Liberature – a Missing Link?


The aim of this paper is to approach the question of electronic textuality by means of a detailed analysis of Zenon Fajfer's animation – Primum Mobile, the central piece of the bilingual volume “ten letters/ dwadzieścia jeden liter” (Krakow: Ha!art, 2010), which illustrates two key concepts of the author that are particularly relevant for the change that has been progressively affecting the contemporary understanding of what a text is: the notion of “liberature”, defined as “a distinct literary genre, a genre in which, beside text, all graphic elements of the book (Lat. liber) and its physical space are also carriers of meaning” (Z. Fajfer, Liberature or total literature (collected essays 1999-2009), Krakow: Ha!art, 2010, p. 60), and the notion of “emanational text”, a form in which “visible texts contain in themselves the folded structure of texts that are hidden” (Ibid., p. 12). The analysis will focus on the implications of the author's view of the book for a theory of textuality, namely the inseparability of the linguistic content from the physical form that embodies it and their dynamic interplay in the construction of meaning. The “liberation” of the book also implies its liberation from the conventions governing its materiality: once the choice of the material form is dictated by the content, the “book” becomes a largely encompassing term. Placed in the middle of an invertible book, the electronic poem that forms the object of this article constitutes a motivated extension of the books's content, which cannot be simply abstracted from this structural environment without considerable loss or change of meaning. Thus, “liberature” can be read as a missing link between the “idealist” practice of literature, which restricts the notion of text to a linguistic string, and e-literature, in which the text is the result of a perpetual search of new ways of intermingling verbal, visual, oral, and numeric data.