Available from Eastgate Systems
This is a hypertext of a rare disquieting beauty. It is entirely made up of relatively short prose poems organized in eleven main thematical threads. There is a default path through the text pressing the "Enter" key, but its progress is often interrupted, forcing the reader to choose another direction from the "Links" menu. The hypertext advances unsteadily, the bits and pieces flowing regularly when they are about the same theme, and then jumping abruptly to a different thread, modelling a mind overcome with related images. The number and order of the threads change along the reading, and after a while sentences from different threads begin to cross the path and reveal unexpected relationships.
The images come from the newspapers, television, or books, but are interiorized and made part of the narrator, whose voice is dry and evocative, an impossible combination that Kathy Mac achieves with apparent lightness. The Unnatural habitats are places where people die or canīt be happy, places where human beings (or a dolphin!) are caged like animals in a zoo, by physical limitations, social repression or their own minds. We find stories like the accident of a spaceship or a submarine, the suicide of an inventor whose mind couldnīt fly like his inventions, people burned horribly in the war, miners, being a woman subjected to the Arabic law... The meanings end up fitting like a puzzle, as she says about her quilt:
picked apart at the seams
reduced to random shapes
to fit a different pattern"
And what is the pattern? We all live in unnatural habitats. Like the astronauts, "weīve fought so dammned hard/ for this chance/ to die like moths". But havenīt we all fought? We also have limited resources "air, water, energy, ingenuity", our world does and we keep on ignoring everything, pacing our cages, turning to religion or TV for comfort. This hypertext is a pessimistic beautiful report from the front of what it means to be human. Short and heavily loaded, questioning what keeps us:
from the concrete floor, sweaty walls and
daily demands of mortality"