As far as we know, they never met, although they were acutely aware of each other, and they read -- or sometimes chose not to read -- each other's works. In this dense, experimental work, from an interface of six simultaneously generated arrays, every time "the whole room" is entered, a different version of is created. And, as the reader moves into subject-generated arrays -- from the Cornwall landscape to bisexual lives in a repressive society -- the contingencies of Richardson and Woolf's lives and writing practices emerge -- surprising, evocative, challenging, female.

The "whole room" quote is from Richardson's Pointed Roofs. Once inside "the whole room". Click on gray words to move to individual arrays. Continue to click on the gray words at the top of each array to stay in that array; observe how the interweaving of their lives and writing practice changes every time it reloads. To move to another array, or back to the "the whole room like a picture in a dream", select one of the gray-worded prompts that conclude the array you are in. Wherever you are in this work, the output you receive is unique, and, if you so desire, printing your version of the "the whole room" is appropriate for a work of generative poetry that interweaves the print-book writing practice of two extraordinary 20th century women writers.

This work is both finished and in progress. As my reading continues, new words are added to each array. But whenever you visit, it is complete at that time.

Notes on the creation of "the whole room like a picture in a dream":
Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing

Adapted from my May 28-30, 2017 Writer's Notebook entry

"Surely what fiction, at the its best, can do,
is to arrange data, truths
in their real relationship
by a process of selection.
Like an artist making a picture."
- Dorothy Richardson

While reading Dorothy's letters -- encountering many gaps, many unknowns about her life -- I considered how much more Virginia Woolf had written about her life and how their writing lives unfolded in parallel time periods, beginning with the 1915 publication of their first novels, Dorothy's Pointed Roofs and Virginia's The Voyage Out. The publisher for both of these works was Duckworth, founded by Virginia's half-brother, Gerald Duckworth.

At the time that I made the decision to change "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson Writing to "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing, I thought the combinational generative output would be dominated by differences between Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Richardson.

But, beginning with cornwall.html, their voices merged -- almost as if they were sisters -- to the point that sometimes even I have to consult the marginalia-key to know who is talking. In addition to "cornwall", the arrays where their voices often form a harmonious duet/dialogue, are writing.html, orlando.html, and the array that focuses on the way changing seasons and variable weather pervaded their lives and work, seasons.html.

Differences emerge more strongly when they are separately dialoguing with their partners, (Virginia_Leonard.html and Dorothy_Alan.html ), in the reading array (but only at the times when their reading practice differed), and in london.html where the separate circles they traversed in their different social situations is more apparent. But even here -- although, it does not appear that they ever met -- the output seems like a dialogue between two women, who know each other through their writing and are responding with the details of how they live in and interact with the city. In the example below, following the title phrases (Virginia, Dorothy), it is Virginia, Dorothy, Virginia, Virginia, Dorothy, Dorothy (these two phrases concern her parting with HG Wells), Virginia.

Notes on the creation of "the whole room like a picture in a dream":
Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing

Adapted from my April 4, 2017 Writer's Notebook entry

A s sometimes happens in my evolving practice -- in exploring the lineage of the algorithmically combined voices of Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf in "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing -- I return to John Cage. In this case, it is Cage's The First Meeting of the Satie Society. The electronic version of this work (not the book or the recording) was published on Art Com Electronic Network in 1986, where it was soon followed by my Uncle Roger.

In "Art Works as Organic Communication Systems", her paper in the 1991 Roy Ascott/Carl Loeffler edited issue of Leonardo, Anna Couey describes The First Meeting of the Satie Society in this way:

"Conceived by John Cage and realized through the application of programs written at Cage's request by Jim Rosenberg and Andrew Culver (1985-86), this homage to the composer Erik Satie consisted of texts (presents) by writers who knew and loved Satie's work (or who might have if they had existed in a time period that enabled them to know it), restructured by two computer programs. The texts were written by Henry David Thoreau, James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Chris Mann, Marshall McLuhan and John Cage, and also included selections from The Book of Genesis; there was also a "response" by Satie, consisting of selected quotes. One of the computer programs, MESOLIST, by Jim Rosenberg created mesostics on Satie's name and works from lines of text selected by IC a program by Andrew Culver that replicated the chance processes of the I Ching."

Couey's observations on the reader-revealed meaning of The First Meeting of the Satie Society are also of interest as regards "the whole room":

"The First Meeting of the Satie Society, while conceptually the work of Cage, was written through the convergence of several humans and software -- and reflects of a multiplicity of (not entirely human) voices. Cage's emphasis on the readers' use of the work points both to the importance of process (that art extends beyond its completion by the artist) and to user participation (in creating additional meanings through use)."

Notes on the creation of "the whole room like a picture in a dream":
Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing

Adapted from my January 21, 2017 Writer's Notebook entry

Waiting for the arrival of a print copy of Orlando is a satisfactory time to review the reading process for "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing.

I began intense reading sessions for the whole room in June, 2016.

In general, I alternated reading/rereading books and letters by Dorothy and books, diaries, and letters by Virginia. Much of the reading was begun on short walks in the woods in the spring summer and fall. In addition to the sheer pleasure of woods reading, reading in the woods allowed an isolation from other tasks -- no laptop, no household distractions, no email, no other books.

The idea for the whole room began with a debt I owe Dorothy Richardson. It happened in this way: while I was writing Uncle Roger, I was also thinking about where I would take this new writing, and I began to read Pilgrimage, starting with Pointed Roofs. If you look at the transition in my writing from Uncle Roger to its name was Penelope, the influence of Richardson's work is very clear.

Dorothy, because of her eventual isolation with Alan in Cornwall, and because of her reluctance to write much (outside of Pilgrimage) about her life, is difficult to approach. It would be of interest, I thought, to contrast her writing practice -- and the core parts of her life that contributed to it -- with the writing and life of her contemporary, Virginia Woolf.

My vision for the reading was to immerse myself in the lives and writing of these two extraordinary women writers. Thus, while I was reading, I did not usually select passages to eventually use in the whole room. That would have changed the nature of the reading. Although this process necessitated a return to the works when I began to choose variables to enter into my code, it insured that what I selected reflected a knowledge of the whole experience.

All the books I read could have been put into a full text database, and the desired keywords searched, but for this creative writer's project, that would not have effectively conveyed what I sought to convey in "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing.

Contingently, I found that computer text versions of my sources were -- at least for this writer's project -- not as immersive as the print book versions. Perhaps this is a tribute to the book interface, the binding, the paper pages, and the holding of the book solidly in one's hand -- in the way that Dorothy and Virginia intended their works to be experienced.

Virginia's Orlando was on the bookshelves of a cabin my grandfather built on a New Hampshire Lake. In the evening, I would peruse the books on these shelves in search of a book to take to my bunk to read at night -- while the waves lapped on the shore of the lake, and the woods were dark. In this way, as a child, I read Orlando several times. Although I found parts of it confusing, on the surface I experienced it as a swashbuckling tale. like others I read at that age. (The Three Musketeers for instance).

It was time to reread Orlando.

After reading/rereading Virginia's letters to Violet, her diary of the Vita era, and the "Jean" section of Dorothy's March Moonlight (among other sources for the "to refuse and to yield" section of the whole room), because I was not feeling that I should buy any more books, and because I have not wanted to use library books for this project, I tried to reread Orlando online. However, I did not find this satisfactory.

Yesterday, I ordered a print copy.

The print sources for: "the whole room like a picture in a dream": Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing are available in a list-in-progress, which is ordered by the date of first publication of each work.

Notes on the code for "the whole room like a picture in a dream":
Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing

"In the creation of interface, I work somewhat like a painter, who maintains his or her original vision in a series of works, while at the same time somewhat varying each work as the series progresses. And within each larger narrative, there may be variations of structure" -- Judy Malloy, Paths of Memory and Painting

The core of my work with generative electronic literature has been with generative hypertext. Beginning in 1988, works, including "Terminals" (File 3 of Uncle Roger, 1988) and its name was Penelope (1988), generated lexias that were accessed by the program. Cantos 7 and 8 of From Ireland with Letters (The Not Yet Named Jig (2014) and when we return again, 2015) generated lexias that were stored in the program itself.

Last year, for "Another Party in Woodside", which was a prize winner in the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth's Turing Test in the Computational Arts, I recreated the party that opens Uncle Roger by coding a series of keyword-identified arrays, which housed and generated short phrases and sentences (as opposed to complete lexias). As in my generative hypertexts, it should be noted that "Another Party in Woodside" was designed so that although the random (technically pseudo-random) nature of the output was core to the work, the writing and the algorithms were equally important in producing an outcome that celebrated both the role of code and the role of the poet in creating writerly output.

Also using keyword-identified short texts that are written directly into the code, the program I wrote for "the whole room like a picture in a dream" (JavaScript in an HTML/CSS environment) is based on my "Another Party in Woodside" code. Because it is a method that merges the coding and the writing, for an (in this case) electronic manuscript creator/coder, the process of creating "the whole room" is very satisfying.

And in the code, Dorothy and Virginia continue reading and writing forever...

Last updated on June 7, 2017
.....sources for this work
.....return to "the whole room"