Multilinearity, Reversibility, Meaning

"One might call idyllic the communication which unites two partners sheltered from any 'noise'. . . linked by a simple destination, a single thread. Narrative communication is not idyllic; its lines of destination are multiple, so that any message in it can be properly defined only if it is specified whence it comes and where it is going. (S/Z 131)."

"This construction of an evanescent entity or wholeness always occurs in reading, but in reading hypertext it takes the additional form of constructing, however provisionally, one's own text out of fragments, out of separate lexias. . . the metaphorical imagination produces narrative by a process of. . . 'predicative assimilation,' which 'grasps together' and integrates into one whole and complete story multiple and scattered events, thereby schematizing the illegible signification attached to the narrative taken as a whole. . . we find ourselves forced to fabricate a whole story out of separate parts (Hypertext 2.0 195-196)."

Just as the meaning of a word is not constituted in singularity, nor is it construed in isolation. Therefore, connotation alone tells only half the story of meaning-interpretation at best. If a word intrinsically bears multiple connotations, there has to be some force to put them in motion, to shatter the word. This momentum is generated by the particular sequence that words are situated in. Allow this descriptive scenario: both Barthes' ideal text and hypertext contain multiple discrete reading units, connected by intersecting avenues which give it the form of a network. In hypertext, each reading unit or lexia is an open junction with links leading in and out. The reader is hence given a choice at every stop, and is compelled to create her own navigational sequence. This choice is informed by force of association. In striving to comprehend the text, the reader seeks out compatabilities between separate lexias. If the points of origin and destination can be changed or reversed, as is the case in hypertext, then it is up to the reader to choose wisely from the stock of connotations inhabiting both points to establish an association that will yield continuity between. So, whatever way a reader interprets a lexia upon arrival is framed by what has preceded it, and is again modified by what comes after.

Cyberspace Web Main screen critical theory