Back to Basics: Michael Joyce’s “Twelve Blue”



Since we started this course, we’ve looked at a lot of examples of interactive fiction, each more complex than the last. Each in their own capacity, they increasingly develop and supplement the amount of interactivity they use (as the qualifier of their genre suggests), which adds a depth to their content while at the same time removing themselves from an observable original text. In other words, lots of playing, not a lot of reading. It’s interesting, but at the same time, considering this course is meant to study literature, it propels me to look at the hypertext examples we started with at the beginning.

This led me back to Michael Joyce (afternoon, a story) and his hypertext story “Twelve Blue”. Like his other works we observed at the start of our look into hypertext, the format consists of hyperlinks that lead readers to different parts of the story that can be read in numerous ways. There are also inclusions of visual supplements such as the image included above. The “total” story is one about a woman’s observations and meditations that stem from her life experiences. A great deal of it has to do with her sexual maturation, and the erotic attributes she finds in nature. However, a consistent employment of dangerous bodies of running water and double-edged phrases like “There was more than one way over the falls” lead me to believe that there is an undertone of her suicidal thoughts throughout the piece. Once again, Joyce proves his talent with hypertext, crafting a story that can be read in any sequence while still maintaining its original meaning. More importantly, however, his original text is more than just a starting point meant to be augmented by interactivity. It is an authentic, rich piece of creative work that has discernible and deep dimensions already in place. When examining literature in any medium, this is the most important thing one should seek to accomplish. Joyce, once again, has done just that.

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