My first E-lit reading experience: Twelve Blue

It is my first time to read an E-lit text. It is brand-new for me, also confusing.  Twelve Blue is like a veiled story for me since there seems to have so many contents which need the readers to construct further by themselves. However, every time when I reentered the literature piece, I will go through a different storyline. It has eight bars. The lines in the left sometimes intersect sometimes don’t. Hence, it was also a quite interesting experience for me to explore how the story goes.

Jessica Pressman’s article, “Navigating Electronic Literature” mentions a unique element of E-lit, which is navigation.  In Twelve Blue, there are many hypertexts connected through links like “Follow me before the choice disappears” and “‘So young…’ she sighs. As if the seasons were whose fault?”. Following the hyperlinks, readers can gradually step into the plot, redirecting a new reading path. I agree with Pressman’s opinion that unlike printed literature, electronic literature owns a more lively performance of expression through navigational interaction with readers in front of the electronic devices. Every part of the E-lit reading process affects its influence on readers.

The title of this electronic literature piece is Twelve Blue, and the background color and the font color of this electronic literature is dark blue. “Blue” seems to be the theme and keynote of this story. It can stand for enormous meanings. I felt a sense of melancholy when I went through roles, life, ambiguity, misery, misfortune, and other nonsensical objects. One thing I found very strange was that some hypertext links were blended into the background color when I restart the story. Hope I can discover more with Twelve Bule and investigate the design intent of it soon.

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Jessica Pressman.

http://newhorizons.eliterature.org/essay.php@id=14.html. 

Twelve Blue: Michael Joyce.

http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/joyce__twelve_blue/Twelve_Blue.html.

Twelve Blue/ Blog 1

As a Chinese University student major in English, I had never acknowledged Electronic Literature before in both my study and my life. To be honest, I was kind of afraid to take the class at the first as I have never heard the word “ELIT” before. For me, the definition of Electronic Literature used to be very simple, just the literature that people read online, until I took the class and read the article entitled “Navigating Electronic Literature” by Jessica Pressman. I realized the great importance of “navigation” in ELIT, which “affects the ways in which we read and interact with digital textuality.” Since navigation combines readers’ actions to the works’ performances, it shows the significance and meaning of ELIT, which can be described as “interaction”. 

When I read “Twelve Blue” by Michael Joyce, which confused me was that sometimes I cannot help but ask myself “Am I reading a literature?” The reading experience of “Twelve Blue” is really different to traditional literature, when you just read through the words whether they are on the book pages or on the screen. It is more close to playing games for me. Personally, I have not read any books like “choose your own adventure books” as a Chinese, but I have play some choose your own adventure games when I was an elementary school student, in which you jump to different questions depends on your choices and answers to the previous questions. The reading process of “Twelve Blue” reminds me of those games I had played before. However, when reading the book, I started a new story with different characters and contents when I turned to different “questions”. Hence, it is really difficult for me to remember all the stories that I read previously. I ended up almost a mess in my memory, as I failed to figure out the names of different characters in different stories.

Nevertheless, the brand new reading experience does excite me to a large extend. I feel that ELIT makes it possible for readers to have diverse choices and experiences even though they read the same works. They are allowed to kind of play with the work, which makes “reading” itself much more attractive and interesting. Therefore, I am excited to learn more and read more ELITs in the following classes. 

Diving Back In

“‘…there is no story at all; there are only readings’ (124)”.

I don’t know why WordPress is throwing my links all over the page like this. I had to cut a bunch of links to make the post remotely legible. I’ve tried many different things to fix the problem and I think it’s just a system error for the time being. Believe me, I’m annoyed about it too >.>

Flux & Flow

So…. I’m back at it again.

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Doing the ELit thing, writing the feelings whatever those are down, being “insightful”… You know, the usual.

Anyway, let’s get down to business.

I don’t remember what I thought of Jessica Pressman’s “Navigating Electronic Literature” the first time I read it eons and eons ago but this time around, I found it to be thought-provoking, informative, and intellectually engaging. The article articulates the challenges and nuances of interacting with ELit, especially in a classroom setting, rather well. In my experience, I’ve found just articulating what ELit can be and what it can do to be a challenge in and of itself. So, kudos Jessica~

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Pressman’s emphasis on navigation in ELit texts, too, I found particularly deft. Having a wonderful wealth of experience interacting with ELit–even creating my own work!–myself, I know how integral to a work its navigation can be–but, also, how much confusion a work’s navigation can create. More than that, I know how a work’s navigation can complicate reader/interactor understanding of literary purpose and overall merit.

If anything, this time around, I was most interested in the points Pressman was making about problems of conceptualizing, or, really, re-conceptualizing storytelling and authorship when it comes to ELit. Do affordances such as hyperlinking allow readers enough agency to make them co-authors of an ELit work, like Landow suggests? Or, are readers merely explorers of a work, trying to uncover all avenues of story rather than decide them? More, to what extent do readers decide meaning in works like this? Can an inherent meaning be embedded/programmed in these works anymore than meaning can be imbued in a written text? Or, is meaning ultimately decided by the reader?

Are there any stories at all in Elit? Or, is it all just readings?

I don’t have any answers and I love it.

The experimental, the uncertainty, the trans-formative, the de-contextualized, the room for possibility—is what I love about ELit. To me, it is the curiosity and the search for discovery and meaning-making that ELit spurs that makes ELit literary/a literary experience. The literariness exists in what we are given/in what we receive from a work, the questions it generates and the challenges it creates and asks us to tackle.

While I think the binary–stories/readings–is apt in some ways for describing differences between ELit and traditional literature, forgetting that there are readers behind both– story and reading–neglects a vital aspect of understanding new forms of digital literature and media. The underlying depth to ELit, I believe, is something that has to be realized in the reader.

Underlying Depth

And sometimes the nights last for months

And sometimes the nights last for months… Maria Guia Pimpao (I have the Google Arts & Culture extension on my browser which allows a new work of art to be the background whenever I open a new tab. When I opened a new tab to open Twelve Blue, this was the image that popped up and I thought it was rather appropriate, considering the work I was about to read, and so I wanted to share it with you~ #theinternetworksinmysteriousways

“So a random set of meanings has softly gathered around the word the way lint collects. The mind does that.” from On Being Blue William Gass

In my opinion, Michael Joyce’s Twelve Blue is one of those powerful works of ELit. Like, it’s a seminal work for a reason not just that it was the first work of Elit. I think I forgot that until I “reread” it this weekend.

The work is a piece of “simple”, hyperlink fiction, progression through the work and its lexia triggered by the reader clicking on one link or “thread” to open a new window with new lexia and so on. Readers aren’t really given a set story or direction–there are no guiding signs or whatnot (other than a “Begin” button when one first opens the work).

Here are the first few “pages” I read:

Click to view slideshow.

Instead of clicking “all over” the threads, which I know from prior experience with the work would take me on all kinds of adventures, I decided to click on the links provided from one page to the next–just to see where the story goes, trying for a “pure reading”, so to speak. This went well…till I came across just a screen with a painting on it??? I had to click on the painting and, the next screen I got, didn’t have a link to click on??? So, I had to dive into the sea of threads anyway #whatever~~~~

But, it was interesting to just see where the work would take me (not purely on its own–as I was clicking on the agents spurring the story forward). I read a few excerpts about Lisle and her daughter and then about Javier(?) and his daughter. Nothing that really connected in any linear way. It’s clear from the text, though, that this “story” is taking place across multiple time periods and generations. I read about an accidental drowning that took place years ago and then I read a selection about the friend of the girlfriend, who’s boyfriend drowned, and how this friend remembered the somber atmosphere at school in the days following the mysterious accident. No clear time line is established and yet, the sense of time passing and moving, the sense of people holding on and letting go of time, is so vivid and so visceral. (“What choice do we have but love, what season after?”)

The design and navigation of this work is a topic of discussion that could–and will–continue for a while but the actual text of this work is so rich and fascinating in its own right. Small example but, I mean, how many creative and inventive uses of the word blue did you note while reading this work??? (“She had never been lonelier, never more blue.”) And did you notice each page is titled differently–mostly related to blue words, though–in the tab?? (i.e cornflower)

A strong swimmer out of grief

“She became a strong swimmer out of grief.” This page, in particular, touched me. The longing and sorrow are somehow enhanced that much more my this work’s infinite loop, like there’s always this girl on the edge of the ocean, longing for the mother she never knew.

There’s something distinctly literary about this work’s text, if not its nonlinear navigation. To me, though, if anything, the infinite looping in on itself of this work only serves to enhance the story it is “weaving”/telling. Each page is like a still life, perhaps disconnected from some greater whole, but capable of telling a compelling story in and of itself. For some, that disconnectedness may translate as “brokenness”, the lack of coherence or persistence of narrative over time, as a fault, but, again, I find the questions that exist in those perceived narrative “gaps” in works of ELit like Twelve Blue to be what keeps me coming back. Though, of course, I want answers, I also enjoy not knowing. It creates this mental space for me to explore possibilities–something not always offered IRL, where “pinning things down” is so highly valued these days.

Additionally, I think Twelve Blue gives readers a slight taste of the reciprocity ELit is renown for. (At least, it’s one of my fave parts of ELit.) This reciprocity is realized in the simple act of the readers clicking a link on the screen and being rewarded with a new screen, with new information. The work functions on reader input–slight reader input but still an action the reader must take in order for the work to “move on”. That’s a smidge more agency than most traditional forms of literature have been able to allow for a long time.

Riding the Waves

All in all, if you couldn’t tell, I’m looking forward to diving back into ELit and discovering new ways to tell compelling stories through new digital media. I think Twelve Blue is an excellent place to wade in with. It’s new in many ways but also recognizable in others. And, of course, the work is so beautifully, heart-breakingly, heart-achingly written.

I hope the rest of our class is at least half-excited as I am looking forward to diving in deep on ELit!

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Links

Hypothes.is

*Feel free to check out some of my notes on this week’s article and respond to them if anything I’ve said resonates or triggers another idea~ Though I’ve been resistant in the past to using hypothes.is, lately, I’ve found it to be a good tool for taking notes maybe I just don’t like being told I have to use it and now that I don’t have to use it, I’ve got to rebel in the other direction????

Tweet tweet…

*Feel free to follow me on Twitter as well~ In between sharing sappy poetry and prose, I sometimes say some witty things??? #debatable??? #claimthecave

~Till next time ^.^~

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Twelve Blue

To be very honest, Twelve Blue and certain forms of elit initially strike me as… uncomfortable. In Twelve Blue, there are a great number of characters and plots that are all happening simultaneously. The story starts with a girl who falls for a carny, then jumps to “September’s Embers never ending” from the perspective of a girl who is on her way to school. Next is Samantha, who wants to plan a tea party and invite a girl who’s boyfriend drown in a creek. This type of storytelling is so confusing for me. I have difficulty keeping up with all of the story lines and characters, and sadly I lose my focus.

The interesting part of all of this is that when I was younger, some of my favorite books were the Goosebumps: Choose Your Own Adventure books. One page told you to skip to another page, and then go back to another page. However, when I was reading the Goosebumps books I would frequently peek at what was about to happen in both storylines, and choose which one I liked better. Also, most of the time I would go back and read all of the storylines.

The difference with Twelve Blue is that the electronic format gives so much more room for alternate characters and endings. At this point, to me, it becomes overwhelming. however, I am intrigued by this type of storytelling, and I want to learn more about it. I will definitely be reading more of these stories in the future.

Navigating Electronic Literature (Blog 1)

In her short article “Navigating Electronic Literature” English professor and scholar Jessica Pressman introduce readers to a different style of writing literature, that is electronic. In her article, she goes in-depth to explain the historical creation and aesthetic of this digital type of work. Electronic writing she describes is “unlike print literature”, in that print literature is simply pen to paper writing, a traditional form of literary studies that many people know and are accustomed to doing. In contrast, however, this digital form of literature forces readers to engage in the literary work at hand by navigating through links in the story. In the article, she states, “whether it is a mouse-click or a typewritten word, this action affects the work’s performance and the reader’s engagement with it. In other words, navigation enables the digital work’s performance and its signification.” Readers are immersed in this type of reading because they are actively clicking a link that brings them to a different page to follow the story. Additionally, there are other several key points that Pressman make about this type of genre. She also talks about hypertext and its quintessential purpose in digital works.  She agrees and concludes with critic George P. Landow who states that “hypertext [offers]  readers more agency, and even partial authorship, over the text they read than print texts.” This action allows readers to become aware of their significant role in a story.

Pressman’s article was an edifying resource that provided me with the knowledge and skills needed to read an electronic literature. While reading Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce I was able to interact with the story by clicking the links and hypertext included in the story. It was an interactive form of reading that I’ve actually never experienced before this course. I look forward to reading and learning more about this type of literature. 

Before enrolling in this course I expected that electronic writing would be about reading novels and stories in electronic form using a Kindle or audible app, the usual ways that I normally read literature in electronic form. I was surprised to learn that this is a form of storytelling that exists and I knew nothing of it beforehand. Although I still don’t know much about electronic writing I am excited to learn something new and hopefully enjoy this different form of the genre. 

 

Check out the links below: 

** http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/joyce__twelve_blue/Twelve_Blue.html

** http://newhorizons.eliterature.org/essay.php@id=14.html

 

Navigating Electronic Literature for the First Time…Ever!

"Everything can be read, every surface and silence, every breath and every vacancy, every eddy and current, every body and its absence, every darkness every light, each cloud and knife, each finger and tree, every backwater, every crevice and hollow, each nostril, tendril and crescent, every whisper, every whimper, each laugh and every blue feather, each stone, each nipple, every thread every color, each woman and her lover, every man and his mother, every river, each of the twelve blue oceans and the moon, every forlorn link, every hope and every ending, each coincidence, the distant call of a loon, light through the high branches of blue pines, the sigh of rain, every estuary, each gesture at parting, every kiss, each wasp's wing, every foghorn and railway whistle, every shadow, every gasp, each glowing silver screen, every web, the smear of starlight, a fingertip, rose whorl, armpit, pearl, every delight and misgiving, every unadorned wish, every daughter, every death, each woven thing, each machine, every ever after." Michael Joyce, Twelve Blue

    Coming into this course, I have to admit that I was very nervous and filled with anxiety of the fact that I had to study Electronic Literature (E-Lit). Pen to paper has always been my concrete way of learning. Reading literature through a screen was intimidating for me. Until I came to class and learned what Electronic Literature truly was. In my own words, E-Lit is the new way to combine creativity and reading into a form of animation with the use of technology. When I read through Kindle on my phone, I am simply reading a digital form of a book that was once a hardcover. With E-Lit, there is one keyword that drastically changes it and makes it unique compared to literature through a screen. That word is “navigating”.

Jessica Pressman’s article, “Navigating Electronic Literature” opened my eyes to realize what it means to embark on an Electronic Literature journey. She described navigation as, “an element of electronic literature that uniquely affects the ways in which we read and interact with digital textuality”. Having an interaction with the reader is fascinating. In relation to Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce, there were many options to click on giving me a variety of different stories. This was my first time reading E-Lit, so there was no surprise that I was quite confused and did not know what I was doing.

Pressman expressed her feelings about the struggle she saw her students go through when they first began to read Electronic Literature. “In my experience teaching electronic literature, student frustration with navigation and confusion about the reading experience can be turned into fruitful, self-reflective discussions about the role of media on the ways in which information is produced, disseminated, archived and taught” (Pressman). I was excited to read that I was not the first student who was confused about how to navigate E-Lit. However, I was proud of myself towards the end of my experience. While reading Twelve Blue, I spent about an hour and a half navigating and experimenting with the article. The reading of the stories became smoother for me. After realizing how interesting and, for a simpler way of putting it, how fun it can be, I have become obsessed! My goal moving forward with this class and even once the semester has ended, is to expose myself to this new culture of literature and to learn how to teach others about Electronic Literature as well.

Jessica Pressman: http://newhorizons.eliterature.org/essay.php@id=14.html
Michael Joyce: http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/joyce__twelve_blue.html

The First Step

It is exciting to write my first blog post for the semester. A digital means of writing for a digital-focused class. I was not fully aware of electronic literature or its impact in the field up until now but it appears to be more fascinating than one would expect. It is simply described as “literature born in digital form” and exclusive to that digital-based environment. Even though it sounds clear enough, it certainly requires more thought to fully grasp its nature and how it differentiates itself from literature as we know it. These first couple of weeks were my first steps into understanding the nature of electronic literature and construct a better definition for literature in bigger picture.

Following the brief introduction to electronic literature, our first small but important assignment for the class was to define literature as a whole. As most students would do, I simply looked up its dictionary definition online to get a sense of what is expected when it is asked. It read: “written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit”. I needed to re-write this given definition by my own words and capture the essence of literature but also be inclusive to these new forms that I was introduced to in class. In my re-written definition, I suggested that literature was an expressive work conducted in a communicative form that presented literary purpose and ignited creative thinking. Although I agree with that definition, I also could not help but wondered whether I was truly capturing that essence in question by re-writing the definition or intentionally altering the established definition in order to include the works presented to me as examples of electronic literature? I was a bit skeptic.

Instead of comparing traditional literature with electronic literature, I figured that examining the key aspects of differentiating the two could be a better approach. One particular way to make a solid distinguish would be to examine the existence of interaction. In the article, Navigating Electronic Literature, it is suggested that the key feature of electronic literature is the role of the reader who has the power to navigate through the story and construct his or her own path to the end as opposed to traditional works of literature that tend to present its narration in much more simplistic matter. It made sense but I needed something more distinguishable and specific since this statement could easily apply to a Choose Your Own Adventure book, which is constructed in a traditional environment rather than digital. As it is stated in the article, “Navigating electronic literature is an act of producing a work’s signifying properties in the moment of engagement with them…” and “when and how the reader inputs a command, whether it is a mouse-click or a typewritten word, this action affects the work’s performance and the reader’s engagement with it.” I wanted to experience that complex navigation and Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce seemed to be a great conduit for that.

Twelve Blue was the first hypertext I read. It was an abstract piece and more in line with poetry in my opinion. The construction of story was based on the choices presented to the reader. By clicking on given options in form of links, the reader discovers a portion of the story. Each portion could be examined as a puzzle piece and the reader is expected to navigate through the story in order to complete it. These portions introduced me to the characters and their relative perspectives. There were clues as to how the reader could navigate through the story. For interested readers, the biggest clue to this puzzle rests in the title, the number 12 – as in 12 characters and also some small pictures placed by the author in few points of the story. Something I found very compelling was the change in tone of writing within these portions based on the character which was being focused on. The overarching theme within the story, in my opinion, was drowning; not in real sense necessarily but more in psychological or even social sense. This particular theme was also correlated by the color blue that formed the text and the background. The figurative tone of story in its abstract form and the complex navigational format truly made me feel that predicament as I read it, and it was something that could not be duplicated without the digital environment in which the story is meant to be read.

Reading and navigating through Twelve Blue was certainly a very interesting experience. Even though the style of story was not my cup of tea necessarily, being very poetic and figurative, it did provide great examples of what one could archive with a narration conducted in digital environment. It did display a distinct atmosphere in contrast with traditional literary works and also created a genuine challenge. Jessica Pressman, author of Navigating Electronic Literature, mentions in her article that “…student frustration with navigation and confusion about the reading experience can be turned into fruitful, self-reflective discussions about the role of media on the ways in which information is produced, disseminated, archived, and taught.” This is certainly true. The most important realization after going through Twelve Blue was that I was attempting to answer the wrong question in order to achieve the true definition of literature. The question that I should actually attempt to answer is: Does literature require the action of reading in order to observe its essence and merit or can literature be experienced through multiple actions instead? Although I might not have a solid answer to that as of now, I’m quite certain that further analysis on other electronic literature examples in upcoming weeks is going to allow me to find it wholly.

I am certainly looking forward to our following assignments to discover more about the nature of this new field of literature.

First Experience with Electronic Literature!

Electronic Literature was something I had never heard of before taking this #Elit course. Now that I have started learning more about it, it is very interesting and new. You can never turn away from discovering something new and exciting.

However, my real experience began with the first reading assignment. We had to read it for an hour and I will say that it was a struggle in the beginning. The reading was Twelve Blue  by Micheal Joyce. From the beginning, the color blue was a huge part of the whole premise of the literature. Personally, it was a distraction because the color was a too bright for me to be able to read. I will not go into that too much since that was not the point of the assignment. But I will go through the experience of reading what I will call part one since the story is kind of split into parts and I will also relate my experience to the article.

The main point of the article was navigating electronic Literature. When reading Twelve Blue, the component that made it electronic literature was the hypertext. While navigating, there were a lot of hyperlinks there were placed in different positions which I believe were the intentions of the author. Some of the pages had one link while some had five links which all worked. I also noticed that each of these links had their own titles. They appeared on the tab when I clicked the linked which was pretty interesting. Another thing I noted was that, when I clicked one of the links, the tab remained the same. it did not open a different tab. I  believe that was also deliberate because if a new tab had open every time I clicked the hyperlink, it would have ruined my reading experience.