Unique Hypotheses: Reading & Responding to Generative Literature

In Balpe’s “Principles and Processes of Generative Literature,” after establishing that generative texts abandon traditional linear narrative logic, and have an infinite variety, he goes on to discuss the impact this form of writing has on a reader:

“…when a reader obtains a text, he obtains that text at a certain moment of his reading but he has no idea of what other text he could obtain at the same moment of another reading. He cannot tell if the text is directly related to the previous or the next one (in terms of reading time).

In that case — and this certainly is one of the reasons why generative texts disturb our reading habits — the reader loses all the usual markers relating to the diegetic axis and has to find or invent other kinds of references. The narrative is not totally built in advance … Each new reading … creates its own diegesis which is not a predetermined but an undetermined diegetic axis. That really means: Any reader A needs to develop a unique hypothesis which gives him an idea of the narrative which is different from that of any reader B.”

For today’s peer workshop, you likely are facing a text that doesn’t make traditional sense, or certainly doesn’t follow the diagetic axis, as Balpe describes it. What I’d like to focus our responses on, then, are these “unique hypotheses.”

For each of the four pieces you’ve been assigned to read and respond to, I’d like you to write a 1-2 paragraph response that discusses what kinds of references, or hypotheses you have naturally made when encountering the text. You don’t need to discuss or imagine the process of the authoring system. We only care about your reaction and response as a reader.

How do you formulate an idea of what this narrative is? What meaning do you, as a reader find / make in the text as it is presented? How do you make sense of it, without the traditional narrative markers?

Remember, too, that Balpe writes generative literature “…wants to reconcile the literary activity with that of play and game,” so don’t be afraid to take the text less seriously than you might normally. Be thoughtful and detailed in your response, but let it be an organic response, born of your own reaction to the reading.

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