Rationale


For Zeitgeist: Frankenstein Re-De-Constructed 

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Volume 2 Chapter 3

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TechnoRomanticism

 

 

“Clark Gable” by The Postal Service, 2003. Lyrics.

 

 

As he was attempting to define Romaticism, French poet Charles Baudelaire stated in the Salon de 1846: “Le romantisme n’est précisément ni dans le choix des sujets ni dans la vérité exacte, mais dans la manière de sentir,” or, “Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor in exact truth, but in a way of feeling.” The intentions of this website, “Zeitgeist: Frankenstein Re-De-Constructed,” are to evoke a Romantic mood and to produce a ‘writerly’ experience for readers. These goals can only be achieved by utilizing the hypertexts of the Internet.


Romantic Zeitgeist

In the Oxford English Dictionary, zeitgeist is defined as: “The spirit or genius which marks the thought or feeling of a period or age.” This German compound word literally translates as “time spirit” or “time ghost.” Literature, as a record of humanity, has the potential to compel Time to haunt, to linger past its created end. This is especially true of works such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Sensation endures as long as penned; but can a writer ever really capture a moment? The Romantics’ desire to recreate sense experience left them wrought with anxiety and depression, as fantasy never matches reality. Writing on paper is, after all, “a poor medium for the communication of feeling.”


Nodes

This site is structured with nodes, acting as thematic packets of thought, that sprout from the text of Frankenstein. The term “node” holds many meanings, including: knot (Latin, nodus), swelling or mass, joint, point of intersection, significance, focus, or division. In computer networking, a node is a point or device at which lines intersect or branch, where messages can be created, received, or transmitted.

The concept of applying such a structure to a literary website is derived from theories found in Roland Barthes’ 1970 essay, S/Z, and 1973 book, The Pleasure of the Text. Barthes claims that reading for pleasure is a social act. In S/Z, Barthes describes an ideal text as a ‘writerly’ text, one that creates “a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds.” Such aperture of meaning permits the reader to become an active co-producer of the text, losing their self as they are exposed to and immersed in the writer’s ideas. Barthes calls this cathartic, climactic loss of self “jouissance,” or bliss.

The significance of literature originates in its openness to the reader. Meaning and memory are created based on relevant cues or codes in the text that are fleshed out through the reader’s cognition. The connections and the emotions of the instance or ‘happening’ of reading form the skeleton and circuitry of the body of the text. How the reader remembers and recreates a text depends on the senses of the moment. Thus, this site emphasizes the tangents and links between texts and readers. The structure of “Zeitgeist” is intentionally difficult, forcing the reader to immerse themself in the text in order to discover nodes of collected thought and to experience the jouissance of reading.


Frankenstein Re-De-Constructed

The term “Re-De-Constructed” refers to the many layers of processing that Frankenstein is subject to on this website, and the multiplicity of readers, writers, authors, and texts that are involved in its daemonic insurrection. The Internet provides a medium through which text and co-texts can merge into a hypertext, and reader and writer can merge into author. Web tools such as links and highlighting allow the designer to reveal their thought processes to the reader, providing a map of their reading experience.

While meaning is elusive and individualistic, because it lives in the mind, moods are predictable and nearly universal, because they live in the body. Setting a mood requires attention to visual and sonic cues. Colors, tempos, and sounds are recognized to induce specific effects. For example, the color red will incite and agitate, whereas an Andante tempo or ‘white noise’ will calm and soothe.

As such, songs with relevant mood-evoking aspects accompany the major nodes of this site. Each piece of music contributes both rhythmically and lyrically to the mood of the node, so that the songs also become co-texts. The lyrics are provided in order to facilitate this correlation.

Additionally, the color scheme of the website was selected to mimic Nature, a Romantic sensibility, with olive green and cream. Olive green is the traditional color of peace; it promotes feelings of safety, hope, and growth, and it has restorative qualities. In contrast, cream, a light yellow, is warming and stimulating; it is associated with intellect, freshness, and joy. Like sunlight, yellow generates energy and attention. These colors add to the contemplative mood of Romanticism, and to the concept of the respective orientation of Natural Man, or of mind and body.

The monstrous capacity of the Internet to create moods through blends of multimedia with the written word in addition to the heightened meaning that is obtained through the mergers of hypertext and authorship provides a system of human relation that defies reality itself. Finally, the Romantic ideal of a literary connection through ecstatic interpersonal sense experience may be realized online.




An alternate, nearly antithetic approach to this project can be read here.