J. Yellowlees Douglas’ interactive short story, “I Have Said Nothing” represents a more organized model of hypertext that allows the narrative to transition fluidly through each selected hyperlink. Douglas’ original story was created through StorySpace which included more specific hyperlinks and a far more choice oriented experience. Due to an incompatibility between StorySpace’s software and the internet’s hypertext capabilities, the version available online is a little different than the original. Despite the adjustments that Douglas’ short story had to endure, I enjoyed the piece more than most hypertext works that I’ve interacted with because of its content, clear narrative, and learnable navigation.
This particular story centers around the two separate deaths of Sherry and Jule. Both died in car accidents and both were former girlfriends of the narrator’s brother, Luke. Depending on which hyperlinks you choose, you are able to interact with Luke’s perspective, the narrator’s perspective, and the physical and metaphysical manifestations of death. Through this paradigm, Douglas creates a spectacle for how the world copes with death by creating different passages with different relationships to the deaths of Sherry and Jule, but ultimately, tying each ending together to conclude death’s inevitability.
The path in the story that focusses on the physical manifestations of death is the shortest and simplest. When I follow the hyperlink that says “Anatomy”, the text says “Do you know what happens to you when a Chevy Nova with a 280 engine hits you going 75 miles an hour?” The selection of hyperlinks then narrow to one choice that says, “Anatomized.” Once clicked, the narrator answers the question as bluntly as it was asked and lists various physical manifestations a car crash has on a body. This choice only leads to “Every one”. This last page only says, “It breaks every bone in your body” and in small font towards the bottom it states, “Including your head.” This short passage through Douglas’ short story explains the whole story in just a few passages. By doing this, the reader is able to dehumanize the girls who died and write death off as a quick occurrence with no context.
The series of hyperlinks that explore the narrator’s perspective of these girls’ death show how superficially people view death when they have yet to ever experience a true closeness to death. The narrator compares society’s view on death to the movie, “Psycho.” She rants about how Marion Crane was so self-consumed with her pointless drama and how all it took to end everything was her stumbling into the wrong person. She puts it as, “We were weaned on the economics of death according to Hollywood.” This means that everyone learns from Hollywood that death has a system and there’s a sense of predictability in the end. Douglas successfully captures the way we react to death as a bystander.
Following Luke’s experiences throughout the short story is a task in itself. With his personal closeness to both accidents and death, Luke’s passages extend far more complex than the rest. The page called, “He was holding her feet” displays really intimate details of Luke’s reaction to seeing his girlfriend die. Until police arrived all Luke could do was hold his girlfriend’s cold feet after her shoes were knocked off in the accident. Douglas is able to bring readers closer to the story by narrowing in on Luke, who has experienced more death than most people.
Although this version of “I Have Said Nothing” contained less hyperlinks to choose from, I thought that I was able to interact with Douglas’ short story in a more organized fashion. I enjoyed her writing style and technique with formatting her multiple passages. I was also able to navigate easily and reached every link in order to experience a well-rounded understanding of her work.
Here’s the link to “I Have Said Nothing”: