A writer's notebook is not a final paper but rather reflects the development of a work or series of works. In the informal, recursive, yet productive practice of creating notebooks online, ideas and sources are developed and slowly emerge.
Primarily this 2016-2017 notebook is about the research for and creation of "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing. In this work, from an interface of six simultaneously generated arrays, every time "the whole room" is entered, a different version of "Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing" is created. And, as the reader moves into subject-generated arrays -- from the Cornwall landscape to bisexual lives in a repressive society -- the contingencies of Richardson and Woolf's writing practices emerge -- surprising, evocative, challenging, female.
July 9, 2017
Last week was sometimes summer days; early morning walks, reading in the woods, and sometimes wild rain storms.
I n June, when I began to read Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf's last work of fiction before she died in 1941, it seemed important to, at the same time, read her diary from that era. Now, as I write this notebook entry, in Woolf's diary, it is 1940, and into her diary has crept the blackout, the Battle of Britain, and the Blitz.
A result of writing variables that concern WWII into the code for "the whole room" has been cogent examples of how one phrase, when it appears in the output, can change the meaning of the whole. Three texts from the early days of World WarII have been entered in different arrays of "the whole room. Not surprisingly, when they are encountered, which is not very often -- and even if they are early observations (from the early days of the blackout as in the output below)-- the meaning of the output is altered.
From the weather array
From the London array
T he WWII texts entered in the past few days are as follows:
Two into the last set of the London array (the last set now includes 26 variables but it is not the only set called in the London array output); the last set is called once, every time the London array is run.
One into the "summer" set of the seasons array (which now includes 20 variables, but it is not the only set called in the output of the seasons array). The summer set is called three times, every time the seasons array is run.
This brings up the question: will I want to precisely control the probably of certain events occurring in the output of my new work (very tentatively called Four Crystal Goblets Unexpectedly at Midnight)? To a certain extent, this may be desirable in the Internet-history centered Four Crystal Goblets. But it is only sometimes appropriate in the reading, writing and memory-centered arrays of "the whole room".
In VSW's words from her diary:
"Also I shall do away with exact place and time. Anything may be out of the window -- a ship -- a desert -- London."
And speaking presciently for generative literature as a whole, in Interim (1919), Dorothy Richardson writes:
"Do you remember looking at the kaleidoscope? I used to cry about it sometimes at night; thinking of the patterns I had not seen. I thought there was a new pattern every time you shook it, for ever."
June 24, 2017
T he past weeks began with a harried trip to the library in order to identify what needs to be read in the Richardson and Woolf sections and -- before my access expired -- to begin scanning what I could. It did not take long to realize that this was not in keeping with the spirit of the project.
Because "the whole room" is a poet/coder/ reader's exploration of two experimental writers, whose reading practice was central in their lives and work, the act of reading the separate works of Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf is important in my vision for "the whole room". But feeding page after page into a scanner or sitting on the library floor, taking books down from the shelves in a rushed exploration of what I have not read, is not in keeping with my vision for ""the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing.
Instead, with many thanks and much respect for the purveyors of historic used books, I will continue with what I can find on a limited book budget. Two treasures arrived since my last notebook entry: John Cowper Powys, Dorothy M. Richardson, London: Joiner and Steele, 1931, and Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts, NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1941.
Woolf's Between the Acts is a many-readings in meadows and beside brooks book; there is no need to hurry this escapist's pleasure. Meanwhile, in his monograph, Powys writes eloquently of the "atmosphere" which pervades Pilgrimage:
"Perhaps no writer has ever devoted so much attention to the 'atmospheric' aspects of her backgrounds. The way the morning light falls upon furniture and bric-a-brac in rooms; the way the evening light falls from passage-windows upon staircases and woodwork; the way shadows fall and slide and drift and lift and sink upon roadways and pavements; the way lamps and fires and candlelight affect the psychic temper of a room; the way the greyness of a colourless sky impregnates the simplest things in a room, the very tea-cups on the table, the very wash-basin on an attic chest-of-drawers; the way the mistiness of an autumn afternoon glides through the cracks and crannies of the most shuttered and cluttered boarding-house..." (pp 12-13)
His primary focus, however, is on Miriam as an extraordinary heroine. Gilt-boxed within a male viewpoint and male desire, in this 48-page monograph, Richardson's "Miriam" is seen through the eyes of a well-known male writer of the era (the author of Wolf Solent, published in 1929). Yet surprisingly, Powys slowly builds a credible case for the importance of Miriam -- particularly when read in our identity and avatar-focused era.
"The heroine of Miss Richardson's great work," he observes, "has an identity so real that it is only comparable to the identity in ourselves of which we alone are aware." (p. 14)
Miriam is not the avatar (or agent in the early interactive art/AI sense) everyone would select and perhaps that is at times the difficulty. One doesn't, for instance, see Miriam in the screen of avatar choices presented by Second Life. But Powys' interpretation of Miriam as a female equivalent of "the male quest for the essence of human experience" (p.6) is potent, and over and over he presents his case differently:
"In reading Pilgrimage, we are unconsciously on the look-out for those particular renderings of the Good, the True and the Beautiful which have become an inheritance of our very blood and bones. We have to learn the art of taking these with a difference. To a large extent we must overcome this exigency that goes so deep, and is so intricately entangled with the conventional feelings of ten thousand years. We must cease to look for 'charm and cleverness,' and learn to look for something rich and strange, for something that has always been there and yet has never been given utterance." (p. 9)
M ost of the arrays that comprise "the whole room" are now where I would like them to be: working while at the same time they are open to new input. This continues to be an interesting and fruitful process. But, the struggle this week was with the writing array. There are several reasons why the writing array has been more difficult. One is that because their ideas were densely expressed, in juxtaposition they appear as waring passages, even though they are at times expressing contingent ideas in different contexts (in Virginia's intimate diary, as opposed to interwoven with the fictionalized early life of a writer in Pilgrimage, for instance).
Although occurring and reoccurring discordant ideas are important to this array, in studying the output, it became apparent that I had not sustained reader interest by grounding Richardson and Woolf's theoretical thinking with narrative content from their lives, nor had I included enough implied suggestions of how they incorporated their ideas in their actual writing.
And so, with the addition of about 14 new variables and a shortened number of variables chosen to produce generated output (it was a total of 8; it is now a total of 6), the writing array is improved. However, this struggle is not over.
June 11, 2017
A copy of Dorothy Richardson, Journey to Paradise: Short Stories and Autobiographical Sketches, edited by Trudi Tate (London Virago, 1989), has been received!
It was the third week in March, when I first began reading this book in the Firestone Library. At that time, I desired to have my own copy of this 140 page out-of-print book, but I could not find a single copy under $60.00, and so (I have access only privileges), I began a library visit tradition. After reading for the resources page for Contemporary Social Media Narrative, I would go to the stacks, where this small book resided -- always afraid it would no longer be there -- and read one or two stories. As an end to my Rutgers faculty access loomed, worried that I would not be able to reread these stories, I rechecked and found a copy for $2,00. It is now in my possession! Thank you all Amazon used booksellers who have sent affordable treasures during the course of my reading for "the whole room."
I began reading Journey to Paradise about the time when in the rare books room, I was reading Richardson's John Austen and the Inseparables (London: William Jackson Books, 1930). In this notebook, I quoted her words about the book as an object: "...mobile and companionable, allowing itself to be carried in the pocket to the ends of the earth." Yes. And the small treasured copy of Journey to Paradise is a pleasure to take into the woods and meadows and beside the brooks of the Princeton area.
W orking this week on the writing array of "the whole room", I concentrated on adding a few more passages from the Journey to Paradise stories. From "Excursion", a passage -- in which she suggests that the experience of life can be composed like an artist making a picture rather than a chronological narrative -- was added to the writing array. In the output below, this passage concludes the text, while far above it are Virginia's words from "Modern Fiction", which begin: "Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged..."
Then, working from "Data for a Spanish Publisher", which appears in the last section of Journey to Paradise, I took this powerful line from the place on page 139 where Richardson writes about her departure from the expected constraints of the print novel:
"Assembling their characters, the novelists developed situations, devised events, climax and conclusion. I could not accept their finalities.
and added it to the writing array that is part of "the whole room", where, in the output below, it concludes the text.
Next, a passage from Virginia Woolf's "Modern Fiction" in The Common Reader -- remembered for some time, but not yet entered -- was placed in the writing array ("...as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall, let us trace the pattern...").
T he past two weeks were also devoted to looking at the work as a whole. I began with creating a formal bibliography. Organized by date of first publication, which allows readers to see how Woolf's and Richardson's works coincided in publication, the bibliography includes most of the sources I've used so far and will be updated as I continue to read.
Although I will be beginning a new work in midsummer, the work on "the while room" will continue. It is always a pleasure to see how this work evolves with each new addition.
Meanwhile, the notes page has been expanded, and the connections between the various pages have been improved.
May 28-30, 2017
"Surely what fiction, at the its best, can do,
W hen I began thinking about creating "the whole room", a few years ago, it was in search of how Dorothy Richardson developed her writing practice and, in the process, to pay a debt I owed her because of the reoccurring influence of her work and words on my electronic literature writing practice: the collaborative reader, inconclusive scenes and endings, and the stringing together of evocative scenes, an approach that in my work informed the lexia -- as it developed from my early "card catalog" works.
While reading Dorothy's letters -- encountering many gaps, many unknowns about her life -- I considered how much more Virginia Woolf had written about her life and how their writing lives unfolded in parallel time periods, beginning with the 1915 publication of their first novels, Dorothy's Pointed Roofs and Virginia's The Voyage Out. The publisher for both of these works was Duckworth, founded by Virginia's half-brother, Gerald Duckworth.
At the time that I made the decision to change "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson Writing to "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing, I thought the combinational generative output would be dominated by differences between Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Richardson.
But, beginning with cornwall.html, their voices merged -- almost as if they were sisters -- to the point that sometimes even I have to consult the marginalia-key to know who is talking. In addition to "cornwall", the arrays where their voices often form a harmonious duet/dialogue, are writing.html, orlando.html, and the array that focuses on the way changing seasons and variable weather pervaded their lives and work, seasons.html.
Differences emerge more strongly when they are separately dialoguing with their partners, (Virginia_Leonard.html and Dorothy_Alan.html ) and in london.html where the separate circles they traversed in their different social situations is more apparent. But even here -- although, it does not appear that they ever met -- the output seems like a dialogue between two women, who know each other through their writing and are responding with the details of how they live in and interact with the city. In the example below, following the title phrases (Virginia, Dorothy), it is Virginia, Dorothy, Virginia, Virginia, Dorothy, Dorothy (these two phrases concern her parting with HG Wells), Virginia.
It has been extraordinary adventure!
L ast week I spent much time making very small changes in the opening page and "the whole room interface page". For the later, I considered a suggested less-conceptual interface -- images in a room that led to each array, for instance. But in the end, although I am working on a new version of the notes that will include a concise/clickable map to the arrays, I kept "the whole room" scroll interface because the idea of the interface as a generative scroll -- although in print-terms not as workable as it was in the days of ubiquitous continuous feed paper -- was at the heart of "the whole room". And, partially because of its roots in poetic information art, for this work I wished to retain the conceptual word-intensive scroll look and feel.
However, an image-suffused interface would be perfect for the work that I plan to begin later this year. It will use a similar authoring system, but I myself will write the variables for the fictional characters in this generative fiction about a dynasty of feuding Internet networking generations -- that begins with community networking.
A nd then, with the passage in Dorothy's Clear Horizon where Amabel goes to Holloway Prison for marching for the right of women to vote, Amabel was added to "the whole room". Into the Orlando array, I put only the beginning:
"Down, down, down the long staircase, with Amabel, better known and more beloved than any one on earth..."
In the London array, I used the entire passage:
"Down, down, down the long staircase, with Amabel, better known and more beloved than any one on earth, a stranger and hostile, a young girl in a cloak, going, breakfastless and sick with excitement, to pay for effectively stating the desire and the right of women to help in the world's housekeeping."
O n Saturday morning I packed up The Waves and went in search of a waterfall I had never seen. It was a rough hike on crutches; but there was a pleasant surprise at the place of the late-Spring-diminished waterfall. And, in one of the most peaceful mornings of this lovely Princeton-area spring, I sat and reread part four of The Waves, where there is a farewell dinner for Percival in a London restaurant. Among the passages I chose to add to the London array were:
"'glittering, many-pointed and many-domed London lies before me under mist.'"
"'Now the cab comes; now Percival goes...How signal to all time to come that we, who stand in the street, in the lamplight, loved Percival?'"
May 15, 2017
The reading of Virginia Woolf's The Years, which I had never read before, took place in a week of lush spring flowers, rain, and the pleasure of presenting from afar at Other Codes/Cóid Eile at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
I finished The Years on Mother's Day, sitting on the trail because the grass was wet, and then retreating inside. This afternoon, into the London array, I entered four phrases from The Years.
Afterwards, when I generated the London array, Virginia dominated the output -- dressing over and over for Clive's party, listening to an interrupted pigeon lullaby -- until in the last generated screen, Dorothy issued an invitation to 32 Queens Terrace, and once again, fictionized HG Wells, put on his clothes and called for a Hansom.
I did not put the London array into the central interface page of "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing; "The Whole Room" seemed complete without it. Instead, the London array is linked near the end of "The Whole Room". To access the London array, page down and click on: "...the little boat crossing the river"?
April 29, 2017
Underlying this week's enjoyable work -- on Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet; on the reading for a resource to accompany the contemporary social media panel; and on "Conveying Diaspora in a Polyphonic Electronic Manuscript", my talk for Other Codes at NUI Galway -- was the poet/coder's pleasure of plunging into the London array for the whole room.
This week, the variables for the London array were primarily taken from Dorothy's Letters, Virginia's diary, pt 3, Dorothy's The Tunnel and Interim, and Virginia's Night and Day, "Kew Gardens", and Mrs Dalloway.
The London array does not yet contain enough to be introduced online, but a few examples of output from this array-in-progress are printed below:
April 16, 2017
E aster weekend. Continuing work on "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing. Reading Virginia Woolf's Night and Day, in which Jane Austen's deftly satirical language is perfectly mimicked in a tunnel-view novel of 20th century English courtship.
Since last month's immersion in Richardson's The Tunnel, I have been thinking that an array should be created for London, but have not wanted to construct it. In the light of Night and Day, (published in 1919; The Tunnel was published in 1920) I can no longer delay this personally-undesirable foray into City.
Writing: Every new addition to the writing array increases knowledge of how these two extraordinary women approached the writing of radically experimental works. Every generated page from the Writing array is also a dialogue between Dorothy and Virginia. At one point, I wrote code in which variables from each woman alternated precisely: Dorothy's words, Virginia's words; Dorothy's words, Virginia's words -- but I found that the generated results seemed forced/didactic. Surprisingly, the arrays that comprise "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing generate in a more natural manner if their voices appear at the will of the computer -- as seen in the examples below:
And last week, I continued to add to the Dorothy and Alan array -- particularly interested in how a few words from Dorothy's short story "Tryst" " encapsulate her (and Virginia's) mixed feelings about the role of marriage in the lives of creative women:
April 4, 2017
Early spring. The sound of rain. At home, reading Richardson's Interim and Woolf's short stories. In the library, reading Graham Meikle and Sherman Young's Media Convergence. And there are fig buttercups in the woods. Below me on the trail, there was an entrancing entire field of fig buttercups, but the hill was too steep to traverse on crutches.
Revisiting my writer's notebooks from 2011-2012, I am piercing together the roots of the unmeasured polyphonic authoring I used in "Begin with Arrival". (Part II of From Ireland with Letters). In editing From Ireland, it is on this section that I have lingered, and it is this section that I am focusing on for the Other Codes Conference in Galway in May. The topic is: conveying diaspora with polyphonic electronic literature.
A s sometimes happens in my evolving practice -- in exploring the lineage of the algorithmically combined voices of Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf in "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing -- I return to John Cage. In this case, it is Cage's The First Meeting of the Satie Society. The electronic version of this work (not the book or the recording) was published on Art Com Electronic Network in 1986, where it was soon followed by my Uncle Roger.
In "Art Works as Organic Communication Systems", her paper in the 1991 Roy Ascott/Carl Loeffler edited issue of Leonardo, Anna Couey describes The First Meeting of the Satie Society in this way:
"Conceived by John Cage and realized through the application of programs written at Cage's request by Jim Rosenberg and Andrew Culver (1985-86), this homage to the composer Erik Satie consisted of texts (presents) by writers who knew and loved Satie's work (or who might have if they had existed in a time period that enabled them to know it), restructured by two computer programs. The texts were written by Henry David Thoreau, James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Chris Mann, Marshall McLuhan and John Cage, and also included selections from The Book of Genesis; there was also a "response" by Satie, consisting of selected quotes. One of the computer programs, MESOLIST, by Jim Rosenberg created mesostics on Satie's name and works from lines of text selected by IC a program by Andrew Culver that replicated the chance processes of the I Ching."
Her observations on the reader-revealed meaning of this work are also of interest as regards "the whole room":
"The First Meeting of the Satie Society, while conceptually the work of Cage, was written through the convergence of several humans and software -- and reflects of a multiplicity of (not entirely human) voices. Cage's emphasis on the readers' use of the work points both to the importance of process (that art extends beyond its completion by the artist) and to user participation (in creating additional meanings through use)."
Last week, working on the writing array for "the whole room like a picture in a dream, it was a pleasure to add variables from Dorothy Richardson's Interim, in particular, her references to narrative-disclosing toys. For instance:
"....the sound of the paper scraping over the little wooden roller as the printed scenes came round backwards or forwards, and plunged into descriptions of deep views of the insides of cathedrals in sharp relief in a clear silver light, mountains, lakes, statuary in clear light out of doors..."
"Do you remember looking at the kaleidoscope? I used to cry about it sometimes at night; thinking of the patterns I had not seen. I thought there was a new pattern every time you shook it, for ever. We had a huge one with very small bits of glass. They clicked smoothly when the pattern changed and were very beautifully coloured..."
As the arrays in "the whole room" are augmented, the words moving between Dorothy and Virginia continue in an extraordinary allusive dialogue. Last week, I entered these words from Virginia's short story, "Haunted House" (written a year or so after Dorothy's Interim was serialised in the Little Review, which at the time was also -- until Post Office charges of obcenity -- serializing Joyce's Ulysses):
"The window panes reflected apples, reflected roses; all the leaves were green in the glass. If they moved in the drawing room, the apple only turned its yellow side."
In my forthcoming paper: "'A WAY IS OPEN' Allusion, Authoring System, Identity, and Audience in Early Text-Based Electronic Literature" ( in Dene Grigar and James O'Sullivan, eds,, Contexts, Forms, and Practices of Electronic Literature) I write:
"Allusion is a fragile concept for working artists. We saw a work 10 or 20 years ago and remember it vaguely. The work of John Cage and the Fluxus artists lying in the background, not always acknowledged but always there; Fluxus alluded to for years in the continuing creation of boxes as containers for words. The work of Sonya Rapoport in the San Francisco Bay area, instilling the idea of computer-mediated installation in the collective mind; icon-laden stamp art from Ed Higgins, echoed in the interface for A Party at Silver Beach; the way video artist Joan Jonas integrated myth and life; her video I Want to Live in the Country (And Other Romances) alluded to in the concluding "Song" of its name was Penelope -- although if I hadn't told you this you would never know."
March 26, 2017
It was another intense week of writing/coding; the epic Facebook retelling of the chapters of Social Media Archeology and Poetics concluded with Gary Larson's chapter on "From Archaeology to Architecture: Building a Place for Noncommercial Culture Online"; a plan to create a manageable website in conjunction with the book was finally set in motion; the reading for the Social Media Narrative: Issues in Contemporary Practice resource continued -- and the whole was punctuated with library interludes.
Immersed in "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing, I worked primarily on the Dorothy and Alan array, with brief excursions into the reading and writing arrays. In the library rare book room, I read a small treasure of a book: Dorothy Richardson, John Austen and the Inseparables (London: William Jackson Books, 1930). It begins with a foreword by the illustrator Austen -- who was a close friend of Alan Odle -- in which he writes:
"It should be the artist-craftsman's job to make his own book -- not with his hands -- the machine will do that labor for him -- but with his brain and eye --using type, printing, binding, and engraving, in his own way to serve his own idea of beauty of form. Thus only can he really work. No one else can do it as he can for it is his job."
Other than briefly documenting a shared exhibition, Dorothy's text does not directly address Alan, but serves instead to increase the respect for the work of book illustrators and for the book itself as a responsive, companionable object:
"And thus it is that although the book yields its treasure not directly in a single eyeful but extendedly in the course of a prolonged collaboration between reader and writer, it remains humanity's intimate."
"...mobile and companionable, allowing itself to be carried in the pocket to the ends of the earth."
Dorothy's intense privacy, as well as Alan's expression of his life and ideas only through the graphic arts, have made this array challenging. But in the library, I found last week a letter to a Spanish publisher ", ("Data for a Spanish Publisher, reprinted in Dorothy Miller Richardson, Journey to Paradise: Short Stories and Autobiographical Sketches, edited by Trudi Tate. London Virago, 1989) which included a few words about her husband. Addressing what he brought to her life as a writer and the overcoming of misgivings in their shared artist-writer's marriage, her words appear throughout the output of the Dorothy_Alan array:
And in various biographies and introductions -- Rosenberg, Fromm, Gregory, Hanscombe -- I found descriptions of both Alan and Dorothy, which I am adding to the Dorothy and Alan array. A few are in the example below. Note that the "word sketch" version of this array still appears in "the whole room" interface, but (not here but from within the whole room), if you click on "a window with just the right north light", a more "word-painterly" version is generated.
This week I was also very happy to receive the news that my presentation of as if the memory was a song: From Ireland with Letters will be at Other Codes / Cóid Eile -- The First Galway Digital Cultures Initiative Conference at the National University of Ireland, Galway this May. Thus, I returned yesterday to the final editing of this work -- rereading the whole both with some pleasure at how this electronic manuscript situated ballad is created with words -- and with dismay at a few remaining rough passages. Onward...
March 14, 2017
The snow is still falling fast outside my window. Breakfast this morning: coffee; apple cider; an apple cider doughnut. I was up late last night, rereading Quentin Bell's Virginia Woolf, a Biography.
A series of library interludes began last week. Primarily, I'm enhancing the Introduction to the Rutgers Camden DSC panel on Social Media Narrative: Issues in Contemporary Social Media -- with an initial annotated resource of books, papers, and works that are of interest in teaching and learning in this field -- beginning on Saturday with Volker Eisenlauer's A Critical Hypertext Analysis of Social Media (London : Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), a study of the role of Facebook's algorithms on user-generated text.
And, for "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing, last week -- the week that Maria Mencia's #WomenTechLit, which includes my paper on "its Name was Penelope, a Generative Hypertext", went to press -- I went to the library in search of Rebecca Bowler, Literary Impressionism Vision and Memory in Dorothy Richardson, Ford Madox Ford, H.D. and May Sinclair (London; NY: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016).
From what I had seen online, this reference contained a surprising quote from a circa late-1924 or early-1925 letter that Dorothy wrote to Bryher. This letter is in the Yale Beinecke Rare book and Manuscript Library's Dorothy Richardson Collection papers but not findable in Fromm's Windows on Modernism (the primary source I have been using for Dorothy's Letters). The quote, which I verified (at least per Bowler, p. 224) in the Firestone Library, concerns the then available 5 volumes of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu.
"I cut all those 5 vols piecemeal, leaving them all over the room, and read them in the same way, taking up the first handy vol. and opening at random. At last the whole hung and hangs, a tapestry all round me. It is I see now the tapestry of James -- only immeasurably deeper and richer and although threadbare in patches it does what J. 1/4 tap necer [sic] does. Lets through the light."
What? As testified by the many letters in Windows on Modernism that refer to copies of À la recherche, it is not unlikely that Dorothy and Alan had several sets, probably at least both the original French and Scott Moncrieff's translations. Nevertheless, Dorothy's action is surprising.
Contingently, a reference to random reading in To the Lighthouse (1927), appears from time to time in the output of reading.html. In the example below, Mrs Ramsay reading from Grimm is the last quote:
In the examples below, Dorothy's words to Bryher appear in the first output, and Virginia's words in To the Lighthouse appear in the second output.
Considering the circles they traveled in, it is likely -- although I have not yet located evidence for this -- that both Dorothy and Virginia were familiar with Tristan Tzara's "To Make a Dadaist Poem" (circa 1920). Proust's connections with Dada are interesting but are outside the scope of the whole room, although perhaps not outside the history of generative hypertext.
Although, in the main, it has not been my practice to document conjectures that arise in the course of composing "the whole room", I would like to do some writing on the relationship of Richardson's writing practice to electronic literature approaches.
Meanwhile, the reading array now concludes the notes for the whole room. And in the code for the whole room, Dorothy and Virginia continue reading and writing forever...
March 5-6, 2017
There is a letdown, a restless minor key depression that follows the completion of a work. The creation of the initial build for "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing came sooner than unexpected.
I had anticipated that this work would include ten generative arrays, but when I wove the six I had started into the interface page, the whole room was -- for my vision -- perfect. Reading will continue. Variables will continue to be slowly added to each array, but more arrays should not and probably will not be added to the primary interface.
In restless response, during the week, I went to a coffee house to begin the reading for the resources and bibliography section that will be attached to the documentation of the Rutgers Camden DSC Social Media Narrative: Issues in Contemporary Practice panel. I continued to post to the informal epic roll-call of the chapters in Social Media Archeology and Poetics that is taking place on Facebook. And I went for short walks in the winter woods. But all the while I was considering "the whole room like a picture in a dream"..
And all the while, beginning with the Cornwall array, I am working on verifying and standardizing the marginalia index.
The reading at the core of my work on the whole room was begun as a response to the central reading practice in the lives of Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf, but although some references to reading appear in the "writing" array (see output from the writing array below), it seemed as if there was no place for the planned-but-not-yet-begun "reading" array. After much consideration, I decided to create a reading array in the center of the "notes" section. Existing outside the whole room, it will lead readers back into the work itself -- just as Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf's reading led into their writing practice, just as my own intense reading of their work and lives permeates "the whole room like a picture in a dream".
But what happened to Cressida?
Initially the character of "Cressida" was to provide a narrative framework. Several versions of who she was and how this would be done (including some versions never set forth in this notebook) were contemplated. But -- although I had thought that a third voice would be needed to interpret the information -- as the work developed, it became clear that the voices of Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf did not need this. Nevertheless, traces of Cressida remained in the marginalia index.
On Saturday morning, these "Cressida" passages were re-keyed as "glosses".
February 18, 2017
While the snow fell last week, I worked on creating Build1 of "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing.
A print-book-like interface was initially envisioned and diagrammed. But -- not happy with the static way in which this iteration flowed -- without first plotting the process, I began to alter the interface over and over -- until it was what I wanted. Not my usual way to work, but for "the whole world like a picture in a dream", it was appropriate. By the time the interface was finished, I was detained in that universal coder/writer's experience where, in order to merge the writing and coding, I was so immersed in the coding environment that the real world became what I was working on.
Build1 opens with the following screen of text:
Since a diagram was not created before I recoded the interface, afterwards I informally diagrammed what became Build1 of "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing" as follows:
The sixth array in The Whole Room was created in the same time period as the coding for Build1. It concerns the impact of the weather on the writing lives of Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf:
February 5, 2017
As I prepare to put the in-progress arrays online, some questions and answers about the output arise.
1. To create the output above, both Dorothy's and Virginia's words are in the same array. The code instructs the computer to select 7 variables at random and print them. The code does not stipulate that Dorothy's words alternate with the words of Virginia, although that can happen. The code does not stipulate that one section is all Dorothy's words and another section is all Virginia's words, although that also can happen.
2. At this point only words from Dorothy and Virginia's works of fiction are entered in the Orlando array. (see output examples above) My intention was to also use their letters and diaries. But now I'm not sure. The next step is to introduce phrases or ideas from their letters and diaries to see what happens. This could be done either in a separate array or as an expansion of the existing array.
3. At present, the concluding prompt for each array leads to another array. For instance, in the Orlando array, the concluding prompt -- "wading out through the green shallows" --leads to the Cornwall array, and in the Cornwall array itself, the prompt leads back to the Orlando array with the words: "To refuse and to yield".
Initially I planned to focus the reader on movement between arrays, but it is now clear that the reader needs a clear interface choice of whether to continue generating output pages from the array s/he is at or to move to another array. How to do this eloquently has not yet been determined.
4. Five arrays have now been set in motion; 1. Cornwall, 2. Dorothy and Alan, 3. Virginia and Leonard, 4. writing -- and 5. the Orlando array on which I'm currently working.
At least 10 arrays will eventually be completed, but I have enough to put the work online. However, it should be noted that none of the five in-progress arrays are finished. All of them will continue to have variables written to them. All of them need an attached list of sources. Copyediting, verifying quotes, and code cleaning are needed. And there is some design work needed to pull the-whole-so-far together.
I will start on this next week.
January 21, 2017
Waiting for the arrival of a print copy of Orlando
I began intense reading sessions for the whole room in June, 2016.
In general, I alternated reading/rereading books and letters by Dorothy and books, diaries, and letters by Virginia. Much of the reading was done on short walks in the woods in the spring summer and fall. In addition to the sheer pleasure of woods reading, reading in the woods allowed an isolation from other tasks -- no laptop, no household distractions, no email, no other books.
The idea for the whole room began with a debt I owe Dorothy Richardson. It happened in this way: while I was writing Uncle Roger, I was also thinking about where I would take this new writing, and I began to read Pilgrimage, starting with Pointed Roofs. If you look at the transition in my writing from Uncle Roger to its name was Penelope, the influence of Richardson's work is very clear.
Dorothy, because of her eventual isolation with Alan in Cornwall, and because of her reluctance to write much (outside of Pilgrimage) about her life, is difficult to approach. It would be of interest, I thought, to contrast her writing practice -- and the core parts of her life that contributed to it -- with the writing and life of her contemporary, Virginia Woolf.
My vision for the reading was to immerse myself in the lives and writing of these two extraordinary women writers. Thus, while I was reading, I did not usually select passages to eventually use in the whole room. That would have changed the nature of the reading. Although this process necessitated a return to the works when I began to choose variables to enter into my code, it insured that what I selected reflected a knowledge of the whole experience.
All the books I read could have been put into a full text database, and the desired keywords searched, but for this creative writer's project, that would not have effectively conveyed what I sought to convey in "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing.
Contingently, I found that computer text versions of my sources were -- at least for this writer's project -- not as immersive as the print book versions. Perhaps this is a tribute to the print interface, the binding, the paper pages, and the holding of the book solidly in one's hand -- in the way that Dorothy and Virginia intended their works to be experienced.
Virginia's Orlando was on the bookshelves of a cabin my grandfather built on a New Hampshire Lake. In the evening, I would peruse the books on these shelves in search of a book to take to my bunk to read at night -- while the waves lapped on the shore of the lake, and the woods were dark. In this way, as a child, I read Orlando several times. Although I found parts of it confusing, on the surface I experienced it as a swashbuckling tale. like others I read at that age. (The Three Musketeers for instance).
It was time to reread Orlando.
After reading/rereading Virginia's letters to Violet and the "Jean" section of Dorothy's March Moonlight (among other sources for the "to refuse and to yield" section of the whole room), because I was not feeling that I should buy any more books, and because I have not wanted to use library books for this project, I tried to reread Orlando online. However, I did not find this satisfactory.
Yesterday, I ordered a print copy.
Christmas has passed again; a new year has begun. There is snow in the woods. More snow is falling. At this time of year I usually begin a new notebook, but I am immersed in the creation of "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing and do not want to separate the composition of this work into two notebooks. Thus, the 2016 Writer's Notebook has become the 2016 - 2017 Writer's Notebook.
In this holiday time period, a treasure arrived from England via New Hampshire: the April 1924 issue of Adelphi (edited by John Middleton Murry) with Dorothy Richardson's article "On Punctuation."
And driven by the words of the writers themselves, the writing/ coding for the "writing" section of "the whole room like a picture in a dream has been intense. ("But in the slow, attentive reading demanded by unpunctuated texts, the faculty of hearing has its chance, is enhanced until the text speaks itself." (DMR, "On Punctuation", p. 990 )
When planning this section, initially I thought it would be effective to use two columns. Like this:
There was indeed a certain amount of elegance in the way that -- generated repeatedly -- Virginia's text, which opened with "fading and falling, in soft low pleats" fell down the page in harmony with Dorothy's text, which opened "with a gentle, steady, throbbing undertow". But -- perhaps because the need to move between the two columns broke the immersive quality -- the echoing dialogue between the two word streams was not working in the way I envisioned. Thus, I returned to generating the words of these two women together in one column. Like this:
This "writing" array throws out new interpretations every time I run it, and I thought that as soon as this array was in progress, I would be ready to begin putting the work online. However, because the Alan and Leonard arrays are in progress, but the Orlando array ("To refuse and to yield") has not yet begun, I will begin "To refuse and to yield" first.
December 23, 2016
Long days immersed in grading extraordinary final projects.
Walking in the woods.
Working this evening on a build1 title page for "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing.
Since for many years it has been my practice to consider the Internet as an online studio, usually by now I would have posted the code and the narrative so far. But this work is not up yet.
Partially this is because the composition is/will be a lengthy process, and it hasn't reached the point where I have felt comfortable releasing it. Maybe it is because there is a reluctance to make this intimate view of the lives of two women writers public. Partially it is because I should begin the "writing practice" array before I begin releasing "the whole room like a picture in a dream". The "writing" array will be central with branching choices into other arrays, such as the partially composed Alan and Leonard arrays. Maybe it is because I haven't "cleaned" the code yet.
The thing to do, is to work on the "writing" array over the holidays -- beginning this weekend. Then I will begin to release "the whole room in its preliminary state.
One of the most pleasurable aspects about the composing of this work is that it fulfills my tendency for complexity and in depth writing over long periods of time -- while at the same time, it will not appear to the reader as an epic work. In fact, because the output of this work is generative, no reader will see the same work, and many readers may generate only a few screens. Some may not understand what "generative" means.
At the moment the cover page is followed by the quote above, and then the reader plunges into generative output from the Cornwall section.
The two images of output below are examples; neither is likely to repeat again.
December 19, 2016
The packing and unpacking of boxes. Moving across town. The disruptive process mitigated by the pleasure of arriving at a new home.
Student proposals for final projects are innovative and interesting. Preparing the Facebook-situated panel on Contemporary Social Media Narrative for publication in content | code | process is proceeding.
And in quiet moments, the surprising contrasts between Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out and Leonard Woolf's The Village in the Jungle.
Creating variables for the Leonard and Virginia array has begun slowly, but, although it is only a beginning, I am not unhappy with the initial results:
November 24, 2016
On the eve of Thanksgiving, I did some work on the variables in the Alan and Dorothy array for "the whole room like a picture in a dream" -- with the result that the generated word pictures began to emerge in the way I envisioned:
Then, in the code I pulled in a parallel column in order to display Alan and Dorothy and Virginia and Leonard side by side. As I feared, the screen was too crowded with the source documents listed in columns. Instead the template for the combined Alan and Dorothy and Leonard and Virginia output will look something like this:
November 18-19, 2016
Leonard Woolf's Beginning Again; Alan Odle's drawings for Candide. Foggy day.
F or "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing, the Alan Odle output, of what is planned to eventually be a two-column generative array, is working in a preliminary build. Much more information needs to be entered; editing is necessary. But this first build is enough to see that the "Alan and Dorothy" output has a certain amount of resonance.
W hile working on "Alan and Dorothy", I was preoccupied this week with the information art roots of "the whole room like a picture in a dream" in my practice. By which I mean the echoes of earlier information art in the way "the whole room... is created. This is important, because although there are contingencies, this work is not primarily DH-informed but rather stems -- as does much of what I do -- from an earlier practice in my work.
The first large scale information art in my work was the Technical Information  installation at Site in San Francisco in 1981.(partially funded by the NEA) The similarities to "the whole room are not apparent in the photograph above; they are only apparent in the process. Briefly, the process was as follows:
In order to create an artist's portrait of certain aspects of contemporary research, I desired to fabricate an installation that was built with technical information. To gather the information, I acquired an avatar, President of OK Research, and in this and other ways collected hundreds of pieces of technical information. Then I studied them and extracted concepts and phrases. With these phrases, I constructed a series of art works that used them in different ways, such as drawings on ricepaper, hung on newspaper racks, and electromechanical artists books. The information itself was displayed on shelves I built around the gallery; gallery goers were invited to read and rearrange the information.
At the core of this process was the reading of information, the extracting of phrases, and the use of these phrases to create artists books. At the core of "the whole room like a picture in a dream" is the reading of primary sources, the extracting of phrases, and the use of these phrases to create a work of generative literature.
1. Technical Information is documented in a peer-reviewed paper "OK Research, OK Genetic Engineering, Bad Information: Information Art Describes Technology (Leonardo, 21:4, 371-375, 1988)
November 5, 2016
L ate October and the first week of November were:
1. writing into the Alan Odle array of "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing
2. reading Leonard Woolf's Downhill all the Way and rereading Virginia's letters -- from July 8, 2011 (a month or so after Leonard returned from Ceylon) to August 9, 1912, the day before their marriage.
In Alan's column of the Alan_Leonard data structure, to begin with, there are Dorothy's mentions of Alan in her letters  and Alan's illustrations for Mark Twain's 1601, A Tudor Fireside Conversation, a private edition of 450 copies. published in 1936. (My source is a facsimile published in 1969 by Land's End Press.)
Alan was working on his illustrations for 1601 as early as 1931,  Thus, the veiled shocking commentary on the shared lives of artists, which seemingly underlies several illustrations in 1601, should be considered in tandem with Dorothy's focus on her pre-Alan lovers (both male and female, thinly veiled through the eyes of Miriam) in her just published Dawn's Left Hand.
It is continually surprising how the generative structures of "The whole room..." allow such material to effectively surface and resurface in different combinations.
A nd despite reoccurring flashes of of dissonance and jealousy, in the material for the Alan_Leonard arrays it is notable that once in a while artists find each other and are able to work together in harmony in their separate corners. Dorothy and Alan maintained a productive and interesting relationship, from their marriage in 1917 to his death in 1948, and her letters offer glimpses into shared pleasures -- a Bank Holiday spent all day in Padstow drinking ginger beer in the midst of flower shows, shooting galleries, swing boats, snake charmers, and the sound of the merry-go-round;  the last night of "The Great Heat Wave", when they drove to the top of a Hampshire borders hill, spread out a supper party, drove back at 60 miles an hour arriving home just before the milkman arrived.
In a letter to Bryher, Dorothy relates that they were adopted by a white kitten, who jumped between their laps in ecstasies of purring. 
In a letter to P. Beaumont Wadsworth, Dorothy observes that
"A.O[.] is working in his corner. He has a window with just the right north light. I have a little southwest corner, with a lattice whose sill is haunted by a robin. Wilderness all around us..." 
Next, I will be looking at Alan's drawings for Candide.
1. Gloria G. Fromm, ed, Windows on Modernism, Selected Letters of Dorothy Richardson, Athens and London:] University of Georgia Press, 1995.
October 22, 2016
While I considered exactly who Cressida is, and how her voice will operate in the narrative, and how to represent the differences between Alan Odle and Leonard Woolf, this week, I added more variables to the Cornwall array in the code for "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing -- each time, running the work a few times see what occurred. An exhilarating experience.
I anticipate that "the whole room like a picture in a dream" will be available online sometime in December. At that point it will probably only include two or three arrays, but perhaps like generative literature itself, "the whole room is a never-ending work.
In the creation of generative literature, it is of interest to track how each group of additions to the code alters the impact of the generated results and to consider the role of the random (technically pseudo-random) algorithms in the process.
At this point the output consists of
1. an in-progress colored-coded index that allows identification of the source of each text. Eventually each of the entries in the index will link to a page with all the lines (keyed by that entry) that are included as variables in the code for "the whole room". That way, all the authors of the texts will be properly credited.
2. a code-generated date stamp that at this time appears in the output in different places. (and in the figures below is appended at the top)
3. a screen of generated variables. Below are three screens that were created at different times on the morning of October 22. 
4. a closing prompt, which will vary within each page. "To refuse and to yield" -- currently closing the generated Cornwall pages -- is from Orlando. At the moment, this prompt leads nowhere, since none of the variables in the Orlando array have been entered.
1. Currently for each run, from 26 variables, 9 are selected at random from the code. The authoring system is an expanded version of the prize-winning code I wrote for the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth.
October 8-9, 2016
On Friday, a day when my wifi went down, and our dependence on the Internet in so many aspects of our lives became apparent, I went in search of wifi access to make sure that students knew of my lack-of-access, and then -- isolated -- ploughed into the initial code for "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing. Today, there was the thrill of a tapestry, that I have been reading for/planning for many months, appearing like magic on my laptop screen.
In The Not Yet Named Jig, I created a fiction writer's version of Monte Carlo simulations (it is not strictly speaking how Monte Carlo simulations are used in the scientific community) to build a world model of Mystick Side. In "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing, the writing practice of two experimental writers, who worked in approximately the same time period, will be explored in a poet/coder's version of Monte Carlo simulations. The examples here are not representative of the way the final work will appear, but rather are output from a very preliminary build of the code and variables.
A few notes:
1. The display of this work is planned to be one everchanging page; with more page-arrays generated at the will of the reader. However, the underlying arrays of variables will be immense. The lure of this generative manuscript is that I can continue writing unseen texts into the code, but the reader will not encounter an obviously lengthy work. As more variables are written into the code, there will be less repetition. And in different arrays, the tone will vary.
2. Eventually, an opening page will display search-generation options.
3. Sources of texts are color-keyed. Perhaps, the colors should be a little darker.
4. Cressie's voice -- which documents/interprets certain parts of the narrative -- is not yet well developed. Additionally, who she is has been redefined.
5. At the moment, clicking on the title phrase for the opening page -- the waves breaking on the shore -- will generate a new combination of variables from the arrays in the Cornwall category. The closing prompts will vary within each page. "To refuse and to yield" is from Orlando. At the moment however, this prompt leads nowhere, since none of the variables in the Orlando Arrays have been composed.
6. At this rate, it will probably take a year to finish the coding and the words. It is a year to which I look forward.
When I began to input data last week, the first thing I became aware of was that although Dorothy Richardson was isolated in a converted chapel in Cornwall when she wrote Pointed Roofs, in this work, there is no evidence of the ocean and beaches that dominate the Cornwall landscape.
But when output from the small of amount of data entered so far, juxtaposed this statement with the landscape of Cornwall as described by Virginia Woolf in Jacob's Room and Sketch of the Past (To the Lighthouse is not yet included in in the data) and by a paraphrase of Dorothy's words in a letter to Alan, I began to hear the ocean and the waves pounding on the beach in some of her sentences in Pointed Roofs.
"...and the music came again, pianissimo, swinging in an even rhythm. It flowed from those clever hands, a half-indicated theme with a gentle, steady, throbbing undertow..." (p. 44)
Soon I will add this passage to the Cornwall array and see what happens when the output is regenerated.
to be continued...
September 22, 2016
Last week, as online discussion intensified, my students posted their thoughts about how early social media differed from contemporary social media, and conceptualized the creation of world model-based narrative on Twitter. We will virtually go next week to a surfing event in California, a ranch in the desert, an imaginary playground, a re-imagined historical Interactive Fiction cave, a backyard portal, a football field, a craft beer festival, several houses, a utopia where racism doesn't exist, a city street, a thrift store, and Arkham Asylum, among other places. The course I'm teaching for the Rutgers Camden Digital Studies Center is Social Media Narrative: Lineage and Contemporary Practice. It is going to be an interesting semester!
On days when it seems as if we spend our lives online, small escapes into the countryside -- with a book or a picnic or pen and paper -- are necessary respites. This is not a new practice for me, although the places are different. Its name was Penelope was written on small beaches along the Northern California. The Yellow Bowl was initially written on small beaches on the shores of Point Pinole; it was finished in the New Hampshire woods. Much of The Roar of Destiny was written on camping trips to the California Gold country, and Dorothy Abrona McCrae was written on camping trips in the Sierras.
This week in Virginia Woolf's letters, the success of Hogarth Press was a continuing pleasure. Writers came to visit and departed, followed by Virginia's letters, as the Woolfs collaborated with painters Vanessa Bell and Carrington and arduously hand-printed, hand-sewed, and hand-bound a series of extraordinary book works, To name only a few: Katherine Mansfield's Prelude; Virginia's Kew Gardens, T.S. Eliot's Poems and E.M. Forster's The Story Of The Siren. For a maker of artists books and experimental literature, the process, experienced vicariously in woods and late-night-reading, was fascinating.
And it is not an exaggeration to relate that when letter after letter led up to the birth of her niece, Angelica Bell, on Christmas Day, 1918, the suspense was surprising.
Also this week, the edition of Dorothy Richardson's Pointed Roofs -- acquired for the introduction by Stephen Ross and for Vincent Brome's interview with Richardson -- arrived. [edited by Ross and Tara Thomson, Broadview editions, 2014]
As regards the reader's knowledge of Miriam's character, Ross observes that:
"It is impossible to adopt a moralistic perspective, then, since the narrative itself rejects any such vantage, and since the novel requires a 'collaborative reader,' as Richardson put it: one who contributes to the narrative rather than simply receiving (or rejecting it." [p. 14]
This is what I saw when I read Pointed Roofs in the year that I began its name was Penelope.
September 6, 2016
A t about the same time as the U.C. Berkeley Library Exhibition, that included its name was Penelope, concluded last week, I revisited my paper "its name was Penelope: a generative hypertext". (For Maria Mencia's #WomenTechLit, which looks to be an interesting 2017 collection of writing by women writers and scholars of electronic literature)
In the paper, I discussed in some detail the medieval Chaunce of the Dyse; John Cage's Indeterminacy; and Marc Saporta's Composition No 1. This was appropriate for a paper that focused on the development of generative hypertext.
Now, re-immersed in Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage, I recall thinking (almost thirty years ago when I began to compose its name was Penelope) that each lexia would be the writing equivalent of a photograph. I chose a photographer narrator because at that time I had been making artists books, in which the narrative units were predominantly photographs.
The gift from Dorothy Richardson -- of expressing the narrator's vision in terms of the writing equivalent of visual art -- remained with me when earlier this year I began reading for "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing
In its radical immersion in what the female protagonist sees -- often to the exclusion of consummated narrative tension -- for the reader who approaches it for what it is, Richardson's Pilgrimage presents isolated yet connected images that remain vividly in memory. After rereading Backwater, as if it were a painting by Mary Cassatt, in my mind I continually saw Richardson's word picture of small children clinging to Miriam's dress on her last day as a teacher at a North London School. She is holding the school's gift "the tightly-rolled silken twist of the umbrella heavy in her hands".
In Backwater, I still remember the dining-room where the blinds are down, the red curtains are drawn, and firelight shines on "the brilliantly polished davenport in the window-space". In this room, there is a cracked oil painting of Shakespeare, "the dark old landscapes round the little walls...the solid silver tea-service, the fine heavily edged linen table-cover, the gleaming, various, delicately filled dishes, the great bowl of flowers, the heavy, carven, unmoved, age-long dreaming faces of the three women with their living interested eyes..."
Even though the need to convey the changing role of women in society is differently informed 100 years later, Dorothy Richardson -- because of the extraordinary text-made images that she created and the idea she pioneered of narrative unfolding with only what the female narrator sees and thinks -- continues to be relevant. And I am finding that studying her writing practice not in isolation but also in splendid conjunction with Virginia Woolf's writing practice is important, particularly for women poets and writers who work in the fertile territory between experimental writing and computation.
This week, at home, I am revisiting Richardson's Backwater and Honeycomb. Last week, I carried The Letters of Virginia Woolf (vol two) with me across the fields and into the woods.
August 20-21, 2016
"gray tiles sloping steeply" (dmr) "long pauses come between"(vsw)
A s the summer draws to a close, amidst walking and reading along the rivers, creeks, and canals of New Jersey, amidst coffeehouse and late night reading, I am now so immersed in the parallel lives of Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf that when I read the letters, diaries, and works of one woman, sometimes I visualize what the other woman is doing. This is precisely where I wanted to be at the end of the summer, although there is still reading to do.
On the surface, initially, it seemed that the connection with Virginia's half-brother Gerald Duckworth, the founder of Duckworth press, who published the bulk of Dorothy's Pilgrimage, as well as Virginia's The Voyage Out and Night and Day, might have led to occasional meetings of Dorothy Richardson with Virginia Woolf.
Dorothy continued to publish with Duckworth, who was also the publisher of D.H. Lawrence, among many others, but Virginia's not unexpected opinion of her half-brother -- expressed in her diary entry of March 18, 1918 with, among others, the words "...when I thought of my novel destined to be pawed & snored over by him..." (VW Diaries, v. 1 p. 129) -- probably was a factor in the founding of Hogarth Press.
Whether or not, they ever met, Woolf and Richardson were very conscious/wary of each other's existence.
Virginia writing in her diary:
"...I refused to do Dorothy Richardson for the Supt. [The Times Literary Supplement] The truth is that when I looked at it, I felt myself looking for faults; hoping for them..." (Nov 28, 1919. VW Diaries v.1. p. 315)
About 18 years later, (the gap is significant) writing to Bryher, Dorothy begins:
Herring has asked me to review Virginia Woolf's new book, thereby putting me in something of a dilemma..." (1937, DM Letters, p. 330)
"these afterthoughts always came" (dmr) "like a lantern stood in the middle of a field"(vsw)
"the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing is planned as a narrative data structure, that will apply Monte Carlo methods in the exploration of the literary practice of two women writers. However, because quoting at length from diaries and letters is problematical as regards copyright, the arrays of data housed in the program will -- in addition to quoted words from their works -- be written in the voice of Cressida, a fictional young women writer who is obsessed with their lives and writing.
It is not my intention to embroider on the known lives of Virginia or Dorothy -- except in instances where Cressie is clearly speculating. However, given the contemplated method of retrieval, by no means will one session with this work produce expected comparisons.
This much is certain, "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing is an experimental woman writer's exploration of the lives and work of two legendary experimental women writers. It will bear no ressemblance to Jackson Mac Low's jealousy-laden rape of Virginia Woolf's work in The Virginia Woolf Poems.(Burning Deck, 1985)
I t has been a week of the pleasure of opening the box of the author copies of Social Media Archeology and Poetics (MIT Press, August 2016) and the pleasure of "publishing" the Rutgers Camden DSC Sakai site for "Social Media Narrative: Lineage and Contemporary Practice".
Additionally, the opening section of each canto of As if the memory was a song: From Ireland with Letters has this week received an image.
"singing softly at random" (dmr) "their voices floated" (vsw)
August 8, 2016
T he struggle to make the words and authoring system work together in precisely the way I desire occurs and occurs in my writer's notebooks. But passage and fiddler's passage, From Ireland with Letters cantos three and four -- where in three-part polyphonic text the lives of Liam O'Brien (passage) and Máire Powers (fiddler's passage) separately emerge -- represent one of those fortuitous times when exactly what I wanted to do worked. Translating passage to an HTML5 environment was interspersed in the past few days with course prep for Social Media Narrative: Lineage and Contemporary Practice and reading for the whole room like a picture in a dream.
Infused with magic realism, passage intertwines glimpses of Liam's former girlfriend ("dressed for work in high heels and a red jacket"); the representations of women, which 16th century arts writer Francesco Bocchi describes on his path through the Uffizi (Pomona, dressed in finely sculpted cloth, wearing a garland on her head, Leda, "fearful, blushing", modestly covering herself with one of her hands); Liam's memory of Máire Powers playing the Irish fiddle; streams flowing down the New Hampshire mountainside where Liam has been hiking; Bocchi's description of the water flowing from Giambologna's Oceanus fountain in the Boboli gardens: ("There are springs of wonderfully clear and limpid water here; the water is distributed by conduits and flows beautifully through the garden"); and the words with which 19th century sculptor Hiram Powers describes his design of a fountain for Capitol Park:
"It may represent Venus rising out of the sea. Over her head will be a sheet of water resembling a parasol and above that revolving jets throwing several thousand streams 20 or thirty feet into the air. It would be impossible to describe the beautiful effect it would produce. The streams are so small that in the sunshine there will be a constant rainbow -- and so smooth is the parasol that it looks like a convex mirror, and by its outward force will protect the figure entirely from the falling mist."
Near the beginning of passage, on his way to his home -- across the street from Hiram Powers' home and studio on the Via delle Fornaci, (now via de' Serragli) -- Hawthorne crosses the Arno on the Ponte di Santa Trinita and observes that "...Along the shore of the river, on both sides, as far as we could see, there was a row of brilliant lamps, which, in the far distance, looked like a cornice of golden light; and this also shone as brightly out of the river's depth..."
As passage concludes, the view from the Ponte di Santa Trinita is repeated:
"And all along the banks of the Arno,
If you click on this phrase, Máire Powers' practice session in fiddler's passage begins with "Easy and Slow".
As the reading of volume 1 of Virginia Woolf's diary concludes, and the rereading of Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage begins, it has been a summer, I observe, where:
"Every few minutes, the musicians switch to a new tune,
The engraving of the Powerscourt Waterfall is from Samuel C. Hall and Anna Maria Hall, Ireland: its scenery, character &, v. 2, London: Jeremiah How, 1842. p. 202. the original is by British landscape painter, Thomas Creswick.
Francesco Bocchi, The Beauties of the City of Florence, a Guidebook of 1591. London, Turnhout: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2006.
Hiram Powers' words are quoted in Richard Wunder, Hiram Powers, Vermont Sculptor. 1805-1873, Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1991. p. 78. Sadly, this fountain that Powers designed for Capitol Park in Washington, DC was either never created or partially created but no longer extant.
Hawthorne's words from The French and Italian Notebooks are quoted in Sirpa Salenius, Set in Stone, 19th-Century American Authors in Florence, Padova: il prato, 2003. p. 43-44
Dorothea E. Hast and Stanley Scott, Music in Ireland, Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture, NY, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. p. 3
July 23-24, 2016
It was a slow moving week in which amidst shimmering heat and continuing uncertainties of life, there were absorbing parallel intervals of writing practice.
And ohhh the summer reading: Friday morning in a coffee house with volume 1 of The Diary of Virginia Woolf; week-long late night rereading of Mrs Dalloway; and a Saturday morning exploration of ink-based photolithographs of Cornwall.
In immersive reading sessions, the narrative frame slowly emerged.
There was a woman -- a contemporary who traveled on the edges of their circles -- who was obsessed with the writing and the lives of Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf.
She -- in "the whole room like a picture in a dream", her name is Cressida -- is the source of the notes that I have been fictionally and unexpectedly bequeathed. Her presence as observer is not unusual. Exploring the life of Dorothy Richardson, for instance, if not Bryher, we are all Peggy Kirkaldy, Bernice Elliot, or Pauline Marrian.
Cressida's notes are projected to be primarily based on known facts. As has occasionally been my literary Monte Carlo Method practice (The Not yet Named Jig for instance) other than encounters with the interfaces produced by my authoring system, the reader will not discern my own voice once s/he enters the work.
Nevertheless, how I create the data structures arrayed within the code and how I decide to enter Cressie's notes into these data structures will influence the output. It is also not unlikely that what Cressie has recorded reflects issues in her own life.
The image above is composed of details taken from Views of the British Isles 1890-1900, created by the Detroit Publishing Company and available on the online catalog of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
I n the same time period of the reading of the lives and writing of two extraordinary women writers, the re-coding of From Ireland with Letters continues.
As of this week, not only is the HTML5 environment for fiddler's passage, in place, but also the new code for the interface and for all the lexias for part I of Begin with the Arrival are completed. It would not be entirely accurate to say that this was a pleasurable process. At one point, it descended into the recoding of over 100 lexias. And yet when these tasks were completed -- first in the fiddler's passage practice session and then in the opening of Begin with the Arrival -- the results were satisfactory. There is still some timing and textual editing to do.
Re-coding Begin with the Arrival, part II -- in which Cromwell's invasion of Ireland is grimly replayed -- will be more difficult to confront.
Contingently I am pleased to report that my paper "From Ireland with Letters: Issues in Public Electronic Literature" has been accepted for publication by the British-based Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies.
As Loss Pequeno Glazier observed, writing in Postmodern Culture, in 1997 :
"An electronic poetics is a poetics. Like any other poetics which recognizes system -- be it breath, a controversy of texts, or a nexus of interests -- system is a determining factor. A poetics also involves a particular engagement, or set of engagements, with its issuing 'authority' and its technology. The public life of a poetics has, perhaps, been nowhere more visible, with its incessant transmission, than in the electronic poetries. An electronic poetry is a public word, projected across a public world, across systems, itself as system."
Glazier, LP. Jumping to Occlusions. Postmodern Culture; 1997. May. 7:3.
July 10, 2016
A mong other things, I worked this week on the authoring system for "the whole room like a picture in a dream". The work will be built with multiple arrays of keyworded phrases; code that generates these phrases in different ways; and an interface that allows the reader some control over access to the content
Exploring the issue of reader control or lack of control of electronic narrative, I revisited the original BASIC and UNIX versions of Uncle Roger.
The authoring system I wrote for Files 1 and 2 of Uncle Roger imposed a hypertextual database searching interface that was appropriate in a work in which a female narrator explored the culture of a male-centered techno-culture. (At the time, female narrators were otherwise nonexistent in computer-mediated narrative.) The authoring system for File 3 moved the narrator, Jenny, from constrained observer of the male chip industry culture to the illusion of taking control of her life in a word processing pod.
Thus, Files 1&2 ask the reader to enter the culture of the chip industry with reader-controlled database searching. Then, in file3, reader control is withdrawn as s/he sits with Jenny in front of a terminal, where her memories are randomly generated, and she finds it difficult to concentrate on the work.
Note that because Jenny is an unreliable narrator with singular vision, her role is not as submerged as a surface reading would indicate.
T he reading for "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing will take much longer than originally envisioned. However, there is now the anticipatory pleasure of plunging into Virginia Woolf's diaries and of reading/rereading every volume of Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage. At times when the details of life sometimes seem insurmountable, this reading is continuously rewarding.
Filtered from this reading, details of the lives and writing of Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf will be written into "whole room". The data will be extensive. Unpredictable narratives of different lives and extraordinary writing will be generated for as long as the reader desires. Although the narrative data in "whole room" will be very different, these words I wrote in the classic 1991 paper for Uncle Roger are relevant to the reader experience as it is currently conceived:
"Each file is a pool of information into which the reader plunges repeatedly, emerging with a cumulative and individualized picture. Thus the narrabase form uses a computer database as a way to build up levels of meaning and to show many aspects of the story and characters, rather than as a means of providing alternative plot turns and endings." 
1. Judy Malloy, Uncle Roger, an Online Narrabase", in Connectivity: Art and Interactive Telecommunications, ed: Roy Ascott and Carl Loeffler, Leonardo 24(2) 1991, 195-202.
July 3, 2016
I ssues around the sustainability of works of electronic literature arise again, as I return to recoding fiddlers passage in an HTML5 environment.
However we as writers, artists, and scholars approach this issue, it should be noted that when we enter the realm of hybrids of literature and coding, we are partially on the territory of software-centered disciplines, where such updating is a part of the culture. Contingently, we can assume that -- as when Apple updated the Mac OS -- the software industry will continue to ignore the needs of artists and writers.
On this hybrid territory, as techno-creatives we can accept that we are embarking on a lifelong practice of learning and updating. But at the same time, aesthetically (as defined by our individual visions) we can and at times should choose to define and preserve our works by the look and feel of the era in which they were created.
"The film sculptures run continuously. It is as though the audience saw a play, a mythical play, like a Greek play or a symbolic play like Shakespeare and then it continued playing in a room somewhere and occasionally the audience would open the door to that room and would immediately recognize the play whether they chose to stay for part of it or not and the audience could close the door and say, oh yes, that's HAMLET or that's ANTIGONE and the plays would just continue playing endlessly and they would know that about those rooms."
A s regards, From Ireland with Letters, recoding was envisioned from the beginning when I deliberately chose to use HTML4 transitional instead of HTML5 -- knowing full well that I would have to recode the work by the time the whole was finished. The reasons for this choice were that HTML5 was not set in stone when I began From Ireland with Letters, and that as a storyteller I chose to begin with a mark-up language in which I had mastery.
Simulating an Irish fiddlers practice session that begins with "The Galway Girl", segues into the "Mason's Apron Reel", and ends with a not yet named jig, fiddlers passage is a work of polyphonic electronic literature that is written to my fiddlers_passage 3 stave lexia/node score. The authoring system encompasses more than the timing of released words; it also relies on color changes and the meaning and flow of the words to create the illusion of time and content shifts in a musicians's practice session.
fiddler's passage can be experienced either by simply waiting for the text to change, or by clicking on any one of the three lexia spaces, or by a combination of these ways of reading. When the work has been played through once, it can be replayed. Since the text in fiddler's passage moves fast, replaying it allows concentration on different "tracks" of the work.
In the recoding process, I may decide to somewhat slow the tempo, but recoding will not change the look and feel of the work. Primarily it will move the work from HTML 4 transitional to an HTML5 environment, a necessary task as once again I succumb to the software culture of updating.
Competing this week with my immersion in Dorothy Richardson's fascinating letters from Cornwall during World War II, with the designing of an improvised writer's colony dinner and an online conference to accompany my fall Rutgers Camden DSC class in Social Media Narrative, and with the beautiful New Jersey countryside, the work of recoding fiddlers passage is progressing slowly, although it is not difficult.
June 19, 2016
I n the early days of exhibiting electronic literature, sometimes after an exhibition, we - the poets ourselves -- showed up to dismantle installations which (with the guidance of the curators and with occasional floor-space-boundary wars) we ourselves had created. There was closure and comraderie in this exhibition closing activity -- as floppy disks were inserted into un-archival plastic sleeves in black binders and as computers were loaded into our vehicles.
These days, curator-installed shows generally reflect a more coherent curatorial vision, while on the Internet, contemporary electronic literature keeps running long after the exhibition has closed.
As I wrote this, I remembered seeing Deborah Whitman's film sculptures in her cabin at the MacDowell Colony in 1992. The work that I saw, Deus ex Machina/Closet of Angels, integrated continuously running super 8 film loops into wooden structures. Her vision for this work was of "allegorical machines with whimsical features which involve the audience in poetic narratives".
I talked her into documenting Deus ex Machina/Closet of Angels for Leonardo Electronic News, where she wrote:
"The film sculptures run continuously. It is as though the audience saw a play, a mythical play, like a Greek play or a symbolic play like Shakespeare and then it continued playing in a room somewhere and occasionally the audience would open the door to that room and would immediately recognize the play whether they chose to stay for part of it or not and the audience could close the door and say, oh yes, that's HAMLET or that's ANTIGONE and the plays would just continue playing endlessly and they would know that about those rooms. Except in the film sculptures, the plots continue to change and the audience becomes characters within them, even if their stay is brief."
Later, she was Fargo Deborah Whitman. She died in January, earlier this year.
At the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, the Festival exhibitions that were a major part the 2016 Electronic Literature Organization Conference closed on June 12.
There was not for me (and probably also not for many other artists and poets) the closure of dismantling the installations ourselves, but many of the works, including The Roar of Destiny (which was in the sound exhibition curated by John Barber) are still playing on the Internet.
The Roar of Destiny was a poetic response to an era when as I wrote in the documentation:
"...the lives of those of us -- who worked virtually and thus spent days and nights online -- were altered, as black & white, green & black , or yellow & black text metamorphosed into vibrant dense arrays of competing information, and virtual communities were displaced by moated castles in a sea of entrancing new work." The audio recordings created for EL02016 read the lexias as unmeasured scores, where the peripheral words are read in counterpoint or harmony with the bolded lines of poetry. As the reader explores the work, they appear as unexpected surprises. "
Listed below, (if you click on them you can hear the sound) they are:
T his week in the woods, alongside a creek, alongside a canal, and on Friday in a coffee house, I slowly began reading Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out -- while at home I continued with Dorothy Richardson's letters.
A summer punctuated with such interesting reading is a memorable summer -- recalling the sunburned, sea-soaked evening reading of the summers of childhood.
And, for the purposes of what will be entered in "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing, practicing/remembering very-slow-reading is a pleasure in this Internet age.
June 12, 2016
For writers and artists, every object that we send away from our studios has its own story. When that object arrives at an archive, from our point of view, much of that story is lost. Yet, from a scholar's point of view, the unraveling of the mysteries of archives is compelling. Although, what scholars decipher may not be precisely the story that we intended -- what scholars and critics see in our archives sometimes enriches even our own views of our work.
..................................................the conclusion to my ELO paper on "A Poet's Perspective on Archiving Electronic Literature"
Amidst the enchanting Twitter storm of ELO2016, last week there were Dorothy Richardson's letters. 
Not surprisingly, her letters to Bryher and H.D. present an entirely different view of her life than the recluse/outsider writer that too many biographers present. Books, the reading and sharing if of modernist literature -- to be documented soon -- are central to her correspondence. But also, there are:
Parties. "That was a famous little party in Maiden Lane. I greatly enjoyed it, though rather wishing I had gone in my overall rather than Violet's lace, donned for a subsequent gathering" (1936 to Bryher, p. 319)
"Emma Goldman couldn't come on Monday, has chosen another day in spiky Victoria handwriting" (1924 to Bryher, p. 104)
Battles with the elements in rented Cornish cottages.
The impact of films and radio
And always the surprising togetherness of Dorothy and Alan. (Switzerland p. 84 Paris p. 101, Cornwall p. 196 and continuing)
W hile the energy of electronic literature played around me in social media, and I paused to join Dene Grigar, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Stuart Moulthrop via Skype to talk about the role of archiving in the electronic literature infosphere, I read and reread the letters that Dorothy and artist Alan Odle exchanged while she was in Cornwall and he was in London. They are formally addressed -- "Dear Miss Richardson", "Dear Mr. Odle", and yet there is an underlying tension, and you know what they really mean.
The way the narrative of "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing" is currently envisioned, a layer of narrators will frame it -- beginning perhaps with the notes of a young women obsessed with the lives of two women writers and seguing into the code of a digital humanist to whom they were bequeathed.
Gloria G. Fromm, ed, Windows on Modernism, Selected Letters of Dorothy Richardson, Athens and London, University of Georgia Press, 1995. In my work itself, I cannot quote much from Dorothy's letters. But it was the same situation with Hiram Powers' letters, which I read on microfilm loan from the Smithsonian. It is the experience of reading such letters that is important.
May 29, 2016
In a poet's tasks of late spring, much has been done; much remains to be done. Build2 of the 20th anniversary edition of The Roar of Destiny has been zipped to ELO2016. The "minor edits" for my paper "From Ireland with Letters: Issues in Public Electronic Literature" have been completed and submitted. I am working on the course materials for week six of Social Media Narrative. For my annual coverage of ELO2016, I am reading with interest the works in the Festival. This year the 2016 Electronic Literature Organization Conference (ELO2016) will be held at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia from June 10-12.
And so, as often in the ELO days of June, it is time to begin a new work -- this year "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing".
Contingently, it is a pleasure to record in this notebook that Another Party in Woodside won a second prize in The Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College's first annual Prizes in Computational Arts. "These competitions aim to inspire innovations in computational methods that generate artistic products, such as literary, musical, and visual art," the Institute observes. Indeed, the authoring system, another_party -- described in the April 10 entry in this notebook and inspired by this Dartmouth competition -- will be a core algorithm for the whole room like a picture in a dream.
For whole room, a large database will be created with two major streams of data. One will concern Dorothy Richardson; the other will concern Virginia Woolf. As they do in the Prologue to From Ireland with Letters, pseudo-randomly-produced phrases in the marginalia spaces of the resultant electronic manuscript will access arrays of variables.
The interface will allow continual use of the marginalia to generate short algorithmically-created documents that weave together -- using color-coded text to distinguish their voices -- elements from the Dorothy and Virginia databases. Although it has been evolving for 30 years, the origins of this authoring system, can be traced back to the initial algorithms I wrote for Uncle Roger. And in particular to the BASIC version in which Boolean combinations of keywords resulted in pages of lexias that (at that time) readers often printed out.
The results of this process in the whole room are intended to be readable and interesting -- while at the same time continually seeking convergences and differences between two writers who were instrumental in shaping "stream of consciousness" modernist literature.
Earlier in this notebook, I described the content in this way:
Separately, Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Richardson are sitting at writing desks at a certain (as yet to be determined) moment in time. Begin with descriptions of their writing desks, follow with places in their lives; beautiful Cornwall, for instance. The code will only generate a page or a few pages at a time, and only a small amount of the texts will be visible in each generated version. Hidden narratives will lurk beneath the surface and slowly emerge: lovers, husbands: H.G. Wells, Vita Sackville-West, the wild differences between Alan Odle and Leonard Woolf.
As the work evolves, I foresee more emphasis on their individual writing processes and theories, as well as on their views of the lives of women writers.
A writer's notebook is not a finished essay or paper. In addition to thoughts that contribute to the shaping and writing of new work, a writer's notebook is likely to contain elements of the writer's life. Lately, these have concerned the changing environment in the Princeton New Jersey area where I have been walking.
This week, the green along the streams and canals was so intense, that I was reluctant to record it in this notebook. But these walks are respites from the intense work of computer-mediated writing and coding -- along the way, allowing consideration of the process from a different viewpoint, as well as the peaceful woods reading of print books. Such is the magic of the local woods streams and rivers.
And suddenly after the rains and the gray days, the canals and rivers and streams, the meadows and the woods of New Jersey are otherworldly, and it feels like walking in a dream.
May 14, 2016
.....even in an era when interactivity is taken for granted,
"...Our goal is to create compelling new forms of interactive art and entertainment that provide more deeply autonomous, generative and dynamic responses to interaction. A major thrust of this work is advanced AI for videogames, including autonomous characters and interactive storytelling. By viewing AI as an expressive medium, our work raises and answers novel AI research questions while pushing the boundaries of the conceivable and possible in interactive experiences..." - Michael Mateas Associate Professor Computer Science Department, University of California, Santa Cruz
"Whatever it may be in the larger socioeconomic and cultural sphere, artists have chosen to inflect prosaic interactivity to their own expressive ends. Metainteractive aesthetic strategies -- like poetry, with its rhythms, assonances, and figures -- does not merely transport us to another scene or world but is itself an experience charged by semantic and formal values of expression. Interactivity is not just an instrument or a perhaps irritating interval between clicking and getting somewhere else but an event that brings corporeal and cognitive awareness to this increasingly ubiquitous feature of the contemporary world." - Margaret Morse, "The Poetics of Interactivity" 
Revisiting definitions of interactivity this week, I began with Stephen Wilson's SIGRAPH93 paper "Aesthetics and Practice of Designing Interactive Computer Events." Steve was a Professor and Chair of Conceptual Design and Information Art at San Francisco State University -- and a colleague friend since we first meet at the NCGA Conference at San Jose State in 1989. I last saw him at the "Knowledge Hacking" exhibition at Worth Ryder Gallery at U.C. Berkeley in 2010, three months before he died of cancer.
What I remember is sitting down beside him. In front of him was a computer screen with NASA's photographed-from-space "The World at Night" image -- that dramatically contrasted the light in the first and second worlds with the dark of the electricity-less third world. I watched as he showed me how the action of a spinning globe changed the dark in the third world to light and sunrise. Steve was very ill and could not stand up. The only way to talk with him was to sit beside him and "Power up the World" which was the name of the work. It was the last time I saw him. He died in January 2011.
I had been exploring documentation of the #dawnchorus project as part of the research for my Fall 2016 Rutgers Camden University Digital Studies Center course, so when I was thinking about the interactive potential of social media narrative, what came into mind was Steve's early work in exploring interactivity. The paper I was looking for was still on his website at http://userwww.sfsu.edu/swilson/papers/interactive2.html -- as if he had never left us and would show up at Roger Malina and Christine Maxwell's next Holiday Season party.
In a rapidly changing infosphere, this paper was over 20 years old. Nevertheless, what I was looking for was Steve's summary of the ways to create interactivity in new media environments. Yes, there were arguments in the community about the importance of levels of interactivity in the new media arts. Nevertheless, it is of interest to review these words:
"Presence: At the most fundamental level most media events call for the basic decision to participate. Someone has to turn on the computer and start the program. After this choice there is no other choice but to terminate or change selection.
Simple Choice: The user can select a particular event to engage - for example, which magazine article to read or which TV channel to watch. Analysts suggest that this choice process is at some times converted into an interactive experience - e.g. the channel surfers who use their remote controls to change channels.
Choice of Options: In these interactive events, the user is systematically presented with arrays of choices - for example, in a branching program.
Search for Interaction Possibilities: In some systems, such as some hypermedia, the user must actively search to find the gateways that lead to further events.
Contributory: In these events, the user can add to the array of choices available to the system - for example, by importing new materials or by establishing new links among system elements.
Authoring: The user can actually add new capabilities to the system"
I doubt that it is possible for contemporary practitioners to so explicitly define interactivity. But, even in an era when interactivity is taken for granted, there is a value in continuing to explore the different ways in which it is implemented.
1. Margaret Morse, "The Poetics of Interactivity", in Women, Art, and Technology. Judy Malloy, ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003. pp. 16-33.
April, 30 - May 1, 2016
T he Roar of Destiny is an electronic manuscript and not a work of hypertext literature in the classic sense. Nevertheless, because the entire World Wide Web is a hypertextual environment, anyone who creates on the World Wide Web is likely to be using hypertext affordances in some way. Contingently, the linking systems which control the navigation of this electronic manuscript are of interest from an authoring-with-hypertext affordances point of view.
My overall strategy for linking among the internal lexias was in each lexia to create an initial link that went to the next-written lexia in the same array. At least two other kinds of links were generally included: a link that in some way paralleled the narrative and a link that abruptly moved the reader into a seemingly unrelated node in another array. Note that the links near the ends of the descending link choruses abruptly displace the reader -- as time and place are altered in technicolor. At times this may be a dislocating/displacing experience, but that is the vision of The Roar of Destiny.
In the process of recoding The Roar of Destiny, I have been surprised at how many times I purposefully did not follow my initial linking strategy for this work. But as Jim Rosenberg observes in Word Space Multiplicities, Openings, Andings:
"Classical hypertext algorithms have a clear identity: the user knows what is supposed to happen; indeed it would be taken as a sign of bad design if the user were not to know what is supposed to happen. But in the literary world, incomplete knowledge on the part of the reader has been an age-old artistic variable -- the novel derives much of its power precisely from the fact that the reader doesn't know what is going to happen."
T he awkward issue of what to disclose/what not to disclose in documenting the narrative elements of a diffuse work of electronic poetry has occurred off and on in the pages of these notebooks. In the case of The Roar of Destiny, I have not as yet been inclined to clarify the narrative elements of a work of poetry.
As Carolyn Guyer and Martha Petry wrote in Izme Pass:
"When a woman tells, oh veiled voice, a story."
In the Visual Editions version of Marc Saporta's Composition No. 1, Saporta's introductory note -- that appeared in the English language version, (translated by Richard Howard and published by Simon & Schuster in 1963) -- is not included. Saporta reveals very few details about the narrative content in this brief, elusive note. However -- as he succinctly sets the narrative in the atmosphere of the occupation of France during World War II and in the covert presence of the French Resistance in this environment -- he subtly addresses questions that might linger in the reader's mind. For contemporary readers with little experience of what living in France was like at that time, Saporta's note is increasingly important. He concludes with these words:
"Whether the story ends well or badly depends on the concatenation of circumstances. A life is composed of many elements. But the number of possible compositions is infinite."
I am considering how Saporta's covert documentation strategy might situate the reader more clearly in the narrative content of the new edition of The Roar of Destiny -- without revealing enough to destroy the poetic nature of the work.
Jim Rosenberg, Word Space Multiplicities, Openings, Andings - Collected Essays and Papers in Digital Poetics, Hypertext, and New Media, Morgantown, WV: Center for Literary Computing, 2015. p. 179
Like the travels of a mythical poet's manuscript that are described in Matthew Kirschenbaum's Rosenbach lectures, a good record of where my writer's notebooks (2009 - ) are located online does not exist. Even Google is unhelpful in this respect;it is difficult to know what to search for.
Carolyn Guyer and Martha Petry, "Izme Pass," Writing On the Edge, 2.2. Spring 1991. Quoted in Barbara Page, "Women Writers and the Restive Text: Feminism, Experimental Writing and Hypertext," Postmodern Culture 6:2 (January, 1996)
Marc Saporta, Composition No. 1, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1963) np.
April, 16, 2016:
T he Roar of Destiny (1995-2000) was written for Internet audiences. At the time, I was working for Arts Wire, a national program of The New York Foundation for the Arts. While the World Wide Web, where I worked in the course of long days online, expanded exponentially, I lived in an area where there were deer, raccoons, possums, coyotes, hawks and views to the hills of Northern California. On the weekends, I drove to the Sierras and camped and wrote by clear rivers and lakes.
Twenty years later, The Roar of Destiny still exists on the Internet -- as a reflection of experience of the merging of real life and virtual experience in the early days of the Web. The new version will be public sometime in late May.
Because each lexia is a complex poetic experience of environment and virtual environment, The Roar of Destiny took almost five years to write. It was/is interfaced with a dense structure of phrase links that echoed/echo the Web environment. Story-bearing lexias -- each composed of a narrative fragment that sometimes runs decisively in the center of the screen and sometimes is raggedly merged with peripheral words and hyperlinked phrases -- radiate from six arrays. The reader is asked not only to explore meaning in this experimental poetic system but also to navigate between color-coded densely-linked narratives, which range from the black of trauma, to the white of virtual employment, to the blue green of valley and mountain environments.
When, earlier this year, I undertook translating this work into a contemporary framework, I should have remembered that among the reasons it took so long to complete were that each lexia screen is composed like a small interactive text-based painting; that the linking structure is complex; and that the way the whole works together must be constantly kept in mind. I also should have considered that because each lexia was going to edited separately, the translation process would be an intense and time-consuming process.
Nevertheless, having completed an initial build for the new interface, edited and recoded the lexias in three of the six arrays, and set in motion the recording of new readings, I am on track to have the 20th Anniversary Edition of The Roar of Destiny ready for the Electronic Literature Organization's annual conference, this year to be held at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, from June 10-12.
M emorable this week: I am happy to begin working on the syllabus and course materials for the course in Social Media Narrative: Lineage and Contemporary Practice, which I will be teaching online for the innovative Digital Studies Center at Rutgers University Camden this comng fall.
April, 10, 2016
T he equivalent, perhaps, of how scores for early music were circulated, in this era of the-archive-as-an-interface-to-electronic-literature, early works -- their histories retold in narratives of the circulation of floppy disks -- appear on display screens in lectures and videos of lectures.
Wasting Time was published on a floppy disk, which was included in a boxed special edition of the Atlanta-based literary magazine, Perforations.  Following, as it did, his narrative of the journeys of a mythical poet's word processed manuscripts, Matt's scholarly and eloquent exploration of three versions of Wasting Time -- held in three separate archives: the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke, the Maryland Institute for Technology and Humanities, and the Media Archaeology Lab at U.C. Boulder -- revealed textual variations, traces of other erased works, and a casual REM note that does not appear on every disk.
At home, listening to /watching the lecture video, I recalled that I wrote-over the early versions and did not keep drafts until the work had progressed from draft to build. And in addition to the version distributed in Perforations, I sent copies of Wasting Time to colleagues, who probably sent me works in return. I kept no log that documented to whom I sent copies or what version they received.
When the Wasting Time disks magically appeared in the Rosenbach lectures, in my memory, there was a long ago isolated cabin at 7,000 feet in the Colorado mountains. There was a another snowstorm. We had to plow the dirt road ourselves. I would not be able to make it into Boulder to work on computerizing the BBRC library. I also remembered the evening of that storm. In the living room, there was an old leather couch with an oak frame, a fireplace, and a table. Outside it was dark. It was half a mile to the home of the nearest neighbor. White snow was falling thickly just outside the window.
A writer's memories are the hoarded gold of the world models of narrative, I observed last week as I sat in a cafe reading Virginia Woolf's A Sketch of the Past.
1. AFTER THE BOOK, Writing Literature - Writing Technology, edited by Richard Gess. Perforations (number 3, Spring/Summer 1992)
"the whole room like a picture in a dream"
T he generative Another Party in Woodside is now running as often as the reader desires.
The authoring system, another-party, allows for entrance of text fragments by keyword -- in such a way that when the work is randomly generated, the keywords shape the content into a semblance of meaning. It is not a new approach; I used it myself in various ways. (to retrieve content in Uncle Roger, to generate a collaborative document in Making Art Online) But I like the clarity with which this system integrates keyword array structures with random text fragment generation.
Note that although repetition is needed to create the looping night-after-laced-with-dreams in Another Party, the next build will reduce repetition. (in other ways than the "shuffle" used in some passages of Another Party in Woodside)
While I was rereading Virginia Woolf's A Sketch of the Past, I was thinking that rather than use pre-existing texts, it would be more effective to write new content directly into the another-party authoring system. And so, immersed in the differences between Virginia Woolf's life and the life of Dorothy Richardson, the idea -- of using this authoring system to create a generative work that interweaves details of their lives and work -- emerged.
Separately, Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Richardson are sitting at writing desks at a certain (as yet to be determined) moment in time. Begin with descriptions of their writing desks, follow with places in their lives; beautiful Cornwall, for instance. The code will only generate a page or a few pages at a time, and only a small amount of the texts will be visible in each generated version. Hidden narratives will lurk beneath the surface and slowly emerge: lovers, husbands: H.G. Wells, Vita Sackville-West, the wild differences between Alan Odle and Leonard Woolf.
The title -- "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson Writing -- was devised when this work was only about Richardson; a somewhat different title will be needed. The histories of their writing desks is a solid place to begin.
M eanwhile, at the core of April's work is the Twentieth Anniversary edition of The Roar of Destiny. Last week, I recreated the interface in an HTML5 environment. (without the frames of the original work) The reformatting of 232 lexias has begun. Recording new sound tracks has begun. A new microphone arrived on Saturday.
In the 20th Anniversary edition, the muting of traces of the early web (frames interfaces that should never have been abandoned for reasons of searching) and the altering of a visual art aesthetic (that exists uneasily on the web) is not done without considerable thought. (or without an understanding of the consequences of long-ago-painting-over of Giotto's murals because of subsequent "advances" in paint color technology and in depicting perspective and human anatomy)
I am not writing over the early Roar; only time will tell which version is "better". Nevertheless, the current World Wide Web environment is not primarily an artists' space, yet works of literature exist in that space -- side by side with the extraordinary array of content, which The Roar of Destiny continues to echo.
March 28, 2016
T he index for Social Media Archeology and Poetics (MIT Press, July 2016) is nearly finished. I have, in the course of a checkered moonlighting career, indexed various volumes of The Annual Reviews. It is not an unfamiliar task, and there is always that moment -- a pleasure for an information artist -- when the whole comes together in a long list of names and ideas that succinctly interfaces a book that took several years to create.
In enjoyable interludes, I prepared a guest lecture on electronic literature publication histories for Roger Malina's seminar on experimental publishing at UT Dallas, walked in the woods, and plunged into a work I have been thinking about since January -- Another Party in Woodside -- which will be generated using sentences and sentence fragments from the original A Party in Woodside.
In the process, three questions arose.
1. What is the role of writing in generative poetry? Are the words in the array of variables as important as the code? Contingently, in pursuing this pure form of electronic literature, it is of interest to look at the shifting coder/poet backgrounds of the early creators. Computer scientist Christopher Strachey created an algorithmic foothold with the M.U.C. loveletters in circa 1954. Without a computer, Fluxus poet Emmett Williams created the algorithms for "IBM" a few years later in 1956.
Using words from Kafka's The Castle, information scientist Theo Lutz created Stochastische Texte in 1959. Around the same time, artist/poet Brion Gysin migrated the cut-up method to computer-mediated poetry and created an incisive permutation of literary theory in five words. "POET'S NO OWN DON'T WORDS" was coded by programmer Ian Sommerville.
And so it goes, as generative poetry is passed from coder to poet and back again in the early years of electronic literature.
2. The web version of A Party in Woodside does not convey (as well as the BASIC version) the experience of the aftermath of an uncomfortable party. Would it be possible to interface the web version differently? What if I created a version of A Party in Woodside that stored and generated fragments of the texts -- using arrays based on their original keywords? Would the looping dream/memory mixed immersion I wanted to convey be more vividly represented?
3. What is the role of repetition in generative literature?
To begin to answer these questions, while I was working on the index for Social Media Archeology and Poetics, I wrote some initial code for Another Party in Woodside and entered the sentences and sentence fragments as variables keyed by the original keywords, such as "dreams", "food", "men in tan suits":
As regards the issue of repetition, although for the most part I have not yet limited the number of times a sentence or sentence fragment can be repeated, in some arrays I used a Fisher-Yates-like shuffle that shuffled the variables and printed them without repetition. Not surprisingly some of the dream like quality of the party was lost. Nevertheless, currently, I am using a "shuffle" in the code to implement keywords that are sparsely used, such as "Miss Gorgel":
After Another party in Woodside is completed, the next step is to link (without underlines so that they will not be obvious) each variable to its corresponding lexia in the original work. In this way, Another Party in Woodside will be repurposed to create an intuitive index to the original party. I don't intend to do this until later this year, perhaps around the time of the 30th anniversary of the social media publication of A Party in Woodside, which began, as documented in my archives, on Art Com Electronic Network on December 1, 1986.
March 12-14, 2016
T here are weeks when -- in the midst of the details of page proofs or the enjoyment of preparing a lecture on electronic literature publishing history, or the surprise of seeing my own work flash on my laptop, live screened from Doe Library at U.C. Berkeley  -- the spaces of time for writing/coding and thinking about writing/coding are guilty pleasures.
This week, these seemingly different streams brought several issues to the forefront. One was:
In creating works of electronic literature. where the narrative is predominately housed server-side, and the reader may never discover the entirety of the work, how much does a writer reveal when a reader enters a complex virtual world model? This question could be answered differently for every work of electronic literature/for every writer's vision. Normally, I would be approaching this issue through the lens of computer-mediated interface, (or "about"files) but this week the role of accompanying print/artists book objects has been in the forefront.
Two initial thoughts:
1. The Lost Treasures of Infocom (1991) is packaged like an artists book with floppy disks, (in my version IBM XT or AT) and a plethora of "feelies", including maps and book length documentation. This celebratory package provides a treasured interface to the Infocom years of text-based Interactive Fiction. (IF) And yet -- even for those of us who explore IF not to solve puzzles but for the clarity and surprise of unexpected writerly detail -- The Lost Treasures of Infocom's existence as an explorable object stands in opposition to the mystery of approaching, for instance, the computer-mediated world of "The Great Underground Empire" of Zork, which begins with nothing but these words and the classic IF prompt ">":
Nevertheless, as an entrancing print interface to a series of computer-mediated narratives, if first the reader reads the maps and guides and then sets them aside when she/he steps onto the trail, The Lost Treasures of Infocom enables a satisfactory setting-out-on-an adventure experience.
2. Contingently, after I created the BASIC version of A Party In Woodside in 1987, I ran a search that would print out all of the lexias on continuous-feed card stock. (Lexias that were keyed by more than one link were printed out x times, where x was the number of links associated with that lexia.)
I then created a painted box with index tabs for each link/keyword in the narrative.
This experimental artists book, which Dene Grigar showed at Cal last week, is a cogent example of how narrative content -- that the reader would ordinarily retrieve from the mysterious unseen server-side databanks where the lexias that comprise A Party in Woodside are stored -- could be made more visible and accessible.
However, to my way of thinking, one would not experience a party by knowing ahead of time what would happen. The reader's individual experience of A Party in Woodside, the interactivity that is a part of the reading process of hypertext literature, are at the core of the immersive qualities of my work.
Nevertheless, exploring how electronic literature can be approached in associated print/object structures and how artist book translations can contribute to the dialog of the differences between electronic literature and print literature is always of interest.
1. in the opening Symposium to an exhibition curated by Alex Saum-Pascual and Élika Ortega that explores the relationships of English language electronic literature with Spanish and Portuguese language works. March 11, 2016 - Sept 2, 2016, Doe Library, UC Berkeley.
March 6, 2016
from "The First Network Email" by Ray Tomlinson
"The first message was sent between two machines that were literally side by side. The only physical connection they had (aside from the floor they sat on) was through the ARPANET. I sent a number of test messages to myself from one machine to the other. The test messages were entirely forgettable and I have, therefore, forgotten them. Most likely the first message was QWERTYUIOP or something similar. When I was satisfied that the program seemed to work, I sent a message to the rest of my group explaining how to send messages over the network. The first use of network email announced its own existence"
Quoted in the introduction to #SocialMediaPoetics. The full article is available at http://openmap.bbn.com/~tomlinso/ray/firstemailmain.html
"In this age of ubiquitous contemporary social media, we may never again experience the first-time delight of virtually picking up a lamp to explore uncharted territory in BBN computer scientist Will Crowther's 1970s Interactive Fiction, Adventure. We may never again experience the magic of participating in Bill Bartlett's 1979 Interplay, in which -- as artists in Canberra, Edmonton, Houston, New York, Toronto, Sydney, Vancouver, and Vienna discoursed one after another online -- printouts of their continuing dialogue on computer culture emerged from terminals in every city that participated.
Nevertheless, early social media is set forth in this book with the premise that the documentation of pre-web social networking history is of interest to understanding and participating in contemporary social media -- present and future."
Judy Malloy, "The Origins of Social Media" #SocialMediaPoetics, MIT Press, July 2016
In the page proof and indexing stages of editing Social Media Archeology and Poetics (hashtag #SocialMediaPoetics) -- as they are finally gathered together in the dignity of pages in a book -- ideas, platforms, affordances, and the narratives of the pioneers march definitively before my eyes.
Along the way, following multiple paths, the words of the narratives illuminate the origins of social media: network email inventor, Ray Tomlinson; Lee Felsenstein's account of the day that Community Memory was installed in Leopold's Records in Berkeley; Madeline Gonzalez Allen's mountain journey to a vision for community networking.
from "Community Memory: The First Public-Access Social Media System" by Lee Felsenstein
"A handmade poster, with psychedelic lettering, read 'Community Memory.' Inside the box was a teleprinter -- a Teletype Model 33 ASR that had gone through three years' service as a commercial time-sharing computer terminal. Urethane foam glued inside of the cardboard muffled the whirr of the teleprinter's motor and the 'chunk-chunk-chunk' of its print head.
Standing beside the terminal was a young person, dressed similarly to most of the students and other people entering the store. As they came toward the terminal, this person would say, 'Would you like to use our electronic bulletin board? We're using a computer.'"
#SocialMediaPoetics, MIT Press, July 2016
from "PLATO: The Emergence of Online Community" by David R. Woolley
Over time, ideas spread, evolve, mingle, and diverge. The social media landscape of today includes giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, alongside countless other platforms with an incredible variety of features and user communities. After decades have passed, it becomes difficult to trace the tangled roots of this phenomenon.
But the places we gather online today are all intentional communities. PLATO was an accidental one that emerged spontaneously in an environment created for other purposes. In 1970, few suspected that a human community could grow and thrive within the electronic circuitry of a computer. PLATO demonstrated that this is not only possible but inevitable."
#SocialMediaPoetics, MIT Press, July 2016
from "Community Networking, an Evolution" by Madeline Gonzalez Allen
"While backpacking through the San Juan Mountains, I came to a high-alpine jewel of a town surrounded by majestic peaks -- Telluride. I met Richard Lowenberg, and others from the Telluride Institute, and shared with them ideas about the Internet. I wondered: could this emerging Internet technology be applied in ways that could be of real benefit to communities? This would become the central driving question at the heart of my vision for community networking."
#SocialMediaPoetics, MIT Press, July 2016
from:"EchoNYC" by Stacy Horn
"By the time I got to my last year at ITP I still hadn't decided what to do with the rest of my life when someone on The WELL said, 'I heard you were going to start a WELL-like service in New York.' That had never occurred to me. 'Yes,' I immediately typed back, 'I am.' I spent my last semester writing a business plan and by the fall the new online service I'd started, Echo, was up in running. In early 1990, it was officially opened to the public."
#SocialMediaPoetics, MIT Press, July 2016
February 26, 2016
The work on reconstructing the BASIC version of its name was Penelope is finished. But just as I began to work on the interface for the 20th Anniversary edition of The Roar of Destiny, the page proofs for Social Media Archeology and Poetics arrived.
Page proofs bring the promise of imminent publication, as well as the stressful responsibility of deft correction. The lure of recoding The Roar of Destiny will thus wait a few weeks while the back and forth with contributors continues, and I plunge into the final once over of my own chapters.
In the midst of many details, I remembered the time when it became apparent that the early histories of social media that seemed so clear to me were not visible to those who had not lived through the days of the sound of the modem.
It was 2012 when -- beginning in my own library and in the library of the University of California at Berkeley -- I prepared the syllabus for the course in Social Media History and Poetics that I would teach at Princeton in the fall of 2013. I reviewed classic volumes, including, among many others Heidi Grundmann's Art Telecommunication; Roy Ascott and Carl Eugene Loeffler's Connectivity: Art and Interactive Telecommunications; John Quarterman'sThe Matrix: Computer Networks and Conferencing Systems Worldwide; Howard Rheingold's The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier: and papers and reports that ranged from and Casey, Ross, and Warren's Native Networking: Telecommunications and. Information Technology in Indian Country, to Pavel Curtis' Xerox PARC report on LambdaMoo to Steve Durland's "Defining the Image as Place, a Conversation with Kit Galloway Sherrie Rabinowitz & Gene Youngblood."
In archives throughout the world (including my own in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University), there were printouts from the past. However, much of the importance of early social media and its relationship with contemporary social media resided in the memories of the pioneers in the field. The need for their words was apparent.
This week, plunging into the final editing details that accompany the responsibility of editing a book, there were places in the texts where I paused because a writer's words so clearly expressed the origins and vision of social media.
To begin with, here are Robert Kahn's words from RFC 371. It is 44 years ago. He is talking about the first International Conference on Computer Communications, that would be held on October 24-26, 1972 in Washington D.C.
" I am organizing a computer communication network demonstration to run in parallel with the sessions. This demonstration will provide attendees with the opportunity to gain first hand experience in the use of a computer network. The theme of the demonstration will be on the value of computer communication networks, emphasizing topics such as data base retrieval, combined use of several machines, real-time data access, interactive cooperation, simulation systems, simplified hard copy techniques, and so forth. I am hoping to present a broad sampling of computer based resources that will provide attendees with some perspective on the utility of computer communication networks."
In the same RFC, Kahn also observes that "The social implications of this field are a matter of widespread interest that reaches society in almost all walks of life; education, medicine, research, business and government. All these areas will be affected as the field develops."
Robert Kahn, "Demonstration at International Computer Communications Conference," RFC 371, July 12, 1972.
The image of the original model 300-baud Hayes Smartmodem is from Michael Pereckas, Milwaukee, WI, and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. His description is: "I spent many an hour watching these lights blink."
The sound of the modem is from the Internet Archive.
February 14, 2016
The 20th Anniversary version of The Roar of Destiny has been selected for exhibition under the auspices of the sound strand of the Media Art Festival, associated with the June 2016 Electronic Literature Organization Conference, in Victoria, BC. So the audio is an important component of the new work.
However, in retrospect, although I did add some of these reading-recordings to the original work itself, from an archival point of view, it is wiser to keep the original version as it was and create a new work that houses all the audio readings in conjunction with the lexias that they represent.
The writing for The Roar of Destiny began in 1995, but the year when The Roar of Destiny began to slowly appear in its current form on the World Wide Web, was 1996. In Silicon Valley, there was a continuing rush of energy as the Browser Wars began, and audiences flocked to the Internet. It was a time when Internet-situated creative work was in radical flux.
In this era of adjustment to the role of Internet-based communication and cultures in all of our lives, the contrasts between my own life as a poet, who likes to walk in the country, and the ten or so hours spent online everyday merged uneasily. As I wrote in my statement for RadioELO:
"The Roar of Destiny was informed by the early Internet adventure of living in a mountain cabin while I worked online on the Telluride Infozone and by memories of my other early Internet avatars: working online for Leonardo, Xerox PARC, and Arts Wire; living in the New Hampshire countryside, living near the Arizona dessert, living in the hills of Northern California."
Responding to the changed Internet environment The Roar of Destiny opens with a cover page that allows only one click: "reset". However, "reset" does not bring a quiet respite from the onslaught of multiple meaning-laden links, but rather confronts the reader with increasing complexity in the form of a dissolving and reassembling structure of meaning-laden links. Essentially -- echoing the contemporary Internet -- the reader is offered a bewildering array of hundreds of interface choices. Each one leads to a different lexia, that is read by following the bolded central words. while at the same time absorbing the peripheral words and links. "The reader, like the narrator", I wrote in the documentation, "is involved in a continual struggle between the real and the virtual -- between stark black-backgrounded paths that lead to despair and depression and bluegreen-backgrounded paths that follow beside clear mountain streams."
February 7, 2016
Early in the morning of February 4, when it was snowing a wet snow that clung to the branches of the trees, I began the completion of the reconstruction of the BASIC version of its name was Penelope. The following day, the entire reconstruction was made available to the Critical Code Studies Working Group. (CCSWG16)
Across the virtual way, led by David Berry, co-director of the Sussex Humanities Lab at the University of Sussex, a CCSWG discussion on the materiality of (and/or lack of materiality) of the original MAD-SLIP code with which Joseph Weizenbaum created ELIZA/DOCTOR and on the computer or computers on which it was created was in progress. As I moved between the Penelope recreation and this absorbing discussion, suddenly I was on the familiar territory of the era of MIT's role in the development of email. ELIZA/DOCTOR was created in the 1960's in an MIT laboratory complex, where by the early 1970s, over a thousand users of the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) were coordinating their research and exchanging information using MAIL, the email software developed by Tom Van Vleck with colleague Noel Morris in 1965.
Only on rare occasions do we as artists and writers occupy the same territory of the deeply-funded research laboratories, where the creator of ELIZA and the creators of a pioneering email system crossed paths. And yet in any discipline, circles of colleagues continue important. The photographs of the 1975 Oulipo gathering in the garden of François Le Lionnais -- where Raymond Queneau, George Perec, and Italo Calvino and others talked the future of literature/not literature -- come to mind.
The origins of its name was Penelope include paths in and out of Art Com Electronic Network (ACEN) on The WELL and the artists, artworks and ideas, I "met" on the way. Beginning in 1986, crossing paths on ACEN were, among others, the globe-spanning Planetary Network;  John Cage's First Meeting of the Satie Society; Fred Truck's AI-influenced Art Engine; Joe Rosen's early work in physical computing; Jim Rosenberg's spatial hypertext; and my Uncle Roger.
Only a few years later, ACEN founder Carl Loeffler looked to the future and emerged at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University where before his premature death in 2001, he investigated telecommunications and virtual reality. 
1. Planetary Network was organized by Roy Ascott, Don Foresta, Tomaso Trini, Maria Grazia Mattei, and Robert Adrian X for the 1986 Venice Biennale. ACEN was one of the participating nodes.
My paths diverged in 1988, the year that I wrote the last file of Uncle Roger, created Molasses, an early HyperCard work, and began to work on its name was Penelope, with its contrasting world model of the San Francisco Bay Area art world. I was interested in purposely setting this new work beside the Silicon Valley world model of Uncle Roger. These worlds existed side by side and once in a while, they merged -- as they did in my life and work.
Yes, I had been to the parties like those on which Uncle Roger centers, but contingently, many of the lexias of its name was Penelope, take place in the studios and gardens of friends and colleagues that populate the world model of the narrative, such as Chris Burden at a party at SFAI, Tom Marioni in performance, Jill Scott's studio at SITE, Carolee Schneemann's studio in NYC, Richard Alpert in performance at Bonnie Sherk's The Farm, Steve Durland's cowboy boots, and Sonya Rapoport's Shoe Field when it was hosted by a Bay area computer store.
In the dark courtyard of the Art Institute,
3. Judy Malloy, its name was Penelope, lexia 311
S uch crossing of paths, however remembered, is core experience for poets and often continues influential. As Stuart Moulthrop observes about TINAC:
"Maybe an analogy or two will help. The legend that is TINAC seems less like some intensely obscure indie band whose members are all now shepherds, and more like a college-town FM station that flourished for a year or two before the supremacy of News-And-Talk. By which I mean, there was really not much "there" to TINAC, except as a point of circulation and convergence through which some interesting projects happened to pass -- Michael's afternoon, Nancy's annotation software P.R.O.S.E., John's Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse, Jay Bolter's Writing Space, Jane Yellowlees Douglas' End of Books, or Books without End, and my own early tinkerings. TINAC left the air long ago. The call letters are remembered only dimly, the DJs are all forgotten, but somewhere out there, doubtless on the Net, we'll always have the music." 
4. In my content | code | process Interview with Stuart Moulthrop.
A week or so ago, over the course of two days, while the wind howled, and the sky was white with snow, thirty inches fell outside my window.
It was a time to read, write, and reflect on the future. A time for apple cider and apple doughnuts; a time for fondue, made with Emmentaler, Gruyere and champagne; a time for linguini with artichoke hearts and basil from the window herb garden; a time to plan the documentation of artists' early telematic projects; a time for white chocolate; a time to begin the research for "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson Writing; and a time to walk in the woods.
It was also a time to recreate the code for a classic work of electronic literature. Thus, I begin this new 2016 writer's notebook with notes on "Recreating the 1990 GW-BASIC version of its name was Penelope" in the 2016 Critical Studies Working Group. (CCSWG2016)
With a series of online panels -- beginning this year with Literacies -- as well as with code critiques contributed by Working Group participants, every other year, CCSWG addresses humanities and computer science interdisciplinary issues in the study, teaching, use, and significance of code. CCSWG2016 is/was organized by Mark C. Marino and Jeremy Douglass, coordinated by Viola Lasmana and Ashley Champagne, and sponsored by the Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab, (USC) and the Transcriptions Center. (UCSB) This year, highlights so far are Sneha Veeragoudar Harrell's discussion of her use of Scratch to introduce resettled refugee young women to the creation of personal narratives and the led-by-David Berry discussion of the materiality of Joseph Weizenbaum's ELIZA/DOCTOR code.
Not only is the Critical Code Studies Working Group an outstanding example of a successful in-depth primarily word-based virtual discussion, (This year the conferencing software is Vanilla Forum) but also, in counterpoint to the discussions -- participants create parallel code critique "workshops" that enrich discussion with detailed analysis of code and its creation.
"Recreating the 1990 GW-BASIC version of its name was Penelope"
The iPad version of the Eastgate its name is Penelope is finally due to be published by Eastgate this Spring. This version -- thanks to Mark Bernstein's work and to the extensive back and forth we spent on the 12 or so builds -- is the finest implementation of this work so far.
Meanwhile, in the shelter of CCSWG16, I have created a scholars' version of my 1990 Narrabase Press its name was Penelope -- originally coded in the historic BASIC program, GW-BASIC, written for Bill Gates by Greg Whitten.
On January 19 when I began this project, it seemed like a Herculean task. Although, many iterations of the classic Penelope code are in my archives at Duke, what I had to work with was a battered printout of a draft of the program with handwritten notes, as well as the text of the lexias. I would need to type the program in, make changes indicated by both the notes and my recollection of how the original worked, debug each section, create separate files for each lexia and tweak the program enough so that it ran on DOSBox while at the same time retaining as much of the original as possible.
"They lifted the mast and stept it in its hollow box, made it fast with the forestays, hauled up the white sail by its ropes of twisted leather. The wind blew full into the bellying sail, and the dark wave boomed about the stem of the ship as she went; so on she sped shouldering the swell, travelling steadily on her way. When they had made snug all the tackle about the ship, they set before them brimming bowls of wine, and poured libations to the gods immortal and everlasting..."
Homer, The Odyssey. Book II. Translated by W.H.D. Rouse. NY, New American Library, 1937. p. 31
The generative hypertext its name was Penelope (Eastgate, 1993, Narrabase Press, 1990, exhibition version 1989) is a collection of randomly-generated occurring and reoccurring memories in which a woman conceptual photographer recollects the details of her life. Called one of the early classics of electronic literature by Robert Coover, its name was Penelope invites the reader to explore an artist's life through the metaphor of the life of Penelopeia, the central woman in Homer's Odyssey -- from the childhood memories in "Dawn," the Homeric sunrise; to " A Gathering of Souls"; to the making of art in "Fine Work and Wide Across;" to the troubles related in "Rock and Hard Place;" to a concluding "Song".
As opposed to randomly permutating words in phrases and sentences, generative hypernarrative utlizes a database of whole lexias. its name was Penelope was composed so that in whatever order the lexias appeared, the reading experience would appear natural, and in the composition process, I created an authoring system that seamlessly immersed the reader in a work of literature where you might be reading a poetry chapbook, yet the "pages" are magically brought up at the will of the computer, and the seductive repetition situates you in a place of remembered narrative where memories are shuffled, appear, submerge, resurface, and repeat.
The initial BASIC program for its name was Penelope was begun in 1988 and was based on the generative hypertext program I created (in the same year) for "Terminals", file 3 of Uncle Roger. I liked the way this program worked and thought that an entire work could be created that simulated the way memories come and go in the narrator's mind.
I began the reconstruction process with the title page. The ASCII graphic toy boat that sails across the screen, accompanied by computer-generated sound was not included in the Eastgate version. This made sense because the look and feel of the Mac/Windows interface is quite different from the look and feel of a work created with GW-BASIC on an IBM AT 286.
Nevertheless, as the recreation process began, it was amazing to see the toy boat sail across the screen and hear the sound that introduces the opening file - dawn - the narrator's childhood memories.
To recreate the entire work, I used a code critique space on CCSWG16 as a working notebook. There I documented the progress of the recreation of the code -- until finally on January 30, 2016. the entire program was working, and all the lexias were accessible.
I t was a thrilling moment.
"On New Year's Eve, waiting for the arrival of 2016, this 2015 notebook closes with notes that look to the future of public electronic literature....."