This collaborative poem in three parts makes virtuoso use of the marquee tag, which along with the ever-annoying blink tag, has been disavowed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which imperils its existence in future browsers. Each of its parts uses this tag as a central device for shaping its text in a different way to play with Barthes’ notion of how the past is reduced and turned into “a slim and pure logos” through narrative as well as with Descartes’ use of the latin phrase larvatus prodeo (I come forth, masked).
The first part, depicted above, offers a narrative cut into lines of verse apparently a traditional one, as one begins to read. After a few seconds, the lines begin to disappear and reappear at different rates, cutting up the narrative and forming new stanzas, clusters, and sentences. A look at the source code (is the rendered page a mask?) reveals that each line is represented by a marquee tag with different intervals, which causes some of the clusters to form as they loop to their own rhythm. What comes first in this rapidly reconfigured text?
A screen capture doesn’t do justice to the effect created by the rapid intervals this marquee tag is used for. Each line cascades, echoes on the screen space barely present and hardly absent.
Housekeeping not only uses many different marquee styles, but it has the audacity to use frames to organize its elements. Here, past and present collide in a relation that may have some causal connection with the narrative in part one. The girl in the photograph bears a look that makes it seem like she stands framed by a corner of a room from the house in Grant Wood’s most famous painting. Spooky, especially when juxtaposed with the shifting voices scrolling in the marquees next to her.
This is a complex and beautifully accomplished work, one that has the power to haunt one’s curiosity and prompt multiple readings. This, along with some of J.R. Carpenter’s poems, attest to the expressive power that even a noncomforming feature can muster in the right hands.