Blog #1: My Response to "Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky"

My Response to "Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky"
By Andaiye Hall

Once I started reading, I immediately fell in love with this piece. Originally, I was going to write regarding Red Riding Hood by Donna Lieshman. I like the feeling I got when I started reading the story. Instead of just starting to read, I had to press Enter. I had to double check with myself to make sure that I was really ready to enter this new world/dimension. The sentences appeared on the screen and the narrator spoke in Arabic. They had a very soothing voice and seemed to say the intro in a calm melody.This added to the effectiveness of how the story's message was relayed. Since I couldn't understand, I was forced to keep watching the sentences appear. At times, I had to start over if I had missed a sentence.

The  music gave me an actual sound to visualizing the stars twinkling and feeling like I myself was in outer space. I loved the simple imagery that the designer chose for this piece at well. as the reader moves his or her mouse around it becomes prevalent that the blue stars carry messages and the white ones don't. I like how the reader can start wherever he/she wants and end wherever he/she wants. The music had a soothing effect as well. I feel like it opens the door to meditative thinking and reflection in the actual mind of the reader. Personally, I wanted to keep reading. It would have been nice if the designer had let the music slightly change as you pressed the different stars and read the respective messages.

This particular e-lit text allows the reader to have a small glance at each of the narrator's most memorable things/people from their past either experienced by them themselves or by their family members.The fact that this reading was relatable to a certain extent intrigued me. The narrator is so welcoming to a wide audience to be in his and his family's personal affairs. The traditional chapters of a book have been transformed into stars in this text and the author decides how long or short his chapters can be.
My key questions from this reading are:
Who is the narrator? Where were they born? How old are they? Why are they opening up themselves to the reading audience? What is the reader supposed to take away from this story? What is the symbolism of water supposed to mean? What does the author mean when they says "Shall I tell you of my water, which is getting thirsty"? How does water get thirsty? Is it a symbol for their soul somehow? How is the narrator so important that the whole world is destined to be their family? Is he or she now dead? Why is the uncle's palace unfinished? Is the uncle's palace a real place or symbolic of something else? Why did the author write in the manner that he did?

Examining Kenneth Goldsmith’s "Soliloquy"

"Soliloquy" by Kenneth Goldsmith is apparently the result of the author recording and transcribing every word he spoke in the span of a week.  It is divided by day, and then further divided by numerical pages, which seem to correspond only to the length of the content, not to any other factors (for example, a certain number does not equal a certain hour).  Each page begins with one line visible; the other lines appear and disappear as the mouse cursor moves over them. 

In one sense, "Soliloquy" functions as a cautionary piece, prompting readers to consider the sounds that spill from their lips each day (and "Soliloquy" shows us some of them, a lot of them, are just sounds). A great majority of the text in "Soliloquy" is devoted to verbal fillers and incoherent sentences.  Even when it's clear that the topic of speech is something that required a lot of thought, it comes out stunted by parasitic ums and you knows.  At first, I found this annoying because it was hard for me to make sense out of what I was reading.  I wanted full thoughts and articulate insights; after all, this guy's a writer!  Then I realized that what I wanted was dialogue and not speech.  Even knowing that this was essentially a work of creative nonfiction, that it was a real person's real words from a real week, I wanted the clarity and significance of fictional dialogue.  In short, I was holding this man to an unreal (in every sense of the word) standard.  Real people, even brilliant ones, give birth to a lot of meaningless words each day.  In helping his readers realize this, Goldsmith urges them to make every word count.  He encourages readers to make their everyday speech as meaningful as they can, with the goal of living up to the unreachable significance of fiction.  I find this quite interesting because generally an artificial thing is deemed less meaningful than a real thing.  "Soliloquy" calls that into question.  If fictional dialogue, and the amount of meaning it conveys, is the unattainable divine in this case, then readers, and the hollow ramblings they engender each day, are the lowly sinners.  The artificial is above the real.  In the words and cadence of Jerry Seinfeld, "What's up with that?"

There is also literary significance in the way that words/phrases are found and accessed in "Soliloquy."  Readers can choose to run down a page one line at a time, trying to imagine the words or reactions of the other, invisible, speaker in the conversation, or they can randomly point their cursor and see what pops up.  Oddly enough, the phrases make just as little sense in order as they do out of order.  This calls to question the way that meaning is created.  Earlier this week, I read Kenneth Bruffee's "Collaborative Learning" for another class.  Although I was reluctant to accept it at first, Bruffee asserts that meaning and knowledge are created socially, through interactions with other people.  "Soliloquy" did more to drive Brufee's point home for me than "Collaborative Learning" itself.  Seeing how disorienting and meaningless only one side of a conversation is was genuinely eye-opening. 

When one takes the two points of "Soliloquy," the comparative absurdity of real speech to fictional dialogue and the meaninglessness of only one side of a conversation, together with the title, it makes another point: there is not, nor can there ever be, such thing as a soliloquy in real life.