Good Flow, Bad Flow

Dan Rosen

Reading Jackson's The Body was an interesting experience. I had never read a hypertext piece as involved as that before, so I felt like a new world had been opened up to me. In addition, I was very impressed with her writing style. She has a distinctly clever way with words which is more expressive than I could ever hope to be. For instance,

With a razor, I carve a labyrinth into my pubic hair, and require my lovers to find their way through it. This is not whimsy, it is practical. By the time they have traced their way through it to the end, the most backwards suitor will find me ready for them.

Even if the stories she tells are fictitious, even if she has no tail and does not walk around getting sofabeds stuck to her labia, each lexia does have a good flow to it. I feel as if I'm doing the piece an injustice by only calling it "flow"; nevertheless, each word and each sentence does flow to the next in almost a lyrical fashion. However, not all aspects of My Body are quite this polished. Although the words come together very well, I agree wholeheartedly with Glen Sanford's assessment of Jackson's linking style: it doesn't flow. Indeed, Jackson links pages with a common theme together, but the linked strings frequently have little to do with the destination of the link. She commonly links nonsensical phrases such as "parade of identical princesses" to irrelevant lexias, in this case, the neck. Following this particular link (on the nose page) gets us nowhere, as the only explanation given on the neck page is recursive in that it links back to the nose.

This odd link structure makes for interesting reading, as it gives the reader the freedom to let go and randomly explore, but it definitely defies the paradigm of meaningful linking. I don't see this as an excuse and wish Jackson would have been more consistent, or more assuming of control of where the reader is intended to go.

There is good flow in Jackson's writing and arguably not-so-good flow in her linking, so I feel as if I learned from her style. But I would not use it.

Discussion of Patchwork Girl Patchwork Girl Overview Screen for
Website Body and Self