All posts by K M

Cape Disappointment

Examining J. R. Carpenter's "The Cape" was actually somewhat painful for me.  This was not because of the content, but because the of the way it was presented.  I'm jealous of how well this author conquered the whole story-of-place thing, and their piece's design was similar to what I would have loved my individual e-lit piece to be, at least on a page-by-page level.  The combination of maps, geological surveys, photographs, simple animation, and monochrome color palette really helped readers get a sense of the place the author was talking about.   One criticism I have, however, is that I don't see the connection between the theme of the story and the character of Cape Cod.  I think of Cape Cod as a very ritzy, exclusive, beautiful vacationing spot for the elite; I don't see the connection to the sense of alienation the narrator seems to feel from his family.  Like, an island or isolated place might have been more appropriate metaphorically.  Maybe I need to read it again, or look into it in a deeper way.  The non-linear, clickable menu aspect of "The Cape" also would not have applied to my piece.     

"With Those We Love Alive" is actually similar to what I managed to create for my individual piece on the surface.  It uses the same platform, Twine, but the story branches a lot more.  I got stuck at the part in the piece where I was exploring the castle/estate thing of the Empress, so I'm really not sure how the rest of the piece functions.  I did like that my option referred to childhood as a "larval state," though.

I already posted my idea for a Thermophiles article title in the shared document, but I will post it here as well (because, honestly, I can't remember where it's supposed to go).  My title idea was "Contextualizing Our First NetProv Experience."  

Cape Disappointment

Examining J. R. Carpenter's "The Cape" was actually somewhat painful for me.  This was not because of the content, but because the of the way it was presented.  I'm jealous of how well this author conquered the whole story-of-place thing, and their piece's design was similar to what I would have loved my individual e-lit piece to be, at least on a page-by-page level.  The combination of maps, geological surveys, photographs, simple animation, and monochrome color palette really helped readers get a sense of the place the author was talking about.   One criticism I have, however, is that I don't see the connection between the theme of the story and the character of Cape Cod.  I think of Cape Cod as a very ritzy, exclusive, beautiful vacationing spot for the elite; I don't see the connection to the sense of alienation the narrator seems to feel from his family.  Like, an island or isolated place might have been more appropriate metaphorically.  Maybe I need to read it again, or look into it in a deeper way.  The non-linear, clickable menu aspect of "The Cape" also would not have applied to my piece.     

"With Those We Love Alive" is actually similar to what I managed to create for my individual piece on the surface.  It uses the same platform, Twine, but the story branches a lot more.  I got stuck at the part in the piece where I was exploring the castle/estate thing of the Empress, so I'm really not sure how the rest of the piece functions.  I did like that my option referred to childhood as a "larval state," though.

I already posted my idea for a Thermophiles article title in the shared document, but I will post it here as well (because, honestly, I can't remember where it's supposed to go).  My title idea was "Contextualizing Our First NetProv Experience."  

Antiseptic and Ambiguity

The electronic literature piece "Separation" by Annie Abrahams is a strange look at the relationship between the human body and the computer.  The user must click continuously to force each word onto the screen, and every so often, the piece interrupts the text with a prompt to engage in a physical exercise.  I'm assuming there is a special way to get to the end of the text, but I just continuously got a pop-up box that told me I didn't have the right attitude toward my computer.  I didn't really like this piece, but I can definitely respect the stylistic choices the creator made. 

The introduction to the piece says that the author made it during a stay in the hospital.  The sterile white background and black text definitely give off the same rigid, antiseptic sense of confinement as a hospital stay.  To me, this was the most haunting aspect of the piece.  Having to click to get each word to appear also evokes the strain and effort a sick/injured person might feel when trying to accomplish a task or make sense of the world through a pain-killer fog.  Adding to the whole hospital patient effect, the exercises the piece makes the reader engage in are reminiscent of physical rehabilitation or occupational therapy.

The ambiguity in the actual text prompts the reader to reflect on their relationship to technology.  At first, I thought the text was alluding to a dysfunctional romantic relationship between two human beings, but as it continues (and once the reader looks at the intro and editorial comments) it becomes apparent that the text is actually talking about the relationship between a human being and their computer.  I have used this kind of technique before in my own fiction writing (I once wrote a piece where malaria is talking to a human it has killed, but the language is similar to a break-up note), but I still found myself blind-sided when I realized what the author of "Separation" was doing.  By tricking the reader into thinking they're reading about a romantic relationship, "Separation" draws the reader in and makes them become more emotionally engaged than they would if they knew from the beginning that the text is about a computer.  It also makes the reader consider just how much time and attention they give to something that is supposed to be a simple electronic tool.  I can say, to my own deep shame, that there are some relationships in my life that I would mourn less than the destruction of my laptop.  There are also some relationships in my life that were begun, or are still made possible by, my computer.  It's troubling to see just how parasitic the relationship between man and machine can be.  If not parasitic, then humans and computers are at least commensals (one gets a benefit, while the other is not majorly harmed).      

Antiseptic and Ambiguity

The electronic literature piece "Separation" by Annie Abrahams is a strange look at the relationship between the human body and the computer.  The user must click continuously to force each word onto the screen, and every so often, the piece interrupts the text with a prompt to engage in a physical exercise.  I'm assuming there is a special way to get to the end of the text, but I just continuously got a pop-up box that told me I didn't have the right attitude toward my computer.  I didn't really like this piece, but I can definitely respect the stylistic choices the creator made. 

The introduction to the piece says that the author made it during a stay in the hospital.  The sterile white background and black text definitely give off the same rigid, antiseptic sense of confinement as a hospital stay.  To me, this was the most haunting aspect of the piece.  Having to click to get each word to appear also evokes the strain and effort a sick/injured person might feel when trying to accomplish a task or make sense of the world through a pain-killer fog.  Adding to the whole hospital patient effect, the exercises the piece makes the reader engage in are reminiscent of physical rehabilitation or occupational therapy.

The ambiguity in the actual text prompts the reader to reflect on their relationship to technology.  At first, I thought the text was alluding to a dysfunctional romantic relationship between two human beings, but as it continues (and once the reader looks at the intro and editorial comments) it becomes apparent that the text is actually talking about the relationship between a human being and their computer.  I have used this kind of technique before in my own fiction writing (I once wrote a piece where malaria is talking to a human it has killed, but the language is similar to a break-up note), but I still found myself blind-sided when I realized what the author of "Separation" was doing.  By tricking the reader into thinking they're reading about a romantic relationship, "Separation" draws the reader in and makes them become more emotionally engaged than they would if they knew from the beginning that the text is about a computer.  It also makes the reader consider just how much time and attention they give to something that is supposed to be a simple electronic tool.  I can say, to my own deep shame, that there are some relationships in my life that I would mourn less than the destruction of my laptop.  There are also some relationships in my life that were begun, or are still made possible by, my computer.  It's troubling to see just how parasitic the relationship between man and machine can be.  If not parasitic, then humans and computers are at least commensals (one gets a benefit, while the other is not majorly harmed).      

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin Review

Here is a link to a GoogleDocs version of my E-Lit review: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_TUNY6S7RnmowsHXElTZuXMQURM3Z-Etola2aRXpeEs/edit 

I also shared the document with everyone through e-mail. The version I shared via e-mail contains the proper formatting, whereas the GoogleDocs version looks kind of weird.  The content is basically the same, though.

I'm looking forward to sharing this piece with all of you tonight!

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin Review

Here is a link to a GoogleDocs version of my E-Lit review: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_TUNY6S7RnmowsHXElTZuXMQURM3Z-Etola2aRXpeEs/edit 

I also shared the document with everyone through e-mail. The version I shared via e-mail contains the proper formatting, whereas the GoogleDocs version looks kind of weird.  The content is basically the same, though.

I'm looking forward to sharing this piece with all of you tonight!

Artifice is the Engine

I'm glad Dave decided to present "First Draft of the Revolution" by Emily Short and Liza Daly; I was intrigued by this piece earlier in the semester when I was browsing through Volume 3.  The combination of an 18th century setting, with all the worries of a noble European family, and magical elements reminded me a little of the novel "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," despite the fact that said novel was set in the 19th century (if I remember correctly).  The woodcut images, elegant font, and book framing device all accentuate the period piece aspect, as does the period-appropriate language.  I also think it's interesting to have a piece of electronic literature mimic the publishing traditions of an earlier era; it draws the reader's attention to the artificiality of it.  This artifice is, I believe, a driving theme in "First Draft."

The metafictional elements (if you could call it that since the letters being sent aren't fiction to the characters; maybe metacompositional would be more appropriate?  Metaepistolary?) in the piece contrast with the magical elements to make the reader engage more fully its theme of artifice.  It creates a kind of irony, and I think it's metaphorical for the power of writing in general.  Because humans instinctively organize their thoughts and experiences through narration, when one writes, one has the power to alter reality; this is especially true if they're writing about history or experiences.  Like the magic in the piece, however, that power is tempered by societal norms.  Each time a character changes a piece of what they have written, whether the character is male or female, magic-user or not, they are giving away a little bit of their power, and they have made their communication more artificial.  The fact that the piece won't move forward until the reader has rewritten or erased certain parts of the letters emphasizes the fact that the authors wanted their readers to see how each writer is altering their words due to the expectations/possible reactions of others.  It's fascinating to see the different writing processes of each character (for example, Henri makes a list of the points he wants to address), and the limited choices for revisions also raise a number of questions about gender and society, both historical and modern. 

It's also worth noting that by involving the reader in multiple characters' writing processes, "First Draft" blurs the line between reader, writer, and fictional entity.  In this case, all three interact to create meaning, or to dilute it.  This feature is all the more powerful because the reader is seeing the true thoughts of multiple characters, so the reader is omniscient, and dramatic irony is infused into everything.  The reader is asked to act as every character, though, as if they don't know the truth of the other characters' thoughts.  This ties into what I was saying earlier about the surrender of power and the triumph of artifice over truth.  The reader must pretend they don't know all they do know in order to make revision choices and move the story forward.  Artifice is the engine, but is it only the engine driving the story, or is it driving all our lives?

Artifice is the Engine

I'm glad Dave decided to present "First Draft of the Revolution" by Emily Short and Liza Daly; I was intrigued by this piece earlier in the semester when I was browsing through Volume 3.  The combination of an 18th century setting, with all the worries of a noble European family, and magical elements reminded me a little of the novel "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," despite the fact that said novel was set in the 19th century (if I remember correctly).  The woodcut images, elegant font, and book framing device all accentuate the period piece aspect, as does the period-appropriate language.  I also think it's interesting to have a piece of electronic literature mimic the publishing traditions of an earlier era; it draws the reader's attention to the artificiality of it.  This artifice is, I believe, a driving theme in "First Draft."

The metafictional elements (if you could call it that since the letters being sent aren't fiction to the characters; maybe metacompositional would be more appropriate?  Metaepistolary?) in the piece contrast with the magical elements to make the reader engage more fully its theme of artifice.  It creates a kind of irony, and I think it's metaphorical for the power of writing in general.  Because humans instinctively organize their thoughts and experiences through narration, when one writes, one has the power to alter reality; this is especially true if they're writing about history or experiences.  Like the magic in the piece, however, that power is tempered by societal norms.  Each time a character changes a piece of what they have written, whether the character is male or female, magic-user or not, they are giving away a little bit of their power, and they have made their communication more artificial.  The fact that the piece won't move forward until the reader has rewritten or erased certain parts of the letters emphasizes the fact that the authors wanted their readers to see how each writer is altering their words due to the expectations/possible reactions of others.  It's fascinating to see the different writing processes of each character (for example, Henri makes a list of the points he wants to address), and the limited choices for revisions also raise a number of questions about gender and society, both historical and modern. 

It's also worth noting that by involving the reader in multiple characters' writing processes, "First Draft" blurs the line between reader, writer, and fictional entity.  In this case, all three interact to create meaning, or to dilute it.  This feature is all the more powerful because the reader is seeing the true thoughts of multiple characters, so the reader is omniscient, and dramatic irony is infused into everything.  The reader is asked to act as every character, though, as if they don't know the truth of the other characters' thoughts.  This ties into what I was saying earlier about the surrender of power and the triumph of artifice over truth.  The reader must pretend they don't know all they do know in order to make revision choices and move the story forward.  Artifice is the engine, but is it only the engine driving the story, or is it driving all our lives?

Thermophiles in Love Reflection



There were a number of issues that arose during my period of participation in the “Thermophiles in Love” (TiL) improvised network narrative (netprov).  Firstly, because the characters were fictional bacteria with a unique sense of gender, I had to decide on the way I wanted to use gender neutral pronouns.  I decided on Rickter’s “xe” pronouns because they sounded the most otherworldly to me, and thus best suited to the science fiction/slipstream genre of the netprov.  TiL also influenced the way I interacted with some of my classmates in real life.  Being careful not to reveal our online identities, we had detailed discussions about characters and events on the netprov, both in person and via text message.  We even developed some specific lexis to describe things in the real world based on features from TiL.  The most significant issue, however, was the unexpected emotional distress that arose from the incongruities between my real-life self and my character.  I do a lot of creative writing, and I have written from the points-of-view of fictional characters countless times before (I’ve even written from the point of view of a parasitic worm!), but the layered aspect of communication on the netprov made things a lot more nerve-wracking.  Because I knew I was going to be interacting with my professor, classmates, and other scholars and academics in the career field I wish to enter, I still felt pressure to present myself well.  I worried that people would confuse my words and ideas with those of my character, and it would somehow come back to bite me.  

One outstanding incident occurred when another person’s character, Acido_EColi, began to argue with my character, hype_solium.  Due to the open-ended, uncertain nature of the relationship between the netprov’s universe and real-world microbiology, our characters had conflicting ideas about the relative societal and evolutionary positions of E. coli to Thermophiles.  I had imagined E. coli as less developed bacteria that Thermophiles kept as pets, almost like dogs.  The person writing Acido_EColi had actually imagined their character as an E. coli cell.  When hype_solium talked about xyr pet E. coli cells and the way that xe treated them, Acido_EColi was incredibly offended, and xe wrote about xyr feelings as a response to hype_solium’s thread.  At that point I became very anxious because in real-life I would have apologized profusely and done everything I could to avoid a conflict with another forum user, but hype_solium would not.  In accordance with the characteristics laid out by the netprov’s creators for xyr gender, my character would not listen to Acido_EColi’s point; xe would argue back.  So I argued back, risking appearing ignorant and confrontational to my professor, classmates, and contemporaries if they happened to figure out my online identity.  The anxiety it evoked was so distracting that I almost forgot to lock the door on the way out of the Writing Center, where I work as a tutor, that evening.  I also thought about the fictional argument for the duration of my commute, worrying obsessively about how Acido_EColi would take my character’s response, and planning possible comebacks in xyr voice.    

Thermophiles in Love Reflection



There were a number of issues that arose during my period of participation in the “Thermophiles in Love” (TiL) improvised network narrative (netprov).  Firstly, because the characters were fictional bacteria with a unique sense of gender, I had to decide on the way I wanted to use gender neutral pronouns.  I decided on Rickter’s “xe” pronouns because they sounded the most otherworldly to me, and thus best suited to the science fiction/slipstream genre of the netprov.  TiL also influenced the way I interacted with some of my classmates in real life.  Being careful not to reveal our online identities, we had detailed discussions about characters and events on the netprov, both in person and via text message.  We even developed some specific lexis to describe things in the real world based on features from TiL.  The most significant issue, however, was the unexpected emotional distress that arose from the incongruities between my real-life self and my character.  I do a lot of creative writing, and I have written from the points-of-view of fictional characters countless times before (I’ve even written from the point of view of a parasitic worm!), but the layered aspect of communication on the netprov made things a lot more nerve-wracking.  Because I knew I was going to be interacting with my professor, classmates, and other scholars and academics in the career field I wish to enter, I still felt pressure to present myself well.  I worried that people would confuse my words and ideas with those of my character, and it would somehow come back to bite me.  

One outstanding incident occurred when another person’s character, Acido_EColi, began to argue with my character, hype_solium.  Due to the open-ended, uncertain nature of the relationship between the netprov’s universe and real-world microbiology, our characters had conflicting ideas about the relative societal and evolutionary positions of E. coli to Thermophiles.  I had imagined E. coli as less developed bacteria that Thermophiles kept as pets, almost like dogs.  The person writing Acido_EColi had actually imagined their character as an E. coli cell.  When hype_solium talked about xyr pet E. coli cells and the way that xe treated them, Acido_EColi was incredibly offended, and xe wrote about xyr feelings as a response to hype_solium’s thread.  At that point I became very anxious because in real-life I would have apologized profusely and done everything I could to avoid a conflict with another forum user, but hype_solium would not.  In accordance with the characteristics laid out by the netprov’s creators for xyr gender, my character would not listen to Acido_EColi’s point; xe would argue back.  So I argued back, risking appearing ignorant and confrontational to my professor, classmates, and contemporaries if they happened to figure out my online identity.  The anxiety it evoked was so distracting that I almost forgot to lock the door on the way out of the Writing Center, where I work as a tutor, that evening.  I also thought about the fictional argument for the duration of my commute, worrying obsessively about how Acido_EColi would take my character’s response, and planning possible comebacks in xyr voice.