Quantum Poetics: Six Thoughts Analysis


I am specifically interested in how Strickland interprets the relationship between time and cyberspace, mentioned in the first section of “Quantum Poetics: Six Thoughts”, entitled “One: Time Dimension”.

Stephanie interprets time as an indefinite and irreducible concept we’ve appropriately condensed linearly to therefore possess a beginning and an end. We’ve managed to simplify time to the feeling of continually progressing, which has come to suffice as an appropriate interpretation of time.

But Strickland argues that the unconstrained dimensionality of cyberspace destroys these pretenses we’ve attached to time as well as the relativity we pin between time and the objects we use to measure it. Through the undimensionalities of cyberspace, time evades material associations and explores “connected spaces in which different regions of space and time are spliced together, but more than spliced; in which histories are alterable, always different, manifesting in many media, driven to immaterial spaces by the assaults of technology” (Strickland 27). The connected spaces Strickland mentions in this excerpt addresses a space of intersectionality, where mediums, text, history, and references overlap. Where cyberspace can erect a technological space of immateriality where print could not. A space where time can not be tracked, where time reversal is possible, and where the limitations of text are shattered. She portrays cyberspace as a channel or medium that has the ability to access new dimensions and therefore possesses qualities text doesn’t have.

In Vniverse, the intereactiveity between these graphical constellations and the reader is fascinating and immediately appeals to senses text couldn’t possibly evoke.

Screenshot of Strickland's poem entitled Crystal

But there’s one poem in particular that I wish to close read. 179, entitled crystals I believe captures the utility of electronic reading and the difficulties of communication, which we’ve mentioned while reading Infinite Jest. If you can’t make out the poem above, it reads, “A complex message can pass only between/-emanation and absorption-/complexities of structure: In crystals”.

Crystals are complex luminous crystalline structures with lattices that intersects at definite angles.

Both the utility of electronic reading and the difficulties of communication are reflected in the properties of a crystal. “A complex message can pass between/-emanation and absorption-“, suggest that one must be willing to incorporate and emanate text through a multi-faceted medium such as cyberspace. If we refer back to “Quantum Poetics: Six Thoughts”, we see that the crystal possesses both the qualities and abilities cyberspace wields. Hence, the complex structure of the crystals consist of lattices that intersect, which plainly mirrors the space of immateriality Stephanie describes as spliced, overlapping and intersecting. Hence text must pass through and undergo a transformation to the acquire multi-dimensional qualities of electronic literature. A transformation, as Stephanie describes as one where only technology can coax literature into a space that reengineers time. By “complex” she could also be comparing crystals to the inconceivably complex programming of binary coding in which all programs, and therefore electronic literature operate under.

But as I’ve mentioned before Stephanie describes cyberspace as a medium or channel where text undergo metamorphosis, where they pass between emanation and absorption to become electronic literature, thus imitating the complexities of a crystal. While it might be a long shot, traveling through this channel or medium of cyberspace, can be chalk up to being absorb into a medium. Electronic reading, as one of my classmates have expressed is frustrating. But why is electronic literature frustrating, because it possesses several qualities, it engages more senses than text can evoke, and it isn’t as forthright as reading. Vniverse’s interface gives the reader control, and considering that individuals are so complaisant and have adapted so faithfully to the modes of reading, where the author possesses full control, electronic literature defies the typical reading experience and instead displaces this authority onto you. Complex certainly, but also why crystals serve as the perfect metaphor for electronic literature!

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