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Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature
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Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  167 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Can computer games be great literature? Do the rapidly evolving and culturally expanding genres of digital literature mean that the narrative mode of discourse—novels, films, television series—is losing its dominant position in our culture? Is it necessary to define a new aesthetics of cyborg textuality?

In Cybertext, Espen Aarseth explores the aesthetics and textual dynami
Paperback, 216 pages
Published August 6th 1997 by Johns Hopkins University Press
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Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: video-games
Aarseth first deconstructs current (in 1995) approaches to ergodic literature. He obliterates semiotic and poststructuralistic analyses (which are weak more because of their authors than their theory). One problem with the approaches is that they do not account for emergent behavior (results not predicted by the designer; i.e., a programmer being beaten by his own chess program). Aarseth sets the foundation for a new approach to ergodic literature.

Part of this foundation is a rigorous definition
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"Cybertext" was the most useful book for a paper on "House of Leaves." It's a comprehensive look at the history, nature, and possible future of ergodic texts (that is, texts that require effort from the user on a level higher than simply reading and/or turning pages). He talks about everything from the I Ching to the types of computer hyperlink puzzle games online to programs designed to generate text in a non-linear narrative fashion, all the way to the C.A.V.E. facility in Brown, where electro ...more
Robert Stewart
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Most interesting to me are the distinctions he draws between the various types of what he calls ergodic literature. But as a nonacademic, I found the sometimes obtuse, jargon-happy writing off-putting and the minutiae of historical accounts irrelevant. He lays out a well-conceived scheme, but I'm not sure I gleaned much more from the book than I did from the Wikipedia entry.
Apr 20, 2011 rated it liked it
A little bit dry, a little bit dated, and I wish it covered a broader range of material. It is, however, rich in meaningful theoretical content; recommended to anyone interested in video games from a literary/semiotic standpoint.
Bryan Ma
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very good and challenging. Will need to return to it after brushing up on critical/narrative/literary theory though. There is certainly much more to be gained. Am looking forward to seeing how his perspectives have developed over the last 15 years as well.
May 01, 2014 added it
Shelves: read2014
Tim Lepczyk
My advice is to read the first two chapters.
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read for exams. Concept of ergodic literature super useful for my topic!
Ian Brunton
Feb 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-theory
Interesting, though somewhat dense at times.
Mar 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Muy clarificador. Además considero que el concepto de texto ergódico que propone, es básico para el entendimiento de la literatura reversible (o hiperliteratura).
Graham Oliver
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic
Well-written and covers a lot of important stuff but feels very dated due to the examples used. Still a good thing to get to know for a theoretical foundation.
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“On the one hand we need the image of "the text" in order to focus on anything at all; on the other hand we use the metaphor of "reading" to signal that our apprehension of a text will always be partial, that we never quite reach the "text itself," a realization that has led certain critics to question the very existence of such an object.” 0 likes
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