digital storytelling 2017-18






... DI CHI


Shelley Jackson, PATCHWORK GIRL (1995, Eastgate)




My Body:







Donna Haraway, Manifesto Cyborg


I principi guida del postumano sono:


(1) The posthuman view privileges informational pattern over material instantiation, so that embodiment in a biological substrate is seen as an accident of history rather than an inevitability of life. (2) It considers consciousness, regarded as the seat of human identity in the Western tradition long before Descartes thought he was a mind thinking, as an epiphenomenon, an evolutionary upstart that tries to claim it is the whole show when in actuality it is only a minor sideshow. (3) It thinks of the body as the original prosthesis we all learn to manipulate, so that extending or replacing the body with other prostheses becomes a continuation of a process that began before we were born. (4) Most importantly, by these and other means the posthuman view configures human being so that it can be seamlessly articulated with intelligent machines. In this view there are no essential differences between bodily existence and computer simulation, cybernetic mechanism and biological organism, robot teleology and human goals.

N. Katherine Hayles, “The Posthuman Body: Inscription and Incorporation in Galatea 2.2 and Snow Crash”, Configurations, 5.2, 1997, pp. 241-266


1) la visione postumana privilegia il modello informativo sulla materialità, per cui il substrato biologico è visto come un incidente della storia piuttosto che un fatto inevitabile nella vita;

2) considera la coscienza, quale sede dell’identità umana nella tradizione Occidentale, solo una questione secondaria minore;

3) il corpo umano è una protesi che chiunque può imparare a manipolare, così che estendere o sostituire il corpo con altre protesi è vista come la continuazione di un processo cominciato prima della nascita (PG esisteva prima della sua nascita);

4) l’essere umano è visto articolato come e con macchine intelligenti per cui meccanismi cibernetici sono assimilati a organismi biologici (come voleva la H appunto).


I teorici sono Catherine Waldby, N. Katherine Hayles, Thomas Foster, Neil Badmington






Shelley Jackson creates

a new kind of self which doesn't fetishize so much, grounding itself in the dearly-loved signs and stuff of personhood, but has poise and a sense of humor, changes directions easily, sheds parts and assimilates new ones. Desire rather than identity is its compositional principle. Instead of this morbid obsession with the fixed, fixable, everyone composing their tombstone over and over. Is it that we want to live up to the dignity of our dead bodies?

Shelley Jackson, "Stitch Bitch: the Patchwork Girl”, §"Everything at Once". Transcript of Jackson's presentation at the Transformations of the Book Conference held at MIT on October 24-25, 1998




Bob Coover:

Suddenly, as many of my student electronic writers remarked, we were able to read and write in the way that we think, creating and/or accessing the various elements of a narrative the way one accesses the fragments of one’s life story held in memory, say, or the way that one backpacks through a strange country, making hypertext not the latest fantasy tool, but a kind of neorealism. And, once we got used to it, there was no reason we could not achieve that sort of focused, deeply imagined, "lost" reading experience we so treasured in books.
Robert Coover, “Literary Hypertext: The Passing of the Golden Age”, in FEED, (4 gennaio 2001)




Frank Baum, Patchwork Girl di Oz


Dr Pipte la moglie Margolotte

obbedienza, gentilezza, verità, giudizio, intelligenza, coraggio, ingenuità, conoscenza, poesia, sicurezza



"Invention consists in the capacity of seizing on the capabilities of a subject: and in the power of moulding and fashioning ideas suggested to it", e ancora: ogni cosa “must be linked to” [Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Preface]



I had made her, writing deep into the night by candlelight, until the tiny black letters blurred into stitches and I began to feel that I was sewing a great quilt, as the old women in town do night after night, looking dolefully out their windows from time to time toward the light in my own window and imagining my sins while their thighs tremble under the heavy body of the quilt heaped across their laps, and their strokes grow quicker than machinery and tight enough to score deep creases in the cloth. I have looked with reciprocal coolness their way, not wondering what stories joined the fragments in their workbaskets. [WRITTEN]

My birth takes place more than once. In the plea of a bygone monster; from a muddy hole by corpse-light; under the needle, and under the pen. Or it took place not at all. But if I hope to tell a good story, I must leapfrog out of the muddle of my several births to the day I parted for the last time with the author of my being, and set out to write my own destiny. [BIRTH in M/S]


… working in Storyspace, I persistently saw the rectangular corrals with their enclosed plots of smaller rectangles as cemeteries I was privileged to hover over, resurrecting text from this grave or that at will; an accident of resemblance, but a beautiful one. Hence the section of Patchwork Girl that is structured like a graveyard, where you dig up body parts and learn their histories. Of course these rectangles full of rectangles also brought to mind a quilt. Which is not unlike a graveyard, since traditional quilts are often machines for reminiscence, bringing together scraps of fabric, once in use, that memorialize family members and important times. And is also very like a Frankenstein monster (these multiply determined metaphors kept turning up). So I made a quilt, where each patch is itself a patchwork (in crazy-quilt style) of quotes from divers sources.

“Stitch Bitch: The Hypertext Author As Cyborg-Femme Narrator ”,intervista a Shelley Jackson,


I am buried here. You can resurrect me, but only piecemeal. If you want to see the whole, you will have to sew me together yourself.


…Every part of me is human and proportional to the whole. Yet I am a monster—because I am multiple, and because I am mixed, mestizo, mongrel.

I am made up of a multiplicity of anonymous particles, and have no absolute boundaries. I am a swarm. "Scraps? Did you call me Scraps? Is that my name?"

You could say that all bodies are written bodies, all lives pieces of writing.



I am like you in most ways. My introductory paragraph comes at the beginning and I have a good head on my shoulders. I have muscle, fat and a skeleton that keeps me from collapsing into suet. But my real skeleton is made of scars: a web that traverses me in three-dimensions. What holds me together is what marks my dispersal. I am most myself in the gaps between my parts, though if they sailed away in all directions in a grisly regatta there would be nothing left here in my place. [DISPERSED]


The comparison between a literary composition and the fitting together of the human body from various members stemmed from ancient rhetoric. Membrum or "limb" also signified "clause." The re-establishment of the connection between painting and writing in Neoclassical pedagogy focused again on Quintilian's dictum that the artist must put together an integrated corpus from detachable elements, smoothly flowing from one section to another. Dandre-Bardon taught that "thoughts are the limbs of a composition and must be distributed over the canvas with a just economy." This basically phraseological skill--gliding from corporeal syllables to sentences--averted the creation of tortuous somatic monsters whose parts did not belong. Analogously, Joseph Addison (1672-1719) disparaged as the creations of false wit the use of obsolete words or barbarisms, rusticities, absurd spellings, complicated dialects, and the outlandish construction of poems made up of concrete objects. The essay on "True and False Wit" took to task "tricks in writing" and decadent signs of "Monkish" taste. These were evinced in the visual turning of one set of terms into another and resembled "the Anagram of a Man." The limbs of syntax were distorted and set in foreign places where they did not rightfully occur.




(…) It is a potential line, an indication of the way out of two dimensions (fold along dotted line): In three dimensions what is separate can be brought together without ripping apart what is already joined, the two sides of a page flow moebiusly into one another. Pages become tunnels or towers, hats or airplanes, cranes, frogs, balloons, or nested boxes. Because it is a potential line, it folds/unfolds the imagination in one move. It suggests action (fold here), a chance at change, yet it acknowledges the viewer's freedom to do nothing but imagine. It is paradoxical: more innocent than the solid line (above which rises, on a sewing pattern, half a pair of scissors, oddly askew), it can be coerced into fiercer uses than the pacifist fold: on the photograph of a cow, the classic cuts are sketched out in dotted lines. The cow doesn't know it yet, but it is an assemblage of dinners. A dotted line demonstrates: even what is discontinuous and in pieces can blaze a trail.