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What is ergodic literature and why you shouldn’t be afraid of it

What is ergodic literature and why you shouldn’t be afraid of it

There ergodic literature it seems to recall something sinister and forbidden. Like referring to old ergodic books with leather covers, which hide dark secrets or riddles within themselves. It is a literature that is too similar to Lovecraft. But it’s worth taking a closer look at these books to find there’s nothing scary about them (except the name, of course). Through them, we immerse ourselves in a world whose text is curled up so that we love and hate it at the same time.

What is ergodic literature?

The concept is complex as well as its representatives. Indeed, all books in which the reader is actively involved in the composition of the text belong to an ergodic. L’whole story literally depends on the order in which you read a story. Non-linear narrative, some endings, the opportunity to choose the further development of the plot. It sounds tempting.

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The term itself appeared in 1997 and came out of the pen of Espen J. Orset, a professor at the University of Copenhagen. Orset tries to understand what makes the text “ergodic” and playfully combines in a Greek term ergon (work) and hodos (way). That is, it is already clear from this: reading won’t be easy.

So what makes the book ergodic? Oddly, not so much the content as the his incarnation on the pages of the book. Orset himself writes the following: “… it takes a non-trivial effort on the part of the reader to read a book. If ergodic literature makes sense as a concept, there must be non-urban literature in which the attempt to pass through the text is trivial and the reader is under no obligation, except (for example) eye movement and periodical or arbitrary page change ”

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It all comes down to matching the book to generally accepted formats of paragraphs, dialog fields, and layouts in general. The conventional format makes the reading process light, unobtrusive and “mundane”, as Orset calls it. All you need to read the book is methodically guide your eyes in the same lines and sometimes turn the page. It looks simple and helps to focus on the storyline. But if you’re tackling ergodic literature, you’re probably not looking for easy ways.

Let’s summarize: any book you leaf through without pain in your eyes and heart is non-ergodic. Any book that reads so much that it delights your inner esthete is ergodic.

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Is this a new current in literature?

At all. The first ergodic literature is considered the Chinese “I-Jing”, written around 700 BC. One of the first philosophical texts was already ergodic. It’s all in his unusual structure: the book was meant for divination, so it was made up of 64 hexagrams, each of which expresses a particular life situation over time in terms of gradual development. Each hexagram is made up of six other traits: the phases of the situation. In general, it is difficult, non-linear, non-standard.

Julio Cortazar’s “The Game of Classics” is a vivid example of ergodic literature. There are actually two books hiding under the cover instead of one, but finding the second is not that easy. With the first reading everything is simple: it is read with the usual method, it ends with the 56th chapter, under the last line of which there is the written completely monovalue “fine”. The second book floats from the 73rd chapter – and at the end of each the number of the following is indicated. Novel within novel, text in the cube, true step-by-step search for the peace of literature.

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Another example is Milorad Povich’s “Khazar Dictionary”. Even without the specific topic, this book continues its possibility of examining the set of tales from three different sides, of selecting an interesting sub-theme for oneself, of following it for the lengthening of the entire book – and so on ad infinitum. . The “Khazar Dictionary” has a female and male version.

Ergodic books are not scary. If, of course, the author himself did not try to scare you. Mark Danilevskiy, for example, has tried and succeeded in a more than excellent way. Regarding his book “The House of Leaves”, in the context of ergodic literature, keeping quiet would be a crime. It is worth reading “The House of Leaves” at least for the wonderful feeling of sudden fear in turning the pages.

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There is no need to put aside a book with an uncommon approach, strange paragraphs and an extraordinary structure. Exceptional possibility of replacing the usual viewing angle and opening up something new, for example the love for ergodic literature. Even if this love, at times, acts painfully.