José Augusto Mourão



Text is dead

The artificial and the natural


Reconfiguring narrative

Hypertextual organisation


Reconfiguring narrative

Does hypertext tell stories at all, or is it primarily a machine for the dismantling of narrative? The crisis of the narrative genre is not new. Since Mallarmé (it is not the author who speaks, it is language) that a subversive tendency in literature, and more specifically in romance, has gone beyond the mere concern with the refinement of style and contents, affecting the very structural configuration of narratives. Joyce, Calvino, Lobo Antunes have taken the architecture of the novel to its last consequences inside the possibilities of the conventional frame of a book. The advent of the digital support seems to serve as a redeemer for the previous experimentations, subject to the obvious limitations of the conventional book. Art and technique gathered in a new affinity. Jean-Pierre Balpe (1997: 82) considers to be dealing with an inadmissible kind of literature because it accepts no traditional inscription in time. His texts cannot be reread. They are texts without memory. His authors make decisions, as text engineers that only see their own work when the machine has finished its job. He then claims that computer literature exhibits, interactively, the creative process: "La littérature informatique revendique l'irréalisme, l'inutilité première et la non motivation da la création artistique" (Balpe 1997: 87). For us, narrative is everything which arises from concatenation and transformation of passions and actions. And without narrative, interaction or argumentation, there are no processes of communication. Reconfiguration is yet another interesting topic. Landow's Hypertext contains an entire section called "Reconfiguring Narrative", in which he discusses the plot, "narrative beginnings and endings". For this author, the development of the interactive mechanism is both a new way of telling stories and a generator of new narrative structures: broken up, open, without rise and fall of tension, unstable, multi-linear, created in the act of reading, multiple, and so on. This notion raises ontological issues, the most important being the one by Michel Serres, the notion of quasi-objects . That which is called body turn is no longer considering the body as an object but "how a particular body-regime has been produced, the channelling of processes, organs, flows, connections, the alignment of one aspect with another", as Jacqueline Rose (1) wrote. Speaking of technological body, we are speaking of a hybrid that conjugates opposites. The technological body blends the opposites. The technologically altered human body becomes the place to question the identities deranged in such blending.

(1) "The Imaginary", Sexuality in the field of Vision , London , Verso, 1986, p. 72.