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Preview: Mark Bernstein

Mark Bernstein

Mark Bernstein: hypertext research

Last Build Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2016 12:18:28 -0400


Midnight In The Garden Of Good and Evil

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 12:14:19 -0400

I was in Savannah recently. Linda was giving a conference lecture for the Textile Society of America, which meant I could have a trip without much cost and see a city I’d never visited. Tourist Savannah is dominated by this book in a way you don’t often see these days; even the rural New Zealand focus on The Lord Of The Rings is really about the movies, not the books. It was time to revisit the book.

Time has been kind to this 1993 nonfiction account of Savannah society and its tribulations. Berendt was ahead of the curve in his (fairly) sympathetic account of the transexual performer, Lady Chablis, and more broadly in his treatment of gay sex as simply another colorful thing. In technique, this book broke new ground, but that ground is now shadowed by Erik Larson’s more ambitious Devil In The White City.

Berendt’s attention to race is split between the radically-transgressive Chablis and a radically-retro voodoo practitioner; there’s no voice like that of the (superb) guide at Savannah’s Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum, who was careful to place the city’s famous black boycott as a generous gift from the black community to the nation. “We didn’t need those downtown department stores,” she reminded us, and the old ladies in the tour group with me – all black – nodded in agreement and said “No, ma’am.” “We had a thriving black business community right here: shops, lunch counters, banks. We had it going. But there was the principle of the thing.”

During the trip, we took out one day and worked the Hillary Clinton booth at Savannah’s Gay Pride. Things change. Still, it’s a good book.

Sidethreads and Projections

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:42:02 -0400

Howard Oakley continues his wonderful series on using Storyspace to craft an interactive nonfiction hypertext on the history of painting. The latest installment, Sidethreads and Projections, dives into one of the central challenges of hypertext rhetoric: distinguishing between a link that represents a brief interjection or that offers a minor clarification, and a link the represents a major departure. Lots of thoughtful discussion, with plenty of screenshots to help beginners.


The Boy In The Suitcase

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 11:44:54 -0400

A Danish nurse-procedural: an old friend of Nina Borg asks her to pick up a parcel from a locker at Copenhagen’s central rail station. The parcel turns out to be a suitcase containing a naked 3-year-old boy who is unconscious and who, when he wakes up, doesn’t speak Danish. We are going to demand a good explanation from our old friend, but by the time we catch up with her, she’s been brutally murdered. A very interesting exploration of the mystery-thriller from the point of view of a wonderful (and bipolar) protagonist.

Storyspace in Ukranian

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 11:41:56 -0400


The Storyspace web page in Ukranian.

Translated by Anna Matesh.

Tinderbox At The Movies

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 11:24:32 -0400

Filmmaker Virgil Widrich (Wikipedia, IMDB) writes:

Just wanted to let you know that I wrote a feature film with Tinderbox. 5 years, 1000 pages. Then it came down to 100 pages in the final version….. It is quite a hyperlinked story.

The film, Night Of 1000 Hours, will have its US Premiere on October 21 at the Chicago Film Festival.


Interesting interview, too.

The research was absolutely endless, because we needed iconic images which audiences could immediately classify according to period. With the help of a computer program I drew up a family tree containing 400 members of the family. All of them, even if they were just extras or weren't even visible at any point, had a name and dates of birth and death, so we could also work out the style of clothing they would have worn when they died.


Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:59:42 -0400

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, this novel takes a long time to get going and, when it finally does move beyond exposition, it heads for places that are neither pleasant nor surprising.

Eileen is twenty four, she lives in a depressing small town in central Massachusetts with her father. He’s an alcoholic ex-cop, and Eileen she does clerical work in a private reformatory. The prose is solid and unshowy. So is Eileen, when she’s not enacting perversity.

I’d always believed that my first time would be by force, Of course I hoped to be raped by only the most soulful, gentle, ­handsome of men, somebody who was secretly in love with me–Randy, ideally.

I suppose one’s reaction to the novel depends on whether you regard Eileen’s attitude as charming or simply dense. I’d have bailed on this book without the prize nomination, and I’d have bailed again if not for the terrific reviews. I think the book and I got off on the wrong foot.


Tue, 4 Oct 2016 11:03:51 -0400

It’s important to follow through and to play hard through the whole game, but right now it looks like we’re going to win. Perhaps the United States won’t be governed by a narcissist brigand after all. Can we take a moment to think about what comes next? ImWithKer. Josh Marshall started a movement to take back our symbols from our new Nazis. Pepe the Frog is the mascot of the racist alt-right, but we have had a better frog all along: we have Kermit, the canonical pluralism frog. His character embodies the generosity of spirit, perseverance, collegiality, and openness to introspection and melancholy that are ingredients of any open, free society whereas Pepe embodies the sadism, cruelty, and the lust for domination … that are the makings of autocracy, dehumanization and finally the love of death. Besides, Kermit is able to talk openly and honestly about race in America. It’s not easy being green. We’ve got to get out of this place. Trump has already done immense damage to the country. Racism and anti-Semitism are out of the box again. Any black teenager who is pulled over for a traffic stop must be painfully aware that his life may be over. Quietly protesting the National Anthem is as controversial again as it was when we did it in 1968, and again the loons want us to love it or leave it. Twitter is filled with anti-Semites, the right-wing loons now run Wikipedia, right-wing nationalists are resurgent in Germany, Greece, France, the UK, Poland, Hungary, and Russia. I’m not alone in being shocked by the anti-Semites whom Trump has brought out into the open: a common theme of my Twitter feed is people who, for the first time, feel unsafe in the US. The pardon. One of the worst ideas of the Trump campaign is “Lock her up!”, the stupid chant that calls for the conversion of the United States into a police dictatorship where political rivals are incarcerated or killed. Yet, Trump himself is in a good deal of legal jeopardy: charges of tax evasion, mail fraud, securities fraud, and espionage are all entirely plausible. I think Ford’s pardon of Nixon was a mistake, but under the circumstances I’m not sure that a long series of prosecutions of a former Republican nominee will be good for the country. It’s possible that a plea bargain or just a preemptive pardon would avoid establishing the expectation that losers will be prosecuted. (Our founders knew their Roman history and did their best to avoid this scenario, one that – Aaron Burr excepted – is completely unprecedented.) The punishment. After this trouncing, of course, Trump’s political career will be over. What are we going to do about his alt-right loons and goons? And what are we to do about the ruthless Republicans who supported Trump as if he were perfectly normal? Politicians and pundits who openly endorsed Trump should be disqualified for twenty years. If they do write or run for office, they should receive laughter and scorn. I’d like to say “forever,” but that’s too harsh on younger politicians. Casual sympathizers can be excused more easily, but those whose business it was to know better, and who ignored their conscience, should not be trusted with public office or employment. Those who supported and encouraged the racism and anti-Semitism of the Trump campaign should be disqualified, period. We’re beyond having a conversation. Polite reminders that civility is a good thing aren't enough. We’ve come too close this time, and too much is at stake. Next time, it’s going to be fire: let’s make sure there is no next time. Institutions that have profited from recruiting and cosseting Nazis to sell ads (Reddit, 4chan, 8chan) or to exploit their traffic to solicit donations and seek grants (Wikipedia) must be forced to end their profiteering. Ending irresponsible editing is one solution: people should take responsibility for what they say. Stric[...]

Yes, Please!

Sat, 1 Oct 2016 10:57:29 -0400

An amusing memoir by a still-young comic. “Yes, please!” is her recommended answer to just about everything, and she is not wrong. Some of this book is pep talk for the not-quite-young, assurance that forty isn’t the end of the world or even the end of sex. A lot of it is worrying about work and kids. None of this is exceptional, though if you like Poehler it may sound better coming from her. The account of trying to get by as a scrounging actor in a pick-up Chicago improv company, on the other hand, is terrific and it’s something you can’t find everywhere. It’s a hard slog, learning to be funny.