The second example of digital literature that I will discuss isSpätwinterhitze by Frank Klötgen. This example of hyperfiction much more straightforward than Das Epos der Maschine andis more reminiscent of traditional literature. It is a crime story in which the reader moves from page to page by clicking on the footprints on the screen. The reader steps into the role of the narrator and follows (clicks) the footsteps. He or she, “detects crimes and uncovers machinations”, becoming a part of the story (Gendolla/Schäfer).  Jörgen Schäfer and Peter Gendolla argue in their essayReading (in) the Net that interactivity is not always the most favorable option when creating digital literature, which is why the author may have chosen to limit it in his narrative. There are only a few instances where the reader can choose which way he or she wants the plot to develop. The main reason stated is that “it is simply not possible to construct a coherent story out of every permutation of a set of textual fragments, because fragments are implicitly ordered by relations of presupposition, material causality, psychological motivation, and temporal sequence.” (Gendolla/Schäfer, PDF).

Thomas Wörtche writes in his review that Spätwinterhitze combines the narrative elements of audio drama and the graphic elements of comic books into something he calls “cyberfiction”. This combination of different genres requires a new outlook on what aesthetic standards, if any, should be expected when reading the narrative. While Schäfer and Gendolla state, just like Wörtche, that the reader’s opportunities for interaction (Wörtche compares the reader to a player of a computer game, guiding the first person narrator through the story) are limited, the latter however remarks that they are surprisingly manifold. Not overlooking that the reader’s creativity is limited because of technology, rather than language, Wörtche realizes that many readers will simply read the same parts of the story repeatedly to try out different possible outcomes – to him this signifies that the reader has been lost in the aesthetic of the surface presentation. Unlike Coover however, he does not see this as negatively, since the reader has had amusement and Spätwinterhitze, after all, “is very well done” (Wörtche). Digital literature that is based upon genres previously existent in print form has to conform to “a modified system of literary communication,” which requires literary concepts such as authorship, work of art and reader to be reevaluated. This reevaluation results in major aesthetic changes to the customary presentation and effect of the text. Narrative coherence and “permanent mutability of data in computer-aided media” limit the creation of meaning to “connecting contingent events to more or less meaningful strings of signifiers”. “The implicit mental position of crime stories […] is turned into an explicit combination of perceiving and acting” rather than filling the gaps and identifying with the narrator, the reader reads, watches, clicks and writes. This results in an “aesthetic difference,” as the reader perceives and experiences literary forms in a new way (Gendolla/Schäfer).

As can be seen from Wörtche’s recession as well as Gendolla and Schäfers talk, there are certainly some points that limit Klötgen’s story in the field of digital literature, as it does not take too many chances. Nevertheless, it supports the argument that whether hypermediality adds or diminishes meaning is mainly dependent on the readers perception of and confrontation with a literary work.




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