Electronic Text: Investigations in Method and Theory

By Kathryn Sutherland | Go to book overview

9
Coda: Is It Morphin Time?

DAVID GREETHAM

Whenever the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers get into real trouble (surrounded by slimy, amorphous, self-replicating creatures), like Byrhtnoth at Maldon or Henry V at Harfleur, they have a battle cry that strengthens them in adversity: 'It's morphin time!' Once the ritual phrase has been uttered, the five teenagers become--like Clark Kent changing into Superman in his telephone booth--a different order of being; they transcend their crudely human physical limitations to become, what else? 'Superheroes'. The incantation is thus a form of wish-fulfilment: wouldn't it be convenient if we could fly and beam ourselves biomorphically from one location to another, overcoming the merely temporal and logistic and the single-state to become demigods and shapeshifters? Morphing of the self as an exemplum of the law of the preservation of energy. Trickster's transmogrifications in the folklore of Native Americans; Wagner's Tarnhelm (the wearing of which can turn a dwarf into a dragon or a toad, and give the weak and timorous Gunther at least the appearance of being the heroic Siegfried); Zeus as swan or cloud or bull to advance his amorous predilections: all of these are part of this powerful cultural testimony to the omnipresence of morphing wish-fulfilment. If only we were like the gods, if only we had some technical device (like the Tarnhelm) to make morphing the normal and ordinary state of nature rather than only a consummation devoutly to be wished. The question for a 'coda' to a collection on the electronic text is thus whether we might be close to achieving that new norm, whether the brave new world of biomorphs and cybernetics (and at the more modest level considered by this volume, digitized textuality) has begun to change the temporal and logistic contours of identity so that, just as the agency of the human subject may be called into question as a biographical, biological, and coherently historical figure under postmodernism, so may the textual productions of a newly digitized sensibility. To put it bluntly: is digitized morphing different in kind, in phenomenology, in ontology, from previous forms of textual morph? What does digitization do to the sensibilities of the morph-producer and the morph-consumer? Are we now Victor Frankenstein without the technical

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Electronic Text: Investigations in Method and Theory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements v
  • Contents vii
  • Notes on Contributors viii
  • 1- Introduction 1
  • Notes 17
  • 2- The Rationale of Hypertext 19
  • Conclusion: the Rossetti Hypermedia Archive 38
  • Notes 45
  • 3- Annotating a Text: Literary Theory And Electronic Hypertext 47
  • Notes 63
  • 4- Lighting Out for the Territory: Hypertext, Ideology, And Huckleberry Finn 67
  • Notes 96
  • Appendix Distribution of Links and Nodes In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 103
  • 5- Out of Praxis: Three (meta)theories Of Textuality 107
  • Introduction 107
  • Conclusion 124
  • Notes 124
  • 6- The Body Encoded: Questions Of Gender and the Electronic Text 127
  • Notes 141
  • 7- New Directions in Critical Editing 145
  • Notes 165
  • 8- Digital Archive as Expanded Text: Shakespeare and Electronic Textuality 173
  • Introduction 173
  • Notes 195
  • 9- Coda: is It Morphin Time? 199
  • Notes 222
  • Select Bibliography 227
  • Index 237
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