Open and Closed Spaces

Karin Wenz, Assistant Professor of English, University of Kassel

The labyrinth of a network in which all nodes are serially connected forms an unlimited space. The idea of a serial connection in thought was developed by Eco in his Opera aperta (1962), where he develops his ideas in opposition to modelsof textual closure in static structuralism: even if traditional texts are materially bounded, they are virtually open in their narrative organization.

The narrative modes of connection in hypertext are allusion, quotation, reference, and linking. These modes open up the narrative space and can be interpreted as "different functions of intertextuality, just as Usenet newsgroups, electronic mailing, lists, paperback bestsellers, and flysheet" (Aarseth 1994: 71). Therefore, Aarseth suggests that we distinguish more adequate forms of textuality rather than insist on the crucial distinction between traditional and electronic texts, in particular because the seemingly textual integrity and stability of traditional texts is not an inherent quality of the physical object "text", but a cultural construct which is the result of interpretation. In the words of  Landow(1992: 119): "Even within the vastness of hyperspace, the author, like the reader-author, will find limits, and from them construct occasions to struggle."

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