e155. Introduction to Ergodic Texts and Reading

ergodic text episode artwork featuring characters from several ergodic movies/shows, crossword style lettering, and the numbers from Lost

What does it mean to be an ergodic text? That’s a complicated question. For one thing, the very meaning of the word “text” can be variable to different people, but we at VoxPopcast tend to use the literary nerd definition. We call all pieces of media that we consume, enjoy and scrutinize “texts” regardless of whether they are books, films, music, or whatever. The “ergodic” part is possibly more confusing… or maybe more clear. Maybe both! Coined by Espen J. Aarseth, “In ergodic literature, nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text. If ergodic literature is to make sense as a concept, there must also be nonergodic literature, where the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no extranoematic responsibilities placed on the reader except (for example) eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages”. That is to say, that ergodic text are texts that require active work beyond the norm to properly consume the text. That totally makes sense, right?


Yeah, it was complicated for us too. On today’s episode, Wayne, Hannah and Mav welcome David Lee White to explore the concept of ergodic literature. What makes a text ergodic or nonergodic? What are some examples? If it’s about the effort and engagement of the reader then can anything be ergodic And if so, what does it mean to read a text ergodically? Why would anyone ever bother to do this? Join us as we walk through some of our favorite ergodic texts and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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