“Jesus!” was, appropriately, my first response to Sven’s comments on the
third question. Reading his response I feel as though I’ve read something
of a (cautious) conversion experience…

Come on down, Brother Sven, and meet your CPU and 500 Mb Savior! Handle
the serpents with your brothers and sisters and bathe in the (virtual)
waters of redemption!

Seriously though, it is not just Sven’s point (made even more directly
later: “The implicit presence of the others changes the space within which
the communication is received, thus it changes the way the communication is
conceived.”) but its expression and construction which convinces (yes, even
persuades) a reader. Though the persuasion isn’t, as Sven wisely notes,
one with a power base but rather one involving successive surfaces and
textures. We become convinced by these new forms as we inhabit them in the
presence and community of others. That is, the persuasion is not one based
on power but on perspective, i.e., what Sven calls the “‘cubist’ space this
conversation is going into/creating” and which, as he perceives, must
account not only for the known (or intended) participants in its dialogue
but also its potential readers and interlocutors. The reader becomes the
writer who will be; the text is active even in its remove. Its attempts at
coherence and its multiple perspectives like light are colored by both
their own complementary and additive qualities as well as by the
subtractive interventions of what they reflect. (Print stays itself,
electronic text replaces itself.)

The truth is I do not have links enough in my quiver to point to my places
of agreement with this most recent (reluctant) entry of Sven’s. His sense
of the decentering quality of this discourse is what draws many of us to it
as artists, writers, teachers and people interested in new forms of human
community. His formulation of “a writing process that is always looking
about but doesn’t know its intended destination” seems to me what Hugh
Kenner terms a conceptual rhyme with my fairly well known definition of
constructive hypertext as “a version of what it is becoming, a structure
for what does not yet exist.”

I only wish Sven’s hyperfiction chapter in The Gutenberg Elegies had been as
informed as these rich comments; but then I am happy to have a confirmation
that hypertextuality works at a remove and outside its machine
instantiation.

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