Talk:Ergodic literature

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Cleanup efforts[edit]

Most of the works listed here as ergodic literature are clearly NOT ergodic literature based on Espen Aarseth's definition and the term's use in academic texts. This article really needs clearing up - I'll try and contribute but can't right now. [ Noah Wardrip-Fruin's discussion of what cybertext and ergodic really mean would be a useful source in editing this, but of course it's Aarseth's book Cybertext that is the primary source, as this is where the term was coined and defined. Future developments and uses of the term should be discussed too, which requires more work. For now I've removed the most obviously false examples of ergodic literature and I've flagged the article as needing attention from an expert. Lijil 11:59, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

OK; I've fixed a lot - deleted the bits about how works with some non-linear chronology can be ergodic. I deleted the confusing list of examples and put in a list of texts Aarseth refers to as ergodic instead (from Noah's discussion of the book) and added both Cybertext itself and Noah's discussion to the list of references. Plenty left to do. --Lijil 13:11, 2 September 2006 (UTC)


Does "The Sound and the Fury" by Faulkner qualify as Ergodic? It's read front-to-back, but then again so is Burroughs, and it requires considerable effort by the reader to keep track of where you are in time -- which often changes midparagraph -- and which characters are speaking. And then there's the name changes.

Just added the links to FF (which seemed appropriate from the definition) and the pieces of "Ergodic literature" I found from another article online. I'm still not quite clear on what Ergodic literature is? If were reading the copy of the Count of Monte Cristo here then would it count as Ergodic Literature, since I need to click on a hyperlink to move through the chapters? If someone reads something by Will Self and keeps needing to reach for a dictionary does this turn Will Self's book into Ergodic Literature? These examples might seem Pathological, but 253 exists both as an novel and as a proper book. One can read the physical book sequentially, no flicking back and forth from the descriptions of interelated passengers is necessary - but is quite irresistable. Is the physical book Ergodic? Is Ergodic Literature only intended to refer to HyperFiction?

A Sample Chapter from Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature from which the term Ergodic seems to have come from. I would try and answer the questions I have asked by trying to read it, but it's late and it seems quite dense - but if anyone else wants to tighten up this article that might be a place to start. Number 0 03:04, 8 Aug 2004 (UTC)

  • Hopefully some of these questions are answered by the slightly improved definition ont he article page - it still needs more work. Ergodic literature is a very specific term and you absolutely should read Aarseth's book to understand it. Lijil 07:45, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

I Ching[edit]

What "critics of ergodic literature" consider the I Ching to be an example of the style? It wasn't constructed to be read as a text; unless someone can cite this claim it should be deleted.

  • Espen Aarseth explicitly gives the I Ching as an example of ergodic literature. I'll add a page reference when I'm back at the office with the book. --Lijil 11:59, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

House of Leaves[edit]

Has anyone else read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski? Its a pretty good example of ergodic literature, and well worth reading. And do the muds really count? It would seem to me they are no more this than any sort of video game... Sklarface 05:54, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

  • House of Leaves is a great book, and I suppose it counts as ergodic literature as much as Apollinaire's Calligrammes, which are also characterised by their unusual layout, requiring the reader to move his/her eyes in different ways than a conventional top to bottom, left to write text. I don't think we should simply add more and more examples, though - I think the list will get entirely out of hand (again) and that a better strategy is to work on clarifying the definition as given. MUDs are quite definitely an example of ergodic literature, and Aarseth devotes a whole chapter to them in the book that defines ergodic literature - ergodic literature is literature (written words) that require a non-trivial effort to traverse on the part of the reader. Print books with odd layouts are just one kind, and not the most common kind, either. Lijil 07:45, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Also with the house of leaves (Not so obvious on the surface) are the codes and sequences contained within. Some paragraphs and lines are spaced in different formations to symbolize morse code (SOS), you need to hold four pages together and up to a light to reveal a picture, some reconstructing of pages using "codes" provided by the characters change the meaning of a passage entirely, the list goes on. I am working on a book of Ergodic Literature myself and find it tough to stick within the guidelines. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:23, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Besides being specifically cited in the Aarseth text, MUDs-- especially role-playing enforced MUDs-- exist to do little more than let a group of people tell a narrative. There's a hack and slash framework built into a lot of them, but the storyline in an RP MUD is considered the whole point of the game. JoshOak (talk) 21:30, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
  • As of today, I no longer see any reference to House of Leaves in the article text, but I also don't see any recent edits that deleted it. Am I missing something? The book itself is great, and a good contemporary (relative to the application of the term "ergodic" to literature) example of the theory. ExecutorElassus (talk) 14:17, 4 March 2012 (UTC)


Does "ergodic" require that the text be dependant on the reader? For instance, would the copious note-taking required to follow Dream of the Red Chamber or similarly populous novels count as a "non-trivial effort"? Again, would a comic with ambiguously placed panels that do not immediately suggest an order, but still have an intended order, require "non-trivial effort"? Rozencrantz 05:43, 11 October 2006 (UTC)


What about puzzle books and those puzzles where you put together blocks of letters and the final result spells a quotation?

Mathematical proofs?

Riddles and such where you have to rot-13 or turn the page to check the answer?

The same goes for various children's books, e.g., pop-up books, choose-your-own-adventures, and (especially!) things like Barbie Mix and Match Fashions Sectioned Flip Book. I can think of a handful of published cybertexts that use almost the same exact traversal mechanics.
I think the larger issue here is ergodic text versus ergodic literature. To illustrate my point, is a TV commercial considered film? If I can relate to the guy on the TV screen with a headache, or empathize with the mom scrubbing soap scum off the shower tile, or feel for the characters in the Zoloft commercial, then why is it in a different category than a short film? In the hegemonic structure, the only way we justify the distinction, of course, is by placing requirements on the impetus or motive that precipitates the end result. Therefore, commercially motivated works don't count; works associated with mathmematics, science, and research do not count; entertainment doesn't count.
The main problem with this method of classification is that it does not accomodate works with multiple, unclear, or missing motivations (e.g., video games, multi-authored works, computer-assisted works, found poetry) or works that bridge typically disparate audiences (e.g., "mash up"-type new media projects). Perhaps not coincidentally, it is these same works that comprise the present frontier of literature. AdamSap (talk) 18:37, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
I think the point is that puzzles, proofs, riddles and pop-up books do not have a narrative. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Geryhall31 (talkcontribs) 21:15, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Other uses of "ergodic"[edit]

The current article makes it sound like the word "ergodic" was created solely for this context. However, in mathematics and science there is the Ergodic hypothesis and Ergodic theory, as well as Ergodic (adjective) - which I presume predate the use of the term for literature. Some mention of the connection between the use of the term in math/science contexts and literary contexts is warranted - even if it goes no deeper than saying that there is no connection and that none was ever intended. -- (talk) 16:37, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

The Ergodic principle is quite simple really. It is an important statistical concept in thermodynamics (see Wikipedia article!). The idea is that the time average is the same as the ensemble average. To give you an example, the average position of one molecule in an empty room (not a single other atom or molecule in the room) over time (given enough time for the molecule to explore all the room) is the same as the average position of a dilute gas of molecules filling the room : any spot in the room is as likely to be occupied by a molecule as any other. I hope this makes sense. It is a bit of random concept to introduce in Literature! I believe part of the interest in thermodynamics from the Literary community comes from the very catchy second law of thermodynamics (which basically states that all isolated systems tend to greater disorder) AlineApple (talk) 08:43, 23 May 2010 (UTC)

Article Fails to Define Ergodic[edit]

IMO this still needs major work, not from the perspective of whether certain examples are correct or not, but from the perspective of DEFINING THE TERM "ERGODIC". Surely this is the major point that needs to be dealt with before the article can serve any useful purpose to the general Wikipedia reader?

After reading the article, I still have no clear idea what "ergodic" means. I'm not unintelligent, so I believe the fault lies not in my comprehension skills, but in the article itself. A good starting place might be to parse the "most commonly cited definition" instead of simple quoting it and then immediately moving on to discuss variations.

Simply put, if you're going to have a Wiki page be a resource for the uninitiated, you probably should explain the concept clearly before going on to discuss the minutiae thereof. R0nin Two (talk) 01:49, 26 July 2011 (UTC)

Confusing article[edit]

  • "It has been argued that these distinctions are not entirely clear..."

This is the truest statement in this entire article.

Just a question: Does this mean that every text in Braille is "ergodic"? Liz Read! Talk! 18:36, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't think that people reading with Braille find it non-trivial it's no different to a sighted person who can read with their eyes.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Geryhall31 (talkcontribs) 21:36, 2 February 2016

Another possible example[edit]

Is James Joyce's Finnegans Wake considered an example of ergodic literature? Are there any reliable sources that discuss whether to include/exclude it from that genre? -- llywrch (talk) 05:40, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

I can find by googling "Finnegans Wake ergodic" several book references to not only Finnegans Wake but also Joyce's earlier Ulysses as examples of ergodic literature. By any measure these books fit both Espen's definition of ergodic (non-trivial effort) and the idea of hypertext literature. Espen has a couple of references to James Joyce in Cybertext but does not reference FW or Ulysses directly. So yes, I think Finnegans Wake definitely qualifies as ergodic. Simon9 (talk) 06:01, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Interactive narration[edit]

I propose changing the name of this page to Interactive narration, and to clarify the terminology.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Geryhall31 (talkcontribs) 13:54, 1 February 2016