I found Hayles’ chapter on Media and Materiality to be very interesting due to the inclusion of both science and literary studies/art being mentioned in the same space. I know many of you have probably been exposed to the arts vs. sciences debate at some point during your undergraduate degree, and it just never quite made sense to me. Why is it that we have to separate the two disciplines and treat them as completely alien to each other? Why can they not intermingle? If I’m an English major (with a minor in Sociology), why does that automatically determine where my alliance lies? I LOVE MY SCIENCE. And I love my arts too! And I think Hayles’ chapter really bridges this gap between the arts and sciences. This especially rings true near the conclusion of the chapter when she mentions that digital literature brings together the binaries that have been important in her life (and this can also be related to the binaries found between the sciences and arts): media & materiality, science & literature, immersion in an imaginative realm & delight in the physical world, the list goes on and on. It is through this reading that I have discovered this other function of digital literature, its ability to represent the materiality of the physical world while simultaneously acting as a mediator between the arts and sciences through its technological apparatus. I saw digital literature as just another platform and medium to project literature on to, so this was definitely an enlightening piece for me.
As previously mentioned, Hayles mentions bringing together binaries, a specific example being strict requirements for precisely written code and the richness of natural language, which I think perfectly links to the topic of interactive literature. There is a variety of interactive literature, as we can tell through our readings for this week. For example, you had Pullinger’s Flight Paths (my favourite out of the list) where you had text that interacted with the graphics and morphed into a new sentence with a push of a button (by the reader of course) and I just find this way of reading literature so fascinating. I have always loved to read books (and I definitely didn’t need pictures to maintain my attention, the words themselves took me to another world) but discovering the wonderful world of literature being presented by code is just as intriguing as printed books have been to me. I have the ability to actually interact with the world that the literature is presenting to me, even if it is just through a push of a button. But digital literature can be twice as confusing as any book can be (however not through the confusion of complex vocabulary but through the presentation of the text itself). For example, “These Waves of Girls” felt all over the place to me. Don’t get me wrong, I find the content interesting, but the fact that not only do you choose your own pathway (which would then take you to a story) but there were hyperlinks scattered within that story (which would then take you to another place, etc.) and I would just get lost in the literature. That flow I get from reading a book, which can’t take you to other places in the internet, could not be achieved with some of these examples of interactive literature. However, I love both books and interactive literature just the same, but for different reasons.
Some questions that have come to mind when going through the list of readings for this week include: Will interactive literature contribute to our “ADHD” that we experience when surfing the internet (in terms of our need to be constantly flipping through different web pages and being exposed to new visuals every second?)?, can interactive literature be capable of influencing us to lose patience with printed books (due to the lack of movement)?