Chapter 5: Techniques Enabled: (Pro)Fusions after Poetry Computerized

In the book's final chapter, Funkhouser confronts the contemporary period of digital poetry and poses the question: “how could productions of digital poetry grow—and into what” (225)? Funkhouser maintains that digital poetry in the age of the WWW is doing nothing much new; in fact, he states that HTML has had a very small impact on digital poetry because it simply makes writing self-contained, relatively simplistic animated, looping, and random textual procedures easier (226). Though Funkhouser describes Aya Karpinska’s 2005 poem the arrival of beeBox as “graphically spectacular,” he contends that this poem, in which the reader/viewer manipulates 3D planes of text using a mouse, still represents the hypertextual and visual/kinetic techniques established in digital poetry’s pre-WWW period (230). As a scholar, I can see understand his argument, but I feel that the real question he seeks to engage here is not “what will digital poetry grow into” but, instead, “what is beyond hypertext?”  This is the same question echoed by a lot of current scholarship on digital writing; it parallels the question “what is beyond postmodernism?” In that sense, Funkhouser’s work is in concert with the other important questions of cyberculture, and of our time in general.  

Funkhouser states that if the genre of digital poetry has progressed at all, it is in the “cultivation of instantaneous hyperlinked discourse through weblogs” and in the development of cybertext (240). He uses Espen Aarseth's definition of cybertext here, wherein attention is focused on the reader, “calling for intervention and response, rather than (or in addition to) interpretation” (241). He also asserts that that “a self-mutating, digitized form of literature is possible” if digital works can develop multiple perspectives beyond one author, one reader/viewer.