Toshiba laptop

Unexpected Woodland Events



Roar of Destiny

The Roar of Destiny

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Overview | Background | Statement | Readings


The Roar of Destiny (1995-1999) by Judy Malloy is an early work of digital media narrative poetry constructed from 232 carefully crafted, intertwined lexias. Each lexia contains a narrative fragment, hyperlinked phrases, and peripheral words. Not overdone, however, these lexia showcase Malloy's hallmark intense, compact writing style. Sometimes the narrative fragment is squarely in the middle of the lexia, other times it is merged with the peripheral words and hyperlinks. The hypertext links lead to other lexia, other portions of the narrative.


Malloy, a pioneer on the Internet and in electronic literature, began The Roar of Destiny as a website in December 1995, and slowly added new screens over the next four years. As she added new screens, she changed the links on other screens so the reader, returning to the work after a previous reading, might find link paths altered, diverted, or augmented.

With a background in visual arts and experience as a computer programmer for early library systems, Malloy has created artists books, text-based installations, and narrative performance art. She considers herself a poet working at the intersection of hypernarrative, magic realism, and information art. She began experimenting with non-sequential narrative in 1976 with a series of artist books. In 1986 she began writing and programming the hyperficition Uncle Roger, which was first released on the BBS of Art Com Electronic Network on the WELL in December of that year.

In addition to Uncle Roger, Judy Malloy's electronic literature includes the generative hypertext its name was Penelope (Richmond Art Center, 1989, Eastgate, 1993); the polyphonic narrative Wasting Time (After the Book, Perforations 3, Summer, 1992); the early web hyperfiction L0ve0ne (Eastgate Web Workshop, 1994); the collaborative hyperfiction Forward Anywhere (with Cathy Marshall, Eastgate, 1996, created under the auspices of Xerox PARC); Paths of Memory and Painting (2010) composed with composite arrays of hypertext lexias; and most recently, From Ireland with Letters, an epic polychoral electronic manuscript told in the public space of the Internet.


The Roar of Destiny was informed by the early Internet adventure of living in a mountain cabin while I worked online on the Telluride Infozone and by memories of my other early Internet avatars: working online for Leonardo, Xerox PARC, and Arts Wire; living in the New Hampshire countryside, living near the Arizona dessert, living in the hills of Northern California.

The primary interface in this poetic hypertext of environment and virtual environment is a dissolving and reassembling structure of dense phrase links. The reader follows The Roar of Destiny by reading the bolded words in the narrative lexias—while at the same time absorbing the peripheral words and links. For radioELO, three lexias, recorded in 2014, create a polyphonic audio experience that—merging the central text and the associated links that surround it—conveys not only the dense hypertext structure of this work but also the dichotomy of immersive Internet workplace and the realtime mountain/desert local, which The Roar of Destiny reflects. Simulating the recursive linking patterns that connect the lexias of The Roar of Destiny, these three readings are also linked to each other through an echoing repetition of link words and phrases.

The process of overlapping text sound tracks is not new and in fact was used by Jim Rosenberg in Pieces for Simultaneous Voices (1972-1974). Indeed after I laid down the tracks, according to my own vision of how to read the text in Roar, I was surprised by a heard resemblance between readings from The Roar of Destiny and Pieces for Simultaneous Voices. The content and composition processes for these two works were entirely different, and The Roar of Destiny was not (as is my current work) scored in any way. We have only begun to explore, as this points out (and as Radio Nouspace is investigating) how sound structures correlate with text-based electronic literature structures.

The first person, the "I" of the narrative is a way of connecting the reader to the narrator. It leads the reader into the details of the narrator's immediate environment—the small things, the seemingly inconsequential events that trigger memories and thoughts. In The Roar of Destiny, the narrator's name is Gweneth. She is not me. This is a work of fiction.


Readings curated here are all from The Roar of Destiny by the artist, Judy Malloy, who notes

When it is possible, the sound of oral reading of electronic literature is a potentially vital part of the experience. It is enjoyable playing all three readings at once!

Three readings represent three lexia from the "Merged with the Screen for Days" group "guest2" (from the lexia "at that hour, she too would run @who"), "bytes4corners" (from the lexia "merged with the screen for days"), and "Toshiba laptop" (from the lexia "the sun began to shine on the screen of my Toshiba T3400").

The Toshiba laptop file was written while I was on a camping trip to the Sierras and I stopped in gold country on the South fork of the American river where gold was discovered in California. It was a time when fortunes were being made on the early Internet, so I think my final recording reflects the congruence of an early laptop and the California Gold Rush country.

Three readings represent three lexia from the "Unexpected Woodland Events" group: "Unexpected Woodland Events," "Amber_beer_ahh," and "Meadow." A sample from "Unexpected Woodland Events" was used in 11'22", a sound art work for FILE 2017.