People read my paper on feral hypertext! And (I think) misquoted me in just the way that I’ve been thinking, lately, was perhaps what I really meant. I wrote the paper about hypertext, sticking rather closely to the history of hypertext rather than trying to talk about, you know, everything. But Robert Leston at Neo Baroque mentions that “the distinction Jill Walker makes between feral and domestic writing”, see, that’s a broader distinction than I think I actually made in my paper but one I was musing over, vaguely, over the weekend, thinking that perhaps that’s too big a distinction. And I was thinking that I far prefer the word “feral” to “distributed” and that perhaps it would be more interesting to talk about feral narrative than distributed narrative, but then, where, exactly would that get me? Maybe not where I want to go, though where, exactly, do I want to go anyway?

Jill’s paper helps illustrate D&G’s thinking of the rhizome and how community and multiplicity can be made, but not from the perspective of the individual or the centralized location or the blog or from internet writing but by taking any of those notions and subtracting, dispersing.

I get that! It’s not exactly what I meant, quite, but it’s what I mean, kind of. I love how ideas change, just a little, but wonderfully, as they slip from mind to mind. And it’s exactly the sort of thing Justin Hall tried to write about, and I quoted him and Robert requotes him: “to write on the web itself, not on a web page. Disappear from any central location; intead, inhabit the web as a sort of spirt. My personality, commentary, reflections, stories, notions popping up on other web sites.” Is this how it works?

And what does it mean that I still bring it back again by writing about it here on my very author-centered, orderly blog?

7 thoughts on “thoughts dispersing

  1. jim

    To contribute another idea to the flux, there are also feral people it seems. A socio-cultural movement in Australia “Ferals” have even been the subject of an excellent online thesis by Graham St John, a chapter on ferals can be found here: The Feral Emergence http://www.confest.org/thesis/fiveindex.html

  2. Jill

    My mother burst out laughing when she heard the title of my Feral Hypertext paper. And yeah, did I mention that while most people, including native English speakers from, say, the US and Britain, say oh, or “what does feral mean again?” when they hear the title of my paper.

    I didn’t know the “Ferals” was a socio-cultural movement, but yes, I was definitely using feral ni the Australian sense. The her kids are feral and you sort of feel a little scared or maybe overbearing but almost kind of envious of this ferality too.

    I shall have to read about the “Ferals”. Thanks, Jim!

  3. Robert

    Jill,
    I really enjoyed reading your paper. The division between
    domestication and feral is a valuable concept, whatever terms
    they go by. As you seem to point out (I’m using the
    word “seem” see?–you got me self-conscious on quoting),
    feral and domestic aren’t really opposed to each other,
    but part of similar structures, at least from the perspective
    of print.

    About feral–it’s a strong term, but it makes me think
    of that great quote by Cixous that goes something like
    this:

    When I write, I write like a wild beast.
    Those who do not write like wild beasts when they write,
    who write to please, write nothing that has not already
    been written, teach us nothing, and forge extra bars
    for our cage.

    Jim,
    Seems worth checking out. Good tip, thanks!

  4. JosÈ Angel

    Well… being feral may be ok for some people but on the web that would mean not having a website, I guess. So what’s the advantage? You sound as if you felt guilty about not being feral enough, Jill… whereas to me it sounds like a shortcoming rather than an asset.

  5. JosÈ Angel

    On “feral” and “distributed”… “feral” suggests a wild uncontrolled activity of its own, whereas “distributed” suggests that there’s a controlling mind behind, distributing it all… Perhaps a middle term might be “constructibl”, placing the emphasis on on the controlling mind of some planner or author, nor on the random quality of the feral linking, but rather on the reader’s activity… constructing a traject, or path, for some purpose, presumably. Going back over the same tracks (e.g. in a blogroll) also adds a natural path element to this activity of one reader. Excellent paper, Jill, thanks!

  6. Jill

    Mm, constructible, yes that would emphasise how the reader pieces the bits together. Oh the choices the choices.

  7. Francois Lachance

    Feral also has another form … ferine which has an adverbial construction, ferinely.

    The dictionary gives another latinate word with a different etymology but sounding like feral: feracious, an adjective meaning fruitful or fertile.

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