The Idea of Interactive Literature

(Might go a bit off-tangent with this post, I’m reacting to the ideas/experience presented by both Twelve Blue and Navigating Electronic Literature rather than the readings themselves, but I will touch upon them).

The concept of electronic literature, or the way I see it now – interactive literature – has captured my interest for the longest time, and in a way it helped cemented my idea to pursue an English degree.

Navigating Electronic Literature presented the idea that the basis of electronic literature is powered by the complete freedom a reader has when it comes to the progress of the narrative. Not necessarily just in reading speed, but the idea of controlling the experience and sometimes making their own inputs to create unique experiences. Everyone can read a book and come to similar conclusions/interpretations, but the notion of electronic literature is broad enough that the experience gained from it might not be repeatable to others.

This idea was in the back of my mind as I read Twelve Blue, but I can’t really said I finished it, because can I? I started off reading about a girl and a carny, and with no clear indication as to where to go next, I clicked on a pixelated tab on the left and was whisked away to a passage about cyberspace. From there I came across a paragraph about raptors, followed by at least two different passages about a girl named Samantha. I won’t pretend to know about their connection or if they all follow a linear plot of sorts, but I did feel enriched following a loose thread of a narrative and trying to peace together what story I could find.

This goes back to what I said earlier about unique experiences, in which my dive into Twelve Blue can’t necessarily be said to have happened to others, and when I choose to reread it again tonight, I can’t imagine I’ll be able to follow the same sequence of events.

Twelve Blue gave me full permission to read a narrative that in a way became my own, and I find that beautiful about it. Speaking as a visual artist whose world surrounds ideas of loose interpretations, I think electronic literature has more to give and I’ve been seeing how this medium has been expanding and evolving.

What kind of authors would create expanded scenarios, elaborate events, and interesting connections and have the confidence to give these ‘pages’ to readers so that they might derive their own narrative/experience from it? That is an interesting theory that I want to think about.

I can see myself reading this story multiple times over the semester, dissecting it and understanding why it works this way and what other ways it can open up for more possibilities. In time, maybe I’ll try and make something akin to electronic literature?

Navigating Electronic Lit & My Reflections on Twelve Blue.

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As I began to navigate Twelve Blue the first image that came to my mind was me, as a little girl playing on my older brother’s very first Apple computer. This was back in the late 80’s. It had a tiny screen, everything was green. I remember how big it was and how very beige and ordinary it looked. No graphics, just a green screen that flickered with small black text as you typed. I can vividly remember the sounds of the buttons as I typed. The buttons seemed to sink down deep as my small fingers excitedly pushed each key. It was really just scribble scrabble. It just felt cool, and looked cool. I discovered this computer before I learned of Nintendo. Once that craze hit, I was like see you later Apple. It wasn’t until many years later at the age of fifteen, right before I started high school that my parents bought me my first desktop computer. This was in 1996. I mention this memory because as soon as I clicked on the link to Twelve Blue I was transported back in time by that blue screen. As I began to click the hyperlinks and images, after admittedly having some trouble, I was transfixed. My confusion quickly turned to curiosity and I couldn’t wait to click around even more. I wondered if this was in fact the power of Electronic Literature? Capturing our imagination and teaching us new modes of learning about literature.

Navigating Electronic Literature by Jessica Pressman was an interesting read. In the opening paragraph she highlights the importance of navigation as it is used in E Lit. I didn’t realize how navigation is a central characteristic of digital literary works, or how it’s a “primary source of it’s signification.” (Pressman) While clumsily trying to find my way trough a text like Twelve Blue I can easily see what Pressman is describing. Clicking on hyperlinks, which we learned about in Research and Methodologies, along with the different forms of navigation discussed in this article, shows the importance of a changing technological world and the implications it has on our future in learning. I agree with Pressman in that I think this type of interaction that we the readers have with E Lit gives us a deeper scope, a more critical lens into what we are reading, learning, interpreting and most importantly how we are thinking. After reading the opening two paragraphs and learning more about hyperlinks, I was excited to read on and explore the other navigational tools that E Lit has to offer.

This idea of using hyperlinks which is a non linear and non conformist way of learning and engaging with literature resonates with me. It also makes me question my role as the reader. Of course their will always be critics, which were mentioned in the article. But this following quote was important: “Regardless of your view, however, navigating a hypertext not only promotes questions about the role of the reader and the reading practice but also about the structure and signification of literature itself.” (Pressman). Blue Hyacinth was interesting I wish I could access it online and see how it works in real time. But the description and screenshots were detailed enough for me to imagine what it would feel like, similar to Twelve Blue I would imagine. I’m a proponent for anything that makes the reader more engaged and allows them to become part of the bigger picture in what they are reading and learning. The “spastic interactivity” aspect of the Blue Hyacinth was cool, again I wish I could see it in action! As I like to say very trippy dude. This whole culture of E Lit takes us all on such a wild ride, buckle up guys!

My favorite navigational tool is IF interactive fiction. After reading the narrative, the reader gets to decide what comes next by each click of the mouse and by what we type! How cool! The responsibility of the reader is great because whatever we choose to type determines the trajectory of the entire story. It’s also a bonus that we get to see it play out on screen between the characters. The example shown of Facade made me want to play along, I was intrigued. I like the idea of becoming a character within the story, that in itself is a transformative experience. It’s similar to the way a gamer interacts when playing video games as Pressman points out. The bottom line is regardless of how you define literature, it is changing as it becomes digital. Along with changes to the way we read, how we interpret the material and what we learn from it. Is that such a bad thing after all? After reading this article and navigating my way through the trippy world of Twelve Blue I say it’s not a bad thing at all, bring on the change!

I hope this isn’t an inappropriate thing to say but I feel close enough to all of you to say it. I never tried or have been into any type of recreational drugs, but if I was I feel like Twelve Blue is what it would feel like. Forgive me I just had to say it! I mean the blue hues, the imagery, the storyline, the fuzzy random pic of what looked like a man and a woman making love! I mean it all felt like one big trip, but a good one! If you know what I mean!? To be honest I was dazed and confused by it all. But when I continued to navigate my way through each scene, and made my way through the text, I started to feel a flow and rhythm develop. In some ways my mind and body began to relax, my shoulders dropped, I felt a sense of calm. I felt hyper focused and nervous within the first fifteen minutes but then I slowly got the hang of it. Maybe all that blue was hypnotizing me? I also used the Pressman article as a reference and it made all the difference in helping me to figure out what the hell was going on and where I should click next. The story itself was very interesting, I love all things, murder, mystery and filled with intrigue. But the interaction we have with the story is what really made it come to life. I’m eager to dissect this work with you all next class. I curious to hear all of your interpretations of it. I also hope Dr. Zamora can share the screen with us and walk us through it. I don’t want to miss a thing! Oh and the GIF below pretty much sums up my #MOOD during this assignment and this entire E Lit journey w are on lol. Ciao ciao! Xo

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Jumping into the World of Elit

Jumping into a new world…

Again, it was great to see you all last Wednesday evening, and I feel like slowly but surely we are getting to know each other a bit more and starting to connect. It was a pleasure to read all of your introductory blogs, and our in-class “Story of Your Name” exercise was another window into who you all are. I really enjoyed that part of classtime together, and despite the fact that we are “online-only” I am feeling a growing sense of connection as we build a sense of trust and community together (…slowly but surely). I am also glad we covered some basic tips on how to use twitter (and our class hashtag #elitclass) in order to grow a PLN (professional learning network). Over time, I am sure you will all gain more confidence in this aspect of our asynchronous learning together.

Here are the slides from last week:

You are welcome to review these slides that cover an introduction to the most prominent genres of electronic literature (and they include some links to examples of each genre highlighted). This understanding of the general  #elit “categories” will serve as a foundational vocabulary for our overall exploration of electronic literature throughout the semester.  

The Electronic Literature Collections

Surf the Electronic Literature Collections (Volume 1, Volume 2, & Volume 3)!  Just peek around and open up different texts to discover what awaits you there.  Start to search for a few texts you might want to choose for your review presentation.  Make a mental “shortlist” of your top choices to work with, as we will settle our “Elit Review Presentation” schedule next week. As you look through the Electronic Literature volumes this week, please notice the expectations & strategies you bring to the texts. What do you like & why? What frustrates you and why?  Remember to be open to new experiences, because they are there, …just waiting.

Your “to-do” list for next class:

Read Pressman’s “Navigating Electronic Literature”.  This essay is located in “About Electronic Literature:  New Horizons for the Literary”.

-Read Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce for 1 hour.

-Your second blog post is due.  Please write a reflection about your Twelve Blue reading experience in relation to Pressman’s article about reading elit.

-Please email me with: -two possible dates for your forthcoming presentation; -your first and second choice for your electronic literature selection from one of the ELCs for presentation.

E-lit Titles for Presentation

My first choice has to be, “Hunt for the Gay Planet.” The Star Wars vibe it gave off caught me right away. Under further investigation, I found this not so much has a ‘hunt’ for a planet, but rather the ‘hunt’ for reflection within. Very Yoda. “Gay, many meanings this word has.” So, from what meaning will you play? Find it in Volume 3.

“The Dark Tower” is my second choice for presentation. The creepy vibe of exploring a dark cavern to hunt down and interpret Generative Fiction that’s floating like a swarm of bugs, or dashing away into the nooks and crannies of the destruction that lurks beneath the tower itself. This too can be found in Volume 3.

As far as the dates for my presentation, I have yet to decide. Stay tuned…

Thesis Intro

Hello everyone!  Let me take a moment to say just how happy I am that the semester is starting up again!  The time off from our journey was nice, but I am more than ready to get back to it.  I’ve been working like crazy all summer long, so to have a chance to get back into my studies and focus on something such as preparing and writing my thesis is something that definitely excites me a whole lot.  Additionally, I genuinely look forward to seeing how each one of my classmates progress in their own thesis journey, as I feel our group is special in that we are constantly bringing out the best in each other.  

For my thesis, I am actually going to pursue work I have done in a previous class.  For those who were in the Networked Narratives last semester with Dr. Zamora and Professor Alan Levine, I am going to take the story outline we worked on as the final project and work to write the story in its entirety as a novel.  In that class, I really felt myself begin to blossom as a creative type, and the prospects of exploring this further truly excites me.  It is a work that ties in the pandemic and the scary realities of where our society is headed in terms of technology and this idea of surveillance capital (if you know, you know.)  

The task at hand is certainly daunting, but I welcome the challenge and the work that this is going to be.  I look forward to working with everybody in such a manner that will elevate each of our ideas into truly special, valuable work.  

Reflections on My Thesis Project/Progress…

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I decided to start this blog post immediately after class because I feel a momentum and flow. I don’t want to interrupt that magical feeling or vibe. I enjoyed the break out room experience. I’m getting more used to Zoom and remote learning in general. My back is so achy, but I refuse to work at a desk, so my bed has become my work station, and has always been my sanctuary. The safe, soft place I plop down when I’m happy, sad, anxious, tired or even when I’m energized. I plan to move (still in NJ) after I graduate in May so I’ll miss this bedroom. I’m trying to savor all the final moments I have in it. So corny I know! I’m a Pisces, forgive me, overly sensitive and super emotional. Well as I was saying, my back is aching but my mind is clear and lucid. This remote learning experience has been a hard transition for me as I am a social person and I crave routine each day, routines sustain me and keep me stay stable. Despite the drastic changes to my routine, I’ve been able to excel in all my classes last semester, and in the summer. I hope that momentum will continue to flow into these last two semesters.

As far as my thesis project is concerned, I have definitely found a flow. Luckily I got a jumpstart in the spring semester and throughout the summer. I’m truly grateful for that. I also learned a great deal about what I wanted my thesis project to be and what I wanted it not to be from our Research and Methodologies class. Dr. Nelson was instrumental in helping me make the decision of where I wanted to go and what I needed to do to get there. Oh yeah did I mention Dr. Nelson got me through undergrad? Probably so, but he honestly did. He was my advisor for the two years when I dropped back into Kean. I was a nervous wreck and a total mess most of the times I went to him for advisement. I bashed the need for Algebra and a complained incessantly about a required CPS course geared towards Excel spreadsheets and why it’s not important! (he proved me wrong).But I must say his patience, earnest advice, and his calm Southern temperament helped put me at ease and made me believe that I can do this, that I will do this and succeed. Shout out to Dr. Nelson, or as Meagan calls him: Chuck. This entire KUWP and Writing Studies family means so very much to me. Okay so now on to my thesis explorations and discoveries so far…

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My thesis is a creative non fiction piece. I guess you can say it breaks the mold of your typical thesis projects which tend to be more academic, rigid and structured solely on research based ideas. I’m forever grateful to Dr. Zamora for giving us the opportunity to create a piece that is both research based, highly academic and creative. To create a piece that is close to my heart and that I’m so very passionate about is a true blessing. As you all know my thesis is a memoir of my life struggles with anxiety and OCD. Being diagnosed at a very young age, and in a time when mental health talk was still taboo, I went through a long and troubling journey to find help, hope, inner peace and finally acceptance. Acceptance that I will never be “cured” that I will always have this cross to bare, until the day I die. Imagine having to contemplate that as a young child and teenager. Even today at the age of 38, it’s sometimes hard to fathom. The significance of my memoir and why I feel compelled to tell my story, is because I know there are children and young adults suffering in silence just like I did for so many years. But within my memoir I don’t only write about my struggles, I also highlight my triumphs. I’m living proof that one can live a fulfilled life and thrive while suffering from serious mental illness. I hope that in the process of creating my thesis I’m able to convey to the reader an authentic, poignant and meaningful memoir, that brings hope and instills faith in all mental health sufferers, especially the most fragile: children and young adults. As the famous saying goes: “Our children are our future.” I hope my story makes it a softer, and safer place for them to land. Xo

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