Read Fast, Die Young? – Interpreting Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ Flash Poem Dakota

In this paper I discuss Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ digital poem Dakota. I discuss how the poem controls the reader’s experience and how this control affects its possible interpretations. The control is mostly executed by limiting the reader’s freedom over reading. Reading time, direction and duration are determined by the poem. It is only possible to start the poem, but not rewind, stop or fast-forward it. Furthermore, the manipulation of speed affects reading in many ways. In the fast extreme the effect is illegibility, but more subtly used speed creates varieties of emphasis and de-emphasis. The effect of emphasis of this kind, I argue, creates different layers of readings and invites re-reading. These different readings require different cognitive modes, which mirror our contemporary reading habits. Not being in control of the reading process also leads to a scattered sense of unity, one of postmodernism’s essential traits. While reading the poem I also question why I read as I do, and by doing so I hope to present more general traits of how to approach digital literature.