agency that can be attained by the reader in responding to it.
The promise of agency in the authorial prefaces comes to the reader as feedback via the linking and navigational structures in the works.
The goal of Facade according to "Behind the Façade" is to ‘go deep’ and gain knowledge of what is going on inside the AI, but much more in a narrative rather than a programming sense.
In "Behind the Façade" the programmed characters are given interior, even psychological, lives that involve the establishment of an exterior and interior in relation to the reader.
The movement towards an interior in the work introduces a depth that is promised to the reader as part of agency.

Narrative Tropes in the Authorial Prefaces
The authorial prefaces include narrative elements from the works that operate on the symbolic level of tropes. [1]
In an allusion to remediation, Egypt is composed of what the author calls “papyrus”, and in each example of the work one is dedicated to the reader and includes their personal name. .[2]
The Egypt, Façade and Dreamaphage prefaces guide the reader towards particular narrative and design elements.

Spatial Tropes in Authorial Prefaces
There are a number of spatial tropes in the authorial prefaces that direct the reader towards specific features of the works.
The authorial preface to Egypt features spatial tropes that present an architecturally defined image of the work.
The authorial preface of Dreamaphage draws on an image of the text as a structured spatial entity that is not linear.
Spatial tropes in the preface of Dreamaphage direct reader attention to the architectural aesthetics of the work.
Like Dreamaphage, the aesthetics of space in the Façade authorial preface exclude searching and finding.

Feedback and the Authorial Prefaces
According to the authorial prefaces, a ‘short-chain’ feedback system, similar to the one described above in relation to Murray’s definition of agency, where the results of inputs are immediately obvious to the reader, drives narrative towards the end-goal/s of the works.
The need for interpretation in the experience of the work takes it beyond the mechanical and into the aesthetics of a form of reading.
A significant portion of the authorial prefaces describes how the feedback systems of the works operate in terms of reader agency.
The simulation of movement and the physical engagement with the work is represented as mirroring each other in the preface.

Analysis of the prefaces provides important insights into the aesthetics of reading the works.
The legal prefaces for the works are the End User License Agreement (EULA) and the Creative Commons (CC) License.
The Façade and Dreamaphage legal prefaces depict any reading of the works as a public act.
The concept of visiting the works can be associated with the public reading of the legal prefaces.
In contrast to the legal, the authorial prefaces are more concerned with private reading, relying on the narrative components of the works to introduce and guide the reader, often from a personal perspective.
Feedback and interaction are interlinked in the prefaces by reader agency.


[1] Tropes are figurative use of language in the works that rely on comparative meanings in the sense of metaphor. Tropes in the prefaces include the digital work as a papyrus, the reader as a character, responding to the work as a quest and the architecture of the work.

[2] The plural of papyrus is papyri, something that is not acknowledged in Egypt.

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