Autocento of the breakfast table


Technology has utterly changed the ways in which we interact with ourselves, society, and nature. Ways of thinking and collaborating thought all-but-impossible less than a generation ago have become commonplace, even necessary, in the Internet age. Autocento of the breakfast table is an attempt to leverage the power of the Internet to capture the author’s inspiration, composition, and revision processes all at one time, through a linked hypertext.

As a website, Autocento of the breakfast table is at first enigmatic. The reader is unable to merely consume the text; they must actively interact with it—by clicking links, in this case—in order to create a meaning. In doing so, the reader empathetically engages with the author’s published self, journeying with the author or around the author to create a text that is utterly unique to the moment it’s being read. In a sense, the reader is not merely a reader, but a user of the text in front of them: they can get as much or as little from it as they are willing.

The Internet is the perfect medium for a text like Autocento of the breakfast table. Scott Rosenberg, in his essay “Will Deep Links Ever Truly Be Deep?” on Medium, notes that “originally, the exact purpose of links was” to make “conceptual links” and connect “disparate thoughts” across a democratic space—the Web. The Web, envisioned this way, removes the arbitrary structuring of page order, publishing imprints, and temporality that print technology is bounded by. With a Web-like platform, ideas can live of themselves, by themselves, and for themselves: instead of ordering ideas by some value system, we can organically link them together by similarities.

The ideas that Autocento of the breakfast table works with and links together are the hapax legomenon, or “something said only once,” and the cento, or “patchwork garment.” These two ideas are held in a kind of balance when expanded to the scale of a poem: while every word has necessarily been said before, every thought unoriginal, the author can hope to arrange these unoriginal thoughts into their own shapes. To put it another way, we’re all making pots out of the same clay, but each one is irrevocably ours. The cento of Autocento of the breakfast table is the project itself, in its entirety; I am a composite of everything I’ve done.

Case Duckworth Flagstaff, 2015