Interested in offering your two cents on an ebr essay, riPOSTe, review? We have added a new “gloss” feature at the bottom of every page, allowing readers to submit a short gloss to the sidebar of our publications and to invite new riPOSTes. We’d love to hear what you have to say!
This month, ebr has the honour of re-releasing “An Mosaic for Convergence” (first published in ebr in 1997-1998), a hypertext essay by renowned American poet Charles Bernstein. Bernstein has written a new introduction to the hypertext for its re-release. We would like to additionally congratulate Bernstein for recently receiving the prestigious Bollingen Prize for Poetry, biennially awarded by the Yale University Library. Previous winners in the Prize’s 50-year history include cultural figures Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, and W.H. Auden.
Also this month, we publish Alex Mitchell’s “Monstrous Weathered: Experiences from the Telling and Retelling of a Netprov.” The original Monstrous Weather comes out of Netprov (“network improvisation”), the collaborative online project headed by Mark C. Marino and Rob Wittig. Mitchell describes the dynamics of retelling stories across the netprov’s two performances.
First published in ebr in issue 6 (1997-1998), “An Mosaic for Convergence” demonstrates Charles Bernstein’s early understanding of the shifting nature of textuality and textual experimentation through digital platforms. The moment of change that he describes is one that the ebr Editors feel is worth preserving, and that is particularly worth sharing with our readers for consideration of how textuality through electronic literature has continued to change.
In his newly penned introduction to “An Mosaic for Convergence,” Bernstein observes the invigorating practice of reading things out of order, a non-linear approach to writing and reading aloud that he feels lends itself to the “rhetorical coheren[cy]” of an essay just as much as a conventional straight-through method would. In fact, he describes non-linear shuffling around a text as “fuel[ing] the performance with semantic energy”—an experiment that he extends to “An Mosaic” by utilizing the hyperlink structure of electronic literary composition.
The work starts differently each time, like the un-shuffled index cards that Bernstein has in mind, and includes critical reflections on the impact of HTML and the use of hyperlinks on writerly pursuits. While Bernstein describes “An Mosaic” as “anachronistic” in aesthetic, at the same time he does not feel that it fits under a “Web 1.0” descriptor, preferring to call it a prototype for “Web -1”—“a step out of linear time, a refusal as a way of opening new possibilities.”
Through our Managing Editor Will Luers, ebr is looking to recover and re-produce texts such as “An Mosaic for Convergence,” our earlier publications that readers may like to return to. What new discussions can occur through looking to the past? Please look for these renewed publications in version 7.0 (2019+).
Alex Mitchell’s reflection lays out the Netprov project’s history of collaborative storytelling and the various collaborations that have come out of it. For those who did not participate in the Monstrous Weather project (July to August 2016) or who could not attend either performance, the purpose was to summarize a scary story, to “include one bit of weird weather,” and to reply to another existing story through a “remix.”
With this premise, Monstrous Weather was set to become an exercise in performative re-presentation of stories: rereading, retelling, rewriting, and adaptation. Speaking from his own experience of participating, Mitchell describes these practices as narrative traits in the general Netprov experiment—riffing off one another, off of references, off of allusions, embellishments, and inside knowings. Mitchell notes that “the importance of referencing and retelling came to the foreground, as posts began to make reference to each other, sometimes as the result of an author mentioning another author’s name (as fictionalized versions of the actual author), and at other times by referring to events depicted in earlier posts.” How fun!
For the live performances, Mitchell observes the tension between “performing” their netprovs and simultaneously discussing the dynamics of performance. He goes on to consider how at the ELO (Electronic Literature Organization) 2017 meeting in Porto, Portugal, a final live reading allowed for more integrative “remixing and archiving” that he depicts through a Monstrous Weather hypertext of his own design:
ebr is in the process of updating the site’s author pages. If you have written an essay or review for the journal and would like for us to update your bio, please send the revised copy (including links) to Will Luers (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Associate Editor and Director of Communications, ebr