[RhetoricNewMedia] Intertextual Diagram (A4)

by Thom Kiraly

This is the final assignment for the course Rhetoric and New Media. Unless I upload any extra credit work, this will be the last post concerning LCDM for a while. For this assignment we were asked to make a diagram using Julia Kristeva’s theory of intertextuality as representable on two axes:

a horizontal axis connecting the author and reader of a text, and a vertical axis, which connects the text to other texts” (Semiotics for Beginners, Daniel Chandler).

This being the last, and perhaps the most complex, assignment, I wanted to think about this a bit outside the box. So, what I did was that I decided to use a circle shape instead of the standard box, letting the distance between the sign of a text and that of a piece of information signify the degree of personal association involved. Surrounding the inner circle of texts I put a larger, but less held together, circle of related works. This circle of related works also marks the (blurry) line between “evident” properties of the texts (material, ideological, conceptual, etc.) and personal connections that I have to them. I hope I have been successful in my attempt to make a complex, yet compelling, map of the four texts, and that I have not misrepresented Kristeva’s ideas too much in the process.

The four primary texts are the following:
Everybody Dies, Jim Munroe (writer) and Michael Cho (illustrator).
The Ultimate Game Guide to Your Life, Christopher Monks.
The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus
This is how you will die, Jason Nelson

Here’s the image (annotations can be found below – click to view full size):



A – Deals with Life and Death as represented in the texts
A1 – Depicts moments of death
A2 – Guides to living

These two are, of course, somewhat intertwined. A text dealing specifically with the moment of death unavoidably also deals with life. However, I wanted to point out the main narrative focus of the two texts and, thus, put them in separate categories.  

M – Material properties or content
M1 – Printed Books
M1a – No retries
M2 – Electronic literature
M2a – Require interaction
M2b – You Get Retries
M2c – Forces you to kill yourself
M3 – Illustrations

This category deals with the texts as artifacts and examines what possibilities and limitations follow from their form. A printed book, for example, does not allow (or require) any retries to read it, unless it’s a problem of comprehension, but that’s a different issue. The electronic and interactive texts, through the way in which they are constructed, forces/requires you to perform certain actions for the narrative to move forward. In doing so, they also force you to commit suicide or at least imagine yourself dying.

C – Concepts and Ideas
I1 – Existentialism
C1a – Suicide
C1b – No retries
C2 – Absurdist
C3 – Deals with or comments on games
C3a – Game Design
C3b – Gamification
C4 – Some chance of reincarnation
C5 – Religion
C6 – Education
C7 – Alienation
C8 – Depressions
C9 – Unskilled Wage Labor

These are some concepts and ideas involved in the texts. They are mentioned here very briefly, since each of them hold enough material and possible associations to produce hundreds of diagrams about them. Worth to point out is that this is where the diagram really moves into secondary associations and finally on to the personal connections I have with the texts.

TK – Personal (to varying degrees) connections to the texts
TK1 – Anxiety
TK2 – Arla Foods AB
TK3 – Ignostic who used to be a christian
TK4 – Mom’s a priest
TK5 – Drop-out
TK6 – Friend’s who attempted/commited suicide
TK7 – Märklighetstroget – a Swedish tabletop RPG podcast

 TK are my initials and they are used to annotate the personal connections I have to the texts. In the very nature of making this sort of diagram lies the fact that, at some point, things are going to get personal. I’ll let you, the reader, interpret these annotations as you see fit, but suffice to say is that these are aspects of my personality and history. They include places I’ve worked (Arla Foods), things I’ve done (dropped out of several programs and schools) and things I’m currently doing (producing a podcast and studying at LCDM)

XX – Other texts (my personal associative loop. It can be read in any direction.)
01 – Action Castle (Analog SUD)
02 – Zork (SUD)
03 – Diablo (Video Game)
04 – World of Warcraft (MMORPG)
05 – Starcraft (RTS Game)
06 – HL2 Official Game Guide (Game Guide)
07 – The Sims (Video Game)
08 – Sim City (Video Game)
09 – Das Kapital (Book)
10 – The Rebel (Book)
11 – The Stranger (Book)
12 – Orientalism (Book)
13 –  The Wretched of the Earth (Book)
14 – Evil Emipre (RATM Album)
15 – Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (Book)
16 – Slot Machines (Gambling machine)
17 – Roulette (Gambling game)
18 – Craps (Dice game)
19 – Misspent Youth Tabletop (RPG)
20 – InSpectres (Tabletop RPG)

Finally, there’s the associative wheel of related texts. Even though it may not look that way, there is a method to the madness (hint: madness is the method). The wheel can be read in any direction and connects its associative loop with the primary works of the diagram every five circles. So, for The Myth of Sisyphus, the related work is The Stranger, also by Albert Camus.