e-Lit Resource
Pax, Writing, and Change

In this admittedly brief essay, Stuart Moulthrop muses on the writing process and the change brought about by various multimedia. Focusing on his own creation Pax: An Instrument (2003), Moulthrop describes how a brief delay at a Dallas airport during the late summer of 2001 was the catalyst for the creation of the cybertext. This essay explores crucial differences inherent in writing for print and writing for new digital media. Writing cybertext, Moulthrop states, “necessarily takes in more than traditional literary composition, so that staying alive in craft demands an ever expanding mastery of concepts, tools, and techniques, from object-oriented programming to database integration, from sampling and looping to 3D modeling and CAVE painting.”
With Pax, Moulthrop wanted to explore the idea of a cybertext being played, much like a musical instrument is played. This is directly inspired by John Cayley’s remarks on what a textual instrument would look like. As electronic literature frequently pushes the boundaries between the literary and play, Moulthrop writes that Pax “explores the space between hypertext on the one hand, and video games on the other.”
Written for the First Person thread on ebr, this essay explores the blurring lines between electronic literature and video games, shedding some light on the nature of writing a work of cybertext. Moulthrop is a very active contributor on ebr, often focusing on the issue of game studies (see http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/firstperson/molecular). “Pax, Writing, and Change” elicited a riposte from David Parry, “Pax and the Literary in the Digital Age,” found here: http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/firstperson/terminalrip.