This text combines game and poetry in a role-play scenario that requires the reader to enter an inner-circle of friends, family members, and caregivers dealing with the failing memory of a loved one and the personal fears they voice in the process. The game itself imposes on the reader mental identification with the Alzheimer’s patient by recreating disorientation through both text and images, as well as encourages emotional identification with the patient by foiling attempts to maintain human connection.

Christine Wilks discusses the piece, as well as the personal circumstances surrounding its conception, here. In response to my question about the origin of the work's title, she explains, "The title is a portmanteau word that I created, derived from remember, memory and memento mori. It also alludes to the idea of re-memory, of remembering memories."

Textual Features
  • Text directly addresses the reader using the reader’s chosen username but limits the reader to a generalized, relational role rather than a personal identity.
  • Legible but fragmented poetic lines appear and drift away.
  • Variances in poetry depend on the role the reader has chosen.
  • Order of lines and juxtaposition or repetition of certain lines corresponds with the reader’s choices.
  • Words and phrases imply increasing concern over the loss of physical, emotional, and temporal connections.

Media Features
  • Gameplay is recognizable and playable with few orientation clues; progression requires mastery of each level. (However, the correlation between errors, time, and score ironically appears to be missing, or at least not present in the way we might assume.)
  • Motifs are easily identifiable: the brain, clocks/time, questions and question marks.
  • Increasing disorientation is represented in rotating/spinning pictures, scrambled words, uneven spacing, and fading.
  • Content is finite in that all levels can be played by each user role; however, the game is also re-playable because the choices are re-scrambled each time. (This feature also destroys the ability to recreate the same reading of the poem.)

Readerly Experience
The reader must play the game to reveal the poem but cannot focus on both playing and reading simultaneously. The timer and scorekeeping encourage speedy clicking matching, but ultimately making matches accomplishes only the disappearance of the pictures, speeding the reader to the next level and further disorientation. At the end of Level 4, the memory of the reader’s relational role is lost, increasing the distance between the reader and the one experiencing memory loss. In the final level, the reader can barely ascertain the circles of the matching game; after the reader has tried every possibility for connection, the circles, as well as the brain, fade completely from the screen.

The conflicting reader goals remind me of Stuart Moulthrop's summary of the relationship between configuration and interpretation in First Person, page 60. In this particular text, configuration is necessary for the interpretation of the text (as in art), but interpretation is also necessary for the configuration (as in game).

The electronic matching game metaphorically reflects the brain’s system of memory. The brain encodes the information that it receives, and after processing it, stores it; however, this information is useless without the mind’s ability to retrieve the information. The author of the text compiles and stores information for the user to retrieve through interaction with the text, and the reader’s first failure to recall the location of a piece of information marks the inevitable deterioration of an already imperfect processor.

Within the poem itself, individual voices are not distinguished; though the words and phrases do seem to originate from varying speakers, the poem emerges from a single troubled mind. Though occasional visual effects hint at a temporal and narrative progression, this text has many characteristics of both dramatic and interior monologues in which both the reader and the speaker are trying to make sense of motivation, location, relationships, and conflict. In “Literary Hypertext: The Passing of the Golden Age,” Coover observes the success of poetry’s entrance into the world of digital literature, “the lyrical mode, in which typically a single subject becomes the center of many peripheral meditations, has often found those webworks most congenial.” Coover continues to describe kinetic poetry, a genre which certainly encompasses “Rememori,” and poses a relevant observation and question:

These works can be quite beautiful, at least visually, even if kinesis does sometimes seem like a way of draining a poem of its meaning; this of course is the constant threat of hypermedia: to suck the substance out of a work of lettered art, reduce it to surface spectacle. But then, nothing is ever mere surface, mere spectacle, is it?

I am also reminded of Coover’s observation in “The End of Books” that “we are always astonished to discover how much of the reading and writing experience occurs in the interstices and trajectories between text fragments. That is to say, the text fragments are like stepping stones, there for our safety, but the real current of the narratives runs between them.” The literal narrative progression of “Rememori” is minimal, but the psychological and emotional development of the reader creates a somewhat abstracted but poignant internal narrative every time the text is played.

On a personal note, this is one of few e-lit texts that have elicited a genuine emotional response from me. I resonate with the sadness of watching the loss of memory occur.