The Unknown: The Purple Line.
  Hypertext, to put it clearly, is a mapping of a text onto a four-dimensional “space.” Normal grammars, then, do not apply, and become branching structures anew. Fragments, branches, links.

The word is glowing and on a screen. It is electronic and cannot be touched. It has been copied over thousands of times and reverberates through virtual space. The text coils in on itself, it is a topographic map of the air currents in the upper atmosphere: those sudden winds that change direction inexplicably.

The reader becomes a sort of satellite taking photographs of a huge and varied terrain. The reader can see the whole world or zoom in to see a particular ant on the banks of the Seine. The ant has six legs. The reader is staring at a video screen. How then, to turn the page? There is no paper.

It is, as Borges might write, a “library of Babel” in which there are so many books all in one place that one is tempted not to read at all.

Audio Button
Read 4/8/99
at Brown University
147K RealAudio Clip

Audio Button
Read 9/5/98
at Mike’s House
156K RealAudio Clip

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