The Failure Theme

A Passage from Luminous Airplanes, or Things As They Were: A Hyperromance

Here we come to what I guess is already pretty obvious: the failure theme of this work. Having failed to solve the problem of myself in the book Luminous Airplanes, which, God help you, you may already have read (and if you haven’t, why not order a copy?), I began this Commentary, which seemed like the answer to all my troubles: an infinite space into which to pour my infinite complaint. I am now (i.e. in May 2011, so it’s unlikely you have read my book yet) coming to the distressing realization that what I have extended into the electrosphere is going to be (at most) half-formed, not so much the demonstration of a new way of telling stories or flushing the individual head of toxic memory as a false step on the road to the invention of same. Did you follow that last sentence? The executive summary: this Commentary is not (as I wrote many years ago in an ecstatic moment) “the literary equivalent of the airplane.” It is the literary equivalent of a giant steam-powered bat, which no amount of tinkering or wishful thought will get off the ground.

What am I understanding, by writing these comments? What are you understanding? Nothing, it seems to me, except that maybe we’re both learning the limits of my capacity to persist in fruitless endeavor. At best some better writer will slog through the coils of my hypertext (or, as my publisher would have it, immersive text), steal a couple of ideas from me, and publish what everyone will hail as the first really interesting use of the digital medium for the purpose of literature. At which point I will surely howl like every would-be inventor of the airplane before the Wright brothers: I was first! But you have my permission to disregard all my future howling on that subject.

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