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In Patchwork Girl the user narrativizes on her own terms. There is no center and no real end. The Body is not experienced as whole and Being lacks linearity. Jackson is highlighting the way Selfhood is a collage of meanings, both given and produced. Hypertext allows for such an illustration because of its simultaneity and unhierarchical structure. Hypertext is experienced only in the act of production, in the same way that identity is experienced in the acts of reading and writing.

What does it mean to read and write? In literary theory, reading and writing are not actions limited to written language, but rather are processes integral to the practice of every day life. Society consists of complex sign systems, each with its own logic, such that almost anything can be read as a text – clothing, street signs, a film.

In this way, the individual can be understood as a text. The individual writes her identity even as her identity is written for her. She both constructs and participates in systems of signs. Shelly Jackson’s Patchwork Girl literalizes this conception of the individual. In translating a Self into hypertext, Jackson realizes the individual as a porous, polysemic entity.

It seems that hypertext is the perfect form to illustrate this. Yet, in navigating the piece, I was confused and unable to immediately understand the purpose. This is perhaps indicative of an inability to comprehend non-linear narrative structures, and thus also indicative of a gap between reality and fiction? I am curious about this affective response to a hypertextual experience…