One of the most important aspects to consider when reading electronic literature is the form it takes and how this affects the way we read it. As with many of the electronic texts we’ve read this semester, Stephanie Strickland’s “Vniverse” gives the reader much freedom when it comes to ordering the text at hand and deciding which order to read it in. As we know, in “Vniverse,” each part of a WaveSon.net/Tercet is assigned a star in a constellation. Stars, as parts of constellations, are parts of a greater whole. This is also true of the pieces of poetry that appear in “Vniverse” when you hover your cursor over a star. The place in each constellation the pieces of poetry are assigned is as important as the poetry itself. Each part of the whole is important to consider while looking at electronic literature such as this. Without examining and taking into consideration each piece, the entire system can fall apart.
Take, for example, this constellation and individual star. The constellation as a whole resembles the shape of a person, and, if we take into consideration the first star in the constellation (highlighted above) it can be assumed that the shape is meant to depict a woman. The repeated use of the letter V gives reason for this assumption, as V is used as a slang term for female genitalia. Also, the series of three Vs in a row resembles a wave, which is a cyclical motion or pattern. Many biological functions of a woman’s body also exist in cyclical patterns.
If we look at the constellation as a whole, we can see that the figure consists of many V shapes at varying angles of open—two oblique lines connected at the point by a star. This repetition of V shapes mirrors the repetition of the letter V in the snippet of poem associated with this particular star. The part of the poem that reads “If you understand virginity / you understand abstraction, you understand V” is a direct association with the shape of the constellation. Virginity is often a virtue that is associated more commonly with women, than it is with men. Additionally, the word “abstraction” can refer to the shape of the constellation itself. Upon first glance, the shape is abstract, but it is possible to discern a particular shape. Essentially, by understanding that virginity is more commonly a female virtue than a male virtue, you can understand that the abstraction of lines and dots in front of you is meant to be the shape of a woman. It is only by taking both this bit of poetry and the shape of the constellation into account that we can make this reading. By understanding these aspects, “you understand VVV,” meaning you are able to understand exactly what the constellation is and what it represents.
In electronic literature, everything from the language to the method of reading it to the platform it uses is significant. If you write off a seemingly irrelevant part of a text, you are writing off an element that could provide you with a clearer reading of the text and something that is vital to the system that the author has created.