Jeffrey Achter

Perhaps because of the number of mathematicians involved in the project, the Oulipians seem to use the word topology in appropriate places. An example may be taken from Jacques Bens, Claude Berge, and Paul Braffot (Claude Berge is certainly a graph theorist; the (a)vocations of the others are unknown to me). They write:

A well-known anticipatory plagiarism is the song:

Je demande a un joueur d'orgue
s'il connait la Chaussee d'Antin, etc.

This example puts an essential semantic constraint into play: the possibility of an unlimited cycle of requests for information and efforts of orientation on the part of the hero, who translate the topological possibility of circuits in an itinerary on a graph. One may easily foresee the possibilities of more difficult constrains which a more rigorous consideration of the properties of the graph in question would raise. [110]

Here, the topology they are referring to is the topology of the graph theorist. Events are the vertices of the graph, and an edge from one vertex to another denotes a possible causative event. With this identification between the plot and its graph, it makes sense to use graph-theoretic (and thus topological) terminology to describe one's observations. Note the similarity between this analysis and the kind of topological analysis one would wish to perform on a hypertextual network. For the links one follows in a story could well correspond to the links one follows in exploring a hyperstory.