Individual Work
Mist Ridge

Barry Smylie’s “Mist Ridge” is a hypertext poem created with javascript using images and text to provoke speculation about God, the meaning of life, the power of experience, and omniscience. The user clicks on pictures to access new words and images. Open-ended questions are proposed, such as, “Why would you choose such a burden, the knowledge of all hearts?” and “What is the cost of my ego?” Words of advice are included with the questions to form verses meant to motivate the reader to look at the purpose of their life from a different perspective. The line “Acting a life instead of living it, it’s an easy step to deciding the role has no meaning” suggests that life is most enjoyed when one is experiencing it rather than working to “be” a certain someone. Photos of nature scenes appear on the screen to present examples of the beauty of natural life.

The purpose of the work is to demonstrate how the meaning of life is to experience the beauty of the world with mindfulness rather than to achieve specific goals, such as absolute knowledge. The reader can choose multiple paths to complete the piece, reminiscent of the paths of life individuals encounter every day. The words and images are composed in a way to create a sense of a journey that he author had traveled that inspired this poem. A sensation is created in the user that they are traveling the journey with Smylie and can choose their destination just as he did. If the user chooses one path, they cannot access a different path. Just as on a real journey one must choose one path or another. Smylie demonstrates that any path one chooses will lead to a growth of knowledge, one of the great gifts of life. The theme of this work is that life is meant to be experienced with curiosity and endless meanings rather than complete understanding. Smylie shows that knowledge is not the ultimate goal of life but rather the experiences one gains from any choices one makes.