Assignment 2: Book of Sand – A Hypertext in Print
Title: Book of Sand
Author Surname: Borges
Author First Name: Jorge Luis
Translated by: Andrew Hurley
Publication Date: 1977
Publisher: Andrew Hurley
URL for a Hypertext version: http://artificeeternity.com/bookofsand/
Tags & Keywords: hypertext; infinite, newmedia
Hypertext environment on the web gave opportunity of expression to the thought of the infinite for many writers and artists. Before the era of internet and computers, authors like Jorge Borges gave expression to their thought in writing. Now with the possibility of the web, many authors have translated this ètextualè experience into “hypertextual” realm.
This participatory nature of the web with its ability for collective intelligence is very well brought out by David Beer (2009) who, points out that, “ it is perhaps not surprising that Web 2.0 – which has been defined as the shift toward user-generated content and the move from desktop storage to web top access has become associated in popular depictions with empowerment and liberation as ‘the people’ apparently reclaim the internet and exercise their ‘collective intelligence’ ” (Beer, 2009, p. 986).
Borges depicts himself as the one who encounters this special treasure; the Book of all Books. The story is about how he came to know and see this book and how it came into his possession and how he ultimately disposed of it . “When he opens to a page with an illustration, the bookseller advises a close look, since the page will never be found, or seen, again. It proves impossible to find the first or last page. This Book of Sand has no beginning or end: its pages are infinite. Each page is numbered, apparently uniquely but in no discernible pattern” (wikipedia).
We experience the foretaste of infinity, when we enter into the virtual world. There is a mystery and powerlessness in the very milieu of the net. Borges brings these ideological characters of the virtual world into a textual form. As Haynes writes, “vast information sources will be generated, where any item, thing or person can have its own unique identity tags. Relational databases feed on and become informed by the data generated from these tags and are able then to create inferences that will enable ‘new correlations’ to ‘emerge’ and ‘create genuinely new knowledge’” (Haynes, as cited in Beer, 2009, p.989).
Hypertext creators like Maximus Clarke (2001), gave a virtual expression to this textual infinity. As per him, “the Book of Sand site is a hypertext, with a nonlinear structure and dynamic images. This story is well-suited for such a presentation, since it deals with a supernatural book whose many pages are in no discernible order. And the story's spare, haunting atmosphere comes through clearly, if not more strongly, when it is read in short, random fragments” (Maximus Clarke, 2001).
“If space is infinite, we were anywhere, at any point in space.
If time is infinite, we are at any point in time.” (Jorge Borges, 1974)
Beer, D (2009). Power through the algorithm? Participatory web cultures and the technological unconscious. New Media & Society 11(6), 985–1002.
Borges, J.L. (1977). The Book of Sand, (Hurley, A, Trans), Retrieved from: http://www.annecoale.com/web4pics/bookofsand.pdf
Borges, J.L. (1977). The Book of Sand. (Giovanni, N. T. Di, Trans). New York: Dutton. ISBN:0525069925.
Clarke, M (2001). Book of Sand: A Hypertext Puzzle. Retrieved from: http://artificeeternity.com/bookofsand/
Lash, S. (2007). Power after Hegemony Cultural Studies in Mutation?; Theory, Culture & Society, 24(3), 55–78.