Patchwork Girl: reading notes

Some of my notes from a couple reading sessions (saunterings?) with Jackson’s Patchwork Girl. For what they are worth.


Patchwork Girl.

The first question is one of pedagogy, preparing to read: how to assign it? I can’t give a page number. Is it about putting time in? is it closer to a game: play with it for an hour, see where you go?


[note: you can save each reading]

1st read (a 30 minute session): focus on looking AT: the presentation, the technology—begin to navigate, but reflecting on it as a technology of reading/writing—perhaps some ‘links’ you can make to discussions, to Birkerts, Hayles. Perhaps two of these sessions.


initial noticings:

  • confronted with ‘navigation’–and different options to navigate and different ways to view the text: of course, something that might be familiar to us from any Word document (can shift to an outline view, etc); but an aspect of writing space (the term Bolter, creator of Storyspace, gives to each window of text), not familiar to us as readers. 
  • marginal notes from the reading (which can be included in a keyword search): moving towards a wreading, writing while reading, if not the complete re-writing that some imagine for hypertext.
  • save a particular reading: with implications that any and every particular reading of this text is going to be different, render a different text.

2nd read: work towards looking THROUGH—at least enough to hear/see a narrative, relations you see with Shelley’s text, some sense of what this narrative is ‘about’


3rd read: begin to put both toghether: track a way (with marginal notes) that you would argue is a strong way to read this narrative, perhaps starting to formulate a critical reading

4th: an alternate way, perhaps the ‘wrong way to read’? (or explore a reading you have missed?


5th: read in relation to her essay “Stitch Bitch”


Initial Notes:

First Session:

‘her,me’ [journal]: note the use of inscribe; ‘multiply estranged and gathered togethter in a dynamic union”


‘typographical’ [body of text]: implication of rhetoric, cites Quntillian, link between literary composition and fitting together of human body. So ‘monstrosity’ in writing would be when the rhetoric is not transparent (traces of process). Also seems to link to iconophobia—writing is not supposed to be seen.

Picked up furhter in ‘bodies’: where implication is that writing, like soul, must not be material sign (it nevertheless needs), must be disembodied.

“bodies too”: furhter aligns this with ‘contingency’ [echoes of metonymy]; and note that this monstrsoity of the legible and typographical includes grammatic error.


Second Session:

Begin at the graveyard. Use the storyspace map view, use to open/click various parts–and this allows the various windows to remain open [click on top of box, not in it]. Starts to feel like the creation of a poem; think of the blazon. Various parts coming together in the difference. That is, the poetics here seems to be about the making, and about the making not being subsumed by writer but re-interated by reader. Makes me think of Lanham and his notion of toggling between transparency and style, and rhetoric becoming poetics. This seems to be the subject here given that this is about making a body (and a making that is reflecting back on the embodiment of writing. [worth noting that I am using this notebook program/window while in storyspace–so further stitching/making. The technology of ‘interoperability’ seems to be relevant to the interoperability of organs. The making of a digital self/subject (dispersed, de-centered) as opposed to the centered self made by print reading (Lanham).

This section of the ‘text’ does indicate that the reader will have to put things together. Jackson’s monstrosity, then, as the death of the traditional author? But aren’t we reminded, as well, that the original Victor, is also a wreader? {and isn’t 19th century technology also already digital: making subjects out of parts–think phrenology?]


Crazy Quilt section:

–misconception: can see the focus on body extending to critique of philosophy: identity/noncontradiction vs. multiplicity. Thus the monstrosity of Western philosophy is a multiplicity that has been associated with the feminine. [can tie here to how metonymy shows up in fenimist critique of composition, of technology]

–composition: notice how the reader is directly addressed/sutured into the narrative: you organize writing spaces by grouping them together on the screen. Whitman’s you; the you of looking AT; the you of digital spaces. Interesting that this is woven into a view of embodiment: multiplicity of sensations. [she is weaving in directions from storyspace–and the ‘seam’d’ lexia reminds us that this is always part of composition but traditional viewed as scar, ruining composition]


For discussion:

If this is a text about composition in pieces, writing that resists closure and transparency and even identity (that isn’t multiple, noncontradictory): can reading follow suit? Can our reading resist these expectations and still be ‘reading’? Is this what reading has become in the digital world–consider some examples? Can critical writing follow suit, and still be effective? How to do that? [consider Patchwork Girl as a critical reading/remediation of the novel? Just as a film is? Use this discussion to develop our senses/rhetoric of prose style for critical writing–and also (by way of Lanham) to consider that such hypertextual toggling is not new, not strictly postmodern. He points to futurism and dada. Can see it in Derrida or House of Leaves. But also in Whitman (as I read memoranda, or two rivulets) or Dickinson. Have you encountered pre-digital hypertext in your reading/writing before?


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