November 18th, 2010 / 4:00 pm
Literary Magazine Club

{LMC}: On how “571 Points” could be a metaphor for online literature but is, like, not.

Here’s a confession: I look for metaphors in real life, like how maybe the way people tie their shoes under their desks represents their baser instincts, suppressed in corporate life. As a reader, writer, double-ended-candle-stick-burner, too often I look for metaphors about the effect or state or future of online literary publishing. I am a twenty-something luddite, reaching through the din of electronic narrative to find a reason not to ignore it, a reason why the ‘pages’ of the world wide web should affect me just as much as the ‘pages’ of real-life-paper-cutting-dog-ear-able books.

The first time I read Andrew Borgstrom’s “571 Points,” it disguised itself as a metaphor for internet literature. Each line translated into another answer, another echo for my interminable questions.

“We walked our final street like mathematicians writing poetry with our bare bodies.” Math! I think. Computer programming! Zeros and ones, and this website I am reading, when boiled down, stripped to its elements is all numbers, formulas, becoming poetry before my eyes. I begin to read faster as I become fluent in Borgstom’s particular language of mathematics and poetry.

“I did not purposefully hide the flyer…My subconscious purposefully hid the flyer because it hides all flyers and not because it has anything against riding in free hay.” Of course it did! I cry, how could one recognize the posters or billboards or informational tomes that really mattered if one did not allow their subconscious to consciously hide the flyers, the pop-ups, the free hay of internet activity? To steer away from the PoetryHourlyDigest or Best-Flash-Fiction-Of-the-Second email alerts.

“We searched for horseshit in the road,” he writes and I know that anyone skimming the Internet for clarity or truth or just a god-damned answer to a basic question of how-to or how-come understands this ancient quest.

“I managed to say nothing in thirty-three syllables.” Blogs! Twitter! What I write all the time without pretending it is literary while still trying to decide for myself where the line is drawn. At least he is self-aware, though? He knows he is saying nothing. Commenter 56  has no such self-awareness.

But alas, “Where had all the horseshit gone?” Now he is supplementing the percentage of cotton in her shirts–nay, supplementing the lack of venerable online writing with writing of his own, his own contribution. He is too deep in the horseshit to smell it. Or has he transformed the horseshit into manure?

“You kept adding water to dilute the flavor. We figured everything had a solution.” Water….dilute…solution. Wordplay. Satisfying. Short-lived.

Towards the end, he is eating his words. “You taught me how to spell interminable. I dog-eared the page. I ate the page.” Not the page he wrote, but that he adopted. That he learned and understood. And here I get tongue-tied. This is no metaphor. This is a racquetball court with no one’s footprints on it but everyone he has never loved. This is a super-sad-fictional-love-story. On the internet. One that has made me reach into my own needs to create within it a metaphor for what I needed to be explained the most at the moment I read it. What is more literary than that?

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  1. Eric Beeny

      Very cool to this. Borgstrom is sweet…

  2. deadgod

      is a synecdoche – a part that represents a whole, like shoelace-tying signifying the character of a person – a “metaphor”?