Madrid Tennant


A Hypermedia Wickedary

With the Hypermedia Wickedary, I am paying tribute to Mary Daly. When I look at Daly’s work, I am continually amazed by her ability to communicate incredibly complicated and radical philosophical arguments efficiently and in a way that is accessible to a wide range of people. She uses metaphors to bring not only meaning but play into a feminist understanding of the world. It is this element of play that I hope to enhance with my hypermedia version of her work.

As a scholar and an activist, Mary Daly has been on the forefront of feminist theory. Her 1987 parody of patriarchal dictionaries, the Websters’ First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language (Wickedary), is a document written in hypertext. It may be confined to the printed page, but with its bits of information cross-referenced, coded and annotated, its text occupies an intellectual space rather than a flat page. The Wickedary allows the reader to freely navigate terms and concepts from her other books. She gives the readers connections to follow at their discretion and gives them notes that expand her text into other writers’ works, making connections to the larger feminist community and an intellectual heritage. This step into hyper-space, while unfulfilled in the digital sense, fulfills her own demand for "Weaving" by "Websters," "Lusty Leaping," "Journeying" and occupying the "Otherworld," all words made up or modified by Daly.

These word plays and their various meanings keep the mind sharp and nimble for learning new things. The digital version of the Wickedary is also nimble in that I have added new words and new definitions. For example, I have added Donna Haraway’s "Cyborg" and S. Paige Baty’s "Matrix" to the digital Wickedary. I also added the word "Computer" to highlight cyber-feminist Sadie Plant’s observation that computers were formerly groups of women who computed targeting coordinates for the military. Each of these additions participate in Daly’s challenging of language and culture.

With this work I have an opportunity to "Weave" and "Spin," in Daly’s terms, to become Haraway’s "cyborg" occupying Baty’s "matrix". I take this opportunity to participate in the play with metaphors, because metaphors enable the mind to cross boundaries, boundaries within feminist discourse as well as boundaries between feminist discourse and technology. The Hypermedia Wickedary enables the bringing together of divergent perspectives on "being," creating a space in which radical feminism can be "Dis-covered" rather than redeemed.