ebr6 image + narrative winter 97/98
Welcome to part one of a two-part issue on narrative theory and the image.
In this double issue we hope to explore through literature a transition already evident in the culture at large, where technology has enabled narratives of all types to undergo transformation by the image. Increasingly, our ways of telling stories, of creating meaning, are weighted away from a sole reliance on words. It's not just that literary works and criticism have started to incorporate imagery as decoration or visual accompaniment. Writing itself is being changed by the image, and what counts as "literary" is being broadened (with more far-ranging consequences than the celebrated collapse of "high" into "low" art). The contributors who follow offer experiments in visual criticism, and so begin a process of thinking through spatial form as rhetoric, where image is integral to literature's poetics, and integral, too, to the experience of "reading."
The pervasiveness of this turn toward the image is indicated by the range of contributors who came forward: poets, fiction writers, book artists, literary critics, graphic designers, visual artists, and authors/artists whose work cuts across genres and media. Proposals were received from England, Germany, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Finland, and Norway, as well as many parts of the U.S. - an indication at the organizational level of the textual linkage taken up by several contributors.
And at the structural level: the new ebr design is itself an orchestration of texts and images within the space of a visual metaphor. Taking literally the image of electronic discourse as a set of conversational "threads," we have woven ebr and its various sections into a kind of fabric, a set of interactive texts becoming a textile. The metaphor serves as a navigational and rhetorical device lending coherence and narrative rhythm to the ongoing concerns of the triquarterly issues (now presented as a lengthening string on a single interface). As you go deeper into the content, you encounter the individual strands that make up the weave, until nothing is left but a single thread (which you are free to pick up in the riPOSTe section in the spring, when its design will be completed).
image + narrative part two, also due out in the spring, will include essays by J. Hillis Miller, arts journalist/historian Roger Sabin, experimental writer Raymond Federman, among others. "An Apology for a Poesy of Space," an essay by the editors, will serve as a coda/beginning . . . .