Hypertextuality

Dante's Celestial Rose, by Gustave Doré

I think that by the strictest definition of the term hypertext every text is a hypertext. What is this strict blackleather dominatrix definition? For the definition of A, see B, for the definition of B, see C, etc., etc., as was iterated to me by a favorite Panamanian college professor. To define even a single simple word we need to look at a dozen more, each of them equally vacuous, abstract, and meaningless. I’m most amused by the dictionary definitions that say a word is imitative of what it describes—naturally!, impossibly!, like grump, for example, according to my computer’s excellent Merriam Webster Dictionary (where every word is clickable): ORIGIN early 18th cent.: imitating inarticulate sounds expressing displeasure. Hopefully self-evidently absurd…possibly an aporia…imitative of inarticulate sounds imitative of inarticulate sounds imitative of inarticulate sounds…now I am murmuring off into ellipses…a rose is a rose is a rose…

Borges invented the hypertextual novel, writes wikipedia, the greatest of hypertexts; “Borges went on to describe a theory of the universe based upon the structure of such a novel.” The New York Times adds: “In a curious way, the universal library becomes one very, very, very large single text: the world’s only book.” That theory can be found in one of Borges’ most beautiful poems, the sublunary notion that every atom implies the universe, and this can be found in a number of other places as well, in fact, every place:

I am blind and I know nothing, but I see
there are more ways to go; and everything
is an infinity of things. You, you are music,
rivers, firmaments, palaces and angels,
O endless rose, intimate, without limit,
which the Lord will finally show to my dead eyes.
—From La Rosa Profunda

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One thought on “Hypertextuality

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