V. Visualizing the Narration: Patchwork Girl
I will briefly describe Shelley Jackson's hypertext Patchwork Girl here, even if its status as narrative fiction is not at all self-evident. At the least, it contains sequences that can be best described as stories, and it employs a visual navigating system (and an underlying structure; see Fig. 7, below) that is quite different from Afternoon or Victory Garden. Patchwork Girl also uses illustrations, and colors, in its 'patchwork' of texts.
Fig. 6. The toolbar from Patchwork Girl
The tool bar in Patchwork Girl has four arrows as well as a question mark, a two-way arrow and three dots. The functioning of this tool bar cannot be understood without the visual presentation of the underlying Textual space (the visual mapping works in three different modes, but I will only concentrate on one of these). The first map, which is more of a cognitive than a representational map, shows named 'boxes' and lines between them.>9 The first level contains the front picture, title page, and the main 'chapters.' Each box (at least possibly) contains other text constellations. That is, the structure of Patchwork Girl is multilevelled, and this is explicated in quite a different fashion than it is in Afternoon or Victory Garden. The three dots button allows the reader to choose whether the text-screen or the map-screen is to be shown as uppermost. The down arrow takes the reader one level down in the structure, while the up arrow takes him/ her one level up in the structure. The arrows left and right take the reader to the lexia either to the left or to the right in the current level, without taking into account the linking. The left and right arrows, then, make possible the kind of navigation described by Moulthrop above. The two way arrow, in turn, takes the reader to the next lexia in the default line (with the alt-key pressed down, to the lexia previously read), while the question mark button shows the reader the links leading to the lexia currently read, and the links leading from the lexia currently read, as well as some other information.
Fig. 7. The cognitive map of Patchwork Girl
Without pursuing the implications of a multilevelled structure
(the very model of embedded narration that underlies Afternoon and Victory Garden), I'll give a couple of examples of Jackson's use of visual mapping
of the story space.>10 The first is a section titled "A Crazy Quilt." In this interweaving
of lexias the signification occurs on the level of visual structure
as well as within the text (Fig. 8). By depicting the lexias as
a crazy quilt, the map does not simply represent the the order
of text (lexias), but creates it.
Fig. 8. "Crazy Quilt" from Patchwork Girl
Fig. 9. Detail, "Crazy Quilt" from Patchwork Girl
There is then not only a quantitative, but also a significant
qualitative difference between the visual devices used by Afternoon and Victory Garden on the one hand, and Patchwork Girl on the other. Whereas in the former hyperfictions the visual
devices have only a minor role, in the latter, the visual devices
partly dominate the narrative.
>--- VI VII