Speaking of flames, Noah Wardrip-Fruin is pretty unhappy with me.
Ages ago, I jotted a weblog response to the claim that literary hypertext was boring.
Literary hypertext is boring, in exactly the way James Joyce and Samuel Beckett and all the rest of those dusty old moderns and postmoderns are boring. Who would read them for pleasure? Who would read them at all?
I suppose the most disturbing aspect of the whole thing is Bob Stein's "attaboy". Stein and I have disagreed on lots of things over the years, technical and artistic. He's said in public that some of the titles I published were "arty", and I've said that some of the titles he published were a bit too fond of visual gimmicks. But I've never denied the tremendous contribution and importance of Voyager, or the fine design of Night Kitchen. And I've never before thought him opposed to the hard work of thinking and reading.
And I don't really think it now. C'mon guys: this is a pose, right? A tactic? A bit of positioning, just in case Mr. Ashkenas is poised to become a competitor?
Can't we leave the yahoo anti-intellectual pose to the gamerz?
The vexing things here are:
- I was trying to provoke – I replied on the other weblog, not here. The hastily-written comment hits all the essential points of the ritual demand for satisfaction. But it didn’t work.
- One reason I failed is that Diane Greco followed up a few hours later with a terrific post, asking “but why in the world are we still talking like this about hypertext?"
- The carefully-calibrated “gamerz” to which Noah takes such umbrage was, in my mind, meant to separate unthinking consumers of entertainment from others (like Noah) interested in games, people I’d generally call "game designers" and "game critics". I might call the author of Expressive Processing and editor of The New Media Reader and three additional anthologies many things, but “yahoo anti-intellectual” isn’t one of them.
But it all ends well (I hope) because the underlying discussion of which this weblog dialog was a part made it clear to me that some of the confusion about literary hypertext among the critics arises simply because they haven’t read the right things. Hence, our new collection of classic and original writing about Reading Hypertext.