Consider the Sea

Evie Godfrey2023 Longlist, Opening Up

“I will find a purpose,” Finley exclaimed. “I will travel the world from here to there, sailing the seas and flying the skies and plowing through the desert and seeking until I find exactly that.” Consider the Sea is a rollicking, surrealistic tale of a boy searching for his passion and purpose in life—bouncing between the quotidian humdrum of a life in Cleveland or a fantastical, anemoic dream of Budapest. The story revolves around an inconsistent father (who might have been a newspaper editor in Victorian times or a famous movie star in the 50s or someone else entirely), a sea captain fond of fatherly advice, and an elusive lover.
Consider the Sea is a Twine work with 150 nodes in 8 major, interconnected sections and more semantic links than any one work could possibly need. This hypertext uses a compass structure for the main navigation, which flings Finley (or perhaps his foils) in all directions. Images of the compass (and their alt texts) provide essential information for combing through the depths of the story. Beneath the main nodes, a rich mast of footnotes and connected texts and retexts (from Melville to Dickinson, from A.E. Houseman to old sea ballads) reveal other truths that sustain stories and writers and hint that every fate is written by someone else. Different reading paths will result in various characters being responsible for mayhem or memories, or various perspectives on the woes and joys of living an ordinary life or the lies and truths of living out a fantasy or even wavering between false and true purposes. Reading paths revolve around the ends of Cleveland and Budapest, with a repetitive structure building the story and re-creating new insights each time these places are visited.
This work started with Rob Swigart’s surrealistic story, which was a musing on Rosetti’s poem, The Sea-Limits . The work expanded to many more characters and plot points and linked musings on other seminal literature of the 19th century. Deena Larsen completed this story as part of her Artist in Residency in the Electronic Literature Lab at Washington State University in Vancouver.