Baudrillard’s term, “simulacrum” is perhaps thebest word which describes a condition in which “the division into truthexposition and fiction-narrative that emerged in literacy … is not particularlyhelpful” (Ulmer). Andre Nusselder argues that “interactivity makes it hard tomaintain a strict distinction between fiction and reality. … ‘New’ media’sinclusion of the user makes its interfaces more than just ‘fixed’, imaginaryscreens between the user and the digital other” (113). A good example of suchinteractivity can be seen in the lexia “a white witness,” where after a painfuldescription of the drowning experience of a boy the reader comes across thelink “A sense of someone swimming nearby in dark water.
“– it is the writer who has programmed the links and written the lexias and”still remains the creator of the text as a whole” (Averianova and Polishko 33).Nevertheless, “the hyper-literary reader has gained access to the formation anddevelopment of the story, as a whole, and to the choice of reading routs, inparticular. Thus he also becomes, a co-narrator, after Koskimaa.
” Thusborrowing the concepts of “interactivity per se” and “proactivity” fromKoskimaa, one might say the reader of hypertext fiction is more interactivethan proactive; as opposed to the proactive author who has determined much ofthe work before the reader gets access to it, “it is beyond the reader’spower to change the ontological nature of the text” (Averianova and Polishko33). The meaning of this may be explained better in terms of Espen Aarseth’s “scriptons”and “textons.” In Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature, Aarsethfinds it useful to “distinguish between strings as they appear to readers andstrings as they exist in the text, since these may not always be the same. Forwant of better terms, he calls the former scriptons and the latter textons”(62). The reader, by making choices interferes with a process Aarseth calls”traversal function” (ibid), and affects what textons are ultimately presentedto the reader in the form of scriptons to be read and interpreted.
In otherwords, while the reader cannot in any way affect the textons created by theauthor, thus leaving the text ontology intact, they have the power to affectthe text as it exists to the reader. In the researcher’s view, Averianova andPolishko are wrong to assume the ontology of the text is not affected, while infact the ontology of the text has changed to the reader, whoseems to be a determining factor in the process of reading and interpretation.Nevertheless, whatever view one takes, it makes little difference to themetaleptic effect of electronic literature, which in fact relies on the use oflinks and their role in the seemingly insignificant “traversal function.”