Ok, Gaston. Let me explain. Ever since I’ve had a really good hold on my imagination, I’ve been a little adverse to picture books. I don’t like having an image clearly set in my head by someone else’s imagination.
(In your case, Gaston, I’m surprised you can even hold the book right-side-up.)
I digress. Of course there’s always the pictures on the dust jacket. And, ok, the US versions of the Harry Potter books all had small illustrations on the top of chapters. However, they weren’t there the whole way, showing you every scene and putting a finite image in your head. When I read fiction, I do it as a way to imagine and dream. I don’t like having those two things dictated to me. Non-fiction, obviously, is different because you have a set location or time period or cast of characters.
But my fiction?
I like being able to use my imagination.
Now, Gaston, I know this might shock you. You’re getting ready to argue me at this very second. But, let’s take a look at Hayles. She mentions Patchwork Girl. The idea of Frankenstein’s monster mating with anything is horrifying and, when Frankenstein realized this, he ripped her body to shreds.
Enter Mary Shelley, the sneaky author. She put the female monster back together again.
The main components of the hypertextual corpus are “body of text,” containing the female monster’s narration and theoretical speculations on hyertextual and human bodies; “graveyard,” where the stories of the creatures whose parts were used to make the female monster are told; “story,” in which are inscribed excerpts from the relevant passages in Frankenstein along with the monster’s later adventures; “journal,” the putative journal of Mary Shelley where she records her interactions with the female monster; and “crazy quilt,” a section containing excerpts from Frank Baum’s Patchwork Girl of Oz, as well as reinscriptions from other parts of the text (Hayles 147-148).
It’s a really interesting idea. I’m not saying it’s not. The idea of using the separate sections symbolically for the bits of the monster as well as the actual Patchwork Girl in different and intrigues me. I just don’t know how much I would enjoy being told what to see after so many years of avoiding it.
Hmm? “But there are no pictures” you still say? Oh, Gaston.
There’s just something about the reading experience to me that’s lost when I’m told what I have to see. It’s one reason I refuse to see the movie of a book I’m interested in or already like without reading the book. I want to make sure that I’m able to keep my own images.
Even after seeing The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games, I’m still able to keep my vision separate from that of the films. I’m just not sure how much I’d be able to enjoy a book that shoves those images down my throat.
Oh, Gaston, shhh. I’m making a point.
But, even more than pictures, I wonder what this all says about writing and that culture anymore. An argument (besides my own) against Patchwork Girl was the question of originality.
Among Patchwork Girl‘s many subversions is its attack on the “originality” of the work. ”In collage, writing is stripped of the pretense of originality,” Jackson writes. ”One can be surprised by what one has to say in the forced intercourse between texts or the recombinant potential in one text, by other works that mutter inside the proper names” (Stitch Bitch,” 537). The muttering becomes discernible in Shelley Jackson’s playful linking of her name with Mary Shelley’s. The title screen of Jackson’s work performs this distributed authorship, for it says Patchwork Girl is “by Mary/Shelley & herself,” a designation that names Mary Shelley, Shelley Jackson, and the monster all as authors (Hayles 157).
This idea of remixing an older text is not new. In fact, it’s been going on for ages. While discussing remixes in another class, we talked about several texts that draw on others. Mary Reilly is a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Mary Reilly, a servant, falls in love with Jekyll. Wide Sargasso Sea is a “prequel” to Jane Eyre that tells the story of Antoinette Cosway (Bertha Mason in JE). Jane Slayre, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and others of the like all draw on old texts and reinvent them.
Shush, Gaston. I’m almost done.
But then, we have to look at originality versus creativity, right? How many ideas are really original anymore? However, how many creative ways can you turn around an old idea?
Does it come down to perspective?
Fine, Gaston. I’ll stop. I don’t expect you to understand. After all, you’re positively primeval.