|The Book of Going Forth by
M.D. Coverley (aka Marjorie Coverley
Irvine Valley College
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The Book of Going Forth by Day is a contemporary/ancient account of Egypt that draws upon legend and myth to tell a story of death and rebirth on the Nile. It explores the interface between image and text - the ways, in hypermedia, that narrative information is not only contained in the text, but also coded into graphics, music, structure, and navigation elements. Going Forth celebrates the natural materiality of both hieroglyphic writing and electronic literature. Egyptian hieroglyphic writing is inherently hypertextual and hypermedial. In ancient times, the surfaces of temples and tombs were covered with a narrative writing/art that was a complex linkage of the literal, metaphorical, and schematic aspects of the culture. The connections between a glyph as an image and between the hieroglyphic word and wall painting, sculpture, or object of the culture reveal a system in which writing and art deeply interpenetrate. The Book of Going Forth by Day is distinguished by a single narrator with multiple forms. A longstanding feature of Egyptian thought was the ability to continually absorb and re-integrate concepts, especially those concerning the persistence of the soul after death. The voices of the narrator are modeled on the akh, ka, and ba concepts. As we follow these manifestations of the narrator in a search for a missing brother, readers familiar with the Isis/Osiris myth will recognize the echoes of the mythological material that informs the passage through the underworld to rebirth. Since the story requires that the reader have access to present and past, three states of consciousness, and the fixed and the moving, I needed to devise a structure that would allow fluid access to each element. Going Forth, then, depends upon a structured choreography of movement--a continually-transforming "hieroglyph" of kinetic symbolism and an evolving syntax of naviagation. To meet this challenge I draw on recent techniques in electronic writing, new software technologies, and the following specific media elements:
*Text: the hypertext is a multilinear narrative. Links are available to the reader through hot words, text selections, menu choices. Readers can also consult glossaries, dictionaries, maps, and timelines. *Hieroglyphs: hieroglyphic writing is used throughout as narrative guide, plot vehicle, and exposition device. The overall structure is organized in the form of hieroglyphic representations, with horizontal and vertical registers that form channels of movement.
*Images: digitized photos, sketches, maps, the grammar of Egyptian design and ornament are part of an extensive visual language.
*Sound: voice narration, percussion, Egyptian instruments, and contemporary music function as part of the text of the work.