Response: Patchwork Girl by Shelly Jackson

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This is a response to they hypertext fiction work Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson.  It is comprised in part of ‘patches’ of other works, most notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I have made this essay entirely out of parts from the novel.

”Patchwork Girl; or, a Modern Monster by Mary/Shelly, & Herself” [title page], “is a haphazard hopscotch … through patched words in an electronic space” [this writing]. “[M]ade up of a multiplicity of anonymous particles, and … no absolute boundaries” [self-swarm], “the entire text is within reach, but … I can see only that part most immediately before me, and have no sense of how that part relates to the rest” [this writing]. “[B]ecause” [this writing] “we live in the expectation of traditional narrative progression … a kind of vertigo besets us when we witness plot” [lives] “without shape, without end, without story” [this writing]. “We are … entangled … awkward .. our conclusions unsubstantiated” [lives].

“You could say that all … pieces of writing” [all written] “generate certain formations … but … despite ourselves” [lives] “an electronic river washes out” [hop] “traditional form with its ordered … determined structure” [what shape]. “[S]o if you think you’re going to follow … you’ll have to learn…” [think me] “words … lubricated and mobile, rub familiarly against one another in the buttery medium … The letters come alive like tiny antelopes and run in packs and patterns” [blood] “there’s just no way around it” [think me]. “You can resurrect” [graveyard] “sequence” [double agent] “with great effort” [lives] “but … pursuers, when you” [think me] “reach … for … fact” [this writing] “you’ll begin to have trouble” [think me]. “You organize writing spaces … and whichever way you turn … the figures still seem ill-arranged” [compositions].

“[T]hank goodness” [flow] “we have” [lives] “a kind of … guide…” [bodies too], “a bundle of scraps” [scraps] “who we … are hunted, by” [she goes on], “the Patchwork Girl” [write?]. “She is an infant with the strength and wits of a more-than-adult” [infant]. “She has seen things I will never see; she remembers more than I will experience in my whole life” [female trouble]. “Scraps of memories blow through her mind like bits of patterned cloth” [infant]. [S]he is … as” [my walk] “everything … is” [therapies], “but … consistency is one thing you cannot really expect of” [blood] “the Patchwork Girl” [write?]. “I … doubt that [t]here’s one way through it and that’s the way … but” [flow] “she … is always” [left leg] “linked to the chain of existence and events” [she].

“[S]he said” [write?] “If you want to see the whole, you will have to sew me together yourself” [graveyard]. “You will have to sew” [graveyard] “the entire text … and have no sense of … this” [this writing] “unusual character … [Y]ou want …to … choose … from the menu … creating … a very well-shaped girl” [a single space]. “[B]ut no … because” [cut] “[t]his being you must create … must … live in the interchange” [plea] “[S]cars … mark a cut … chronicling the assaults it has withstood” [cut]. “[B]ut … they also commemorate a joining … Scar tissue is new growth.” [cut]. “You may think I am not making something new … but returning scrambled elements to order” [cuts] “is true … identity” [hidden figure].

“I see the … robbed … [t]echniques of” [quilting] “Derrida” [sources] “come in handy” [quilting]. “The … literary composition … stemmed from ancient rhetoric … Neoclassical pedagogy focused … on … smoothly flowing from one section to another.” [typographical]. “Derrida … with” [sources] “de” [mutinies] “construction … made up … tricks in writing …and … reassembled … distorted and set” [typographical] “text” [this writing] “in foreign places” [typographical] “pouring over it, inch by glitch … [T]oo brimming … in … the cheap stuff it was made of” [becoming whole], “the entire text is …” [this writing] “turned inside out … flung so far open that” [her, me] “I could force that essence to precipitate out … in chunks like rotting bark” [becoming whole]. “[T]he Patchwork Girl … is” [write?] “a … mixed metaphor” [metaphor me] “for … de” [mutinies] “construction” [typographical], “our … guide…to constructions of meaning … legible, partially” [bodies too] “here… in a … haphazard hopscotch” [this writing]:

“[S]he … animates every feature…In the next moment, … tears it … and …staring stubbornly into a whirl of colored pieces, calico, velvet, taffeta, dimity … she holds me bent back over a decorative little cliff, yet high enough to break me; then she dandles me in thin air, laughing so gaily I know she does not remember her own anger. Pensive, then abrupt; sharp-mannered, then languorously inviting; she changes with each heart-beat, and I change with her. I must. I will be swallowed up else, or crushed, or flung far away. Am I afraid? Terribly; I know this is no sport. … I think she will learn to manage herself somehow …I owe her my guidance, if she will have it. Yet I dissemble. It is more than this” [infant].“I … am restless; she makes me so” [female trouble]. “[S]he is restless … she tells me” [female trouble] “[w]hat exists: this latest word … myself imagining possibilities” [a life]. “[S]he tells me” [female trouble] “[e]verything could have been different and already is” [a life].