The Original Subtlety of E-Literature, a Review

The first thing worth mentioning in regards to the two pieces this week, is the fact that they left me with a subtle respect towards the notion that real originality still exists, and human creativity is actually a boundless element which has not lost its possibilities for surprising the senses and, however subtlety, producing that special smile of appreciation in front of the aesthetically unexpected. In this sense, despite not producing the astonishment or profound commotion of a Hemingway novel or a Poem by Derek Walcott, the ways in which the originality of these pieces stimulates the artistic hope of mind, can be explored in order to comprehend not only the flexibility but also the contemporary abundance of art, in particularly literature, as a force which is far from extinction.

            In this line of ideas, it is possible to affirm that both pieces focus on offering an experience instead of a specific textual composition. The first piece to which I accessed was the Linus’ Letter, and from the first moment, the dynamic of the interaction with the poems made me smile in front of a simple and yet elaborated mechanism of ambiguity which lines stand against the most negative aspects of modern life directly from one of the very sources of our disintegration or alteration as a society, which is the encoding of words, the transformation of language into the heart and soul of the digital dimension (Gillespie, n,p). This rather programming theme is not severely exploited by the author, in the sense that it does not consists on line after line of an official web developing language used with poetic purposes of protest against the code itself. Instead, it goes, like a cubical bullet, to the essence of the systematic perception with which these codes have progressively deconstructed the world around us transforming it in a place which not only can but must be understood exclusively through the lens of their rivers of information. The briefness and sharpness of every verse in the face of the cube, and the link between the last word and the following poem’s stanza subtlety insinuates that we are dealing with the bones of the digital artifice. That we, by clicking, are fighting against the illusion from within the illusion itself. The sequential poems protest against the bombing of society, both by media and by American planes, but I consider that their true merit is to generate a deeper and more intuitive protest against the limitations with which the screen is constraining human perception to operate within their borders, reducing the real world and the real complex experiences of individual and collective life to mere collateral data which sole purpose is to be, sooner or later, processed.       

,      In this line of thought, the second piece, presented under the weight of Mayakovski’s name and poetical principles, takes the concept of processing to an interesting level of composition. The combination of all the forms of expression allowed by the digital medium, audio, video and text, results are a little overwhelming at first, as any baroque work is supposed to, and I in particular did not like the sound with which “the mechanism” orbits with its links escaping the pulse of the reader. However, after a little exploration and adaptation to the proposal the element of subtlety, the transmission of their protest also strikes. In this case, I could perceive a contrast between the worldliness and melodramatic density of “the manifesto” and overall textual parts, in comparison with the precision of their visual content. In this case, I could not connect to their texts, which I perceived too alarmist and overindulging with this alarmism, as well as I did to their images (Szilak, n,p). However, the proposal itself seemed interesting for offering an interactive platform which is also able to produce surprise after every click, guaranteeing the evolution from the turn of the page to this multilayered construct in which many levels of the human experience, legacy, perception and unsettledness are condensed into the dynamic of the digital space.

            In this sense, another interesting element I found in both pieces is the use of idealism, in terms of the digital era and its writers. For the first piece, the symbol of “Linus” represents the very voice of these artists in their rebellious struggle for taking human expression and creativity one step further, to regions which, however subtlety, have not been explore. On the other hand, in the second piece, the notion of “Kitsch” makes reference to this new form of language, which is ironically seeking to transcend the limits of ordinary language in terms of form and content, in order to provide not a text but an experience capable of stimulating imagination and expanding the possibilities of the digital realm with aesthetics purposes in which another subtle element is a thread of nostalgia towards the past; the times when books and poems were regarded with the place today reserved, or conquered, by the tactile screen.

            To conclude, it can be summarized that the pieces in question are truly original creative works, with the main purpose of stimulating the imagination of the reader through the offering of an interactive environment which stands in protest against the limitations and superficialities of our contemporary and technologically saturated way of life.      

Works Cited

 Gillespie, W. Letter to Linus. Electronic Literature Collection, 2001.

 Szilak, I. Reconstructin Mayakovsky. Electronic Literature Collection, 2008.

‘Letter to Linus’ by William Gillespie

I found this piece super easy to navigate. This piece uses cubes and key words for navigation, transitions and segways into other topics. I love the emphasis on language in this piece and the idea that language can be dangerous and is the root or a tool of danger and harm but it also can be used for art (graffiti), thought and change. During the early 1900s, the Soviet Union didn’t have a word for ‘revolution’ and other words like it. The thought behind this is that if there is no word to use to start a revolution, it can’t happen. You can have the idea to violently start change but without using words related to the subject of revolution, you can’t describe it. This would allow the government to do whatever they want and treat their citizens poorly because they couldn’t communicate or associate their feelings with the word ‘revolution.’

This poem also has a lot of powerful quotes and ideas. (1) “Your mind is a construct of the world” rather than the world being a construct of your mind. (2) “Because language is the most powerful tool in the world.” Weapons or objects tend to only cause temporary physical pain. Words can follow a person for a lifetime. Words could also inspire change and development for the better or worse

Set in a dystopian world where language is a weapon and dialogue can’t be had without the ringing of gunfire, this poem uses language into a gift to be given or a weapon to be used, like an object that evolves ideas. I found this piece a little hard to make, build or follow a central plot. I’m not sure if there is an order to this piece. I’m thinking rather it uses the disorganization of the poetry and pages to develop the idea that the world where this takes place isn’t organized or structured but random and sporadic, dystopian and unleveled.

POST #9: Resurrecting Our Past Literary Figures and Idols

For this week, I had the pleasure to read two more pleasant works of electronic literature. Reconstructing Mayakovsky, by Illya Szilak, is an electronic novel focused on the future and with futuristic aspects. And Letter to Linus, by William Gillespie, is a hypercube of poetry that focuses on the power of language (English, in this case). While both works were great to read, I have to say that my experience with each and interpretation of each was different.

Reconstructing Mayakovsky was probably my favorite out of the two because it was easy to read the work and make sense of it. But of course I understand that this is just because I am more familiar with this type of literary work (creative fiction). So basically, the story is about a cyber-like living being named Vera X, who lost her memories after a certain war. She has a simple life at first, but soon her life unravels after a meteorite event, and so she embarks in a quest to reconstruct Mayakovsky after being motivated by his passionate and rebellious words, both as a poet and scientist. But she hopes to accomplish this with the help of some friends, while still learning to make since of the new world. She also finds herself dealing with a series of virtual and real events that separate a perfect world (a world where there is no chaos) from a more realistic one.

From reading the work, I couldn’t help but to find the author’s primary purpose or intention when crafting the work, to be of mutual respect for her role model. It’s weird for me to say this, but it’s what I felt when reading it. I just found too many connections between the work, the writer, and the characters involved that had more symbolic meaning (Mayakovsky). It was apparent to me how everything connected in a way that made it feel as if the author herself was showing her respects to her role model. This of course is something I can’t guarantee, but it would make some sort of sense. When we think about it the author herself shared a common passion with this historic person: a passion for writing as poet and story-teller. In addition, both of these intellectuals have been known for having a futuristic mindset when going about their writing. With Mayakovsky, this was the case with his style of poetry, and with the author (Illya Szilak) is noticed through her stories. I can’t help to feel that this was possibly one of the motivators for the crafting of this work. In some way, the author’s admiration for this historic person was such that she wanted to somewhat help reconstruct or resurrect Mayakovsky’s fame and legacy. And in doing so, this piece was created with such intention. This would explain the title of the work as well. It goes deeper than just the story being told in this piece. The story might just be a reflection of the author’s interests.

My experience with the other reading (Letter to Linus) was a bit different. This work was quite a mix of poetry and random symbolic references to the power of the English language, all thrown in at once in this electronic literature.At first, I felt the piece to be very short and easy to read, since the language being used was clear and straight forward to the point relating language. But then, I noticed that in some blocks or pages, the topic in context did not relate to language, and it deviated itself from it. I’m sure if this was done intentionally or not, or maybe it was just the way I interpreted. Still, the whole work presented itself to me as a puzzle. And when I think about it, it makes some sense. I noticed that the content was presented with this idea of a cube, which had 6 sides to it. Each side would focus on a word and have text embedded in it. Since this is an electronic piece of literature, the option to click and interact with the text was partially there.

But this concept of puzzle really came in for me with the how the reader could navigate through the text found within the parts of the cube. There surely some kind of connection between the words highlighted in red in each cube piece. I tried to figure it out, but I could connect each cube’s specific word (highlighted in red) with the belonging text. So, what I did then was try connecting or make sense of such words with the very last part (the very last sentence at the very bottom) of each text. And by doing this, I found connections and more meaning for those words (cut, blow, ect…). Because of this concept and idea of puzzles, I found the work to be interesting in the sense that it surely get the reader to think. This being the case, readers can find themselves figuring out how to make sense of the text and content found this the cube, and trying to relate it all to the topic of language and how powerful it is.

Overall, I would say that I enjoy both pieces, but not at the same level. I’m sure if it’s because of personal preference or something else, but this was the case. For me, I really enjoyed the piece of Reconstructing Mayakovsky much more than the other piece. It got m to think of how we can still help support and reconstruct the legacy of past literary historic figures or literary past idols (meaning writers from the past, who might not be as popular anymore in this day and age). And what better way to do this than by crafting a successful recognizable piece of writing focused on their character and persona.