This serially published novel makes use of a fundamentally poetic strategy: the delivery of language cut into portions for greater impact in their delivery.
In a traditional prose work, the text is a stream of words separated by conventional spacing and punctuation into phrases and sentences, and divided into paragraphs and chapters— the formation of lines is an accident of font, size, paper / screen size, and margins. In verse, language is cut into lines according to different rationales, such as meter, breath, musical phrase, syllable count, or are cut freely depending on the poem’s design. A result of this visual formatting of the poem is usually a tactically scheduled verbal performance of the poem: an experience of layered rather than accumulated language. In this sense, Inanimate Alice is a poem, cutting and scheduling its narrative and dialogue into lines to interact with its nonverbal texts (images, video, sound, games) to produce a truly multimedia experience.
More speaker than narrator, Alice’s perspective of a new, wondrous, dangerous world as she lives in places like China and Saudi Arabia with her oil industry employed parents is the focus of the work. And even though each episode is a coherent story in the serial publication of a novel, the larger narrative seems to be the construction of a digital subject.
If writing helped to develop the self (as the lyric voice) from the anonymous collective voices developed in oral cultures, how will humans construct themselves in digital, post-literate cultures? Tomorrow’s posting will explore this idea in the next installment of Inanimate Alice.