Thank you to Melanie for her presentation on Peaceful Dream, and Xinyu for her presentation on Zui Yong Shi. It seems to me that there were many common thematics in the pieces they selected – the dream like quality of both poetic compositions, and the timeless and meditative quality that emerges when experiencing our own interactivity with these texts. We are all lucky to have benefitted from Melanie & Xinyu’s deeper understanding of the mandarin language (as well as the literary traditions referenced in these two works). We discussed Ottar Omstead’s use of “letter carpets” transposed with Chinese ideographs in combination with images, videos and music. We also discussed the pentatonic melody of the Chinese WuYan JueJu poetry tradition – remixed here in a multimedia context by Ren Yang. In each case, the words connect to nature and feelings and a kind of romantic idealism, helping us to see the significance of nature (overall) in Chinese written tradition.
In many ways, I think our thoughtful discussion last week also highlights the multi-pronged ways in which translation is ever-present in our lives. The act of translation is a complex skill. Translation means to move meaning across a boundary. This work is being done constantly and is a vital part of living in our contemporary and global world. Each of us must “translate” all day, all the time. We move meaning across boundaries – linguistically of course, but also in terms of cultural divides, or representational genres – like visual language, or sound too. These two texts ask us to slow down, and to pay attention to how we do that work. The selections last week were really paired together effectively, and have brought these overall translation concerns to light for us.
This week I started with Katie Schaag’s The Infinite Woman. Before delving into my experience with the piece, I would first like to say that it was interesting to see that, while Schaag was the author, there were several other people listed as collaborators, those who did the coding and technical implementation: Alayna Panlilio, Ryan Power, Josh Terry, Alex Yang, Jeffrey Zhang. I was glad to see this sort of collaboration on an e-lit piece, the idea that even if you don’t know how to code, you can collaborate with people who do in order to make your e-lit idea a reality.
I read the statement and the editorial statement beforehand to give me an idea of what I was going into, as I do with most of the pieces we read for class. I’ve read excerpts of The Second Sex for a class before, so I have some familiarity with Beauvoir’s work and its context, but Marshall’s novel is completely unfamiliar to me. I am really intrigued by the project’s goal of critiquing an “eternal female essence” or at least the idea of one. I think the piece is trying to demonstrate that there is no such thing, stating that the algorithmic remixes stretch the logic of Beauvoir and Marshall’s work and the idea of a “female essence” to its breaking point.
While trying to use the canvas to construct a poem, I found the fog to be irritating, but I think this is supposed to be the “point,” as it is a representative of erasure, something highly negative. Through clearing the fog several times and working with some sentences and word erasure, I produced the following poem:
Woman is Flesh, to say anything about her, it is obvious how she looks. Watching her act, I saw the moon first, full-faced at the lie. just as well her equal. Her homosexual tendencies – a woman is torn between the desire of marriage or lowering herself. Lord-man will protect liege-woman and will adapt rather quickly. Even if they are not satisfied with each other. But the difference in their eyes. are very different result.
I think that if one spent a lot of time in this piece, they could create some really intriguing poetry! There’s something to be said, too, about the possibility of working WITH the fog, with letting it choose what words you black out in your poetry…
Dan Waber’s a kiss was immediately intriguing to me because it is a novel-length hypertext piece. Just looking at the image of it is boggling, seeing all those connections, all those possible paths and lexias!
I think if I encountered this piece earlier at the beginning of the class, I would feel overwhelmed. See, if I approached this as I’d approach a physical novel, I’d feel like I had to read the whole thing in order to grasp its meaning! However, this class has made me more comfortable with the fact that a variety of meanings can be made out of a single work, that e-lit pieces have no one, set, final meaning anyway. This makes me feel more comfortable just perusing this piece casually and seeing what it has to say to me.
Some memorable quotes from my reading:
“When he opened the cheese he thought Wooof! That smells like a foot, a really nasty foot. “
“She likes mushrooms, but, not enough to die for.”
What’s worth dying for? “No food, that’s for sure. No god, no country, no philosophy. No piece of land, no amount of money, no firmly held principle.”
An excerpt I love:
they share their writing projects in-progress they work together they work apart they remember things the other says they make time to go on dates they disagree they root for each other
other ways they say I love you
I just find that absolutely beautiful, an exploration of love beyond the word. I have a friend who loves love. She loves the ways people express it, loves poems about it, not mushy typical love poems describing someone’s beauty but the unique ones, the “real” ones, I think is how I’d describe it. This poem reminds me of her; I think she’d love it. And, of course, it reminds me of my girlfriend, makes me think of all the ways we say we love each other without just using the words.
“They both think that part of the reason why writers like to form groups is because what they do is so intensely anti-social that they need the social aspects of the group in order to keep from becoming misanthropic hermits.”
Other ways to describe the hug: “a Dali clock on a spoon”
“If someone told you that you could live to be 250 by hitting yourself in the head with a hammer for 20 hours a day, would you do it? Of course not. What’s the point of prolonging a life devoid of the things you enjoy? That’s doubly foolish.”
“Watch closely, and pretend that the way they are treating the animal is the way they’d treat a person weaker than they are. Watch closely, and imagine this is how the person will treat you in your joy and in your moments of need.”
The whole lexia of “the perfect onions and mushrooms to go with steak”; the recipe sounds delicious. I love mushrooms and onions with steak.
This piece, overall, was gorgeous. From what I read, it’s the slice-of-life story about a married couple. I love slice-of-life stories anyway, so it’s pretty much right up my alley. It had a way of being so tender, so full of sentiment without being sentimental. I loved it. I could probably dedicate hours and hours to reading through it. I love, also, the use of words, of images, of metaphors. I mean, “a Dali clock on a spoon” to describe a hug…that’s genius.
A Kiss was my favorite. For starters, I am biased since I identify as a romantic. So the concept of it surrounding a kiss and two people’s interactions automatically piques my interest. I liked how easy it was to navigate; it reminded me of Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce. As I made my way through, I eventually made my way back to the start, ready to start a new adventure. I really have nothing to say; I loved this piece.
The Infinite Woman is a creative concept. I liked that there were endless possibilities to choose from, and you could rearrange the lines to create your own poem. The adaptability made it really appealing and allowed one to make this their own. The lines were thought-provoking and truly challenged your thinking since you’re making a poem that makes sense to you. It also made my mind work 10x’s faster since I was trying to quickly read the lines and see if they made sense with my poem. I definitely struggled to do this, but I liked the challenge. The only thing I didn’t like about this piece was the fog. I didn’t understand the significance of the fog, so it just came off as distracting. I found myself constantly clicking reset fog so that I could enjoy the piece. Outside of that, I liked this.
According to the editorial statement, the Infinite Woman remixes excerpts from two mid-20th century books, Edison Marshall’s novel The Infinite Woman (1950) and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949). It is very interesting to know that the Infinite Woman is an interactive remix and erasure poetry platform, which I never see before.
Like blackout poetry and Letter to X we did before, it is very personal because we can design and make our work. In the Infinite Woman, users can take lines from the endlessly scrolling text and send them to a canvas workspace where they can change the wording and sentence structure. These user-generated erasure poems offer a wealth of opportunities for gendered subjectivity to be dissected and reimagined.
Within the website, we can select whatever sentences we like, and it will show on the right box. When selecting, we are composing our piece and we can click words we dislike so it becomes invisible.
I never thought the meaning behind it are so deep, according to the author’s statement, the Infinite Woman web app literalizes the idea of gendered infinitude by producing lines that will endlessly combine or erase the two source texts. This results in a process in code and in the reading experience that performs the critique underlying both source texts.
Overall, I am still confused about the fog over the text and I think it affects my reading experience.
Here is the piece I made :->
The official class site for Dr. Mia Zamora’s Fall 2022 Electronic Literature course.