medusa
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Medusa: Web of Meaning

Master of Art: Special Project
Department of Communication
University of Utah
Satina Smith
satina.smith@m.cc.utah.edu
April 24, 2002
Committee:
James Anderson
Mary Strine
Cassandra Van Buren



Table of Contents

    Synopsis of Project
Section One: Theoretical Background and Methodology
     Hermeneutics and Heuristics
I. Computers and Culture
II. Hypertext Theory
III. Myth Criticism
IV. The Terministic Screen

Section Two:  Hypertext by Design
I. The Web Site as an Alternative Organizing Space
II. Principles of Navigation and Design
III. Theme
IV. Aspects of Design

Section Three: Post Production Report
I. Organizing the Web Site: Alternating Spaces
II. Navigation and Design
III. Variations on Theme
IV. Design: Text and analysis

Bibliography and Acknowledgements
 

ynopsis:

    Creating a web site combines the sum of my academic interests: visual communication, cultural studies, and rhetoric.  The topic or theme of this project is Medusa, an icon from Greek mythology that connotes a wide range of cultural associations.  I use hypertext and visual media to compose a dynamic site that weaves together poetry and critical writing with classical and contemporary artwork. This text outlines the cultural relevance of hypertext, in particular, the web site as a primarily visual form of media. I survey critical issues of technology and media  and then turn my focus to the practical issues of design, vision and layout. Finally, my conclusions are detailed in a post-production report.
Understanding current cultural, not just practical, functions of computers is critical to my analysis of the potential of the web site as a relatively new mode of communication. I begin section one with a survey of computers in culture.  Next,  I examine scholarship on hypertext theory and then connect the critical issues to mythology as they are both areas of  multi-media activity and non-linear communication.  These subjects converge with an explication of Kenneth Burke’s concept of the Terministic Screen.
    Part Two turns toward the practical with a demonstration of a hypertext design.  I outline the basic six pages of the web site based on three basic conceptual issues. In addition to describing the conceptual issues that drive the decisions behind the placement of the objects.
     Finally, Section Three is the post production report that discusses: organization, navigation and design, theme, and a final  analysis of the project.
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          Hermeneutics & Heuristics
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     I want to begin by redefining the theory and method of a creative project.  Conventionally, graduate students in Communication Studies begin a prospectus by outlining the theory behind their thinking and the methods they will apply to the area of study.  I have observed this model here, but by drawing on a less scientific nomenclature I can better describe the process by which I understand this project. In the various sections that follow, I will explain my understanding of both the hermeneutics and the heuristics that inform each of my topics. Hermeneutics is defined as the set of rules or codes necessary for interpretation.  For example, in order to appreciate cubist art, one must understand what it means to obscure the relationship between figure and ground.  One must understand how the artist has collapsed the planes, therefore thwarting perception and the idea of the subject as a whole, complete object.  Cubist art make a statement about art based on the grammar and history of art.
Heuristics, meaning invention or the act of exploration, comes from heuresis,  or the desire to add to an existing body of knowledge. Picasso contributes to the art world through his exploration of figures in space.  His portraits of women, for example, stray far from conventional ideas of mimesis.  We see noses and ears next to each other in ways contrary to the way the eye perceives it.  Consequently, his experiments with cubism deepen our understanding of how we perceive women, and how that looking can be violent.  In order to fully grasp the value of cubism, then, both a heuristic and  hermeneutic understanding of art are crucial.
    Many scholars contribute to their disciplines through theory, others through works of invention.  My master’s project will do both,  first by outlining the cultural significance of a web site, and second, by honoring the  Greek notion of  tekhne or the art of doing.  Throughout each section, I return to discussions about the influence of computers on culture, discussions that oscillate between a deterministic view of technology—the  view that technology determines behavior or interaction—and  the assumption that human beings always dominate their creations.  Each perspective relies on metaphor to explain the experience of technology.  To comprehend the unknown, we first compare those objects of ideas to known elements. The metaphor of the “interface” is critical to any discussion about the relationship between the mechanics of computers and their cultural applications because it describes the site of interaction, a membrane through which communication occurs.  As a metaphor, the interface is a simulacra, a copy of a copy. There is nothing that occurs in nature that resembles the interface, there are only theories and models of communication.
    Laurel (1993) defines the primary metaphor for interaction  as the physical location of the “interface,” the term used by programmers and software engineers to describe the locus of interaction between humans and technology.  This term covers a complex system that is not limited to interactions between humans and machines, but includes interactions between programmers, engineers, designers, etc.  As a metaphor, the interface is further figured through graphic metaphors like “windows” or “desktops.” Joyce (1995), Snyder (1996), Lanham (1993) debate the  heuristics of computer-generated activity, asking how new technologies might affect our understanding of ourselves and associative, rather than hierarchical thinking might have new value in a Cartesian world.  Many scholars return to McLuhan’s theories about media (Lanham 1993, Moulthrop  1994, Landow 1994) and emphasize the social aspects of interacting with computers, thus describes a hermeneutic approach that establishes codes of value for hypertext. The aesthetic value of a web site is determined by its ability to perform, the ease by which users can navigate through it, or by how useful the content is.  Unfortunately,  creators of the web site might have a different experience in mind from that of the user and therefore fail to meet expectations.   Web sites make us all consumers of information, images and ideas, along with products and services. Few web sites appear to exist with the interplay of ideas as a primary function, fewer still for artistic expression.  Since no one can predict the user’s experience, this project also focuses on the integrity of design.

I. Computers and Culture

    In The Second Self  Turkle (1981) calls computers “evocative objects”  not to been seen as mere machines, but as entities that are functional in various ways.  The metaphors attached to computers can be separated into three categories: cognitive functions, tools for text, or simulators of virtual reality.  Each analogy Turkle uses shows how the individual relates to the machine.  Later, in Life on the Screen, Turkle (1995) realizes the short-sightedness that led her to construct the relationship between computers and their users as a deeply personal and private connection.  She sees a transition in the application of computer culture, claiming that we have “stepped through the looking glass” to become a culture, not of calculation, but of simulation. The computer is more than a tool, or a new model of the mind, it is a “medium on which to project our ideas and fantasies” (p. 9).  With the advent of the Internet, that relationship has changed dramatically.  Turkle’s emphasis moves from understanding computers as electronic brains or libraries, to understanding computers as simulators of virtual reality.  The analogy of the looking glass or window describes the shift a perspective: users are no longer locked into a secluded realm of person and personal computer, but of a group of beings interconnected through the complex web of cyberspace.  Nevertheless, the metaphors and analogies by which we understand our machines call out to be explored and elaborated upon.
    Although computers purport to ‘simulate’ the physical tasks of textual production they have in fact changed not only how we process text, but also our very conception of text. In this sense, computers are primarily considered tools. The composition process still involves “cutting” and “pasting” but this is done virtually, not with paper and scissors.  Writing practices and style have been influenced by the unique features of the electronic environment: the cursor keeps track of each symbol in two-dimensional space that also allows the user to work with floating documents ‘stacked’, like paper, one atop another.  Scroll features allow the user to negotiate space that otherwise might seem limitless in scope.  More than an absence of page numbers, there is an absence of pages. Users must alter their relationships to the tangibility of pen and paper, making a leap into a mental abyss of the simulated document full of complicated choices down to the very serif.
Because computers can store so much information, it is possible to keep libraries of information in a small area, and to retrieve it instantly through keyword searches. The user's relationship to memory changes.  Because key word searches make retrieval almost instant, the mind is then free to think about other things.  In theory, word processing programs allow the writer explore thoughts and ideas in new ways.  As with any new technology or change in existing practices questions of authenticity arise.
     Benjamin (1968) in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, discusses authenticity vs. reproducibility of an art object, claiming that the uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from its being imbedded in the fabric of tradition.  Mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual, yet the overproduction diminishes its value.  The work of art that is designed to be reproduced also causes the semblance of autonomy to disappear.  Performance, in the form of cinema for example, is presented by means of technology.  The apparatus that creates the moment of art is the camera.  It is through this lens that the artist projects his or her art onto a screen. The actor, not the artist, becomes the focus of the art, thus distancing further the relationships between creator-object-audience.  “The audience cannot separate the aura of the actor from the aura of the figure or character.”  The audience’s identification with the actor is really an identification with the camera.  If we were to compare the role of the computer in the production of text to the role of the camera in the production of images, the analogy would force us to look at the computer beyond its definition as a mere tool and see its lenses and screens as means of producing art.
    In Computers as Theatre, Brenda Laurel (1993) insists that we think of the computer not as a tool, but as a medium: a screen that acts as porthole into the autonomous mind.  Laurel explains that the dynamic nature of the computer interface represents action much like the stage in a theatrical production, a shared space of activity, creating various roles for user, writer, reader, and co-creator of text. The computer interface is a lens that metaphorically links our experiences not only with reading and writing, but with viewing and looking as well. Because hypertext includes images that our traditional notion of printed text deprivileges, hypertext leads to a discussion about the value of art, but it remains difficult to locate Benjamin’s concept of the aura with regard to computer generated texts.  Lanham (1993) reminds us that “technology doesn’t determine the direction of social thought and action; the arts have been leading us there all along.”   This leads me to my next section, which will discuss hypertext theory, in which the visual and literary arts find a new medium with both a heuristic and hermeneutic understanding of the products of hypertext.
 

II.  Hypertext Theory

    Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabrielle Rossetti, painter and poet, created several dual texts that spoke to one another, related by topic. It could be argued that the Aspecta Medusa  (a poem that discusses the content of its painted counterpart) is an early model of a hypertext.  One wonders what Rossetti would have done with our technology. Though several comprehensive on-line archives focus on the work of Rossetti, it is still difficult to view his paintings and poems simultaneously.   Such web sites as the Rossetti Archive (http://www.iath.virginia.edu/rossetti/index.html) fail to function simultaneously as a heuristic and hermeneutic agent for understanding and organizing knowledge.  While the units of information are stored, ironically, the connection that Rossetti originally made between image and text is lost in a form best suited for their display.  The viewer/reader can get a fuller understanding of the poem and the painting by looking at them together; the eye can travel from text to image to discover what Rossetti meant.  It is clear that the creators of the archive were thinking about how information should be stored rather than the significance contained in that information. The combination of image and text is a multi-media event. Rossetti composes long before the personal computer is available but it is tempting to imagine the desire for technology that could view both art objects at the same time.
A hypertext can be divided into three categories:  pedagogical tools, units of non-linear creative writing, or spontaneous texts that are conversation based such as list-serves.  Perhaps the most practical of use of hypertext is in on-line course materials. Interactive CD-ROMs such as Landow’s The Dickens Web (as cited in Landow, 1992) help to organize the vast amount of Dickens literature and scholarship, freeing up students to make connections between ideas of a larger scope, with more uniform access among students. It is typical in any literature class for students to bring in different editions of the classics, resulting in conflict with pagination, references, introductions etc. (Not to mention the economy of a slim CD as opposed to the entire body of Dickens literature).
Other uses involve creative projects in literature. Bolter, Joyce, and Smith’s (1990) creative writing tool called Storyspace is specially designed software that helps students write non-linear pieces of fiction that challenge the reader to control decisions of plot and character. As experimental fiction, hypertext stories challenge longstanding assumptions about narrative in a linear sequence.  The technology makes it possible for the novice to break conventions and still stay organized.  The product, like any new art form that emerges, must also come with it its own means of interpretation.  It would be easy to criticize hypertext fiction as incoherent or choppy, but to do so would be to apply old standards of fiction to a new form of media.
    Web sites are perhaps the most popular of all hypertexts. As both a hot and cool medium the web site combines the economy of text with the emotional appeal of image. Lanham (1993) claims that hypertext has the ability to democratize the arts by encouraging more lively participation in viewing text.  Digitized art makes separations between reader, text, and writer less clear.  To many, this poses a threat; to others, it makes such distinctions obsolete.
    Yet, hypertext is a model based on a language invented for people to communicate through computers.  Landow (1994) defines hypertext as  “an information technology consisting of individual blocks of text, or lexias, and the electronic links that join them….” From this definition he argues further that hypertext, in theory, shares some of the assumptions and concerns with theories presented by critics such as Barthes, Derrida, Bakhtin and Kristeva:  “The very idea of hyper-textuality seems to have taken form at approximately the same time that post-structuralism developed …both grow out dissatisfaction with the related phenomena of the printed book and hierarchical thought.”  Hypertext makes reception an active process, thus changing the way we conceive of text, authorship, and writing.
    Hypertext theory is a theory of writing that embodies non-linear structures of thought. The prefix hyper, meaning above and beyond, would indicate a form of textuality that performs in a capacity beyond known linguistic structures.  Lanham (1992) shows how the goal of hypertext theory is “to return us… from a closed poetics to an open rhetoric.”  It may be that hypertext has the political power to democratize ways of knowing, but even better, it has the power to show how, when combined, words and images are more powerful together than alone. Books are quite capable of inserting images to accompany text, but the display of the web site makes images more dynamic.  For example, one can click on a photo for more information about the person.
    Many scholars debate the democratizing effects of hypertext (Moulthrop, 1994; Snyder, 1998; Barnet, 1999), but Lanham (1992) explains that in order to understand the politics surrounding this new art form, we must look into the history of art in the western tradition.  Electronic text and visual arts, such as film, share a common aesthetic; they are each evaluated in terms of Platonic reason.  They derive their aesthetic from classical sources (rhetoric, drama) that interact with modern visual technology.  Textuality as a foreground is replaced by iconographic culture:  letter symbol as art, scale changes, collage. There is an oscillation between use and ornament, purpose and play that fits nicely with the post-modern rhetoric—it is as if the technology had been created to fulfill a vision.
    At this point, it is important to distinguish between the heuristic properties of hypertext theory and the hermeneutics of a hypertext—namely, that the former explores the use and consequences of the latter.  For example, since hypertext is usually multimedia, Moulthrop (1994) revises the conventional media terms “hot and cold” to “striated and smooth” space.  So, rather than describing media as a quality of being, he examines the form they take as essential for defining them.   Striated space is defined as grid-based, reinforcing social hierarchies.  Like print culture (hot media), striated space can be defined by its precision, its emphasis on causality and method.  Because of this emphasis on method, it follows that striated space requires a hermeneutic perspective.
    Moulthrop describes smooth space as dynamic and transformative. This emphasis is not on the essence of communication, but on the impressions that the work as a whole creates. In order to receive experience impressions, the reader/viewer must surrender to a fragmented, broken down, inventive, consensual environment.  Hypertext as a smooth space requires a sense of occasion with the same phenomenological structure as cinema and video (cold media).
    The web site is alternately hot and cold, striated and smooth depending on how the web site is meant to perform.  This oscillation is what Joyce (1995) terms “interactivity,” particularly as it manifests using Storyspace, which allows the author of a creative text to design a narrative in hypertext.  The result is a text with multiple variations and endings, a narrative that the readers themselves writes, that is they co-create the meaning of the text.  “Because hypertexts are read where they are written and written as they are read," Joyce explains,  "interaction is the assumption of authority over the replacement of one writing by another”(p. 192). In Joyce’s view, hypertext attempts the impossible: to preserve hierarchy of language and design in a text (based on a clear and well thought out design) while managing the individuality of any reading of the text based on what the reader brings to it.  It provides a floor plan for those who desire to express the self in an associative way, and makes it possible for the reader to contribute to the expression of that desire.
    By contrast, in the market place hypertext is a process of shifting and consuming value within a known map and body of material.  We understand the cultural codes surrounding desire and acquisition.   Joyce encourages us to look beyond this consumer mentality toward a vision of hypertext as a new form by which we map out our ideas in radically different ways.  Joyce considers hypertext a potential virtual museum, a space where readers walk through the halls of the imagination, stopping from time to time to observe objects along the way.   The performative elements of this space remind Joyce of theatre.   He argues that “all theatre is reading literally embodied…what happens in the text happens to us in the same time.”  In this sense a hypertext is more like a play than a book or magazine. Cinema relies on a specific context to transmit information to the audience.  Likewise, the computer provides dramatic a stage for hypertext; the web site is the play.  Joyce’s metaphors are helpful to expand our thinking about hypertext, especially considering the question of whether we think of it as a museum or a theater.
A museum, in the traditional sense, scripts the experience for the participants.  A theater also contains a script, but the live performance contributes to its unpredictability.  Regardless of which metaphor best describes the space of hypertext, because it is primarily a visual form, we must understand it in terms of media.  Since metaphor is comparing the unknown to the known, I turn to the field of mythology, the origin of theater, to make comparisons between hypertext and myth.  Important connections between myth criticism and hypertext theory emerge because each contains similar elements, fragments of text and visual representations of narratives that can never be completely ordered in the Cartesian sense.
 

III. Myth Criticism

    The complex interconnectivity of the World Wide Web resembles the multi-layered texts that make up the body of Greek mythology. Like hypertext theory, myth criticism historically falls into one of two approaches: heuristic and hermeneutic. A heuristic focus might be educational, teaching that images of wheat represent agricultural practices or that mother/child images embody relations between parents and their children, a further allegorical spin on the interpretation might show that parent/child relations stand in for humans and their God (Malinowski 1948, Geertz 1971, and Comstock 1972).  Because myth is a rich source of culture, there has been a tendency to universalize the meanings of such images.  As we borrow and lend bits and pieces of one story to another, fragments of history resonate to bring meaning to our lives and a common set of stories, or hermeneutic codes.  Like metaphor, myths are the primary basis for understanding, or at least common frames of reference by which we can communicate with each other.
    Doty (1986) defines the mythological corpus as a complex network of stories with metaphorical and symbolic elements that use text and image to convey the morals and values of a culture.  This definition is useful in understanding the relationship between hypertext and Greek mythology.  Each comprises of a network of images and texts that cannot be understood in terms of purity. Rather, connections are understood in terms of familiarity.  However, Doty argues that myth is a reflection of culture, rather than culture reflecting itself through myth. Imaginal expressions and stories, for Doty, are the embodiments through which interpretations are applied schematically to experienced reality; meanings are invented and fictionalized onto the world. Doty maintains that the application of critical perspectives to mythological materials relies upon two things: the school of interpretation (hermeneutic) that provides a method of study, and secondly a plan that creates a clear direction of which aspects of myth are to be studied.   Three categories dominate approaches to understanding myth criticism: anthropological, structural, and performative.

A.  ANTHROPOLOGY:  Myth and Culture
     Translation becomes the focus for scholars such as Scottish anthropologist Sir James Frazer in The Golden Bough, and more specifically in his translation of Apollodorus: The Library.  Frazer’s Apollodorus  (1921) meticulously annotates the variety of ancient Greek and Roman sources that duplicate and contradict stories while incorporating a literal translation of the ancient Greek.  The interpretive level at which Frazer shows his modern bias based on his experience as an anthropologist and linguist filters his reading.  In an attempt to overcome such bias, Turner (1976) establishes a comprehensive anthropological study of rituals in the context of their social or cultural origins.  Although we cannot know exactly how ancient Greeks participated in rituals and ceremonies, by looking at multiple artifacts that surround or present myths, we can learn a great deal from a study which looks at the differences between cultural contexts as well as similarities. Because attitude broaches new levels of complications, many scholars turn from interpretive to structural approaches to myth criticism.

B.  STRUCTURE:  Image and Text
    Northrop Frye (1957), in The Anatomy of Criticism, establishes a comprehensive and systematic analysis of content and form, plot structure, and character definition of myth.  “The structural principles of literature," he states,  "[are] derived from archetypal and anagogic criticism, the only kinds that assume a larger context of literature as a whole…” (p. 123).  Hence the structural principles of literature are as closely related to mythology and comparative religion as those of painting are to geometry.  He goes on to establish a grammar of literary archetypes based on biblical and classical symbols and identifies cyclical movements in poetry. Myth is literary on the one hand, natural on the other, and in between lies the whole area of “romance,” according to Frye.  The central principle of displacement is that what can be metaphorically identified in myth, in romance can be only linked by some form of simile:  analogy, significant association, incidental accompanying imagery and the like.  Frye’s analysis attempts to define myth, especially the narrative form attributed to myth, as the locus of desire.  This draws further similarities to Joyce’s work on hypertext theory, which locates hypertext in a realm of “desire.”  While Joyce’s term desire may not be synonymous with Frye’s term romance, a connection between their approaches to study emerges at the symbolic level.
    Grimes (1976), in Symbol and Conquest, discusses symbolic representations of myth that reflect various cultural components.  Like the examples of grain or crops that represent major sources of food and agriculture, or mother-and-child images that stand in for human relationship, a symbolic study of myth and ritual has a social function based on the performative.  Mythic elements are enacted through rituals and drama, which enforces social conventions.  These ceremonies reinforce the cultural practices behind the myth as well as the myth structure itself.  To study the myth relations would be to study human relations, to get at the psychology behind basic human beliefs.
  Lévi-Strauss, in “The Structural Study of Myth” (1963), critiques such an as being “psychologically oriented although not in a position to keep up with the progress of psychological research.”  He considers such attempt naïve, succeeding only in reducing motive in myth to “inarticulate emotional drives,” (p.809).  Instead, he argues for a structural method of organizing thematic elements of all mythology (mythemes) in order to strip away the layers of meaning involved in each myth.  Lévi-Strauss sees inconsistencies in myth as a dialectic that occurs between layers of myth.  The myth itself will provide elements that mediate the dialectical process, even a “chain of mediators” that not only help us interpret the myth, but also help us to “universally organize daily experience” (p.819).  Thus, Lévi-Strauss offers a way of reading mythology while at the same time defining its role in our lives.  Furthermore, “myth is an intermediary entity between a statistical aggregate of molecules and the molecule structure itself” (p. 819).  The analogy of the molecule can readily apply to hypertext, but in terms that are more specific.  A web site is an intermediary entity between a system of hardware and software and machinery all combined into the structure of human and computer relations.

C. LITERARY: Textual and Performative
    While they have certain structural elements that make up narrative, myths are all products of plural authorship.  Cixous, in The Laugh of the Medusa (1975), challenges women to write their bodies, to be multi-vocal.  If women, especially scholars, are to develop a “uniquely feminine way of writing” then they must explore new forms of expression.  Hypertext shows how ideas can exist simultaneously while offering the space to organize them in a linear way.  The architecture of a web site involves precise linear thinking and organization, even as navigation places more responsibility on the part of the audience to engage with the text.  As with hypertext theory, the interpretation of myth benefits from a post-structural approach that resists reading mythology as a cohesive body of knowledge.
     An evolution toward the aesthetic approach to myth shows inherent similarities between myth and hypertext.  Critics such as Bryson, Barkan and Bal all recommend models for reading myth that recognize its origins.  The artifacts that, when combined, make up the substance of a particular myth, must be looked at as fragments pulled from an unknowable context.  By placing a fragment into knowable contexts, we can know the text only in and of itself.  Since we cannot know from what context the original derives, our focus turns to examining what the myth can tell us about ourselves.
    In Bryson’s (1995) “Philostratus and the Imaginary Museum” he draws upon a mnemonic device the “memory palace” or a way of constructing a narrative that moves sequentially through the “rooms” of the text, assigning specific features of characters to each room in order to organize and divide information into more familiar areas.  Paintings can also be read as memory palaces by dividing the canvas into areas that represent functional spaces.  This model of interpretation relies on spatial metaphors, which attempt to locate myth with a specific context.
On the other hand, Barkan (1986) presents his textual analyses of myth as “largely divorced from questions of historical evolution” in The Gods Made Flesh: Metamorphosis and the Pursuit of Paganism.  In Chapter One, Barkan views Ovid and the myths depicted in the Metamorphosis as metaphors for the way the universe is constructed, and “metamorphosis [as] the vehicle whereby individuals are transported among the layers [of the text],” (p.2).  The stories create a tapestry that requires the fitting together of many individual stitches, the whole of which is greater that the sum of its parts.  Readers make texts more meaningful when they bring with them a chain of associations from historical to local contexts.
    Both Bryson’s and Barkan’s models overlook the reliance on visual information in the study of myth.  A question emerges: how can we read images of mythological sequences?  In Narratology, Bal (1985) argues that an image can be read through a narrative sequence based on cultural signifiers and a cultural understanding of how a story progresses.  Images can be characterized as “non-linguistic sign systems” that carry meaning on their own.  The field of semiotics systematically searches out meaning for cultural codes and symbols.  In Narratology, Bal develops a method of looking at the narrative of images on three levels:  1) Fabula, the structural elements or characteristics unique to the narrative; 2) Story, the narrative's structure, focus and point of view; and 3) Text, the actual language used to describe the relationships between narrative elements.  Like many critics of myth, hypertext theorists tend to reflect on textual analysis of their objects of study.  Bal’s connection between visuality and narrative takes into consideration a larger interpretive field.
    Greek mythological stories are interconnected within a complex network with little hierarchical organization and no recognizable center.  They consist of a cloud of stories: they enter into and depart from each other; the contact points of story with story include objects, characters, places, and plot-structures.  Each of these elements runs parallel, if not perpendicular, to other stories.  Locally, a myth might also make subtle allusions to other myths.  Different 'media' present the content of what we call Greek myth: song and poem; sculpture and mosaic; pottery and urn.  The Medusa myth varies dramatically with each depiction.  The text, even before layers of interpretation begin to accumulate, is radically open—it cannot be closed, by virtue of the properties of the myth-system.  Beyond the classical representations of mythology, numerous artistic and literary depictions of myth abound.  Myth is a lens through which we can read past and present, even future versions of culture and humanity.
 

IV. THE TERMINISTIC SCREEN: The Computer as a Cultural Lens

    Up to this point, I have argued for both a hermeneutic and heuristic approach to understanding the structure and value of hypertext.  I have also shown how current scholarship in hypertext theory calls for a return to poetics (heuristics)-- meaning that, to advance our understanding of the potential of this new medium, scholars should participate in making hypertext objects (such as web sites).  I have also shown that myth criticism requires a method of interpretation, again, hermeneutics and heuristics, working simultaneously to methodically and theoretically add to the body of knowledge known as myth.  Finally, I offer a way of reading this problem that combines both the hermeneutic and heuristic approaches, a lens or screen that will allow for both the methodical and interpretive to operative simultaneously.
Joyce (1995) describes the experience of hypertext as a confrontation with the self in relation to all human interaction.  “The mirror metaphor fails and gives way to one of intervening, aqueous lenses whose translucence shifts from moment to moment between glass and mirrors.”  (p.65).  Burke's (1966) A Grammar of Motives likewise addresses this sort of action as part of a pentad of human interaction that plays out as a result of the interconnectivity between various elements.  Burke is speaking of various voices from culture, but his observation can be applied to the technological realm as well.  The realm of computer-mediated artistry sets up a new stage.  The computer (terminal, screen, and programs) provides a theater, the web site a stage.  The user then helps the author direct the action of the play while also acting as the polis or active audience member.
    A web site is an alternate form of Greek drama from a Communication perspective.  Kenneth Burke's (1966) concept of the Terministic Screen gives us a screen through which we understand the message that comes from our monitors; it is coded in  terms of HTML.  The interface is the medium, and the message is coded within the software, shown by a browser through tiny dots of light.  Clearly, Burke did not have the computer screen in mind when he developed this concept, but because he argued that all human interaction was like a drama, the computer as theatre becomes an extremely valuable site for Burke's metaphor.
    Burke meditates on the notion of the terministic screen, and how the individual mind makes up distinctions between concepts, based not only on the terms by which they are called, but also on each person’s experiences of things.  This is the “particular combination of insights associated with [one's] peculiar combination of experiences” (p.52).  We might share various “media of symbolism” as if we all carried a photograph of an idea, yet all the images differ from person to person, screened by each body's experience.  Burke's terministic screen is not the linguistic structures that determine social thought, but rather how the individual sees the world based on perception and point of view.  Clearly there are shared experiences that may be incorporated into an individual vision, but the ways in which we see things from moment to moment are different.
    Burke's dramaturgical metaphors fit in perfectly with the production of a web site, especially one in which content proposes non-linear forms of communication.  Just as Burke describes a photograph that we all understand differently, a web site can show how different artists have understood the subject of Medusa.  As the author of this web site I juxtapose many images in a digital frame, and embed text throughout those images, to offer multiple interpretations that are literally inter-linked.  It is important to consider the differences the reader experiences between reading a textual analysis on paper and on the screen.  The links in a web site create possibilities for a reader by granting the ability to move laterally or associatively throughout the text  and event the World Wide Web.  Information is more immediate.  Even more impressively, the images are digitized, and therefore can be examined not only by the eye on the “page” but by the computer which can enhance, enlarge, lighten or darken depending on the user’s computer program or monitor.
    I create a screen by which to hold many different views.  Hypertext is the architecture that underlies a site, but the concept, the arrangement and all the critical decisions of placement are original.  Therefore, my project is not about hypertext theory, but hypertext design.
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            Section Two: HYPERTEXT BY DESIGN
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I.  The Web Site as an Alternative Organizing Space

     However quickly new technologies may grow and change, however quickly our models of viewing may develop, it is critical for those of us less interested in adhering to the strict category of the written text, to explore and develop new media.  Authoring a web site will allow me to focus on a subject and its multiple meanings.  My choice of form also allows me to incorporate images naturally and flexibly.  Potential audiences might also benefit from the immediacy of the visual description of my subject matter.  The links that connect text to image exist differently in a traditional written essay, and often are left out.  The organizational focus on these links adds structure within documents.  Therefore, the attention paid to linking images and text becomes an issue of design.
    An artistic web site is an important project for Communication, in particular cultural studies as an interdisciplinary field, because its content and inter-links allow for lateral thinking in an organized form.  Cultural critics are often called upon to explore dense levels of meaning and sort out connections between layers of representation.  Geertz's (1971) concept of the “thick description” urges scholars to present as many layers of information as possible.  A web site can handle layers of information while linking that information in ways that represent layers of thinking.  As there are few models of web sites operating as analysis of culture, such a site is a valuable addition the to field of communication studies as a shared space from which discussion might spring.
II. Principles of Navigation and Design
    Landow (1991) identifies three problems hypertext theorists face when trying to make a coherent document: 1) orienting the reader by appealing to both efficiency and pleasure, 2) informing the reader of links in meaningful ways and assuring that those links satisfy the reader’s query to some degree, 3) creating a comfortable entrance to the site itself and its pages.  For Landow, the quality of any web site depends upon a sense of coherence within the site.
    The quality of any design begins with the development of a site navigation schema that establishes a standard “look and feel” for the entire site.  While for many the textual content of the site has been the primary focus, I maintain that the visual composition of a site is as crucial as its written content.  Both require consistency and coherency to appear organized and reasonable.  These guiding principles work with the thematic content, the site's navigational theme should be present on all pages and be subtle but functional.  With a clear and simple navigational scheme, the categories will present themselves as relevant, breaking down several ideas into smaller, more digestible pages.  While there is a risk of losing the users' attention, a simple click of the mouse should enable users to travel where they wish.
A.  Design Principles: Gestalt, defined as “ put together”
    The four basic elements of Gestalt are point, line, plane and volume.  The way these elements translate into web design depends upon layout and frame.  I will begin with a formal grid and add images in a narrative sequence.  The user will be able to link to any portion of the narrative, and then branch out into various levels of abstraction.  To maintain a sense of coherence, I will use visual cues that are consistent from one frame to the next.
    The rule of proximity argues that closeness implies relationship; grouping related items together and separating unrelated items makes proximity more meaningful.  In this site, I will be careful to limit the number of elements of the page.  I will begin with four main categories and each sub-category will contain approximately three topics.  The user might not select these topics in the order that I arrange the text and art objects, but all the elements will be interconnected through formal design principles.  Noticeable differences create and maintain interest; elements that cannot be made to look the same may be made conspicuously different, and still be bound by other design elements throughout the page.  Balance is extremely important to visual design.  If the repetition of elements unifies and adds interest, it should do so naturally.  Color, font, borders and other graphic elements all contribute to a consistency that puts the reader at ease.  At the same time, contrast is very important.
B. Conventions of Web Site Design
    According to founding newsgroup alt.hypertext  (posted January 1996), serious sites should take into consideration the following problems: an undescriptive title, a page that’s too short or too long, links that don’t function or lead to useless information, paragraphs or lists that are too long, missing images, no contact information, spelling errors etc.  Essentially, all elements that are added to the page should be meaningfully placed, and work according to the internal integrity of the design.  While this may seem more like a matter of manners than design, observing standards of surrounding web sites are important to know before I begin to break down those conventions.
III.  Theme:
    As any academic paper must have a thesis, any web site must have a theme.  In this case the theme, Medusa, is a rich and powerful myth that offers a set of shared reference points from which I can grapple with various theories of representation and then fan out through lenses that could be considered feminist, artistic, philosophical, etc.  Numerous renditions of Medusa, in and out of the context of Greek mythology, come from reproductions of artwork dating back to the Pre-Hellenistic era, through the Renaissance, into contemporary revisionist works.  “Medusa” is understood in contemporary culture as much more than a snake-haired monster that turned men into stone.  In general, however, Medusa represents a monster difficult to slay because of the unique power of her gaze.  Perseus’ innovative strategy uses a shield as a mirror so he can see her without seeing her.  The act of using a device to solve a problem is common to all human experience.  Technology is the sum of all such devices that not only solve problems, but also have come to define the terms of human existence.  In philosophical terms, I lean toward Derrida's concept of the “medusa effect,” where the hero's journey, in this case Perseus', is a quest for self embodied by the Other.  There is a drama played out by artists who create self-portraits of Medusa.  To organize the theatrical elements into a web site I will use visual cues to represent elements of narrative progression.  I will not be constructing a three-dimensional stage so I must indicate narrative progression by other cues.  I will use an image of a filmstrip with various images of Medusa.  The filmstrip will represent linear progression from top to bottom.  The images in each frame will represent variations on the story, and indicate links to alternative versions of text.  The images that follow will be connected by like themes as well as materials such as stone or oil painting.
VI. Aspects of Design:
    Three key elements that I  explore can be figured in terms of plot, perception and projection.  These three categories are divided into six pages entitled: stone, shield, laugh, wings and mask.  I will organize both the images and textual glosses of them according to the following:
1. Plot: the Mask and the Hero's Journey
This category deals with the events of the historical (classical) narrative in the Medusa myth.  Perseus is ordered to destroy Medusa; Athena helps him use his shield as a mirror, Perseus slays Medusa by decapitation, Medusa's severed head becomes a weapon.  Various versions of the myth (Hesiod, Ovid, etc.) add elements to the myth.  By breaking down the myth as above, I can link particular images to the corresponding alternative reading.  Each alternative will be represented by different parts of the same few images.  This section also sets up a template for the narrative progression, a trail guide that leads to the other categories.
2. Perception: The Mirror
This category lies in the realm of the Psychological.  I will incorporate Freud's theory of castration anxiety and his reading of the Medusa myth.  I will argue that interpretation of the myth demonstrates a crisis of perception brought on by the fear of the unknown.  Freud claims that “turning men to stone” can be read metaphorically as “giving man an erection.”  This step in psychoanalytical theory is important background to understanding Helene Cixous' The Laugh of the Medusa, which is the primary feminist text I will incorporate into the web site.  Users interested in Cixous will be able to either navigate their way back to the Freudian theory, or forward into theories of (self) representation that will be explained in the next category.
3. Projection: The Shield
This is the category of outcome.  The elements discussed here are those that come after the story, after Athenian law turns action into history, after Medusa is made into stone images that adorn Greek edifices.  Derrida (1993) in Memoirs of the Blind discusses the “medusa effect,” which deals with identity and projection and a theory of self-knowledge.  He meditates what it means for an artist to paint a portrait of himself as a woman, and more, as a monster.  The image he points to, by Calandrucci, contains many elements similar to Caravaggio's Medusa -- not the least of which is that both are said to be self-portraits.  Medusa is more than trying on an image of the self in drag, but a way of projecting one's fears about oneself onto a canvas and confronting the worst possible version of oneself, as if through a lens, or mirror.

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Section Three: POST PRODUCTION REPORT
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    A textual analysis of a web site is grounded in the assumption that the visual realm alone cannot convey all the possible information, but that the combination of visual cues, images and text conveys information in a rich and stimulating way.  A web site designer has the responsibility to imagine new ways of looking at text in general, and the privilege to use a medium that can create a text that satisfies the desire to see text and image side by side.  Consequently, the field of Communication has much to gain by positioning the written word alongside the visual image.
I began with the ambition to apply Geertz's (1971) concept of the “thick description” to the construction of a web site.  The Medusa site has been designed to display multiple layers of information, linking it to other pages as well as to the World Wide Web.  The process of construction prompted me to make many design decisions that, in turn, helped me articulate my understanding of Medusa and the strengths and limitations of my own abilities as a designer and a scholar.

I.  Organizing the Web Site as an Alternative Space

    First and foremost, I began the construction of the web site by separating and defining the different concepts I wanted to explore.  This resulted in six distinct "threads" of information.  In order to articulate each thread, it was critical to organize and reorganize throughout the design process.  The system of naming files uses thread titles and numbers, not unlike an outline; later, I incorporated lowercase letters in order to keep track of changes and additions.  I assigned each thread a color in order to coordinate files and elements to be included in each.  I modified my original plan -- to link my threads to different images of Medusa in the frames of a filmstrip.  Instead, to indicate a narrative progression for the site, I designed a table to display a title, a color and a separate icon for each thread.  Though the filmstrip would have been an interesting way to represent linear progression, I found the process of designing this sort of interface was far beyond my resources.  In addition, a simple table with spare graphics was better able to convey a separation of images without distracting the eye.  One filmstrip image remains on the Kaja Silverman page (mirror1c.html).  The original positions of some images changed, and others were cut entirely.  For the most part, however, I have added more than I have subtracted.
    In all, I feel a sense of coherence in the final product that is critical to any design.  I have been careful to construct a site that is easy to navigate, and to provide ample information about all texts and images.  I have added a "site map" through a link on the home page that allows more linear-minded readers to see how the hierarchies are arranged.  All images are either cited on my page of acknowledgements, or linked directly to their primary sources on the web.  I have also included the html tag <alt text> that displays a description of the image for readers who, because of technological or physical reasons, are not able to access image files.  I have consistently used APA style of annotation to respect the conventions of citations within the discipline of Communication.
 I have also added a final link for information with links to pages:
· Acknowledgements for citations for images in the site,
· A complete Bibliography,
· A link to this report,
· Contact information,
· Links to sites of interest related to Medusa or mythology.

Within the "Acknowledgements" page, I have also included a link to a Statement of Fair Use, to encourage readers to practice conscientious behavior with regard to crediting artists and web developers with the work that they have done.
 

II. Navigation and Design

    As I constructed the web site, I kept in mind Landow's  (1991) statement that the quality of any web site depends upon its sense of coherence, and addressed the three problems hypertext theorists face when trying to make a coherent document:
1) Orienting the reader by appealing to both efficiency and pleasure;
2) Informing the reader of links in meaningful ways and assuring that those links satisfy the reader’s query to some degree;
3) Creating a comfortable entrance to the site itself and its pages.
    I kept the pages clean by organizing each icon according to one of the six threads, assigning a color for the title and links for each thread, and pairing each title with an icon.  Also, on each title page I included the table of icons so that the reader might return to "home" or any other thread.  On the title page of each thread, I linked to other pages within the body text itself, hoping to bring about curiosity for the reader.  Outside links correspond directly to more information for the word linked.  For example, Nina Hagen, model for the image Midouse, has her own official website, to which her name is linked.  The home page for the site is spare, announcing what the site is, and inviting readers to explore the "links below.”  I have organized these links in a table, which appears on the title page of each thread and on the information pages.  This table acts as a table of contents, a visual guide, and a familiar touchstone for readers to return to when they wish to navigate further.
As I argued above, the quality of any design begins with the development of a navigation schema that establishes a standard “look and feel” for the entire site.  I have adhered to these guiding principles by developing the thematic content in relation to the site's navigational theme.  The icons in the table, whether explicit or implicit, represent the thread and are consistent throughout the site.  For example, "laugh" is represented by a comedy mask, while "mask" is represented by the tragedy mask.  These icons are present on all pages to create subtle but functional cues to the reader.  By a consistent use of symbols, color and the titles themselves, I have created a clear and simple navigational scheme.  Even though the categories may seem mysterious at the beginning, the navigation system is designed to break down several ideas into consistent and logically divided pages.
    Though at first complicated, the pairing of icons with alternating colored text is a simple and easy-to-read set of cues that responds to the principle that "less is more."  The search for icons was a long one, but they added a lot to the focus of each thread.  Originally, I intended to separate the threads by background color.  However, because the icons themselves had white backgrounds (a fact I was unable to change), they stood out from colored pages, as if in white boxes.  I decided to keep the backgrounds white, to allow the icons to appear more integrated into the page.  As a result, one of the site's constraints became a strength.
To maintain a sense of coherence, I have used the table of links as a visual cue on each title page of a thread, and the icon that represents that thread on the subsequent pages of that thread.  Other rules of design include the rule of proximity, which argues that closeness implies relationship.  I have grouped related items together based on whichever aspect of the Medusa myth I was exploring, while separating unrelated items, in order to make proximity more meaningful.  The relationship of some images to the text is immediately clear, such as Shelley's poem about da Vinci's painting.  At other times, the relationship is far more subtle, and requires the reader to respond intuitively.
I have been careful to limit the number of elements on a page, limiting myself to one image on each.  In order to create and maintain interest, I have places images on alternate sides of pages, occasionally centering the entire page.  Usually my decision was driven by the size and shape of the image; some were too large to push to one side, and others (such as the Rubens) too important to make any smaller.  I cut entirely some images that seemed relevant at the beginning, when, during construction, they failed to align with a corresponding text.  Still, I have added far more that I have cut, learning that the theme of Medusa is constantly growing.

III. Variations on Theme:

    Images convey a high volume of information, and one might argue that this comes at the cost of dense, intellectual rigor.  In the electronic space I have created here, I have utilized the tools and skills available to me to create an orderly collage centered on Medusa.  As I proposed, this project integrates text and visual image through the medium of hypertext.  The theme of Medusa demonstrates that the medium of hypertext is capable of integrating and overlapping such areas of scholarship as critical theory, rhetorical criticism and feminist discourse.  This web site juxtaposes images of Medusa throughout history, showing how the myth has been characterized differently for various audiences according to particular rhetorical situations.  Perhaps the most radical leap from the Greek myth occurs in the first, "Mirror" thread, where I deal with 20th century technology, addressing how photography and film have added to our conception of the basic elements that myth represents.
Hypertext is a process of shifting and consuming value within a known map and body of material.  We understand the cultural codes surrounding desire and acquisition.  As mentioned above, designer Joyce (1995) encourages us to look beyond this consumer mentality toward a vision of hypertext as a new form by which we map out our ideas in radically different ways.  Joyce considers hypertext a potential virtual museum, a space where readers walk through the halls of the imagination, stopping from time to time to observe objects along the way.  In the end, the Medusa site is more of a gallery than a museum, designed to showcase images that correspond to Medusa.  One artist team, Pierre et Gilles, cast Nina Hagen, most known for her experimental music and performance art career, as a sultry Medusa.  The combination of Hagen's severe looks and the artists' hyper-real staging creates the Medusa of the avant-garde, a vital alternative to known modes of cultural production.  The traditional monster image of medusa is replaced by a new vision of female power.  Like other examples of the avant-garde, the image signifies a progressive movement toward autonomous possibilities beyond the primacy of corporate capital culture.  To emphasize how quickly the web changes, I have also included one artist interpretation of the "Laugh of Medusa," an image by De Genevieve (2000) that I only discovered in the last few days of production.
IV. Design: Text and Analysis
    Initially, three key elements were isolated to focus areas of interpretation for Medusa:  plot, perception and projection, all of which continue to drive my understanding of the Medusa myth.  As the site grew, these three categories were divided into six pages: mirror, stone, shield, laugh, wings and mask.  I have briefly summarized each of the categories, and then detailed each as they appear as threads in the web site:
The Mirror section is the most contemporary, most radical re-figuring of Medusa.  It appears first in order to establish the hypertext medium as the most counter-capitalist genre available (although, ironically, most uses of the web are purely commercial).  In re-examining communication practices, we can do more than develop a genre or form:  we can reconstruct the established media at the same time.  Specific pieces of art are juxtaposed with corresponding poetry, mirroring one another in different forms.
The Stone section is designed to look at the way Medusa has been carved into and out of stone.  It begins with a mosaic, which is inherently fragmented.  Other associations with stone deal with monuments erected in honor of the Medusa.  Like a gargoyle, her snake-adorned head serves builder's corner stones to ward off evil spirits.
    The Shield section is inspired mainly by Caravaggio's chilling rendition of the decapitated Medusa.  Said to be a self-portrait, Caravaggio depicts the Medusa's disembodied head, with a mouth set in a scream, blood flowing from the next in lush Baroque fashion.  The shield also represents the gorgon, an embodied figure of ancient local goddesses co-opted by Greek culture.  This trickster figure is a female warrior common to many ancient cultures.
    Although it might seem to be the most unusual, the Laugh section was in fact the source of inspiration for the entire project.  Cixous' (1975) The Laugh of the Medusa, a primary text of feminist scholarship, urges women to explore their own writing practices beyond the narrow constraints of the patriarchal order.  The first image in this thread, by Peter Paul Rubens, supports the version of Medusa that Cixous attempts to rework.  This thread invites the reader to look at a variety of literary and artistic expressions, including branches that carry over into the realms of art, feminism, psychology and technology.
    Wings are an important part of the magic of mythology.  Because Medusa is often remembered only for her snaky hair, it is easy to forget that she had wings.  Italo Calvino's (1988) essay from Six Memos for the Next Millennium discusses the Medusa myth in terms of "lightness" of spirit.  This thread will also include Perseus' heroic quest and victory described by Pindar's Tenth Pythian Ode (Nisentich, 1980).
  The section entitled Mask comes from Derrida's (1993) book: Memoir of the Blind and his concept of the "medusa effect," which synthesizes many of the theoretical issues I have raised.  I include an image of the Calendrucci sketch that Derrida uses to illustrate his point:  that ways of "reading" project the self onto the art-object, and identify it with the mythical figure.  Since this thread is the culmination of several, it forms the last link in the series.
 

Detailed Analysis of Each Thread:

    Each thread highlights a single image, along with one (or more) primary text(s), that drive my understanding of the theoretical issues involved.  I have included the text as it appears on each title page of the web site, along with the navigating icons, so that I can provide an explanation of each thread and a key for each of the links.

MIRROR     or   "the power of reflection"

· Image:  Midouse photograph by Pierre et Gilles.
· Texts:  Lacan, Silverman, Plath, Rossetti

This first thread updates the Medusa myth with one of its most contemporary readings, a photo by fashion photographers "Pierre et Gilles" (1990).  The question addressed here is how new media expresses old content; how Medusa, once a monster, becomes established as a femme fatale (illustrated by juxtapositions of poet Sylvia Plath and the contemporary artist De Genevieve).  Next, the tension between gender roles is played out through "looking" in a variety of ways through Lacanian theory.  The mirror is also an instructional device, dramatized in the dialogue between Dante Gabriel Rossetti's poem "Aspecta Medusa," and Edward Burne-Jones' painting The Baleful Head, where Perseus actually shows Andromeda the head of Medusa, reflected in a well.
Text from "mirror" main page:

The Mirror in the Medusa myth is an account of the story through various lenses: the photographer's vision to the eye of critical feminist film criticism, specifically with regard to Lacan's mirror stage. The image to the left: Midouse shows a Medusa that is beautiful and seductive, unlike classical Greek counterpart whose power came from ugliness.  This modern Medusa connotes the image of the Femme Fatale, a character who, in cinematic terms, becomes the receptacle of the male anxiety that drives the narrative plot of the film.  Such a reading of the Medusa myth would attribute Perseus, not with heroic courage to face an evil demon, but with the desire to master the body of another.  In his quest to redeem his mother's honor, Perseus is led into the dark cave, to look upon the monster who represents the culmination of his own fears of women.  Medusa portrayed as a beautiful seductress rewrites the threat of the stone making enemy, and shows how looking at someone can be harmful.  Perseus reduces her to a reflection--her humanity becomes a mere flicker of light on glass.  In the end, it is not flesh the sword tears, but an image of Perseus’ own projected desire. His gaze confirms the subject’s identity, but it is not responsible for the form which that identity assumes; it is merely the imaginary apparatus through which light is projected--a camera.

Key to links:
"Lacan": links to mirror1a.html
The Medusa myth relates to theories that arise out of a psychoanalytic tradition in the area of feminist film criticism.  The image: Midouse shows a Medusa that is beautiful and seductive.  She connotes the image of the Femme Fatale, a character who, classically, becomes the receptacle of the male anxiety that drives the narrative plot of the film.  Such a reading of the Medusa myth would attribute Perseus, not with heroic courage, but with a need to overcome a nagging doubt.  Perhaps it is through fighting to redeem his mother’s honor he is led into the cave to face his fears, to look upon the monster that is the culmination of his own fears of women.  If Medusa turns out to be a beautiful seductress, he must protect himself from looking at her directly.  Projected through a shield of vanity, he sees only the reflection of her essence and can distance himself from her, thus, reducing her humanity to a mere flicker of light on glass.  It is not flesh his sword tears, but an image of Perseus’ own projected desire.

"Lacan's mirror stage describes a moment of psychological development of the child when, as an infant, he assumes that the object he looks upon (usually the face of the mother) is a reflection of the self….

…Medusa's power to turn man to stone is an obvious danger, but the female gaze that masquerades as beauty is perhaps an even more dangerous phenomenon.  The stony look is replaced by the power of seduction…"

Lacan links to lacan.com
Mask links to mask1.html
Anxiety links to laugh3.html

"Midouse":  links to mirror1b.html
Details the photograph, its model, genre and emblem of Medusa as an emblem of the avant-garde.  Links included: photographers, model and gallery.

"femme fatale":  links to mirror2.html
Plath's poem gives a scathing rendition of her vision of Medusa.  It is paired with an image (by contemporary artist De Genevieve) of a lonely monster looking over a garden of stone suitors/murderers.  The image is a fitting match to the content of the poem because of its emphasis on the mournful face of Medusa.  A link to entire text of the poem is included.

"look upon the monsters" links to mirror3.html
This link pairs Rossetti's poem Aspecta Medusa with Burne-Jones' portrait of The Baleful Head:

   Andromeda, by Perseus saved and wed,
   Hankered each day to see the Gorgon's head…

"looking" links to mirror1c.html
Medusa as an emblem for the concerns of Feminist Film critic Kaja Silverman (1989) and her analysis of Lacan's concept of the "mirror stage".  The concept of the mirror is critical to the Medusa myth especially concerning a web site because in the myth the mirror is the bit of technology that makes Perseus’ quest possible.  He must look at Medusa without using his eyes.  Computer pixels complicate this relationship because the screen (projection) does not hold the projection from one point of light, but is itself several points of light.

An extrapolation of Silverman’s (1989) main arguments enlighten a feminist reading of Medusa from the film critic's point of view.  Silverman points out that "masks" also take the form of:  photos, ads, arts manikins, dolls, or anything that can be played with.  This idea of play gets at how “man, in effect, knows how to play with the mask as that beyond which is the gaze.  The screen is here the locus of mediation.”  (through this subjects are constituted and differentiated)…

"camera" links to mirror4.html

Contemporary photographic images of Medusa by Frank Baresel-Bofinger.  Details include "blood" made of ribbons running down the model's neck.

STONE or "labyrinth through history"

· Image: Mosaic de la Medusa, Museu Arqueològic de Tarragona
· Texts from: Ovid, Apollodorus (Frazer and Hard)

The mosaic is a collection of stones arranged to reflect an image; it is an early model for the pixel, the bits of light reflected back on the screen.  Stone, or cultivated rock, is also important to the myth to describe the threat Medusa poses.  Her gaze turns men to stone, and whether this notion is taken literally or figuratively, her power is permanent.  Her fate, too, is "written in stone" as the historical Medusa appears again and again as an art object remembered in stone.
Text from "Stone" title page:

Stone: [1] cultivated or polished rock; [2] to castrate; [3] to polish or sharpen with a stone.

This thread addresses the way history is constructed, as if it were written in stone.  Since mythology is fractal by nature, the mosaic illustrates a more accurate picture of how history is constructed.  Many small bits of information are combined to create a whole and comprehensive picture.  Still, many traditions seek to maintain the rigid structure of history as if we could freeze time the way Medusa freezes her victims.  Milton (1634), in "Comus," explains how Medusa's "rigid looks of chaste austerity...wherewith she freezed her foes to congealed stone."  Ironically, Medusa's severed head becomes the emblem that represents her as if she too is frozen in time.  We forget her life before when she was a beautiful mortal.  Instead, she becomes a sorrowful subject of loss.  The loss of Medusa's life is Athena's gain as the severed head is placed on the shield, thus co-opting Medusa's power for her own.  According to Hard (1997), some "say that Medusa lost her head because of Athene -- for they say that the Gorgon had claimed to rival the goddess in beauty.”  Medusa is further depicted in stone in a variety of architectural and ornamental ways.

Key to links:

"Traditions" links to Stone1aa.html
This page organizes links to Ovid, Frazer and Hard for readers who want the fullest versions of the myth from primary sources.
"Sorrowful Subject" links to Stone2.html
Berman and Ovid: Before we have Medusa, there is the origin of Perseus before he came to slay her.  Like Atlas, Berman's depiction of Medusa shows a creature who has been reduced to stone.  Ironically, Medusa herself seems to be made of stone:
…At that, he turned his back to Atlas--and
Held up Medusa's head with his left hand.
Great Atlas now became a mountain-mass…

"Shield":  links to stone3.html

With a stone shield of Medusa paired with following text:

One of the details often left out of the stories is that Perseus was wearing a cap that made him invisible.  According to Ovid Perseus also attacked in the night while the Gorgons slept.  Also, he reports that the Gorgons had heads twined about with the scales of dragons, and great tusks like swine's, and brazen hands, and golden wings, by which they flew; and they turned stone such as beheld them.  Meaning that they could turn themselves into stone.

 "Architecture and Ornamentation": links to stone4.html

 This page riffs on the ways stone is uses in the construction of historical artifacts

A. Gargoyle: grotesque human or animal figure, and projected from a gutter to carry rainwater clear of a wall.  [Old French: from garoguille, gargoul, "throat"].

B. Stone Garden (disco):  In the 21st century the spirit of the Gorgon goddess is celebrated with dancing in this outdoor disco.

C. Ovid on Ornamentation: Jove's daughter turned aside chaste eyes: the goddess hid her face behind her aegis -- but she made Medusa pay: she changed that Gorgon's hair to horrid snakes.  To this day, Minerva, to dismay And terrify her foes, wears on her breast The very snakes that she herself had set-- As punishment--upon Medusa's head.

SHIELD or "Casting Images"

· Image: Caravaggio's  The Head of Medusa
· Text: Ovid, Milton, sacred source.com

Caravaggio's depiction of Medusa is of a shield, most likely Athena’s, which she would have used to turn enemies to stone with the same power Medusa had while she was alive.  The general them of this link is co-optation of power.

Text from "Shield" title page:
 (Excerpt from Ovid):
                         And terrify her foes, wears on her breast
                        The very snakes that she herself had set --
                            As punishment -- upon Medusa's head.

Caravaggio's Medusa is perhaps the most recognizable depictions of the head of Medusa.  In the painting, the severed head is fused onto a bronze shield, most likely belonging to Athena.  Caravaggio’s Medusa is also a self-portrait, Caravaggio himself projected onto a shield, a self-protective presentation.  The painting suggests Perseus’ power over Medusa, the power she had turned against others, is like the painter's power over the viewer.  Conventionally the self-portrait is a self-reflection, a projection of identity onto the viewer.  The painting represents the dangers of looking in many ways just as Medusa represents a role that is bound up with looking:  she kills by looking, she is killed after seeing her own reflection, that reflection as a weapon.  In this sense Medusa represents a captured subject, the severed head, which had the power of turning into stone all who looked upon it but that no longer can see for itself.  Capturing that power is analogous to the conquering of nations, one set of values replaced by another, the identifying art objects reinterpreted.  Perseus uses Medusa's head against his enemies, Caravaggio uses this power to conquer his own self-image, an image that is then projected onto the audience.

Key to links:

"Ovid" links to stone1a.html for a fuller version of Ovid's text.

"Bronze shield" links to shield2.html.  The image here is paired with Milton (Oxford Milton, 1990), "Comus:"

        "What thus snaky-headed Gorgon-shield
         That wise Minerva wore, unconquered virgin,
         Wherewith she freezed her foes to congealed stone,
         But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
         And noble grace that dashed brute violence
         With sudden adoration and blank awe!"

This bronze shield resembles Caravaggio's Medusa, but is this the face of Medusa, or how Perseus saw himself reflected back?

"conquering of nations" links to shield3.html and sacred source.com.

Before there was Medusa, there was the Gorgon Goddess of Righteous Wrath.  Unlike Caravaggio’s Medusa, this statue is the fully embodied form of a warrior goddess, unconquered and armed for battle, she and her lion guard the temple at Coru.  She represents the wisdom of the Anatolian sun goddess, a Crone, or the dark destroyer: Egyptian goddess Nieth.  This strong female power is also represented by the African goddess An-Ath, or an allomorph of Kali, or a Libyan serpent goddess of the Amazons.  The Gorgon represents the primitive cult of the goddess conquered by the Greeks and replaced by Athena, goddess of war and wisdom.

"Embodied" links to laugh2.html

LAUGH or "languages of expression"

· Image: The Head of Medusa by Peter Paul Rubens
· Texts from:  Hesiod, Ovid, Cixous, Freud, Clayton

Text from "Laugh" main page:

Medusa's beauty is described in Mandelbaum (1993) Ovid's Metamorphoses:

Medusa was astonishingly fair;
She was desired and contended for--
So many jealous suitors hoped to win her.
Her form was graced by many splendors, yet
There was no other beauty she possessed
That could surpass the splendor of her hair--

Medusa's beautiful flowing hair "strewn with flowers" is replaced by deadly snakes.  In Rubens' depiction of the head of Medusa some of her original hair makes its way into the painting.  Her gaze is haunted, but looks away, perhaps at Perseus' shadow before he picks up her head to be used as a weapon itself.  Rubens' interpretation tells the story by what the painting leaves out:  there is no Perseus, no Pegasus springing forth from the blood of her head, no body at all.  The life force that surrounds her decapitated head makes it clear that, although decapitated, her power lives on.

For the Renaissance viewer,  the decapitated head might represent the triumph of the mind or intellect over evil and impiety, especially of the body.  Since the story engages the nature of vision, the viewer is also implicated in any reading.  Rubens' painting is an invitation to read the Head of Medusa from a variety of perspectives.  She is the rich subject of art because of all the nuances to her story.  A feminist reading finds Medusa an emblem of male power over female threat.  Going one level deeper, the psychological implications and violence of the Medusa myth tells us about ourselves.  Medusa is a literary figure, subject to a multitude of readings, including readings that push the boundaries of technology.

Key to links:

"Ovid": Links to stone1a.html for a fuller version of Ovid on Medusa.

"Art": Links to laugh1a.html

Percy Shelly (1819): "On the Medusa of Leonardo da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery" assembled by Mary Shelly in her edition of her husband's Posthumous Poems (1824).  Original poem and image.  "ON THE MEDUSA OF LEONARDO DA VINCI, IN THE FLORENTINE GALLERY"
"Feminist": Links to laugh2.html
Synopsis of Hélène Cixous' essay The Laugh of the Medusa, juxtaposed with the image "Gorgon Goddess of Righteous Path," a laughing Medusa which predates Hellenic versions of the myth, and which Cixous evokes in her essay.  This image represents the laughing medusa Cixous (1975) evokes in "The Laugh of the Medusa."
Cixous (1975) calls women to rethink the traditions by which they are defined sexually.  These traditions are rooted in exclusionary practices of patriarchal rhetoric, Freudian and Lacanian psychology, and other discourses of desire.  Cixous urges women to claim their role in history by writing, for: "By writing her self, woman will return to the body which has been more than confiscated from her, which has been turned into the uncanny stranger on display…a woman without a body, dumb, blind…"

Cixous continues to say that as a "subject for history, woman always occurs simultaneously in several places."  Since this presents a problem for those who value the illusion of order, woman has herself become the emblem of chaos.  This chaos presents fear, "Freud and his followers are consumed by a fear of being a woman!"  Psychoanalysis as a model for masculine sexuality necessarily represses feminine sexuality.  "Here we encounter the inevitable man-with-rock, standing erect in his of Freudian realm" to which women "have no reason to pledge allegiance."

In Cixous (1981) she argues for a connection between male sexuality as "castration complex" and female sexuality as simply "decapitation" saying that becoming sexualize as a woman is a result of an "education that consists of trying to make a soldier of the feminine by force, the force history keeps reserved for woman, the "capital" force that is effectively decapitation."  Further, "Women have no choice other than to be decapitated and in any case the moral is that if they don't actually lose their heads by the sword, they only keep them on condition that they lose them--lose them, that is, to complete silence, turned into automatons.  [emphasis original]."

The source of this force of education comes from an allegiance to Freud's notion of the castration complex, explained through his reading of the medusa myth.  Cixous (1975) refers to Freud's sexualization of Medusa which she refutes as one of many "theories anchored in the dogma of castration" and the notion of woman as a Dark Continent, or a hysteric.  Female sexuality, she argues, is "neither dark nor unexplorable" but has been riveted "between the Medusa and the abyss."

Cixous (1981) elaborates on this connection in "Castration and Decapitation" in the context of French psychoanalytic theory, specifically as in "Freud/Lacan, woman is said to be  "outside the Symbolic" that is outside language" [sic].  Meaning that knowledge and understanding are based in language, and since a mastery of language is a direct result of successfully having gone through the castration complex, women are excluded.  So, "because she lacks any relation to the phallus…the body is not sexed, does not recognize itself as, say female or male without having gone through the castration complex."  Cixous finds this conclusion ridiculous as she muses that if it were true "that would be enough to set half the world laughing.”  Instead, Cixous argues for the rearticulation of women's role in language.

Kuhn (1981) explains that "Cixous' own work offers an écriture -- a practice of writing -- that aims to do this by posing plurality against unity; multitudes of meanings against single, fixed meanings; diffuseness against instrumentality; openness against closure.”  But if there is no closure to women, Cixous offers closure for women as Kuhn says, "if "Castration and Decapitation" says no to fathers, then the next move must be a positive approach to the mothers."  Cixous (1981) herself offers a nearly audible claim that,  "laughter that breaks out, overflows, a humor no one would expect to find in women…'she who laughs last.'  And her first laugh is at herself."  One way to reclaim this voice is to reclaim the Medusa.  Cixous (1975) insists that in fact "you only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her.  And she's not deadly, She's beautiful and she's laughing."
Rhetoric: links to: laugh3a.html
  Freudian links to:  laught3.html
  Lacanian links to:  mirror1a.html
  Hysteric links to:   laugh4.html

"Psychology": Links to laugh3.html

This page pairs a comic image of Medusa that distorts her head in relation to Perseus, with Freud's essay “Medusa's Head” (1963), written in 1922, apparently as a sketch for a much more extensive work, and published posthumously only in 1940.  Freud, S. (1963) Sexuality and the Psychology of Love.  NY: Collier.  (pp. 212-213).  ["Das Medusenhaupt."  First published Int. Z. Psychoanal. Imago, 25 (1940), 105; reprinted Ges. W., 17,47.  Translation by James Strachey, reprinted from International Journal of Psychoanalysis 22 (1941), 69].
Links to:  laugh3.html and laugh1.html

"Rhetoric": Links to laugh3a.html

This page allows me to include a reference to a conference paper from which this project itself was sprung:  The Second Biennial Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s) Conference: "Challenging Rhetorics: Cross-Disciplinary Sites of Feminist Discourse.”  Investigating the Connection: Cixous's Medusa and Other Female Images of Rhetoric.  A link to the complete bibliography is included, as well as to specific references to scholarship on Medusa and Rhetoric.  In particular, Biesecker (1982) who argues that "The Laugh of the Medusa" is a rhetoric because "it posits what can and must be done by women if they are to intervene effectively in the public sphere through written and oral discourse -- we can enrich both rhetorical and feminist theory and criticism.”  She describes the essay as Cixous' "boldest attempt to articulate a philosophically rigorous concept of écriture féminine or "feminine writing."  Biesecker reasons that although the article "seems an unlikely beginning point for revising and reconstructing rhetorical theory…[it is] a treatise that seeks and strategically intervene in the public sphere…a call to women to discursively intervene in the public sphere."
"Literary": Links to an outside web site that explores the literary history of Medusa, including and essay on the writer Camile Dumolié:
 http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/a_f/bogan/medusamyth.htm
"Technology": Links to laugh4.html
This page connects the Medusa Myth with technology with a synopsis of Jay Clayton's (1996) essay, "Concealed Circuits: Frankenstein's Monster, the Medusa, and the Cyborg" which launches a series of connections between the post-modern and the romantic, women and monsters, Medusa and Frankenstein's Monster.
The cyborg is a simulacrum, a copy of copy with no real referent.  Like Medusa, the cyborg is more than a literal body or even a body of text; the cyborg sets off a discourse through which we frame bodies strategically and politically. Clayton (1996) looks "at the relation of postmodern theory to the history that makes it possible."  He argues that "postmodern theory is enabled by the exclusion of one set of historical connections and reliance on another, very different set of historical links.  The circuits that make this theoretical creature go, so to speak, are not the only circuits etched in the recent past.”  Clayton proceeds to illustrate connections between Shelley's (1818) Frankenstein (an emblem of Romanticism), Medusa (Cixous' (1975) touchstone for psychoanalytic feminism), and Haraway's (1985) cyborg.  Each of these figures is a "monster that makes us turn our eyes away.  One has to turn aside to look at the unknown."  Ultimately, Clayton argues that "all periods might justly be compared to artificial life forms" that is, a period of literary history can only be understood after we have constructed it as such.

Clayton (1996) explains how Mary Shelley's (1818) monster connects with Percy Bysshe Shelley's (1819) poem who "transforms Medusa into a symbol of revolutionary power"…P. Shelley's "portrait of Medusa appears to comment on his wife's vision of monstrosity, "an uncreated creature"…"like M. Shelley Cixous unsettles the relationship between monstrosity and vision.  Cixous challenges men to gaze directly at the monster they fear, thus mocking the familiar Freudian reading, which sees Medusa a representing men's fear of castration."

Cixous (1981) in "Decapitation and Castration talks about a creature she calls "The Hysteric" who is a "divine spirit…the unorganizable feminine construct, whose power of producing the other is a power that never returns to her…  She is given images that don't belong to her, and she forces herself, as we've all done, to resemble them."  In other words, a simulacrum.  This marks the origin of the Sphinx, and as Clayton says, "the current flows strong between Frankenstein's monster and Cixous' Medusa.  Their laughter crackles along a circuit…"

By contrast Donna Haraway (1985) (as cited in: Clayton (1996) argues "that women should be embraced the monstrous identity of the cyborg as an ironic political strategy for dislodging traditional images of the feminine.  Making this gesture would require a willingness to explore one's complicity with technology, one's implication in acknowledging the fragmented, partial, constructed nature not only of one's identity but also of one's very body."

This challenges Cixous' manifesto which Clayton (1996) claims "assimilates women into a universal female subject," unlike Haraway (1985) who "opposes the search for an essential unity.”  Further, "the cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world."  Clayton concludes, that the "fact that Haraway's cyborg is not a direct descendent of Cixous' Medusa point toward the value of attending to the multiple histories that intersect in a writer such as Shelley."

  Clayton links to Jay Clayton, Simulacrum links to website exploring this concept
  Cixous links to laugh2.html, Shelley's links to laugh1a.html
  Constructed links to mirror4.html, Link to complete bibliography

WINGS or "flight of the hero"

· Image: Greek Urn with winged Perseus' and Medusa's winged  bodies
· Text: Calvino, Pindar

In keeping with Calvino's concept of "lightness," this is the most stripped of all the threads.  Flight is an important concept for Cixous' (1976) essay.  She equates women's writing to the power of flight.  Calvino's essay on lightness reviews Ovid's Metamorphoses, in which figures are continually transformed.  Lastly, Perseus, the horse with wings, is born out of Medusa's blood.

Text from "Wings" main page:

This vase depicts the headless body of Medusa; only a bit of her head peeks out of Perseus’ bag.

From Ovid's Metamorphoses:

And when deep sleep had overtaken her,
Together with the snakes that wreathed her hair,
He cut that Gorgon's head off from the neck;
And from Medusa's blood two sons sprang up:
Chrysaor and the wingèd Pegasus.

Key to links:

"Perseus" links to: wings3.html, Cellini's Statue of Perseus and Pindar's victory songs:

Pindar: Pythian Ode 12: Most radiant of mortal cities, ...
Perseus, her son, who they say was sired
In a shower of streaming gold…
When one desire will succeed, but another will fail.

"Ovid" links to: stone1a.html for fuller sample of Ovid's text

"Wingèd" links to: synopsis of Calvino's (1988) essay on "Lightness."

In Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Calvino (1988) begins this book of essays with a discussion on the virtues of "lightness."  By this he means to evoke a method of writing fiction that is largely subtractive, as if carving away to create a sculpture.  Calvino considers the subtraction of weight from the structure of a story, and from language itself, offering a vision of entering the new millennium on the back of Pegasus:  "I have come to consider lightness a value rather than a defect;…I recognize my ideal of lightness…as I project into the future."

Calvino's focus on the future is based on his view that the world, at times, was like stone, "as if no one could escape the inexorable stare of Medusa."  He reminds us that Perseus flies with winged sandals, "the very lightest of things" and is the only hero able to conquer Medusa.  Perseus uses his shield to avert the eyes of Medusa and  "to cut off Medusa's head without being turned to stone."  In fact, Perseus' actions set forth a series of events:  The blood from Medusa's severed head does not petrify, but "gives birth to a winged horse, Pegasus--the heaviness of stone is transformed into its opposite," especially when "with one low of his hoof…Pegasus makes a spring gush forth, where the Muses drink."  Another transformation takes place when Perseus makes a bed of seaweed upon which he rests Medusa's head: "the most unexpected this is the miracle that follows: when they touch Medusa, the little marine plants turn into coral and the nymphs, in order to have coral for adornment, rush to bring sprigs of seaweed to the terrible head."  Eventually, Perseus rescues Andromeda.

For Calvino, "Perseus succeeds in mastering that horrendous face by keeping it hidden," in fact, "Perseus' strength always lies in a refusal to look directly, but not in a refusal of the reality in which he is fated.”  Calvino considers Perseus an agile hero who "raises himself above the weight of the world, showing that with all his gravity he has the secret of lightness.”  And a hero who can transform worldly weight into lightness "makes possible a flight into a realm where every need is magically fulfilled," including the possibility of flight.

Sculpture links to wings3.html, Hero links to stone1b.html
Shield links to shield1.html, Adornment links to stone4.html
Andromeda links to mirror4.html, Transform links to stone1a.html

Mask or "self-representation"

· Image: Giancinto Calandrucci "Head of Medusa"
· Text: Derrida's Memoirs of the Blind

Inspired almost entirely by Derrida's essay, this is the only title page of any thread that contains links to other pages.  Because it is the last of pages, and fits together with so many other threads, I have included links to "shield" and "mirror" to generate a sense of connectedness to the other pages.  Further analysis of concepts behind this thread is developed in the text of its title page:
Text from "mask" title page:

To look at the self, we need both a mirror and a mask.  The mirror to see our own reflection, and to recognize that the self can never be seen unmasked--the reflection is itself a layer of protection from the reality of existence.  To see oneself is death, or at best, blindness.  Derrida's (1993) Memoirs of the Blind addresses issues of vision, blindness, and self-representation in relation to drawing.  This print by Calandrucci, found at the Louvre, is a lesser-known work that challenges the notion of the self-portrait because the artist casts himself as Medusa.  Like Caravaggio, this self-representation is a self in drag, imagining the artist as a monster, commenting on the ways we perceive ourselves.  Derrida reminds us that Athena turns the Gorgon Medusa into a snake headed monster because she is offended by the nakedness (Poseidon's rape of Medusa took place in Athena's sacred grove).   Perseus must slay her, but essentially "go in blind" because if he looks at her, he will be turned to stone.  Athena makes the task possible by giving him a shield that he uses as a mirror, to see Medusa without looking on her with his own eyes.  Perseus' own identity is masked with the cap he wears, making him invisible to the Gorgon sisters.
Perseus has the experience of the gaze without suffering the fate of vision, a concept represented by the French word: médusante, or the threat of a petrifying vision.  It would be impossible for the artist to render and image of himself with out a mirror, likewise, self-reflection requires the acknowledgement of a degree of self-blindness.  For Derrida, to know the self is to remove the mask of identity we wear that protects us from our vulnerability to being made a mere object of the gaze.  In drawing the self, we must use the mirror like Perseus, to remove the mask that veils our identity, yet to do so brings about the "Medusa" effect: "the mask shows the eyes in a carved face without coming face to face with a petrified objectivity, with death or blindness."
Derrida explains that, "[e]ach time one wears a mask, each time one shows or draws a mask, one repeats Perseus' heroic deed.  At one's own risk or peril...each time [the mask] is shown, exhibited, objectified, or designated, it is Perseus who is put to the test of drawing.”  Consequently, he explains, "the story of this heroic son does not only give rise to the narrative of an event" but it also defines the structure of the event.  "Without directly facing the fatal gaze of Medusa, facing only its reflection in the bronze shield polished like a mirror, Perseus sees without being seen.  He looks to the side when he decapitates the monster and when he exhibits her head to his enemies in order to make them flee with the threat of being petrified."  Thus, Perseus in a rather oblique way is able to harness the power and the threat of the gaze.  "A ruse that consists in the sidestepping rather than meeting head-on the death that comes through the eyes."

Key to links:

"Mirror" links to mirror.html to show the connections between these two threads.

"Derrida" links to www.derrida.com, a site dedicated to Derrida full of information.

"Louvre" links to www.louvre.fr, the official museum web site.

"Caravaggio" links to shield1.html and the image and analysis of Caravaggio's Medusa.

"Gorgon" links to shield3.html, the Gorgon Goddess that represents local goddesses.

"carved face" links to mask2.html, to the animated character Hexadecimal, a virtual Medusa:

Hexadecimal: each time one wears a mask, he repeats Perseus' heroic deed.  In contemporary culture an interesting site of such a heroic deed emerges out of the digital world with "RE: boot's" villain "Hexadecimal."  She represents a computer virus, a trickster figure who must be dealt with, but is never destroyed, by the other characters of the series In this cyber-comic book world, she changes masks to express emotion, never revealing her true self.

"vision" links to shield3.html, an original experimental piece created for this web site.
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