Hyperrhiz 06: Artist statements

Brautigan Bibliography and Archive: A Case Study for Archiving Electronic Literature

John F. Barber

Washington State University Vancouver


Abstract

Given agreement over the importance of archiving works of electronic literature, this presentation (originally delivered at the Electronic Literature Organization's Visionary Landscapes international conference and media arts show, May 2008, Vancouver, Washington, USA) asks how to proceed with such a venture. One example is provided by the presenter's efforts to create and maintain a digital archive of information focusing on the life and works of American author Richard Brautigan. The web-based portal, Brautigan Bibliography and Archive provides heretofore unachievable associations and interconnections between multiple information kinds and sources (biographical, bibliographical, historical, ethnographical, as well as literary). The result is a unique and individual digital literary presence which may provide insight for others wishing to archive and curate works of electronic literature.


Introduction

Even a cursory glance at the conference program promised a great deal of exposure to or experience with electronic literature. Through media rich web-based environments, live, streaming on-line performances, or experimental visual interfaces, artists, writers, filmmakers, developers, educators, and theorists are experimenting with new modes and models of interactive narrative interfaces.

One may now ask, "What happens to this work after the conclusion of the conference?"

The answer: "Much of it will disappear."

There are several reasons for this disappearance. First, much of electronic literature is composed of "media elements" — graphics, moving images, sounds, shapes, spaces, and texts that have become computable (from Manovich 19, 20, 30) — which, by their very nature, are variable, ephemeral, virtual, and increasingly capable of contextualization in a variety of ways, always already shaping our conceptions of them as communicative, aesthetic, and ludic instruments. For example, mobile telephony, handheld devices with computing and other capabilities, global positioning technology, electronic kiosks, holographic posters, motion tracking environments, Computer-Assisted Virtual Environments (CAVES; 4-wall or 6-wall), multi-screen and surround projections, among other current and evolving technologies, provide new (and different) systems on which to display digital media. Additionally, much electronic literature is "born digital," without benefit of artifacts like manuscripts, drafts, working notes, correspondence, or journals. Additionally, driven by both technological advancements and economic impetus, software evolves, orphaning artifacts created within its earlier, obsolete contexts. In fact, some new media artifacts are so closely linked to specific software (and hardware) that they cannot be used outside these specific environments (Kuny). As a result, "born digital" electronic literature may not always be available.

Second, electronic literature is "new media," so called because it promotes the collapse of our understanding of its newness to other media into our understanding of its "state of the art" in terms of function and design. As a result, we speak of the "newness" of a medium or technology in reference to older, no longer state of the art versions of that same medium or technology, not in relation to earlier forms of other media (Sterne 18, 19). Thus, electronic literature we may see at this conference is an upgrade of a previous state, resulting from technological or practical/artistic application of new abilities or techniques. Such advancements in state of the art often orphan, abandon, or make obsolete previous states, casting aside the old in favor of the new. What is current at this conference may soon become a previous state, and thus no longer accessible. That classified as obsolete certainly forms a basis for newer, more current states. But the loss of digital artworks or interactive information resources as a result of their no longer current state of the art is, arguably, a heavy price to pay for the sake of newness.

Third, setting aside massive Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) or loss of electrical power as external factors, there is nothing inherent in a computer that makes its artifacts susceptible to corruption or disappearance. As a result, we face the potentially misleading sense of permanence of digital works. In fact, digital storage media, like more traditional storage technologies, are fragile, easily corruptible, or altered. And, as I have already noted, new state of the art contexts may render certain digital storage media unreliable, or simply inaccessible.

Finally, generally speaking, works featured during this conference will return to the original presenter/artist at the conclusion of the venue. Lacking a concerted effort to collect and archive works of electronic literature the works we experience here may be, at best, difficult to access in the future, and at worst, unavailable for further study.

These multiple reasons for the disappearance of much of what was seen during the Visionary Landscapes conference led me to the upshot of my (then) presentation and (now) essay: Failure, or inability, or disinterest, to preserve, migrate, and archive current electronic literature — as well as the connections between their multimedia components, the texts, the images, the coded mechanisms that drive their interactivity — threatens their survival as markers in our collective artistic, literary, and cultural heritage. In the face of such losses, digital archiving becomes a legitimate, even essential, concern focusing on the preservation, presentation, and addition of value to digital works so that they provide benefit for broad audiences. In short, archiving functions, on one hand, as the adaptive site of public education and democratic access, and, on the other, as an enduring and sacral repository for precious objects (Haidee Wilson 164).

Archiving: Who and How?

Given agreement regarding the importance of archiving at least some electronic literature artifacts available at this conference, and elsewhere, where should we begin? Which works should be archived? Who should be responsible for archiving them? How should such archiving be undertaken?

For my part, I hope to start, and then engage in, a conversation about these questions. As a start, we are well aware of examples of electronic literature that has never, and will never, suffer the static fixation of print, existing instead solely in a pixilated context. Any ancillary information about such electronic literature (reviews, critiques, artist statements) may also exist only in digital format. Some works, however, have existed in, or been influenced by a print state prior to their digitization.

Current theory and practice foster the belief that the such remediation of print literary artifacts into digital states presents us with heretofore untold opportunities for linking, overlay, combination, and insight, all of which can contribute not only to the pleasure of experiencing those digital remediations, but also understanding them in relation to each other, and a larger, surrounding world.

This movement from print to pixel interests me, and forms the basis for my discussion of my own efforts to answer the questions I posed earlier through the digitization of an entire literary life. This digitization creates not only a literary bio-bibliography but an archive as well, written not from the perspective of an individual author or archivist (myself), but rather as an upshot of heretofore unachievable associations and interconnections of multiple kinds and sources of information (biographical, bibliographical, historical, ethnographical). The result is a 3-D knowledge base, a "data hive" with a unique and individual electronic literary presence.

Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan standing at his mailbox in Pine Creek
Figure 1: Richard Brautigan standing at his mailbox in Pine Creek, Montana. Photograph by John Fyer, circa 1974. This photograph was used on the back cover of Brautigan's novel The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western, published in 1974

My subject is Richard Brautigan (1935-1984), often called a "hippie" writer because of his association with the San Francisco Counterculture Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a novelist, poet, and short story writer, Richard Brautigan is often cited as the best bridge between the ebbing Beat Generation and the emerging San Francisco Counterculture Movement. Indeed, he is often cited as the one author best able to capture the zeitgeist of this period. Today, more than forty years later, the legacy of Beat and Counterculture literature endures as writers, readers, artists, and musicians find inspiration in the works of Richard Brautigan.

Born 30 January 1935 in Tacoma, Washington, Richard Gary Brautigan grew up in the poverty of the Pacific Northwest during the Depression and World War II. Most of Brautigan's childhood was spent in Eugene, Oregon, and through English classes taken at Eugene High School, Brautigan discovered the poetry of Emily Dickinson and William Carlos Williams, both of whom influenced his developing interest in writing. From Dickinson Brautigan drew the notion of the poet as eccentric outsider writing telegramatic messages from a parallel universe. From Williams he learned to forgo outdated poetic forms to write instead in a contemporary vernacular about subjects that had immediate impact on readers.

Brautigan moved to San Francisco in 1956 where he set about realizing his dream of becoming a writer. The Beat Movement, although waning, was in evidence in coffee shops, art galleries, bars, and salons in San Francisco's North Beach district where one could listen to bebop jazz, talk radical politics, and read defiant poetry. Although Brautigan always maintained he was not a Beat, or a member of their movement, he was good friends with many of them, was often featured at their poetry readings, and was included in the historic photograph "The Last Gathering of the Beats" by Larry Keenan, taken in 1965 in front of City Lights Book Shop. Brautigan was never seen as actively involved in the swirling chaosmos of San Francisco's counterculture movement either, although he was often seen at its edges, observing, talking, or handing out broadside printings of his early poetry.

Brautigan's single poem "The Return of the Rivers," published in May 1957 by Inferno Press, is often cited as his earliest publication, because of its publication by an established press and its paper wrappers. But, Brautigan published several earlier poems dating back to 1952 when his poem "The Light" appeared in his high school newspaper, The Eugene High School News. Published on page 5 under the heading "Poet's Nook," this is, as far as I have been able to determine, the earliest Brautigan publication. Brautigan's first published novel, A Confederate General from Big Sur, was part of a 4-book deal with Grove Press but because the first printing sold less than a thousand copies and quickly disappeared, the contract was cancelled. The novel Trout Fishing in America, published three years later, in 1967, quickly captured the attention of readers and critics looking for some sense of the countercultural climate in San Francisco, and sold more than 100,000 copies initially. Today, sales are approaching three million.

Known initially only to members of the waning Beat and waxing counterculture movement in San Francisco, relatively unemployed and often subsisting hand-to-mouth, Brautigan catapulted to instant success and notoriety with publication of Trout Fishing in America. His subsequent books were in big demand and Brautigan was fêted at college campuses, romanced in publishers' headquarters, and, at the height of his career, gave readings at coffee houses, art festivals, and college campuses across the country and abroad.

The late 1960s and early 1970s were Brautigan's heyday, and from this period came his best known works: a novel, Trout Fishing in America (1967), his collection of stories, Revenge of the Lawn (1971), and a collection of poetry, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968). What attracted readers was Brautigan's quirky, idiosyncratic yet easy-to-read prose style: An offbeat combination of imagination, strange and detailed observation, a detached, anonymous first person point of view, autobiographical prose style, and episodic narrative structure full of unconventional but vivid images powered by whimsy and metaphor.

Brautigan's later books bravely combined and experimented with established literary genres. For example, The Hawkline Monster is subtitled "a gothic western," Sombrero Fallout "a Japanese novel," and Willard and his Bowling Trophies "a perverse mystery." Critics met these books with diminished enthusiasm, put off by Brautigan's apparent preoccupation with sadness and death and his refusal to write further in his earlier, more humorous vein. Additionally, the political climate changed in the 1970s and conservative academics dismissed Brautigan's work as "literature for kids," while the political left decried his lack of militancy (Brucker and Iftekharuddin). His readers were falling away as well and this downward trend continued throughout the remainder of Brautigan's career. He often said he did not care about the critics, but losing his readers was something that truly broke Brautigan's heart. At the time of his death, 14 September 1984, Brautigan was largely ignored, or worse, negated by American critics and readers who trivialized his work, calling it "naïve."

Over the course of his career (1957-1984), Brautigan published 10 novels, 10 poetry collections, and a story collection, as well as a volume of collected work, several nonfiction essays, and an album of spoken voice recordings. Generally speaking, literary careers tend to continue on their trajectory after an author's death. Brautigan, however, has commanded a steadily increasing cadre of scholars, researchers, publishers, readers, and fans who are attracted to his writing, or see him as central to study of The Sixties. This interest is international, with his works translated into more than twenty languages. There is also, a large collector and rare book market for the long out-of-print works of Richard Brautigan, as well as reprints by specialty presses.

Digitizing A Literary Life

My first step in digitizing Brautigan's literary life was actually analog when, in 1986 I published a book entitled Richard Brautigan: An Annotated Bibliography. This book was the first comprehensive coverage of all Brautigan's known works. When it was time for a reprint, a web-based format seemed most appropriate in that it would reach the broadest possible audience, would be available freely, and would be best positioned to compete with other, Brautigan-centric websites.

Information Architecture

Genre chosen I asked myself what information I was going to offer, and how? Since I envisioned a remediation of my original print bibliography, I borrowed appropriate information categories such as "novels," "poetry," "short stories," "collections," and "nonfiction" for the primary source bibliography and categories like "reviews" and "obituaries" for the secondary source bibliography.

The content for these information categories was readily available, the results of previous research and publication, and so I focused on coding and tagging these contents for appropriate linking and display within a web-based schemata that facilitated usability and access.

The information topography of my original bibliography was rather flat, with few discernable or distinctive landmarks, and very linear in nature. In this new effort, by overlaying, juxtaposing and linking multiple information sources, I could follow their common narrative thread(s). I could tease out and stretch and connect information points thus producing a topography of knowledge, a series of hierarchical or dimensional "peaks" rising above the "plains" of information. Each of these peaks, developed through the slow process of research and the trial and error of matching resources, provided stated and implied, obvious and sometimes subtle cross-references to each other. This created an opportunity to explore the life and works of Brautigan more deeply and richly, either through internal or external links to additional information, and thus the creation of new knowledge.

Archive

Clearly, the evolving website, Brautigan Bibliography and Archive, was more than an enhanced bibliography. The website, and resources it contained, was, in fact, becoming an archive for all manner of information and knowledge regarding Richard Brautigan, his life, and his writings. Simply put, an archive is a storage space, a place to put infrequently used records, deep storage, the last stop before disposal ... An archive is "information" generated as a by product of human activity — business correspondence and records, for example. An archive is a specifically authored information product ... Or, an archive is a collection, of any kind, like, for example the essays collected in another publication of mine, Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life.

The common theme(s) in these definitions is that an archive refers to a collection (whether historical records or cultural artifacts), the location in which this collection is kept, and the information/knowledge experience potential in that collection. An archive can be as grand as a palace, or as personal as a photograph. In each case, the archive, and its potential to transform information into knowledge, is only realized through encounter. No matter the scale, an archive should function, on one hand, as the adaptive site of public education and democratic access, and, on the other, serve as an enduring and sacral repository for precious objects (Haidee Wilson 164).

Models

In building an archive for the literary life of Richard Brautigan there were several models that I might choose from, or build upon: hypertext-hyperspatial, coordination model, and the individualized and mobile model.

Hypertext-Hyperspatial Model

One example is the now familiar hypertext-hyperspatial model that promotes interactive connections between words and data. As you know, in this model one CLICKS at certain points upon a seemingly flat landscape of information and zooms into the bloom of knowledge underneath. This model has been long argued with regard to its potential for information organization (McCloud 231).

Coordination Model

Traditional museums have long used the coordination model, with its emphasis on coordinating multimedia representations of physical artifacts as a means for providing access to geographically dispersed audiences. Web-based collocation of digital works such as the archives of works cataloged and archived by the Electronic Literature Organization are a good example of this type of the archival infrastructure.

Individualized and Mobile Model

Traditional archiving has often involved the orientation of artifacts with regard to perceived characteristics of a target audience comprised of "art patrons." Archiving a literary life may involve the reorientation of artifacts away from the notion of an "abstract" public, or audience, toward the individualized and mobile consumer. Information that is at once distributed, semantic, individualized, and available on demand could be one result from this model.

Each of these models offers access to a wide range of artifacts, through multiple means of user-driven access. Artifacts are joined to others in ways that clarify and embellish them through careful arrangement and annotation (curatorial documentation or explanation) so as to historicize those artifacts as cultural or even fetishistic forms. As a result, digital archiving becomes a tentacular system, reaching out to serve individual information needs in a broad number of versions.

Index page of the Brautigan Archive
Figure 2: The front page of the Brautigan Bibliography and Archive website (www.brautigan.net). The information architecture of the website is based on the components of Brautigan's bibliography; his legacy of continued inspiration; response and criticism regarding his work; tools to help users; and information about the website itself

I borrowed ideas and examples from each of these models to produce the Brautigan Bibliography and Archive. My intent was to provide, as stated in the tagline, "A bio-bibliographical archive for Richard Brautigan, his life, and writings." In keeping with Steve Krug's plea to "Don't make me think," my objective was to make the archive as usable as possible. In this regard, and as noted earlier, I divided the information structure into obvious components based on Brautigan's bibliography: Novels, poetry, stories, and other writings. I also wanted to include information written by others about Brautigan, his works, and life, as well as his legacy of continued inspiration to other writers, artists, performers, filmmakers, scholars, and others. And, as should be the case with any good information resource, I included ways to help users realize their information needs. Finally, I wanted to provide information about the website itself, its structure, and history.

Top-level links to information sub-topics
Figure 3: Top-level links to information subtopics is provided for each of Brautigan's works. Each of these information categories is based on accepted bibliographic structure as well as concerns for access and usability

In each case, access and usability is provided for more specific information groupings. For example, top-level direct links to further information about each of the major information categories is provided for users. But, for a user with more specific information needs, the same information architecture is provided for, say, each of Brautigan's ten published novels. Assuming an interest in a particular novel, one could select, say Trout Fishing in America ... and, at the page level, drill directly into informational subtopics devoted to that particular novel: Background, Previous Publication, First USA Edition(s), Other Edition(s), Translations, Selected Reprints, Recordings, and Reviews. This information architecture evolved naturally as I began grouping information I collected, and, at deeper levels, provided structures to facilitate the accessibility of information found there.

Information Overlay
Figure 4: Example of information overlays from different sources: scholarly accounts of the first public readings of Trout Fishing in America overlaid with conflicting ethnographic reports

This information, as much as possible, is comprised of overlays from different sources, scholarly and ethnographic, for example, to provide a full and richly detailed description of the events described. This overlay of details and information may enhance knowledge about a particular event, or create an entirely new interpretation. For example, scholarly accounts of the first public readings of Trout Fishing in America contend that Brautigan read his entire manuscript over the course of two nights at a San Francisco church. An ethnographic report, however, collected via email, suggests that Brautigan first read his novel to the members of the 14 Street Arts Theatre in San Francisco. Rather than forcing the research to follow any predetermined agenda, or authorial voice, I simply placed the various information sources alongside one another, thus allowing readers and users to make their own decisions from the overlay and juxtaposition. Any appearance of my own writing was crafted, like the nameless narrators in many of Brautigan's works, to assume an objective role of reportage, and avoid any appearance of what Brautigan called "cannibal carpenter," or the self-aggrandizement of my agenda at the sake of his personal life (Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt 14).

This overlay and juxtapositioning of information sources quickly prompted linkages because of their stated and implied, obvious and sometimes subtle cross-references to each other. For example users can find bibliographical as well as ethnographical information about the various editions of any of Brautgan's works. The same is true for translations. Wherever possible I have included personal messages from the translators. This provides heretofore unavailable, perhaps even unknown information. Reviews of Brautigan's works provide full source citations, an abstract, and in most instances full text, which can be viewed in separate, scrollable windows designed not to overpower or lead the user away from the main body of information.

This attention to usability is central to my work and as much as possible I have tried to make this archive accessible from a number of different directions. For example, one might use the provided site search engine, the A-Z Index, the Site Map, or the FAQs as points of initial entry. Or, one could approach information biographically / chronologically. For example, selecting the link to further information about Brautigan during the 1950s, leads to deeper, richer, more detailed information, with further links and cross-referencing. The division of biographical / chronological information about Brautigan into decades is, of course, arbitrary, but in this case it provides a convenient, and very usable information architecture. Or, one could approach information through the "Image Gallery." Here, images provide a visual clue, or representation of further information, while hyperlinks provide easy access and connections to portions of the website where that information is fleshed out to an appropriate degree through textual content,

Extensive genealogical information is available as well, which, in addition to providing yet another entry to the body of information regarding Richard Brautigan and his writings, also provides important biographical context for periods and events in his life. Information might also be accessed through other media resources. As I noted earlier, Brautigan's work includes spoken voice recordings: one track, "Love's Not the Way to Treat a Friend," on the Mad River album "Paradise Bar and Grill" and an entire album, "Listening to Richard Brautigan." Each of these recordings is available, along with additional information and links to further resources, including the biographical / bibliographical / chronological categories already discussed.

Results

As a result of these efforts, Brautigan Bibliography and Archive has become a central source for all manner of information and knowledge regarding Richard Brautigan, his life, and his writings. Once online, the website began attracting readers/users, many of whom found their works mentioned or included in the website, and others who had shared an experience with Brautigan in the past and now wanted to share it, again, with me.

Many of these authors provided additional information, beyond their original publication, or pointed me toward new, and heretofore, unknown areas to dig for new artifacts. Additionally, I was able to glean information that prompted the creation of "peaks" in their information "plains," and thus an exponential increase in the amount and kind of knowledge I could provide regarding Brautigan's literary life. From those who had known Brautigan, and in many instances shared experiences or relationships with him, I learned and was able to include in the website a great deal of ethnographical information that greatly increased the complexity of what was known about Brautigan, his life, and writings. For example, from folks to whom Brautigan had dedicated poems, I learned the context for that dedication, the story behind that poem. Other contributors told me about how Brautigan arrived at the inspiration to write a section of a novel, or provided the basis for a short story or poem in an everyday biographical event.

I included such "feedback" directly into the website, appropriately labeled and always in the same voice to which it was communicated to me. I tried to keep my own voice to an observational minimum, striving instead for a plampiset of multiple voices and a complexity of observations that, when assembled by a reader's particular track across the information plain and through the various information peaks, would promote the creation of a body of knowledge heretofore not possible without a great deal of research in multiple, disparate locations and contexts.

The response for these efforts has been gratifying. Here are some examples:

"It is really much more like a 3-D biography, from the Genealogy to the MP3s. My God, keep up the good work — cornucopia is the word."

"I wondered what happened to Brautigan, and I discovered your site. That was three hours ago. Now I'm ready to quit my job and create without fear, like he did."

"I googled Brautigan and came across your astonishing site. Next thing I know it's two in the morning!"

"Your great site has become the de facto center for all things Brautigan. Thanks for providing the splendid resource."

Lessons Learned

In addition to the thrill of such response, there were, for me, as creator and curator of Brautigan Bibliography and Archive, discoveries and rewards and knowledge gained.

First, remediation is not as simple as transferring print context to pixel. Rather than transferal, remediation is the remaking or refashioning or revisioning of one media in the likeness of another so that the new media imitates some features of the older medium, but also makes a claim (either implicit or explicit) to improve the older one.

Second, such remediation can promote multimedia information overlays and juxtapositions heretofore not possible or practical. The screen provides unique opportunities for creating liminal portals into a body of knowledge that can be customized to individual user preferences.

Third, the audience, and its relation with the content is the driver, not the technology of the screen, as to how such an artifact should be developed and maintained.

Fourth, new content development models may provide increased insight into the subject matter. For example, Brautigan often contended, that his writing was "one man's opinion of life and death in the 20th Century" (Kline 12D). But, Brautigan's "opinion" draws deeply from his participation in those events and ideas about which he wrote. By publicly intertwining his life and writing, by sharing the same corporeal coordinates with his narrator, Brautigan functioned simultaneously as both the disinterested societal observer and the ultimate participant observer. Such a stance provides interesting opportunities for inquiry, and to clear up some of the mysteries surrounding Richard Brautigan, his life and letters.

All this — some might say "breathless" — enthusiasm for creating and curating an electronic archive focusing on the literary life of Richard Brautigan is not without challenges. These challenges, as I see them, are two fold: first there is the nature of any archive. Second, there is the nature of approach.

Unless they are documents of performance, or records of past acts (letters, contracts, reports, accountings, registers, etc.) the nature of archives may be seen as potentialities for the future, tokens that change hands during individual encounters with the archive to provide imaginary restitutions of identity; points, always, of departure, never arriving, yet always disrupting and unsettling the sediment of history through their prompting of continual speculation; disturbing a collection of closed transactions. Seen in this light, the archive is a residual mark, an index of traces left behind, a manifestation of the potential in fragments, a destabilization of remembrance as recorded or history as written, the means for providing the last word on what has come to pass.

I am thinking more and more that archives do not exist except through interaction with users, and that, of course, can be as varied as the user's progress through the available information. What is useful for one user may not be so for the next. In all cases, one must spend time with the archive in order to best appreciate its depth and complexity, and knowledge potential, to open up new ways of writing historical accountings. As an example, Brautigan's poetry collection Please Plant This Book is unusual in that each of the eight poems takes as its subject either a vegetable or a California wildflower. Furthermore, each poem is printed on a sealed packet containing seeds of its subject. Planting instructions are printed on the other side of the packet. One each of these eight packets was placed in a cardboard folder and distributed freely.

Brautigan's poetry collection Please Plant This Book consisting of eight poems
Figure 5: Brautigan's poetry collection Please Plant This Book, consisting of eight poems printed on seed packets, all contained in a cardboard folder

While there are accounts from persons who say they helped assemble and distribute this book, there is nothing to indicate any order, if there ever was an order, in which the individual packets were placed in the folder. Metaphorically, it is a small step from "folder" to "archive" and "seed packets" to "archival contents." Artistically and politically, we can see that each and every attempt to apply sequential order to these seed packets is a fiction. Taken separately, each seed packet provides some details about Brautigan's intention, while the whole collection, in its archival container, provides all the details, even if they are unknown, even unknowable. Severed from their original referent, these seed packets quickly disintegrate into details whose meanings change with each reordering and reconfiguration. Thus, the publication Please Plant This Book, since it carries no verifiable truth itself, is incapable of truth, having no meaning other than spatial configuration or appearance of the moment. The content and container become no different in their general indifference, waiting as they do for their next encounter with a reader or user to bring them into juxtaposition with one another. Said another way, the archive is dependent upon the encounter.

What does this mean for our discussion? While there is a long history of such endeavor in print, and significant examples of such undertakings in web-based environments, there is, I believe, still much opportunity left to explore with regard to how one can effectively design and implement new forms of archival narrative in web-based environments that foster both interactivity and educational opportunities.

New Model for Research and Publication

Rather than follow the traditional trajectory of amassing research, working through multiple drafts, and then publishing a reference work years later, I am moving more immediately, publishing research information as soon as possible after its acquisition and verification. As a result, Brautigan Bibliography and Archive has moved beyond mere remediation, becoming instead an experiment in scholarly research and publication.

This change has led me to deeper and richer information about previously unknown manuscripts of novels and screenplays written by Brautigan, to information about an effort to ban his books from California school libraries, about Brautigan's stints as a teacher of creative writing at two universities, and to a great deal more behind the scenes information about his life as a literary figure beyond the man illustrated in the front cover photographs on several of his early books. My approach to this project has always been an active experiment with the means by which historical accountings and forms of remembrance are accumulated, stored, and recovered. Philosophically, I am more interested in the information / knowledge potential than the technology / software used to achieve such functionality. So, I am less interested in whether the archive is static or dynamic and more interested that each user will find it applicable to her particular information needs. The overarching organizational structures currently informing my curatorial efforts include traditional print based bibliographies, efforts to conceptualize efficient and effective utilization of this information by an audience both informed and new to Brautigan's works, and the desire to create overlays of diverse information not heretofore possible in traditional print-based contexts.

Certainly, what I have accomplished so far does not reflect the limits of possibility. I believe there is still much opportunity to explore how one can effectively design and implement new forms of archival narrative in web-based environments that foster both interactivity and educational opportunities. Would Brautigan be pleased by my efforts? I believe that he would, intent as he was to have readers discover his books through interaction with their contents and connections, encountering the words and language which he so skillfully, and sometimes beautifully recombined and reconfigured seeking new relationships between referent and reader. Each such encounter provides inspiration that continues to attract readers to the works of Richard Brautigan. I believe he would enjoy his new home on the World Wide Web.


Works Cited

Barber, John F. Richard Brautigan: An Annotated Bibliography. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1990.

---. Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2006.

Brautigan Bibliography and Archive. www.brautigan.net.

Brautigan, Richard. A Confederate General from Big Sur. New York: Grove Press, 1964.

---. Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971.

---. "Cannibal Carpenter." Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt. New York: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1970. 14.

---. Listening to Richard Brautigan. Harvest Records (ST-424), 1970.

---. "Love's Not the Way to Treat a Friend." Mad River. Paradise Bar and Grill. Capital Records, Harvest (ST-185), 1969.

---. Please Plant This Book. Santa Barbara, California: Graham Mackintosh, 1968.

---. Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976.

---. The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974.

---. "The Light." Eugene High School News 19 Dec. 1952: 5.

---. The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster. San Francisco, California: Four Seasons Foundation, 1968.

---. "The Return of the Rivers." San Francisco, California: Inferno Press, May 1957.

---. Trout Fishing in America. San Francisco: Four Seasons Foundation, 1967.

---. Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975.

Brucker, Carl and Farhat M. Iftekharuddin. "Richard Brautigan 1935-1984." Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction. [Vol. 1]. Ed. Kirk H. Beetz, Ph.D. Osprey, FL: Beacham Publications, 1996, 2000. 222-227.

Kline, Betsy. "A Cult Figure in the 1960s, Brautigan Has Successfully Moved into a New Era." Kansas City Star 21 Dec. 1980: 1, 12D.

Krug, Steve. Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Publishing, 2000.

Kuny, Terry. "The Digital Dark Ages? Challenges in the Preservation of Electronic Information." International Preservation News (17) May 1998. http://www.ifla.org/V I/4/news/17-98.htm#2

Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.

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DOI Permalink

https://doi.org/10.20415/hyp/006.a01