Individual Work
Frequently Asked Questions about "Hypertext"

Frequently Asked Questions About "Hypertext," uses the FAQ convention to support a rather comprehensive satire of digital forms. Like Nabokov in Pale Fire, Holeton presents a metafictional parodic exegesis on the academic discourse of early hypertext criticism. Designed in the form of a hypertextual FAQ webpage document, Holeton's short fiction emanates from a poem composed of anagrams of the word "hypertext." Clicking on links produces tongue-in-cheek interpretations of the fictional poem along with perspectives on Language Poetry, cultural studies, feminism, and transgender studies. Nine answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" offer up "the story with the fan fiction and the double murder."

The piece purports to answer common questions about an anagrammatic poem entitle "Hypertext" by "Alan Richardson," and, in performs this work, appropriately, as a hypertext itself. Those familiar with the FAQ format understand the implicitly fictional character of the genre, as FAQs are written in anticipation of questions that the hypothetical reader may have. At best, FAQs are culled from actual questions and streamlined into the simulated perspective of a typical reader. At their most inventive, they are the questions that are purely speculative, reflecting what the creators think you ought to know. In keeping with the pragmatic mission of the FAQ, the questions and answers tend towards a kind of abstract precision.

In the process of satirizing the FAQ format, Holeton also manages to tell a story about the controversy surrounding the poem, and thus manages to pull a host of other aspects of digital communication into this elegant work. The apocryphal poet, Alan Richardson, is purported to be a tech boom millionaire whose poem was circulated virally through email transmission. Yet, he is a mysterious figure who has "disappeared," exciting the interest of conspiracy theorists, literary critics, fan fiction communities, and hackers, all of whom are represented in the FAQ. What at first appears to be a rather simple satire of digital banality gives way to a sprawling world of competing speculations that undercut the solidity of the work’s purported form.