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Currents: An E-Journal Realism and a General Economy of the Link

by Adrian Miles 
InterMedia UiB and RMIT 

Currents in Electronic Literacy Spring 2001 (4), < 

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Realism is a style that naturalises the representational system utilised by any particular narrative form. This rendering natural of what is in fact a semiotically complex and artificial construction tends to produce a conservative rhetoric of exclusion in which certain prohibitions become standardised as principles of structure. For example, in realist cinema the presence of the camera will be concealed, and the represented world will appear as if it were real and part of the everyday. Furthermore, the elements that build the story, for instance composition and editing, will be done in such a way as to emphasise the story rather than their artificiality.

This practice produces a form of reading in which the work of the reader is to recover meaning, sense, or even simply secured pleasure from the event of the text. For a theorist such as Bataille this transaction obeys an economy to the extent that readers exchange their time for some return from the text, and in reading realist literature this return is largely interpreted as benign, even mercantile in its promise of a return.

Similarly the interest in link legibility in relation to hypertext structure appropriates the possible or potential force of the hypertext link and orientates it towards this economy of return. The emphasis on what is characterised as an appropriate use of links is a reaction against a paradigmatic shift in how writing as narrative sequence can now be conceived.

Currents: An E-Journal