Taroko Gorge/Along the Briny Beach!

“Stone articulates the bay. Salt waters carve. Waters mist. Sandstone writes the sea foam. Shuffle along the storied wing long…Shore outlines the channels. Deserted islands erode. Sand dune deposits the maelstroms. Beach comb along the salt-glittering uncharted umnamed…” -J.R. Carpenter, Along the Briny Beach

As a learning student and writer, if a person asked me to think of what literature and poetry are, a few words come to mind. Beautiful, musical, captivating, alluring, and unique. After reading Taroko Gorge by Nick Montfort (http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=taroko-gorge), I never realized how the pace of reading poetry and literature plays a part in how we intake what we are reading. Montfort wrote and programmed Taroko Gorge in 2009, which is a piece of generative poetry that gives the reader the feeling of “walking through nature.” It flows down the page with descriptions of nature. The pace of reading poetry has always been slow to me. Even when I go to poetry readings and learning how to recite my poems, I was told to speak slow almost as if I were a robot. However, Taroko Gorge flows fast where it doesn’t seem like poetry sometimes. It reads as a form of art.

Some would probably not enjoy the fact that reading this piece of electronic literature is a fast-paced read. The standard way to read would be to read slowly so the reader could enjoy and appreciate the words. I do agree that reading poetry slow is an excellent way to take in what you’re reading. However, there is nothing wrong with a little change. The flow of the poem allows the reader to have something exciting and unexpected come on the screen. I would describe it a “never-ending song,” but instead of the melody, the lyrics are never-ending and always changing. There is a certain beauty that I noticed and began to appreciate after reading the poem.

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I have been on walks through the park, the woods and other places that involve a nature scenery. There is an overwhelming amount of creativity that comes with these nature walks. The great thing about Taroko Gorge is that the walk does not have to end, unlike in real life where at some point, you must finish your walk and come back home. The lines from the poem attract the reader by its calming words and soothing flow on the screen. By doing some research, I found out that these lines are inspired by Taiwan’s Taroko National Park. From the comfort of my home, I was able to enjoy a nature walk through electronic literature, which is something I have never experienced before as a student. I think the key to really grasping Taroko Gorge is by merely reading it more than once. I read it several times, and each time it was something new and excited. Each time the poem began to unfold before my eyes, and I sat back with a cup of coffee and basked in this newly found poetry.

Now, not to turn my back on Taroko Gorge, but one of the remixes that I will be discussing next is Along the Briny Beach (http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=along-the-briny-beach) by J.R. Carpenter, which made me even more curious and captivated by this poem generator that was originally formatted by Montfort. One of the reasons why I wanted to carefully read this piece is because my favorite place is the beach. I am at peace and always in a meditative place when I go there. So immediately this piece caught my attention. One of the differences between Taroko Gorge and Along the Briny Beach is what the reader relies on. The remix has more motion and images that are in sync with the text shown on the screen.

The images that are shown on the screen while the poem is being generated makes made me feel like I was on the beach from my home. With the use of color, images, and text, the poem was able to truly align with what the generator was pouring out. What I thought was fun was how I could move my mouse over the images and the image would sometimes stop, show letters, go fast, or go slower. It also helped that the pictures were of sand, shells, the water, and even things such as rope that would wash up on the shore at a beach. The words and lines that were generated were just as beautiful as the words. Words such as, “salt-glittering” and lines such as, “Islands daydream the coral orchards”; allows me as the reader to “dive in” this piece and become one with it. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Taroko Gorge and Along the Briny Beach as a new way of looking at what poetry really means and what it can be in the literature world.

Click to view slideshow.

Adventues in E-Lit 2018-10-08 22:42:00

Taroko Gorge was interesting, to say the least. Truthfully it was hard to stay focused with the poem because it moved. Then I started to pay attention to the literary devices being used and try to pick up on a pattern to keep with the flow of the poem. Which made it easier. Then I tried to figure out what the poem was about. Words like forest, stone, and crags came up in several lines in different stanzas. Other words like veins and dwell appeared often as well and yet, it was still hard for me to make sense. In order for me to try and make sense of this piece, I had to look up the word crag. Because after ten minutes of watching the poem scroll by, I still couldn't figure out the meaning. So, according to dictionary.com, crag means a steep rugged rock a projecting part of the rock. Okay, that makes a little more sense so this is a poem about the outdoors and nature.  I didn't get a clear sense of what the theme of the poem. Even though I didn't really connect with it I did get a sense of calming after about five minutes of reading. I went back and read through the editorial and author's statement. It was then that I was able to get a better sense of what the piece is supposed to be about. And I did get a big sense of nature and serenity but I didn't pick up on the historical context or the significance of the location until I read the statement. Then I was able to go back and look at things again. This time some of the lines and stanzas were put into perspective.

Next, I took a look at Alan Bigelow's Brain Strips. And right away I was intrigued. One reason being is that I love comic books. And I thought it was cool to have an older looking drawing for the images. It made me feel that this philosophical piece was going to have a lot of satire and humor. For the most part, it did. I didn't care too much for the sound. But I did love the questions and the comic strip style responses written to each of them, I found the Is God real especially funny with the way it ended. The colors and the effects enhanced the reading to me. It made the stories jump off of the page. It also made me think that there were more elements than the words and images on the screen telling the story. The sound effects played another part. It added to the sensational appeal of the piece.  I enjoyed this reading more than the other it felt very engaging and interactive. And the concept was much more straightforward and easier for me to grasp. If I were to do an e-lit piece I would like the navigation of the work to be similar to this. I would have the sound bites be a little less jarring though.

Brainstrips: a three-part philosophy series)


The author claims that Brainstrips is a “three-part knowledge series”. The word “brainstrips” is divided into three parts, hyperlinked to other web pages. 


You can only start with the “strip” part. When the mouse move to this part, it turns red. 


There are six questions on the left corner. Click each of these questions and they will be answered. 


What is art? On this page, you can hear mechanical sounds and see the background moving. Can AIs replace artist? We don’t know, really. It was a question asked in my philosophy class. 


Are men more sensitive then women? The traditional answer is obviously “no”. The background music is strange, applause blended with bell sounds. The last strip is creepy. The women are smiling but they are talking about changing men’s gene to make them sensitive. The difference in feelings between men and women has been a hot topic since a long time ago. Men and women cannot truly understand each other because their brains are structured differently. But altering human genes is illegal, which may cause serious moral issues. 


If you listen carefully, you’ll notice that the gunshot actually has rhythm and correspond to the animation. I don’t understand this one. What will happen if God exists? What will happen if God doesn’t exist? 


The BGM is chaotic siren and futuristic gunshot. How do we know we are human? It seems that we don’t have a clue. The aliens think that human is a lower life form. But this comic doesn’t present humans’ view point towards aliens. Maybe humans think that aliens are lower life forms, savages, barbarians? What made us human? Strength, weakness, evilness, kindness… We cannot give exact answers. Humans are too complex to be defined. 


This strip reminds me of a funny picture. 


Retrieved from http://joyreactor.com/post/676306

Research show that vegetables do have senses. They can feel pain but they cannot speak or bark like animals do. Sure trees have rights, but not any more when humans want them. Sure women have rights, but not any more when men want them. 


This one is really interesting. The fisherman “senses a blackness around them”, in fact, the background color is black. “Your hand is breaking the frame”, “never seeing outside the box” are puns. True, they are comic characters, and always live inside the little box. This makes me think: are we virtual characters too? 

The second stop is “brain”. There are a few scientific topics displayed. Among them, the most astonishing one in “nuclear fission”. This section answers five commonly asked questions about nuclear bombs. After viewing all the answers, I know that it is impossible to escape from a nuclear explosion. But how do they know the answer? I only hope humans will not ruin the whole civilization. 

After viewing all the explanation of the questions, the reader is asked to do a test, which is composed of multiple choices. After finishing the quiz, you will be scolded by the author of being dumb. 

The third part is “s”. This part is all about math. 

This piece evokes philosophical thoughts, but it is actually quite realistic. Many thoughts are evolved, including feminism, anti-warism, surrealism… The more you read, the more you think. We know very little about the world and ourselves.