Internationale Kulturwissenschaften
International Cultural Studies
Etudes culturelles internationales

Sektion IX: International Scientific Community, Internet, Kommunikationsprozesse und Erkenntnisinteressen

Section IX:
International Scientific Community, Internet, Communication Processes and Cognitive Interests

Section IX:
Communauté scientifique internationale, internet, processus de communication et intérêts cognitifs

Ernest W.B. Hess-Lüttich (Bern) [BIO]


Text Space: Holistic Texts?


1. The Semiotic Perspective: Constructing Space through Texts

Referring to text as space is a semiotic paradox, argues Nöth (1994: 163) in his article on "Der Text als Raum". Structurally, natural human conversation is an acoustic phenomenon without spatial extension: it is structured as a sequence in time. However, its product is the text, which is referred to very often in terms of spatial metaphors. Already Saussure, speaking of the chaîne phonétique only in terms of time, attributed to the linearity of signs a spatial dimension: the geometry of the line. This is what Nöth calls a semiotic paradox, and he compiles an amazing number of examples for the linguistic expression of what he calls the geometry and topography of textual space.

Nöth finds them especially in metaphors, the literal meaning of which refers to spatial structures as in points or lines (first dimension), or as in metatextual topoi of space, levels, or surface structures (second dimension), or as in intratextual or intertextual reference, bodily topoi, or metatextual organization of units such as chapters, etc. (third dimension). These examples may suggest a static concept of textual space, but there are many examples of a dynamic spatial concept as well e.g., changes of (textual) space, movement within (textual) space, its limits and extension, and, of course, all the linguistic means of deictic reference.

Nöth's findings may well confirm an early hypothesis on the cognitive origin of these linguistic expressions, i.e. that, as Lyons proposed already in his work Semantics (1977: 282), they are "based upon some kind of analogical extension of distinctions which we first learn to apply with respect to our own orientation and the location or locomotion of other objects in the external world". Indeed, cognitive semantics has attempted to explain the remarkable frequency of space metaphor in everyday language by the biological relevance of how humans perceive space and orient themselves within it in phases of prelinguistic language acquisition (cf. Lakoff 1987: 269-292).

And one could refer to yet another tradition of arguing for spatial concepts of text, i.e. the tradition of ancient rhetoric. Ars and techné of memoria in Greek and Roman mnemonics were space-oriented. As Harald Weinrich illustrates so convincingly in his most recent book on Lethe - Kunst und Kritik des Vergessens (Weinrich 1997), the ancient concept of memory and, consequently, of the rhetorical organization of both everyday conversation and of argumentation (in court, in scientific disputatio, etc.), is based on the idea of space. This tradition was challenged only by the concept of reason in the early Enlightenment (for discussion of these opposing concepts of memoria and ratio in 18th-century philosophy with special reference to the semiotics of J.H. Lambert, cf. Hess-Lüttich & Schiewer 1997, in press).

All these findings open up a new perspective on the Saussurian notion of textual linearity. Following the new discussion in semiotics on the relation of linear vs. holistic texts which profited from various sources (not only rhetoric, linguistics, and cognitive science, but also media and cultural studies, cf. Hess-Lüttich & Müller eds. 1994), one may well now focus on semiotic relationships between cognitive categorization of space and its textual representation in various sign systems (i.e. texts not only in the syntactical understanding of linguistics).

If we understand culture as a form of memory, and if we avoid separating cultural memory from the process (and history) of human communication, we may well combine the two sources referred to earlier - the cognitive and the rhetorical - and link them to the cultural process of semiosis which finds its Gestalt (cf. lat. textus, web, Germ. Gewebe) in texts. This is more or less the starting point of a Kassel dissertation supervised by Winfried Nöth and about to appear in the Kodikas Supplement Series (Wenz 1997). In her book, Karin Wenz investigates the semiotic representation of space perceived within texts.

Focusing on the problem of how to represent the complexity of three-dimensional space in the linearity of one-dimensional sign sequences (e.g., sentences), Wenz suggests that texts may develop their own (metaphorical) notion of space within which the reader will find his/her orientation during the process of reading. In other words, it is the reader who constructs 'text space' based on interpretation of sign sequences functioning as semiotic Gestalt.

This can best be demonstrated by looking at the way reality and fiction are linked by imagination in literary space. Thus modern aesthetics of space is opposed to the traditional separation between space and time and its adequate media, say, painting and fiction. This was the line of argument ("bequemes Verhältnis") Lessing masterly unfolded in his Laokoon (cf. for its reconstruction and critique already expressed in semiotic terms Hess-Lüttich 1984). But if we understand the linearity of texts as a projection of semiotic principles structured on a kind of ordo naturalis of language, we may logically also argue for a cultural convention or social order of space designed through texts: it is a matter of categorizing perception through shared knowledge, or, as Lakoff (1987: 126) put it, seeing always means "seeing as". The natural "embodiment" of the perceived spatial relations is culturally encoded and thereby leads to a kind of iconic link between perception, language, and the world perceived. However, the codes representing space are not merely images of the surrounding world but instructions to its individual and social construction.

This is the crude background against which Karin Wenz suggests that categorization and imagination mediate not only between holistic perception and linear language but also between reality and fiction, between world and virtuality. This is the point where she turns to principles of hypertext which can be described as procedure of linking units of data to a network of information encoded in various media. The operational set-up simulates space, virtual space, or cyberspace. This is what motivates us, in turn, to take a closer look at the 'text' component in the new theory of Hypertext (Landow 1992).


2. The Historical Perspective: From the Turing Machine to the Text Generator

In his Fünf Thesen zur Geburt der Hypermedien (Five Theses on the Birth of Hypermedia) Bremen computer scientist Wolfgang Coy reconstructs the historic conditions of the "cultural subversive" communications revolution now underway and expected to unfold with complete success in the next century through the omnipresence of highly efficient media networking (Coy 1994: 69-74; cf. Hiebel 1991: 186-224). Just as writing first made the carelessly spoken word individually available, reviewable, recordable, and transferable, just as in the 12th century certain text building blocks (such as division into paragraphs, sections, chapters, indices, and tables of contents) enabled the step from manuscript to book, just as the "historic construction of the text [was] the premise of the Gutenberg media revolution" (Coy 1994: 70), just as Gutenberg's artificialiter scribere permitted the book to become a technically reproducible repository of knowledge, for which the encyclopedia served as a paradigm during the Enlightenment, so Alan M. Turing executed the decisive step to "mechanizing mental effort" with his "Turing machine" (Nake 1992: 181-201) from artificialiter scribere to algorithmic programming of automats: "The Gutenberg galaxy of static printing media was absorbed dynamically by programmable media in the Turing galaxy." (Coy 1994:71)

The "theoretical" possibility this has opened of coding texts digitally of whatever semiotic structure and modality is beginning to bring about practical results: the change in mechanical, electrical, thermodynamic, and biochemical impulses as well as sensual allocation of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling values are for the first time finding digitizing to be a common medium for uniform application of precisely copiable and reproducible machine memory, conversion, and intermedial translation.

The change resulting from this in our handed-down communications culture (with corresponding implications for traditional patterns of trusted text structures and types of text divisions, for security in judging between "original" and "copy", between authentic picture and photographic negative) we are sharing at the moment when we send letters by fax or E-mail, when we carry out telephone conversations by ISDN networks, when we exchange texts via the WorldWideWeb, when we listen to music from a compact disc or play a video on a CD-ROM, when we follow news in the media over (supposed) reality which may be real or "virtual", when we immerse ourselves in the fantasy world of commercial or movie films through computer animation of technically manipulated perception.

The computer becomes the quintessential media-integrating machine which "opens new possibilities of interactive use through its algorithmic programmability" (Coy 1994: 73). Our everyday contact is determined by multimedia communication, whether we want it to or not. Our perception is being changed by automats: "The history of the media is a history of perception patterns." (Bolz 1990: 134) Symbol-integrating "holistic" use of signs in contact with concepts such as hypertext requires new ways to see, speak, and think. Are we properly equipped for it? "Will we speak computer language?" (Gauger & Heckmann eds. 1988). Or will the machine speak ours?


3. The Structural Perspective: System Design of Multimedial Text Integration

Important for those interested in text theory are technically caused changes in valid principles of textual design, production, reception, transformation, and distribution which begin to emerge through the hypertext concept and their repercussions which only gradually form an outline on the functions of communications media and the lingual text forms of traditionally linear text design (cf. Kuhlen 1991). Lingually distributed meaning no longer consists only of grammatical rules within text concerning linked signs but also of integrating numerous semiotically coded multimedial sign aggregates (cf. Hess-Lüttich 1994).

System design is based on combination of few elements (see Rieger 1994: 390 ff.; Fendt 1995: 53-77). Electronically linking databases of various structure and function (texts, graphics, tables, pictures, videos, tones, sounds, musical sequences) with processing instruments (text processing, graphic programs, numeric calculation, statistical programs, picture manipulation, MIDI interfaces, etc.) by pointer and anchor structures or icons permits using "windows technology" to produce, present, change, and repeat at any time. Each window on the monitor corresponds to a node in the database which is summoned by the corresponding links, "opened", and can be connected with other nodes. Nodes and links, texts (in the semiotic sense) as units of information and intertextual reference functions (in the sense of bookmarks, annotations, intra- or extratextual links) are the elementary components of the hypertext concept. Discussion about them in the relevant literature therefore occupies much space without it having led to precisely agreed upon definitions (Nielson 1990; Kuhlen 1991). It enables the text's networking structure by which the 'author' writes 'lessons' to the 'reader' in the text which follow linking instructions or can be directed to the 'author' by producing new links and nodes manipulating the datebase, supplementing it, or creating it. Links or reference functions can also occur at several levels and lead to an associative branch-learning process which may divert the 'reader' from the original text as does scanning an encyclopedia. Depending on the reference level, the 'reader' himself decides on his reading strategy according to his interest and the relevance of the topic.

Obviously in this manner he can easily lose his way within the labyrinth of texts, nodes, and references - a quandary gleefully characterized by the expression "lost in hyperspace". Freedom of contact with texts is thus fraught with the danger of losing one's orientation and with being deluged by information ("data trash") which finally threatens reader 'activity' with being turned into total passivity in the meantime. It thus calls for effective navigation aids which simplify the networking structure of hypertext to orient the reader/author and allow him to establish a coherent framework for understanding among the many reading paths and text alternatives.

Hence, depending on interest, he might wish to enrich his knowledge by reading text lessons on certain somewhat historical or culturally contrasting perspectives or pursue partial aspects of a topic and seek comments on key terms and compare them with related concepts. He thus has his library in the machine with encyclopedias and reference works, so reaching for the bookshelf becomes "clicking" with the "mouse".

What might potentially be lost to contextual complexity (by reduction in the multiplicity of texts within programmed nodes and selected segments) is retrieved by the variety of perspectives which allow the 'reader' to cast new insights on the text over and over again. Depending on his interest, he choses between alternatives offered in a node and thus opens ever new trails through the labyrinth of texts within the 'framework' of limitations mapped out by the system. Thus freedom of choice between references is not endless, as often suggested; it is limited by the system frame within which the search strategies of text networking are programmed.

Such processes for gaining an overview, as were developed in the book culture over centuries past (Clausberg 1994: 5-9), are still in the developing stage within the hypertext system. For a long time their optimal semiotic structure was the object of sharp debates, but now the squabbles appear over. The issue of whether the "contact area" between mankind and machine (the "user surface", the "interface") to carry out such reference and linking operations should be modeled symbolically, or through icons, has been decided in favor of an "interface design" which bears in mind not only technical but also cognitive, perceptual, and emotive aspects (cf. Laurel 1990: xi).

The extent to which semiotic solutions now and then come to light is typically at the same time metaphorical and culture-specific (cf. Carroll, Mack & Kellog 1988). One is pleased to gain an overview through maps. Texts, as on the job (preferably in the anglosaxon idiom), are laid out in desktop form as as documents or files within folders or thrown into the trash bin. The "user friendliness" strived for should reduce the cognitive burden of the modus operandi and simplify concentration on content processing. But asking if the iconic metaphors developed for this are universally understandable and acceptable (even if tending toward standardization) is just as controversial as asking if the principles of interface design should correspond to those of Aristotelian drama theory or perhaps as Brenda Laurel (1991: 125-159) hopes to a more intense emotional involvement of the text user.


4. The Aesthetic Perspective: Hypertext, Literature, and Machine

Since the appearance of Theodor Holm Nelson's opus magnum on the Literary Machines (1987), voices urging a literary-theory basis for the hypertext concept have gained in power and following (e.g., Bolter 1991; Delany & Landow eds. 1991; Landow 1992). In the process American lack of decorum prevailed, and all sides joined in the free-for-all enthusiastically. If Roland Barthes understood much of calculators or not in the tranquilly PC-free 1960s, he at least anticipated it as he envisioned texts "as far as the eye can reach" (Barthes 1974: 11; cf. Bolter 1991: 161; Landow 1992: 3). After discovery of computer language, which he must have sensed, that the second historical revolution in the history of ideas beckoned which would overthrow all traditional notions of culture, literature, or society (Bolter 1991: 233 ff.). The entire range of subject matter becomes under bold attack from the Jewish Mishnah to the literary avant-garde (Landow 1992), from Horace's ars poetica to hypertext's ars combinatoria, from the myth of antiquity to the machine of modernity (cf. Bolter 1991: 35 ff.) if it is valid to prove hypertext to be "an essentially literary concept" (Slatin 1988: 112) and to cite predecessors for it and parallels to find and invent. Take it slower, one wants to say from a traditional European standpoint.

Landow has examined Aristotle's Poetry, and behold: hypertext repeals it. No longer do we hear of "fixed sequence, definite beginning and ending, a story's 'certain definite magnitude', and the conception of unity or wholeness" (Landow 1992: 102). Now the rules of Aristotelian poetry have been violated frequently, even by authors who still operated with a quill in producing their texts. They belonged to the swiftly growing community of hypertext predecessors. Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy is gladly noted here with its gift of digression or James Joyce's Ulysses and Finnegans Wake with its encyclopedically branched chain of associations and subtle reference network (cf. Eco 1987: 72; id. 1990: 138), Alain Robbe-Grillet or Jorge Luis Borges or Vladimir Nabokov: their works are evidence of the authors' attempt "to divorce themselves from imposing a particular reading of their texts on their readers, attempting to eliminate linearity of texts" (Ledgerwood 1997: 550).

Admittedly the book had a beginning and an end. But what forces us toward linearity in the reading? Was it not precisely the reputable scripts of ancient cultures which released us from this compulsion: the signs of Lao Tse, the Dead Sea scrolls, the Talmud, the Christian Bible? One imagines only a tract from the Talmud, the page artfully designed with headlines and footnotes, with the text of the Hebrew Mishnah in the middle, framed by commentary of the Aramaic Gemara, expanded by explanatory Haggadah, associatively linked parables and mnemotechnically helpful remarks and wordplays, cross references on other passages, on the Bible or Middle-Ages scripts, insertions, marginal notations, corrections, comments taken up from centuries past. Thus in the course of time arose "a thick tangle of texts about texts with countless references and argumentations which precisely through the various types of readings, spelled out in numerous commentaries, called for always newer 'unending' interpretative work" (Fendt 1995: Ms 93).

What has been expressed over the centuries in careful contact with handwritten scripts (we have the monastic scriptures in mind) in traces of their critical use and in sedimented interlinear or marginal comments testifies to the plurality of an anonymous authorship which contributed to development and growth of the text. In principle nothing else tempts the users of hypertext when they open window after window and see what authors have collected over time and strewn far and wide from their point of origin. Thus the 'text memory' is updated and expanded in the immeasurable and perhaps inscrutable, and it finds its limits only in those of the computer memory. Those who get lose in the maze may recall as consolation - educated as we hope he or she is - the mating tradition of the text labyrinth beloved since antiquity and matured into full bloom in the 17th century by which the Ariadne threads of linear lessons never promised a completely secure escort.

Nonlinearity, reader activity, intertextuality, plurality of the types of readings, and openness of the reader's trail: it is not so difficult to find literary examples for each of these hypertext characteristics. Fendt (1995: 108) summarizes the relevant efforts to use texts from authors who "[have] made a program from them, experimenting with literary-aesthetic patterns and with an amazing abundance of criteria which also apply for hypertext". On the other hand, disciples of post-modern "literary theory" exuberantly evade one or another metaphoric imprecisions if one evokes Derrida or Bataille or even Sebeok concerning the "unlimited semiosis in the semiotic web". Chunks and links in the hypertext system are always codable; the number of possible links pushes the physical limits of calculable capacity (and physical limits of perceivability); someone must produce links between text units defined and selected by them within the program's frame of possibilities; the units (texts, nodes, chunks) must contain meaningful interfaces for further links (not necessarily intended as such by the original author); given the number of links, reading from the text loses meaning as a semantically functioning unit; not all links are equally plausible, be that as it may, one falls silent at the outlook of many intertextuality theoreticians whose hard-to-disprove finding relates everything to everything and eavedrops on the polyphony of voices in the chambre d'echos of the Bibliothèque générale (Barthes).

If all links were equally valid, they would be indifferent to the demand for justification. Eco (1990) noted the limits of interpretation against this "something for everybody" view and asserts plausibility demands on Derrida or Bataille. Responding to Peirce, he recalls that even with theoretically unlimited potential links of given interpretations using signs (complexes), the number of actually selected links is finite and limited. Not all metatexts are of equal value to texts; a few succeeded, but others were justifiably discarded; certain links made more sense than others; many trails also led to dead ends. It is wise to keep this in mind if future theoretical text considerations on hypertext are developed before the foil of aesthetic and literary text theories.



Barthes, Roland 1974: s/z, New York: Hill and Wang.
Bolter, Jay David 1990: Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing, New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Bolter, Jay David 1991: "Topographic Writing: Hypertext and the Electronic Writing Space", in: Delany & Landow (eds.) 1991: 105-118.
Bolz, Norbert 1990: Theorie der neuen Medien, Munich: Raben.
Carroll, John M., Robert L. Mack & Wendy A. Kellogg 1988: "Interface metaphors and user interface design", in: Martin Helander (ed.) 1988: Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction, Amsterdam: North Holland.
Clausberg, Karl 1994: "Gummiband und Gummilinse: Mittelalterliche Vorbilder für graphische Benutzungsoberflächen", in: Zeitschrift für Semiotik 16: 1-2, 5-9.
Delany, Paul & George P. Landow (eds.) 1991: Hypermedia and Literary Studies, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Eco, Umberto 1987: Lector in fabula. Die Mitarbeit der Interpretation in erzählenden Texten, Munich: Hanser.
Eco, Umberto 1990: The Limits of Interpretation, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
Fendt, Kurt 1995: Offene Texte und nicht-lineares Lesen. Hypertext und Textwissenschaft, Ph.D. manus., University of Berne.
Gauger, Hans-Martin & Herbert Heckmann (eds.) 1988: Wir sprechen anders. Warum Computer nicht sprechen können, Frankfurt am Main: Fischer.
Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. (ed.) 1982: Multimedia Communication. 2 vols, Tubingen: Narr.
Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. 1984: "Medium - Prozeß - Illusion. Zur rationalen Rekonstruktion der Zeichenlehre Lessings im 'Laokoon'", in: Gunter Gebauer (ed.) 1984: Das Laokoon-Projekt. Pläne einer semiotischen Ästhetik, Stuttgart: Metzler, 103-136.
Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. & Roland Posner (eds.) 1990: Code-Wechsel. Texte im Medienvergleich, Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.
Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. (ed.) 1991: Literature and Other Media. Teaching German in the Age of Multimedia Communication, Tubingen: Narr.
Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. (ed.) 1992: Medienkultur - Kulturkonflikt, Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.
Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. 1992: "Die Zeichenwelt der multimedialen Kommunikation", in: id. ed. 1992: 431-450.
Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. & Jürgen E. Müller (eds.) 1994: Semiohistory and the Media. Linear and Holistic Structures in Various Sign Systems, Tubingen: Narr.
Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. & Gesine L. Schiewer 1997: "Lamberts Semiotik. Gedächtnis, Erkenntnis, Kommunikation", in: Hess-Lüttich & Schlieben Lange (eds.) 1997.
Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. & Brigitte Schlieben-Lange (eds.) 1997: Signs & Time, Tubingen: Narr (in press).
Hiebel, Hans H. 1991: "Media, Tabelle zur Geschichte der Medien-Technik", in: Elm, Theo & id. (eds.) 1991: Medien und Maschinen. Literatur im technischen Zeitalter, Freiburg/Brsg.: Rombach, 186-224.
Kuhlen, Rainer 1991: Hypertext. Ein nicht-lineares Medium zwischen Buch und Wissensbank, Berlin: Springer 1991.
Lakoff, George 1987: Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Landow, George P. 1992: Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology, Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.
Landow, George P. (ed.) 1994: Hyper/Text/Theory, Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University.
Laurel, Brenda (ed.) 1990: The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Laurel, Brenda 1991: Computers as Theater, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Ledgerwood, Mikle David 1997: "Hypertextuality and Multimedia Literature", in: Nöth (ed.) 1997: 547-558.
Lyons, John 1977: Semantics. 2 vols., Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.
Nake, Frieder 1992: "Informatik und die Maschinisierung von Kopfarbeit", in: Wolfgang Coy et al. 1992: Sichtweisen der Informatik, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden: Vieweg, 181-201.
Nelson, Theodor Holm 1967: "Getting it Out of Our System", in: Schecter, George (ed.) 1967: Information Retrieval: A Critical View, Washington/London: Thompson/Academic Press, 191-210.
Nelson, Theodor Holm 1987: Literary Machines, Swathmore, PA: self-published, Vers. 87: 1.
Nielsen, Jakob (ed.) 1990: Designing Interfaces for International Use, Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Nielsen, Jakob 1990: Hypertext and Hypermedia, Boston: Academic Press.
Nöth, Winfried 1994: "Der Text als Raum", in: Dieter W. Halwachs et al. (eds.) 1994: Sprache, Onomatopöie, Rhetorik, Namen, Idiomatik, Grammatik. Festschrift für Karl Sornig. Graz: Universität: 163-174.
Nöth, Winfried (ed.) 1997: Semiotics of the Media. State of the Arts, Projects, and Perspectives, Berlin/New York: Mouton. (= Approaches to Semiotics 127)
Rieger, Burghard 1994: "Wissensrepräsentation als Hypertext. Beispiel und Problematik einer Verstehenstechnologie", in: Ludwig Jäger & Bernd Switalla (eds.) 1994: Germanistik in der Mediengesellschaft, Munich: Fink, 373-404.
Slatin, John M. 1988: "Hypertext and the Teaching of Writing", in: Edward Barrett (ed.) 1988: Text, ConText, and Hypertext: Writing with and for the Computer, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 111-129.
Slatin, John M. 1991: "Reading Hypertext: Order and Coherence in a New Medium", in: Delany & Landow (eds.) 1991: 153-170.
Weinrich, Harald 1997: Lethe - Kunst und Kritik des Vergessens, Munich: C.H. Beck.
Wenz, Karin 1997: Kultur als Programm. Textuelle Raumzeichen und textueller Zeichenraum als Ereignis, Tubingen: Narr (= Kodikas Supplement Series 22).

Internationale Kulturwissenschaften
International Cultural Studies
Etudes culturelles internationales

Sektion IX: International Scientific Community, Internet, Kommunikationsprozesse und Erkenntnisinteressen

Section IX:
International Scientific Community, Internet, Communication Processes and Cognitive Interests

Section IX:
Communauté scientifique internationale, internet, processus de communication et intérêts cognitifs

© INST 1999

Institut zur Erforschung und Förderung österreichischer und internationaler Literaturprozesse

 Research Institute for Austrian and International Literature and Cultural Studies

 Institut de recherche de littérature et civilisation autrichiennes et internationales