Belén Gache

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WordToys (1996/2006) Digital Interactive Poetry



Changing the laws of language is changing the laws in the world. On evading the laws of language, poetry creates new universes.
Since antiquity, literature has used "games" with letters and words. For example, anagrams, lipograms, acrostics, etc. Wordplay is related to the possibilities of permutation, combination and transformation implicit in language.
In the nineteenth century, Victorian society was particularly fond of riddles and conundrums. Lewis Carroll, for example, introduces into his books different types of games: cards, chess, croquet games, racing, but above all, linguistic games (encodings, incompatible systems, puns, double meanings, ambiguities and logical paradoxes).He understands linguistic rules as merely another social game.
The avant-garde poets in the early XX century, wanted to break with linguistic rules rejecting grammatical, typographical, orthography, conventions. They also made use of nonsense. In the 1960's, the writers gathered around the Oulipo repeatedly used arbitrary sets of instructions and rules as literary texts generators. The establishment of artificial constraints, as in Carroll, took them to question whether all literary and linguistic rules weren´t as arbitrary as them.
But the Wordtoys deal with games, language and meaning also from a philosophical approach.  As for Ludwig Wittgenstein, establishes two important philosophical notions: one that establishes that the limits of my world are the limits of my language and the other one, the notion of "language games."
Jacques Derrida, on the other hand, worked on two specific notions. On writing, he says that if you begin writing without lines (he refers to writing in a different spatial organization, to ideograms and in general, to non-linear writing), you will also begin to read differently and in doing so you will soon begin to understand the world in a different way.
On reading, he opposes to the metaphysical model. Reading should not search for a specific meaning behind the text as there is nothing beyond the text. For Wittgenstein and for Derrida the notion of game plays a strategic role. Deconstruction is based on the concept of game. The world is made exclusively of signs, without truth and without an origin, always in a process of active and changing interpretation.