Hypertext Disorder by Ray Ogar

>>> COPYRIGHT 2005

I am not really sure when I first diagnosed myself with Hypertext disorder (1). Though I have thought about it for years, I have never really been able to pinpoint its inception—the one thing I am sure of though is its gradual nature. The infection was slow to spread, and effects all aspects of my work and the way I exist in the world. At the same time, I have yet to find a doctor that understands the disease. I think of it more as a recurring illness than anything like a disease. This is strange, because by its very nature, Hypertext is viral. At the same time, the essence of Hypertext, how it manifests in me, how I manifest ideas when afflicted reminds me somewhat of my allergies. I go through periods of great infection, heightened intellectual response, physical agitation, moments of hypergraphia, and swollen cortical membranes.

I have done the research, I have witnessed other people affected by Hypertext. Granted each of us respond to the disorder differently, but my own personal version of it seems to relate more to seeking information and making my own (sometimes exaggerated or deliberately misinterpreted) connections. In this respect, I am searching for patient zero, and I am now almost certain I was infected by my mom. Living in the digital world, in the great 21, I look back to my few years of life in the 20. I can’t help but think about my mom and her own multivariable disorders. The most virulent being Footnote. When you think about it, Footnote is the analog version of Hypertext. It exists in a more static form, but essentially it is the progenitor of Hypertext, evolving into its digital form in early 1990s.

Mom always read to me as a child. The Readings would range from science fiction, comic books as well as books on dinosaurs and art. We would read together and she would always recommend something new. I would read it, she would read it. And then she would point out the afterward, a particular essay in the book by the author or my favorite, the book’s bibliography (I later learned that bibliographies, when visible, are like the RNA of books, where the table of contents is the DNA, they work together and form the book into its true living form). Anyway, mom infected me. Always reading, always drawing and painting, always pointing out things, making connections and directing me to newer ideas. Better ideas. The infection carries. In 2001 my mom was finally diagnosed with Hypertext. We cried. Since then our own connections have been even stronger.

(Two of the most recent infections I got from my mom were List and Postit. In the 1980s she was diagnosed with the analog virus List—this still afflicts her, causing her to write things down on small notepads, she keeps them like journals and goes back over them, makes connections, rereads. Then in the mid 1990s she got Postit. At first I was innoculated by proximity. Postit, nor List were ever a concern for me. But as I slowly became more infected by graphic design, I began to develop the more robust symptoms of my mom’s analog disorders.)

(1) Hypertext is an associative disorder. This disorder causes the afflicted to incessantly follow references or “hyperlinks” particularly on the Internet (the analog form of the disorder is Footnote, tracing bibliographic lineages of annotated information). The root cause stems from a need to explore various aspects and additional influences to any given body of work. This disorder usually accompanies a form of hypergraphia (excessive writing) and hyperlexia (excessive reading).