Individual Work 07/08 XXtracts_

Mez Breeze describes her massive creolized codework, ][][_, as “a ‘netwurk [sic] repository’ that’s been in operation since 2003” (Author description np). In Breeze presents her reader with a language that is part code, part poetry, and ultimately neither. As an example, poem seven of the series presents a poetic style indebted to imagism, concretism, and minimalism while at the same time relying on the basic structures of web-based coding languages. Part of the effect of the poems in lies in the series’ presentation as a plain text document with none of the font options or style additions to text that may be afforded by rich text format. Leaving the poems in plain text foregrounds the fact that the code therein is not executable: the text is prepped for execution, but a quick look at this code by anyone with a basic understanding of programming language confirms that it will not run.

Her description of stresses its no-frills presentation:

this language evolved/s from multifarious computer code>social_networked> imageboard>gamer>augmented reality flavoured language/x/changes. 2 _mezangelle_ means 2 take words>wordstrings>sentences + alter them in such a way as 2 /x/tend + /n/hance meaning beyond the predicted +/or /x/pected. _mezangelling_ @tempts 2 /x/pand traditional text parameters thru layered/alternative/code based meanings /m/bedded in2 meta-phonetic renderings of language. ][][ /m/ploys a base standard of code>txt in order 2 evoke imaginative renderings rather than motion-based>flashy graphics. (np)

The poem “/m/ploys a base standard of code>txt,” Breeze asserts, and does so to bring these two languages into conversation, into “/x/changes,” altering both to create radical new forms of meaning-making.

Attempts to make meaning from mezangelle, a poetic language of unexecutable code, presents the reader with linguistic constructs that are illegible on two levels: first, as human language with semantic meaning, and second, as programming code readable by machines. This is not to say, however, that mezangelle does not encode messages or communicate meanings. Indeed, the very fact that Breeze wants “2 evoke imaginative renderings” indicates a desire to communicate to her readers through an extensive and expansive reading process.

On a fundamental level, mezangelle challenges the way we use language to make semantic and logical sense. As Rita Raley argues, the very fact that mezangelle is, at its most basic level, “communicative” reveals its desire to unearth the illegibilities of the language we already have and use every day: “Mez’s use of her invented language directly suggests and reflects the material and quotidian linguistic changes produced by the mingling of the elements of natural and programming codes” (np). I also note the different modes of engagement implied by the different codes Breeze mixes, which Stephanie Strickland, a pioneer of electronic literature in theory and practice, usefully identifies when she observes that Breeze’s writing “leads us to confront the legible with strategies ordinarily reserved for the viewable” (np). As most of our interaction with text today is mediated by technology and thus undergirded by programming language, the explicit, illegible, and unexecutable merger of what Raley terms “natural and programming codes” reveals their inextricability in our lives and not simply in the context of the experimental poetic work.

Of course, some readers who do not have much experience reading code might find mezangelle difficult and alienating at first. But the difficulty has its purpose and its rewards. As critics and users tend to agree, Breeze’s blended poetic language reveals potential meanings through its networking and connection, encourages mis- and cross-reading, and, ultimately, invites readers into radically free interpretative relationships with the text. Raley insists that mezangelle does “invite reading,” even as she acknowledges its challenges: “Mez’s techniques invite reading as complex combinatorial anagrams, other instances of excess linguistic disassembly and reassembly…the language flies off in many directions, and the invitation is to read beyond and even against the lateral, particularly given the frequent use of puns and homophones” (np). The political import of this opened reading practice lies in what Raley refers to as Breeze’s “aesthetic of interference rather than transmission” (np). Indeed, mezangelle brings to the fore the ways that text-based communication through networked computing so often relies on a transparency of its form. Breeze uses mezangelle to jam the system, to interfere as noise with communicative discourse and in so doing to reveal the fissures therein.