Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lexias, Plurality, and Hypertext

In Barthes’ essay, “S/Z,” I was particularly struck by the concept of lexias, that which “stars the text” and which Barthes describes as “certain zones of reading [through which we can trace] the migration of meanings, the outcropping of codes, the passage of citations” [14]. Lexias establish the plurality of the text, indicating the ways in which a “writerly” text can open networks and provide multiple entrances for approaching and interpreting it.

How does hypertext fit into this equation of the “writerly” text? By Barthes’ standards, is every text (in a way) a hypertext, in that it can be approached from “a thousand entrances” [12] and is inherently plural; in that it perpetually connotes and signifies (as opposed to denoting and being signified)? Does Bush’s Memex tie Barthes’ “writerly” text to hypertext or does it distinguish them? (If the Memex allows users to “pleasurably forget,” this is presumably because the machine can remember for them; if there is a linear narrative stored within this machine, with which we as users can remember what might have been “pleasurably forgotten,” then does this linearity collide with Barthes’ assertion of the plurality of text and/or with the nonlinearity of hypertexts like Shelley Jackson's?)

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