With Those We Love Alive

With Those We Love Alive was unlike any of the other e-lit pieces we read in this class; it is classified by its authors and its readers as a game. Unlike the roulette piece we “read”, where the story was in foretold deaths on a roulette machine, this piece had you embody a craftsman. You make tools and weapons for the evil empress who is literally a monster. Her introduction, rising from black waters – “Her larval skin floats across the lake like the carcass of a pale leviathan” – sets the tone for a world where you are surrounded by the dead, but it’s as if you accept this mundane life for yourself. In this world, you are allowed to roam around her palace. This is how the game is played. You experience different days throughout this game and each day something different can appear within the text. When I first played this game, I did not understand how to advance in the game… The text would stay the same and I saw no ending. After watching a game Walkthrough I realized that there was much more to this game. There is also a “Notes” option you can click on when beginning. This also helps you navigate your way through the game.
You can express yourself a little with the choices you make in the beginning and through the weapons you create for the Empress, choosing the materials – angel leather, blood-watered wood and other spooky materials – then inscribing and wrapping them. You can explore and meditate and sleep. After you play for a bit and explore, things start to happen.I don't want to give any spoilers about the main gameplay and what happens in the end, but the mundanity of the life you have embodied is broken, and you find hope of being who you want to be.
This game allows you to look at a different perspective into the mundane lives we already live in society. We serve a higher power everyday. We live in a society where we are not in control of our lives the way we would hope. We live to work. It’s about the roles we have to play, and the choices other people make for us. It’s about complicity and complacency. It’s about abandoning hope and finding it. It’s about the distaste of being eternally tired. Just like the game, we are marked by the end of our lives with the decisions we've made.
I love how other people have played this game and have blogged about their experiences. I enjoyed looking at the Symbols other people drew on themselves. In a game where the world can make you feel so alone, I enjoyed knowing that I was not the only one to have felt this way. The meaning behind this purely fictional game is one that I love because it is so reflective of the life we already live…

I hope you enjoy playing this game as much as I did!!

With Those We Love Alive

With Those We Love Alive was unlike any of the other e-lit pieces we read in this class; it is classified by its authors and its readers as a game. Unlike the roulette piece we “read”, where the story was in foretold deaths on a roulette machine, this piece had you embody a craftsman. You make tools and weapons for the evil empress who is literally a monster. Her introduction, rising from black waters – “Her larval skin floats across the lake like the carcass of a pale leviathan” – sets the tone for a world where you are surrounded by the dead, but it’s as if you accept this mundane life for yourself. In this world, you are allowed to roam around her palace. This is how the game is played. You experience different days throughout this game and each day something different can appear within the text. When I first played this game, I did not understand how to advance in the game… The text would stay the same and I saw no ending. After watching a game Walkthrough I realized that there was much more to this game. There is also a “Notes” option you can click on when beginning. This also helps you navigate your way through the game.
You can express yourself a little with the choices you make in the beginning and through the weapons you create for the Empress, choosing the materials – angel leather, blood-watered wood and other spooky materials – then inscribing and wrapping them. You can explore and meditate and sleep. After you play for a bit and explore, things start to happen.I don't want to give any spoilers about the main gameplay and what happens in the end, but the mundanity of the life you have embodied is broken, and you find hope of being who you want to be.
This game allows you to look at a different perspective into the mundane lives we already live in society. We serve a higher power everyday. We live in a society where we are not in control of our lives the way we would hope. We live to work. It’s about the roles we have to play, and the choices other people make for us. It’s about complicity and complacency. It’s about abandoning hope and finding it. It’s about the distaste of being eternally tired. Just like the game, we are marked by the end of our lives with the decisions we've made.
I love how other people have played this game and have blogged about their experiences. I enjoyed looking at the Symbols other people drew on themselves. In a game where the world can make you feel so alone, I enjoyed knowing that I was not the only one to have felt this way. The meaning behind this purely fictional game is one that I love because it is so reflective of the life we already live…

I hope you enjoy playing this game as much as I did!!

Blog #11- The Cape

cape http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/carpenter__the_cape/sound_carries_stairs.html

 

J. R. Carpenter’s The Cape, is an interesting form of a hypertext poem using both words and images combined. It is about a woman who seems to be young, visiting her grandmother and uncle in Cape Cod. Although it is believed that the images, maps, data, video, etc. all seem to be factual, we know this not to be true because Carpenter explains it in her description about Cape Cod being a real place, but the pictures and characters are not real or not real in their size. It discusses its history with old black and white photos.

When entering this piece I was tempted to click on an “out-of-order” image when given multiple options, but because of the type of reader I am in which I like things to go from start to finish, I decided on clicking the first image on the top left which was the window of a house. The first few lines describe the woman’s location of where she was or was going and who she would be seeing out in Cape Cod. All of this came along side a compass and an image of what is believed to be her Grandmother’s house because she discusses her grandma living in “Cape Cod with a Cape Cod house” and her uncle living in the same place, but not in that “type” of house so ultimately I saw this house as the “Cape Cod” house. A portion of a map is also provided in order to help the reader get a better understanding of its location.

The next image was interesting because once I scrolled over the larger image, a piece in the middle began floating away slowly. Under that, the image starts moving very slowly as it reveals itself. Fortunately, I was able to find a way to see the image as a whole because I was not seeing the whole picture. By clicking the image and dragging it a little, the entire image pops out in full and we can see it is a person standing on the beach dressed as if it were freezing outside. This goes along with the text describing how in the winter they would walk on the beach.

The next image over is revealing a map and discussing how because this was from so long ago, everything is in black and white. All images still remain black and white as I scroll through. The slow revealing of the images given in some of the sections seem to be slow because back in history everything was slower. Now people are always moving so quickly and not taking the time to really see things anymore. These slow, old images come out little by little allowing the reader to take their time with it.

The last image is interesting because I expect another part of the story, but instead the reader chooses to explain the story and why they did the things they did. For example, it is explained that navigating the piece is fine in anyway chosen, but the narrator does from left to right. There is also a comment box for the reader which I have not come across in any other Elit piece. Overall, I was not a fan of this piece. It was slow and a little boring to me because the black and white images revealed so slowly. I like fast- paced pieces with sounds to help capture my attention.


With those we love alive? Or do we?

With Those We Love Alive is a game built to be an interactive storytelling world of a whole new outlook on elit. Gameplay consists of reading and clicking links, with a platform provided by shifting background colors blistering meaningful words. It’s not your typical game that you would think would be played on a game console or phone for instance. This is a game that will have you traveling through a portal created by your own mind and it’s outcome.

Language is everything in this game, and Porpentine uses it to eerie and mesmerizing effect. Caromine, one of many names serves the Empress, a multi-faceted being whose appearance naked bone, spider legs, moth fur, slithering coils is determined by players’ own choices. Although technically a prisoner, Caromine has the run of the palace and city — she can visit a glass and leafbone garden filled with half-sunken statues, meditate by an inky, dead lake, and sip intoxicating potions at the dream. Some of the language usage and word placement seems to be of a weird and ironic kind. But it best served the underlying message the author was trying to portray.

There is a central question to With Those We Love Alive: “Are you part of the world, one with others, a person, or are you alone and apart?” And unlike the game’s other choices, this one has a right answer.wtwla_image8


Separation By: Annie Abrahams

At first I clicked too fast, and a sign flashed in front of me saying ‘You don’t have the right attitude in front of a computer.. You either click too fast, you use too much force, or you’re too tense…etc.’ I slowed down and a text similar to a poem started to appear on the page, one word with each click.

The lines that I found interesting were,“Your body became mine,but mine, mine muscles, nerves overused, abused, neglected, You don’t feel my pain.”

As I was reading these lines it made me slow down and click after reading each word several times, allowing the next word to appear. These words caught my attention and made me realize how overworked and overused our bodies and minds truly are- and we take it for granted. Even as I was forced to slow down and click slower. The slide that immediately appears after these lines is “Rest” which then leads you to a visual exercise of putting your head on your legs, hanging your arms to the side, and simply breathing. At the end of the text, it states “How to relax a computer? How to massage a computer?” and with one click, a yellow circle appears with what looks like text that I cannot read because it moves across the page so quickly. I tried several times to get to this point “Separation” but failed to comprehend its last word.

All in all, I enjoyed to purity of how the piece opens your eyes to what the world has become blind to. There are many ways during our everyday lives where we lose touch with reality.


Sooth By: David Jhave Johnston

The Beauty of e-poetry

“Sooth” David Jhave Johnston

 

Since childhood, my favorite type of writing has always been poetry. I always looked at it as a chance to put into words a certain feeling or emotion that you want someone else to read and feel. Being raised in a house full of boys, I always found it hard to express myself in a way that others would understand. Technology is and has always been a big part of my life. Having the privilege to read electronic literature and electronic poetry has opened up a whole new world and way of reading that I greatly enjoy. Discovering e-poetry is something that I find great for readers that already enjoy reading and writing poetry.

Electronic poetry is a good tool to help convey the emotion behind the written piece in clever ways that cannot be done on tangible pieces. The piece “Sooth” by Johnston is the piece I will be reviewing. This specific piece draws upon series of love poems recreated into a piece of electronic poetry. The basis behind this piece is the tone and how it’s portrayed within the realm of technology. Instead of flipping through a book, you are forced to electronically travel through several love poems. Sooth is a set of love poems interactively triggered by clicks on each video in tune to display words of a poem. Sounds associated with each phrase are mapped to audio which pans and volume shifts in space as the saying flies through each picture. These phrases are intended to display a certain emotion and/ or behavior within each poem. Interestingly the title “Sooth” means truth. Each poem is derived back to these title theme, presenting words of truth and thoughtful emotional themes.

Upon opening Johnston’s work, the reader is introduced to a dark screen with grey text, forcing the reader to select a poem from the left menu hypertexts. The first of these poems is the piece named “Sooth”. Clicking on the title links starts a video, in this case wind moving ferns. Each new click of the screen introduces new phrases of the poem. The words glide smoothly on to the screen and seem to rustle in the wind with the ferns. The poem and video are combined with sounds of birds, water, and music. With each click and introduction of new words to the screen, the video pans to a different aspect of the landscape and the tone and quality of the color of the video screen changes. As you click on the video and the phrases load, you can see that as the poem continues to pop up on your screen the emotion of the video gets stronger, the music becomes louder, and the colors become more darker.

The second poem, “Weeds” which shows a close up panning of a woman laying down, resting. Their eyes open and close intermittently. There appears to be a strong focus on appearance and texture, of the skin, clothes, and even words. The word choices and movement of each line delivery are both eradicating and interesting. Various words are brought on to the screen and float around. Flashing and fading in and out the same way that the first poem does. The color tone of the screen changes constantly, altering the mood of the poem in front of you as a written piece could never portray.

The third poem, “Body” follows the same format. The video is an image of a color changing scenery of what could be the curves of a body or the outline of a landscape. The words come on the screen in clicks in the same way as the previous poems, overlapping and creating alternating stanzas of compelling language and beautiful words. What stood out to me most in this one was how fast the words would fade out, I thought there was a deeper meaning behind that, but I wasn’t too sure.

 

“Root” is set to a flowing water in a calming background image that features the poems lines swirling and flowing back and forth as soon as they appear on screen, moving with the flowing water. Once I thought the last one was fast paced, this one went even faster, I could barely make out the words at this point. I had to play it a few time to get the words again and again. Each new line seems to be a complete thought, each which flows together nicely with the next. So if the author intended it to be face paced and unreadable, than they succeeded.

“Soul” is a poem in which the background is dark with a fish breathing through its gill very deeply. Each new word comes up twice above the fish. Once in large letters that fades out in the background and is replaced with each click and introduction of a new word, plus a smaller pairing that is always in motion alternating in size and brightness with each other word. The words of this poem are about sex and love, an interesting pairing against such a non-sexual or romantic background setting. At first the language is set in French until you realize there is a button on the bottom that lets you change the language in English. After that sigh of relief that you can actually understand the poem, you than read and realize that this poem had deep sex meanings that came out of nowhere. I guess it was fitting with the whole “love” topic.

The final poem in the series is “Snow.” This still video features and extreme close-up of clean, perfect, snow with a small strip of blue at the top of what looks like the sky. Each phrase appears in white, an interesting choice against a white background that can make them almost unreadable, but each set of words floats up to the blue sky above it, making each phrase legible. The poem features lines about being together and alone at the same time. As the sounds becomes deeper, and the background becomes more of a blur, the words get stronger and begin to shake showing some type of reaction towards that certain part of the piece. The author really made the music match the effect of every word and meaning towards the poems.

The word “Sooth” has the same root as the word “truth”. By the end of the series of love poems, it is evident that these poems are meant to be a quest for truth: The truth about the self and the other, for instance, or the fact that both are indistinguishable (“i sooth i with u / u sooth u with i”). Overall, the author did a great job utilizing the music, moving dramatic images, deep words giving them its meaning, and the way the words faded jumping at you in each poem. I enjoyed reading the e-lit series of love poems as it reminds me of my favorite kind of work as a kid, and that was writing poetry. Hopefully I am inspired enough to go back to what inspires me most to write, poetry is a dead art that I must reach back into.


Cape Disappointment

Examining J. R. Carpenter's "The Cape" was actually somewhat painful for me.  This was not because of the content, but because the of the way it was presented.  I'm jealous of how well this author conquered the whole story-of-place thing, and their piece's design was similar to what I would have loved my individual e-lit piece to be, at least on a page-by-page level.  The combination of maps, geological surveys, photographs, simple animation, and monochrome color palette really helped readers get a sense of the place the author was talking about.   One criticism I have, however, is that I don't see the connection between the theme of the story and the character of Cape Cod.  I think of Cape Cod as a very ritzy, exclusive, beautiful vacationing spot for the elite; I don't see the connection to the sense of alienation the narrator seems to feel from his family.  Like, an island or isolated place might have been more appropriate metaphorically.  Maybe I need to read it again, or look into it in a deeper way.  The non-linear, clickable menu aspect of "The Cape" also would not have applied to my piece.     

"With Those We Love Alive" is actually similar to what I managed to create for my individual piece on the surface.  It uses the same platform, Twine, but the story branches a lot more.  I got stuck at the part in the piece where I was exploring the castle/estate thing of the Empress, so I'm really not sure how the rest of the piece functions.  I did like that my option referred to childhood as a "larval state," though.

I already posted my idea for a Thermophiles article title in the shared document, but I will post it here as well (because, honestly, I can't remember where it's supposed to go).  My title idea was "Contextualizing Our First NetProv Experience."  

Cape Disappointment

Examining J. R. Carpenter's "The Cape" was actually somewhat painful for me.  This was not because of the content, but because the of the way it was presented.  I'm jealous of how well this author conquered the whole story-of-place thing, and their piece's design was similar to what I would have loved my individual e-lit piece to be, at least on a page-by-page level.  The combination of maps, geological surveys, photographs, simple animation, and monochrome color palette really helped readers get a sense of the place the author was talking about.   One criticism I have, however, is that I don't see the connection between the theme of the story and the character of Cape Cod.  I think of Cape Cod as a very ritzy, exclusive, beautiful vacationing spot for the elite; I don't see the connection to the sense of alienation the narrator seems to feel from his family.  Like, an island or isolated place might have been more appropriate metaphorically.  Maybe I need to read it again, or look into it in a deeper way.  The non-linear, clickable menu aspect of "The Cape" also would not have applied to my piece.     

"With Those We Love Alive" is actually similar to what I managed to create for my individual piece on the surface.  It uses the same platform, Twine, but the story branches a lot more.  I got stuck at the part in the piece where I was exploring the castle/estate thing of the Empress, so I'm really not sure how the rest of the piece functions.  I did like that my option referred to childhood as a "larval state," though.

I already posted my idea for a Thermophiles article title in the shared document, but I will post it here as well (because, honestly, I can't remember where it's supposed to go).  My title idea was "Contextualizing Our First NetProv Experience."  

With Those We Love Alive & The Cape (The Final Post)

With Those We Love Alive (Bhagavad Gita: Better to live on beggar’s bread
with those we love alive, than taste their blood in rich feasts spread, and guiltily survive)

(we see all of these images in the poem to come – beggars surviving in spite of their surroundings, others that have become inhuman, alien by thriving on the blood of those that must die to keep them alive)

Loving the way this starts.. I noticed that the first lines can turn pink (the way forward) – i like them setting you up in a sense…. dont know how to answer the element question ( i picked mud) – this feels very existential and cool in one sense and hokie like a horoscope on the other hand…

cant get a handle on the music – ethereal/industrial

So now you’re in some sort of a science fiction type story – seems futuristic at first, the idea of the skull empress and that you have a skill that is identifiable – but the description of the Empress is creepy and seems like a more primitive world – like a creature, not a person (picking plant matter off her skull?)… now we get into psionics – sending messages through thought/brain waves – this is definitely sci-fi – and creepy.  I wish there were more options for things to do – every time it says “wait” or “leave”, i wish there was an alternative to that choice

Ha – now we have options – they dont take you far, but point to an odd world – with things not of this world (leafbone? even glass flowers on iron stalks seems odd)….

I did the meditations – holding my breath… the blue background is soothing…

So the words that you click arent always instructions or directions – when i find the chest under my bed and it talks about the estroglyphs and spiroglyphs on my body (neither of which is an actual thing but must be some sort of astral version of glyph pictograms), the actionable word is “precious”.  Why?

This whole thing is set up like the earliest versions of choose your own adventure games (like Dungeons and Dragons) where you get only the tiniest bit of information about the options available to you…

I write that and then I reach the canal where there is far more description that at any other point in the story. Why? Either these realizations are critical to the story or it is simply showing us that you learn about a city from its poorest members; that gods and censurs and smoke and all the trappings of the palace are little compared to what these “urchins” and others are going through.  This contains a startling sentence:

angelcorpse

Whoa. Also a kid wearing a fractured skull like an “opera mask” – so something has happened in this world where there were humans, but now there are alternate forms of life – rat kids, “urchins”, dust striders”… the more I click, the more new lines i get – ligabirds, spidercats… I manage to get at least a dozen different images here.

I notice much of this points to a lack of water – there is much dust and mud and the barren hulls of ships… obviously all of this in a dry canal.

More and more disturbing imagery – back to the throne room and we find imagery of a beetle queen and a dead person “swinging their legs” on the balcony.  Does that mean a dead person reanimated? or swinging like he’s been hung?  This is more than just interesting e-lit, it really is a game. It took me a while to figure out that I had to sleep in order to get a message pinned to my door. I made the diadem – and she wears it… interesting options – and strong messages.  Choosing an homage to power, loyalty, or death?  And even more death imagery with the options to wrap the gift in skin or a funeral shroud.   I thought when I got to the end of the ceremony, it was the end of the game. Not so…  The letter from my people elicits anger and/or longing? Then perhaps I am here of my own free will?  Trying to make a pilgrimage of some sort?

Music and colors change when the empress is “hunting humans”.  It feels like we are here now to do something for these people that are getting killed, but its a bit confusing when it talks about “the custom”.  The custom of allowing the empress to hunt humans? To not fight back?  This game is getting long… Already 20 minutes… I made the bow and kept jumping to places I thought I had seen, although the lake says there is a “dead person below the water” which freaked me out a bit. This game is interesting in that it keeps adding just enough to keep you engaged. Interesting that when we see her again, we would get to choose what she looks like – coils, claws, etc….

I feel like I need to break the cycle of whats happening – when the “pink spore” are trying to escape, letting them go seems like the way to do that, but im back in the chambers again. We keep having to reapply hormones.. it seems like courage to me, to stay with the program.  I am feeling that my character is a stranger in a strange land – trying to figure out how to break the chain and understand whats going on. The visitor that is a friend speaks to an experience so horrible that it blocks out all of “real life” – I feel like this could be a link to the idea of losing all your dreams as well.  The failure to save the girl or protect in her in some way is a guilt that seems to block everything. I find it fascinating that the character has to go through an experience that defines an emotion before drawing a sigul on their skin – like you have to go through the metaphorical fire of life and let it burn you before you can understand it. As I am making things for the Empress, I am trying to find things to kill her. I now believe she is keeping me here, it is not my choice.

When the female visitor compliments my dress it is my first hint of gender… perhaps that’s why I couldn’t kill the princess spawn.. was it a motherly instinct?  There is a relationship here but I can’t tell if its sexual, communal, friend, family or what…

Back in the city, the canal is now flooded – another series of very amazing descriptions – about moons rolling across the water, fish with dream tumors, etc, etc.  All this seems to be happening apart and completely separate of what happens at the palace. Is this a commentary on how little politics intersects with real life?

When I let the girl know how much things are bothering me, she gives me the green fluid.  The screen turns blue/green and gives way to happier music.  This is definitely some kind of hallucinogen or drug that helps you escape life..  Wait.  I am talking to a “dead friend”? Is that a metaphor?  The music still seems happy and positive – is this a good thing? I think the idea here is that we are getting a better appreciation of life in whatever forms visits itself upon us.

Ok – so now it appears this is an assassination plot? This is pretty wild – seems like the plot is more concrete that I had assumed.

When the assassin fails and is called a “witch” we realize the truth of who we are – and the fact that nature now serves the bug queen and can be conquered (or must be conquered to escape) is fascinating.. Underscores the ongoing human effort to subdue nature and all its parts. The music is much more exciting here – like a march. This game has gone on nearly an hour, yet it is interesting. The last word in this world is “fight”.  Then we are taken to another world – instantly recognizable as another place.  Rejecting what is dead and dying or what would withhold life from us seems to be the crux of this story. That, and that relationship and memories, can overcome being chained to a particular place or emotion. I should say that I like the way this was structured – the way the scenes were paced and even gave you a chance to catch your breath (by meditating or “sleeping” for example).

The Cape

Because this piece gives you the option of “reading” it in any direction, I am purposefully opting to select the squares that I hit at random. The imagery evokes an old-timey picture postcard type of feel. The use of letters and lines puts every image in the category. The idea of a whistle is a kind of a lonely sound to me.. although it seems like it is the only way a grandfather and grandchild can connect.  Also, on the page where they have the radio clip, it indicates that “turbulent air” is the key difference between a whistle and just blowing air. So you need some sort of turbulence or disturbance to make things interesting. It seems like the girl on the Cape is wishing for some sort of turbulence to make things interesting. The story is so short there is almost nothing to it. I get a lonely feeling from this progression – the lack of people (there are only two), the black and white imagery, the sparseness of the landscapes. Although, saying that, I feel like part of the message here is about how much better the Cape was when it was sparse – when you could be alone enough to go behind a giant rock and practice whistling.  It seems like something that would work best when you are alone on a giant empty beach – not in the midst of a lot of people. The author even mentions how whistling is better in winter when everyone is gone, and the slide shows structures and beach but no people. One slide seems to show the progression of more and more people or signs of life on the Cape as the years pass by. Even the maps themselves move across the screen, giving the sense of progress. (Even if the author would rather things did NOT progress). It seems like a giant homage to the “way things were”, whether it be in grandma or uncle’s time, or even earlier. The slide that points out the Cape in the Holocene period is talking about the way the land was arrayed 10,000 years ago. That’s the good old days! It’s funny – when I went back and looked at the captions for all the images, I was surprised to be reminded that the whole story is about a single visit. The sense I get from it is much more about memories that have been ingrained over a period of years. It is surprising and somewhat moving to me that the memory would be imprinted because of the sparse empty (cold?) beach and this place called Cape Cod. Her memories also go against everything I think of when I think of Cape Cod, which is wealth and privilege, not cold beaches. The kicker is at the end where the author says she doesn’t even have a picture of her grandmother (which means the person by the big boulder near her grandmother’s house is… who?).  So does the memory of whistling, of a sound that exists on the air and is gone, a metaphor for our relatives, especially those that we barely see, that impact our lives in the most random of ways and then are gone again, never to be seen again?  The color choices, particularly the maps and technical language/symbols adds to the impersonal nature of this story and provides an interesting juxtaposition with what should be a fairly personal story, about a child and a relative spending time in Cape Cod.

This is what I think of when I think of Cape Cod….

breslow-cape-cod-house

Thermophiles Title

Also my two cents for a title for Thermophiles in Love is:  Learning to Love your Cell (or you can do it “Learning to Love your Cell(f))