>>-->riPOSTe: Dirk Stratton responds
I would like to echo William's comments about Pollack's apparent (and contradictory) demand that hypertext writing be both experimental (expanding "literary reality" for small audiences) and popular. Pollack reiterates this stance near the end of his article when he claims that hypertext is "simply too busy dissecting itself to be of any real interest to the general reader." First response: So what? When did pleasing the "general reader" become the sine qua non for literature? There's little in poetry these days that is of any real interest to the "general reader" (if sales are any indication): does that mean all poetry has failed? Second response: Pollack follows his invocation of the "general reader" with a comparison of hypertext writers with their "literary forebears," Borges, Calvino, Cortazar. Is Pollack suggesting that the "forebears," having avoided the "endlessly looping stories" that plague hypertext, have also somehow appealed to the "general reader"? Obviously, these writers have many readers, but are the numbers large enough to qualify as "general"? Any one of Stephen King's novels probably has had more readers than Borges, Calvino, and Cortazar combined. Perhaps I exaggerate, but not by much.
Then Pollack admits that "self-consciously reflexive postmodernist technique isn't unique to Internet writing," and he names Wallace, Saunders, and Coover who also are "constantly toying with the notion of objective narrative voice." However, these writers have the advantage over hypertext writers because their writing - and here's where Pollack really twists the knife - "has content - deep content - beyond self-knowingness." Like William, I would like to ask Pollack about satire and whether it counts as content. I'd also like to take a look at his content fathometer in order to understand how far one has to go to reach the blessed state of "deepness" because, let's face it, The Unknown does not have a "content" deficit: it's stuffed to its proverbial gills with content (and most of it not focused on "self-knowingness") - therefore, its problem must be one of lack of depth (I don't know how many times I told my Unknown co-authors that we needed more writing about tennis and adult incontinence). I'd be a little more concerned with Pollack's assessment if it weren't so clear that he'd only dipped his toe into the ocean of The Unknown.