Tag Archives: Blog Post

v. *block b voice* HER (OH oh!)

For the love of god, please never let me put references in my blog post titles again. Like I’ve made some okay ones in the past, but I’ve reached a new low with this one. Anyway, stan block b.

Before I get into the e-lit pieces we’re going to cover this week, Façade and Pieces of Herself (aka the point of reference for that blog title, but let’s forget that exists, shall we?), I’d like to touch on the shared document we wrote on in class last week, in which we brainstormed our ideas for our own e-lit pieces. I posted this:

I was thinking of having some kind of branching hypertext narrative that kind of starts off fantasy/almost children’s book-like (like this kids book I wrote recently about a baby owl) and gradually getting more realistic (Maybe even branching into autobiographic snippets???)? Maybe?? Like starts off with simple sketchy drawings with few words and what seems like a single story then you realize that there are multiple things to click on on the page (pictures or words of the text I suppose?) that branch off into other little stories (maybe connected? maybe not?). With actual pictures and more color and links to music and videos. Idk I think the transition from simple to complex/fantasy to reality would be cool to play around with. I was thinking of throwing in bits of stories I’ve already written, actually. Wondering if I could (and would be able to) have a page where readers/users/players could type in “passwords” from other parts of the piece in order to unlock other pages… Wondering how to do that… make it kind of a game.

I… think I’m being a little over-ambitious here, but BIG SHRUG. I’ve noticed I have a habit of doing Too Much sometimes. Don’t really know what more to say about that except I doubt I’ll be able to make it extremely poignant or anything… more of a mass dump of all the stories and thoughts in my head. Previews of sorts scattered through hyperlinked pages of sketches and doodles I can hopefully gather from past notebooks. I guess in a sense it’ll be a look into my head?

Not…… sure…… if that’s a good idea. BUT WE’LL SEE, I GUESS?

I’m glad I got my presentation out of the way relatively early so I can focus on this for a longer period of time.

Anyway, look forward to disjointed rambles and thinly veiled social commentary, I guess.

Okay, onto Façade.

I’m going to preface this by saying that, as of writing this post, I haven’t played the game yet. Excuses being: my everyday laptop is a Chromebook, my Windows laptop at home is too decrepit to run anything above Word these days, I’m pretending my old baby Gateway laptop doesn’t exist (plus it could barely run Undertale), and my Fancy New Desktop stopped connecting to its monitor.

But I know Façade. I know it from back in my YouTube days, when I religiously watched Let’s Players. There wasn’t a cryaotic, markiplier, or jacksepticeye vid I hadn’t seen back then. But anyway. Most of the youtubers I watched played it at some point, so I’d skimmed their playthroughs out of curiosity.

And lemme tell you. This game is wild.

User-input-dominated. Incredibly intelligent. Wildly open-ended. I don’t even know how many endings there are with this game, but I know they can get… interesting.

Hopefully I’ll be able to play it at some point, and when I do I’ll be sure to link either a video or my commentary on it [HERE]. If you see no link, please carry on reading and pray I get my life together some day. *wink + finger guns*

Alrighty, onto Pieces of Herself.

First impression of the little point-and-click story is Wow, these controls are wonky. The side-scrolling was incredibly frustratingly sensitive and it was a little difficult to drag the little objects over to the “doll” on the left side of the screen. Plus it looked like you could still click on the areas where the objects were, but it didn’t do anything, so it gave me a little paranoid feeling that I was missing something (OOF. INTENTIONAL?). I can’t complain too much about the sounds, as the cacophony of sound effects and music clips was undoubtedly intentional.

Screenshot 2018-10-13 at 15.51.16
My “doll” once I’d found what I believe to be every hidden object. The water droplet and frog croaking never stopped…

The overall sense I got from the game, while ominous and foreboding from the black-and-white and jauntiness of the programming, was overwhelming. All the societal expectations of being “female” (whatever that means, amirite?) and being A Good Wife/Girlfriend/Daughter/Woman/Girl (Eeugh.) were expertly represented. Be timid but not boring. Be social but not too much so. Be sexual but no, not like that. (don’t think I didn’t peep that hidden vibe in the living room) Women are meant to be contradictions in society, therefore. But then it’s seen as frustrating when we contradict ourselves…?

That’s… does that make sense? Man, I don’t even know.

Being a woman, I’d like to think I’m over those kinds of expectations and I’m currently actually living as myself, but I suppose there are those self-conscious moments of Am I allowed to do this? or Is it my place to say that/have that opinion? I catch myself seconds later, because maaaaan heck that mentality. I’m allowed to have whatever opinion I want (within reason, tho, let’s be real), and being a woman shouldn’t deter me of choices I make.

(Oof, I’m listening to some inspiration music at the moment so pardon the Emo Turn this post has taken.)

Story-wise, though I feel like a lot of the environment’s little voice clips and such can be relatable and the overall story can be up to interpretation, I know there is an actual story to go along with this particular woman’s environment. Something to do with mental health and gender identity and coming to terms with (and hopefully defying) societal expectations. There really is no “end” that I could find, which only adds to the ominousness of the “Main St.” scene. Did something happen? What’s with the hospital? The cop cars? The car on the far right? What happened to this woman?

I’m looking forward to discussing this piece more in class. This piece as well as Façade. I hope we get to play both, and that we don’t have any more technical problems. Lookin @ you, wi-fi. Get your life together.

Alrighty! That’ll be all this week!

Have a lovely day/night/whatever!

–Masooch

iii. Hobo Lobo of Hamelin: part twisted fable, part uncanny predictor

When I was looking for the e-lit piece I wanted to present, I knew I had to pick something creative. Something story-driven and maybe just a bit weird. Don’t get me wrong, all of the pieces in the Electronic Literature Collection are extremely creative. Many are story-driven, as well. And many are so very very weird. But something about Hobo Lobo of Hamelin really struck me as The One. Maybe it was the story line blending old fable and modern socio-political commentary. Maybe it was the blended setting of Renaissance and 21st century. Maybe it was the really cool color schemes and site design and music and sketchiness and humor and subtle (and not so much) grotesqueness of it all–

Okay, it was a lot of things, so here goes nothing.

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is a webcomic, a medium I am relatively familiar with, posted from 2011-2014. It is, according to the Hobo Lobo ELC page, “a digital pop-up book about a city, its scruples, some rats, a wolf, his woodwind and the stuff that goes down.” Sounds simple, but it turns out to be a lot more complicated than that. Just one look at the first page gives the reader an expectation of something lighthearted and playful, but… it’s clear by the third “panel” of “page” one–(see: “coked-up rats… freaking everybody out” as citizens of Hamelin try to “get them to fuck off”)–that this story will be a lot more real than originally thought.

There are a few topics I’d like to hit in my exploration of Hobo Lobo, and I’ll put them here in a nice little list so I don’t forget:

  1. Background – programs, author, inspiration, etc.
  2. Story – a simple fable twisted beyond recognition
  3. Themes – the eerie way the tale has aged and “predicted the future”
  4. “More to come…” – ???

Will I be able to cover everything in extensive detail? Probably not. But hey, we’re all friends here. All human. Let’s just go with the flow and maybe we’ll discover some things together.

Background 

First, we’ll check out the behind the scenes, or the back end, of the piece, starting with its author.

Stevan Živadinović of San Antonio, Texas, is a graphic designer, artist, video game design teacher at a creative youth development program, creator of “comics and comic-like things,” and overall a pretty rad dude, if his Twitter and Tumblr are anything to go by. (Note: they are; he’s pretty active.)

On the main Hobo Lobo website, Živadinović has linked his professional portfolio page detailing his credentials, projects, areas of expertise, and contact links. It’s an aesthetically pleasing page with charmingly simple (yet still professional) language and a subtle, almost dry humor (see “Marketing that is dead inside,” “I make things special,” etc.) that carries over into Hobo Lobo. There’s also the quirkily “hidden” background/statistics/about/credits page helpfully titled “What is this thing?” It’s kind of like an info-dump on that page. Any questions you want answered (and others you didn’t know you wanted answered) can be found there.

As for programs, Živadinović utilized an amalgamation of Photoshop, jQuery, JavaScript, Flash, a whole mess of plugins, etc. that culminate into a “Parallaxer platform” / “parallax scrolling storytelling framework,” as far as I understand it, to make Hobo Lobo possible. Each “page” of the story is a long, horizontal strip of an image, consisting of “panels” that blend together (no traditional “gutters” as with print comics) with pencil-drawn images and subtle animations. It’s a mix of 2D and 3D that really just works. Below, you can see the different layers that go into creating this many layered side-scroller, as well as some bits of the coding involved and the visual editing process:

Click to view slideshow.

Borrowed respectfully from here.

Živadinović linked to a tutorial on building said framework and throwing everything together on that info-dump page I mentioned, for those crazy kids out there who want to make their own side-scrolling web comic. He claims himself that the formatting is “janky as hell” under the Technical Considerations section, but personally I find it adds to the sketchy charm of the piece.

I can’t say I’m well-versed in back end stuff like this–coding and site-building and whatnot–so I’ll cap it off here, but as far as I’ve seen, the amount of work and consideration that went into this multimedia work is incredibly impressive. Feel free to peruse those links I gave. There’s some quirky coding throughout that’s arguably as enjoyable as Hobo Lobo itself.

Ah, one more interesting thing I noticed: Živadinović mentioned some of his influences for Hobo Lobo in his parallax tutorial, one of which was MS Paint Adventures. Color me surprised, as I was neck deep in that fandom several years ago. Turns out you can never really escape Homestuck. Learning this, though, I can see the connections–the dry humor, the deep story hidden by lighthearted visuals, the charming music, the multimedia aspects. Maybe it’s fate I picked this comic, then. Or it’ll go terribly wrong and we’re in a doomed timeline, and–

Let’s move on.

Story

ELC’s editorial statement summed up the story as: “A wolf turned Renaissance journeyman travels to the town of Hamelin where the local mayor refuses to pay him for ridding the town of ‘coked-up rats.'” That’s… honestly exactly what we have.

It’s a liner story, nothing crazy or hard to follow. Despite the multimedia aspects, a majority of the story is told through text. Let’s go with like… 35% text, 55% visual imagery, 15% cool animations, 5% rad tunes.

Those statistics are not real, I’m just conjecturing. Bottom line, there’s a lot of text / visuals.

As for content, Hobo Lobo is a curious blend of old and new–“medieval Pied Piper”/”European folktale” and the modern-day-esque, political and media disaster of a town called Hamelin. Even the characters themselves are a mix of this old and new. Heck, even the genre itself and the design choices down to the coding are a mix. It’s really cool.

We’ll read the story together in class (I’d like to get through the whole thing, as it’s not particularly long), but I’d still like to touch a bit on the main characters of Hobo Lobo.

First, we have the story of the Mayor, whose name is literally Mayor Dick Mayor–(did I say subtle humor earlier? I take it back). The mayor runs a “progressive Fascist-Calvinist coalition government” in Hamelin–(essentially, for those like me who can’t really keep political anything straight, it’s an ultra-religious dictatorship). He’s… a terrible and corrupt politician who ignores due process, goes to psychics for advice, and wants to purge the city of rats–all for the purpose of staying in power during the next election.

Hm……… Interesting………… That’s not familiar at all………………..

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 01.36.27.png
“DICK MAYOR HATES YOU” – p. 1.4

He’s cryptically told to hire a professional.

Thus enters Hobo Lobo, the “protagonist” of sorts.

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 02.16.21
“I am Hobo Lobo, a mover, a shaker, a fraternal boilermaker, a mender of loose ends, a doer of deeds, and a sometimes indoctrinator of youth! If you have a Gordian knot that is blowing your mind, bring it here for the untying—I’ll even draw you a complimentary diagram!” – p. 2.3

This “Renaissance Journeyman” rolls into town ready to accept any job he can for the barest of fees. Seems a little too good of a match for our Mayor Dick Mayor.

It’s interesting in the beginning–seeing the way these two characters are set up. The mayor gives a very established, power-driven but laissez-faire vibe. Words that come to mind when thinking about his character, to me, include: manufactured, corrupt (-ed and -ing), uncaring, misled, ignorant, perfection-seeking, power-hungry, modern (in the bleakest sense).

Hobo Lobo, on the other hand, from the very start has more of an old but carefree vibe. Words like versatile, pure (in a weird sense), supernatural/fantasy (see: page, folklore come to mind. (I’m struggling to find the right words, but basically: he’s a complex character that juxtaposes the mayor… but when you think a little harder they have some things in common. Would it be selfishness, perhaps?) You get the sense that he knows what’s up from the get-go regarding his eventual deal with the mayor, but it would seem that a more base need wins out in Lobo’s moral dilemma.

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 07.37.32
“Sometimes it wasn’t easy being a professional renaissance journeyman. It was often harder being a hobo.” — p. 2.10

Continuing this look at blending old and new, simple and complex: the plot itself is another element. We start off with a simple story about a simple (but grim) deal made in a town–one that could take place in any setting and for now seems to be more medieval than anything–but come to realize that there are more complex things at play here. Socio-political unrest, religious zealots in power, xenophobia, genocide, the effect of the media (Fourth Estate)… All of which… is uncannily relevant.

Which brings us to the themes of Hobo Lobo.

Themes

Let’s start with the obvious. Hobo Lobo is very politically charged, showcasing political extremism, complacency for that extremism, racial and social ignorance, and overall exacerbation by the media (which, in Hobo Lobo, is aptly named “Fourth Estate” in a logo startlingly reminiscent of General Electric and another of Fox News).

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 11.51.28
Please note the ass and the clown as news anchors. Gave me a good chuckle.

As I am not particularly one for going on and on about politics, so I won’t be touching too much on it (aside from opening the floor for discussion, of course), I’ll just point out that this piece was written in 2014. While the themes were relevant back then, it was more of an extreme future–a laughable 1984-esque dystopian dream.

Well.

In our year 2018.

It’s safe to say that Stevan Živadinović predicted the future.

That’s really all I’ll say about that, unless anyone has any comments they’d like to bring up about anything socio-political or Fourth Estate. Feel free to discuss!

There is one other topic that I would like to touch on, though. The rats.

The rats, while not given much of a voice in the story, are portrayed in a somewhat polarized way. The narrator and the mayor both boast about how the rats are “freaking people out” (p. 1) and “destroying the livelihoods of taxpayers” (p.2),  but on the third page, we’re given a wordless panorama of their lives–a vibrant array of who rats are as a people. You can even see it subtly throughout the second page, as rats go about their lives and get help from Lobo, as well.

Click to view slideshow.

… only to be slaughtered by him.

Click to view slideshow.

It’s a brief snapshot, the beginning of the third page, but it works, because the rats’ absence is felt very strongly in the subsequent page. “This was noticed” (p. 3.2), but the mayor and media gloated of this great achievement of historical significance. It’s a testament to the rampant xenophobia/racism of today–of the fear of someone “different,” the impact of their absence to a society, and the disgusting, prideful sense of achievement when that society is consequently seen as “free” from that “different” force.

“More to come…” 

The seventh page of Hobo Lobo is, in one word, haunting. You can tell on the previous page that Lobo is fed up with the mayor, with Hamelin’s ignorance, with the whole of society, and so he comes to a decision with a swift kick and a busted radio.

The anticipation that builds up with the seventh page, and the realization of what Lobo is doing–luring the town’s children in that same Pied Piper-esque way that he lured the rats to their deaths–is like watching the second shoe drop. That simple, almost righteous vibe Lobo gave off earlier crumbles away–purely visually, which is even more powerful–and you get a sick sense that there really are no “good” characters in this story.

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 08.32.36
“More to come…” — p. 7.4

And he must realize it, too, with that distraught, perhaps even self-loathing, look to him. This must go against everything about his character, but it must also give him some kind of twisted satisfaction to get revenge. The question is, which one wins out? Will he regret this decision or accept it and be satisfied by it?

I’m sure that that is what we would find out later on in the story… but this is the final page, and has been for about four years. According to that Info-Dump page

screenshot-2018-10-02-at-08-41-44.png

… it’s been a while. That chart there represents the days between pages. It looks like an update won’t be coming in the near future. (Which is fair! It’s common in the fanfiction world; life gets in the way and updates come few and far between. It’s also a mood, I say as I recall a story I started sophomore year of high school that is only halfway finished… I’m a graduate student… Actually, Hobo Lobo started the same year I started that story. Ha. Small world.)

Anyway, honestly? This “final page” acting as an ending is… actually perfect. Hauntingly poetic. Stories with no definite ending that leave you with more questions than answers, with a sense of worry in your gut for what comes next and dreaded acceptance that you’ll never find out… they’re really cool. Especially a deeply morally-rooted and horribly relatable one as this.

Were this story to continue…what do you think the ending would be? Are the children okay? What will Lobo do? What will become of the mayor? the town?

And, considering the eerily similar state of our own society today, as touched on earlier, what does that say about the future of our society? Are we waiting for the second shoe to drop? Where are we in the Hobo Lobo story? What will become of us?

Well. I’d say that about wraps up my little exploration of Hobo Lobo of Hamelin. Props to Stevan Živadinović for “[MAKING] A THING” that would turn out to be a masterpiece on modern-day socio-political commentary and complex moral dilemma.

It’s a rad little tale.

— Masooch

 

Links Links Links!

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin: http://hobolobo.net/
Behind the Scenes page: http://hobolobo.net/what-is-this-thing
ELC Entry page: http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=hobo-lobo-of-hamelin
Stevan Živadinović’s portfolio page: http://portfolio.hobolobo.net/
Parallax Tutorial: https://www.creativebloq.com/javascript/building-parallax-scrolling-storytelling-framework-8112838

ii. something something robots ?

I’m last minute/late (depending on whenif I fall asleep at my laptop) buT HERE WE GO.

Let’s start off by touching on what went on last week. I went into class knowing not much about Twelve Blue and I think I came out knowing even less. It’s a beautifully artful and interactive piece filled with deep themes and meanings and intertwining plotlines about life and all that jazz, but when we were trying to figure out the precise who’s and the what’s and such, not even the internet could help us get the full picture together.

Thanks, internet.

Regardless, just from reading through (note: reading; not comprehending,  not understanding) an hour’s worth of pages from the piece, you get a lost and jumbled feeling, but… and this could just be me… a sense of empathy for the characters? Considering they’re all going through That Jumbled Mess and are probably on a similar (but definitely not exact) level of confusion and lost…ness (?) as you are just reading it.

Well, anyway.

That was last week.

I still think it was a conscious decision to have the already-clicked links blend into the background color to, idk, signify a dwindling lack of choice? Like running out of options? But you can still click the link if you look hard enough?? Does that make you stubborn??? Does that signify repeating past mistakes and reaching the same outcomes even though you think you’ll find something different or achieve a different result???? Idk man, I’m tired.

Anyway. This week we start presentations. I’m looking forward to them. I’m glad someone picked Façade. I would have, but (1) I’ve only ever watched someone play it, (2) that takes some Download Power feat. A Lot of Effort, and (3) … -shrug- I like The Hobo Lobo of Hamelin, sue me. (Fun fact: I almost picked The Hunt for The Gay Planet{happy #BiWeek y’all} but the story, while hilarious and oddly deep, gets mildly Lewd™ at one point, and I am Far Too Shy to read that out loud to a bunch of my peers. Maybe I’ll do a blog post on it one day. That day is not Today, though, so–). Looking forward to the Façade presentation, though! I’ll definitely contribute to that conversation. c. 2011 Masooch is ready to shine.

Let’s. Talk. About. The. I forget–

BOTS. That’s it. These buggers:

Screenshot 2018-09-25 at 00.11.31
Screenshotted respectfully from here.

I remember these from #NetNarr days. Wild times. We had the option to make our own, but I think I was too busy reading fanfic so I just reacted to them instead. Y’know, like those React Youtubers who are wildly popular for some reason. No I’m not tagging any of them good golly do you think I wanna get sued? Please, I am broke.

It’s Fine, tho, I guess.

Anyway.

{Totally random, but this song is stuck in my head. Anyone else here see Ed the other night? Oof. Bless.}

Bots. Bots are cool. We checked out Pentametron in class last week, and I had no idea how complex these lil friends can be. Pulling tweets that just happen to be in iambic pentameter?? First of all, rad. Second of all, I love iambic pentameter. Any kind of writing with a rhythm to it is just… just…

https://giphy.com/embed/l41YleLHixOeCWNe8

via GIPHY

Alright, now I’ll chat a bit about some of the other ones I checked out. Won’t go into all of them because, I’mma tell you now, I have no idea where to begin with RealHumanPraise. Let’s not even go there.

Station 51000 is a good mix of a story: of the ridiculous plus the realistic. I feel like a combination like that always makes something–even an inanimate object like an adrift buoy–have a personality, a life. It’s like those Disney Pixar movies. It’s WALL-E, only with weather warnings and a sailor’s wistful musings and guilt. I think. I never read Moby Dick.

But anyway, that buoy is now my son and I love him.

Speaking of sons, I’ve also adopted TinyCrossword. My little annoying honor student who doesn’t get any retweets or replies but still churns out crossword after crossword… You go, lil buddy. You’re doing great and I love you. (The words you use are terrible, though, my god.)

Then there is Tiny Star Field, who is adorable and pure and wholesome. I mean look at this:

How cute is that???

Brings up the question of “is this literature?” or, as my sleep deprived brain gets a chuckle at, “is it lit tho.”

… it is 12:45 AM.

I suppose the literature aspect is just up to interpretation. Tiny Star Fields can be inspiration or add to an aesthetic. Station 51000 absolutely has a story in and of itself. Tiny Crossword’s purpose is to irritate inspire an expansion of vocabulary. I guess. In a sense, they’re all stories. And like I said about personifying inanimate objects earlier, there’s a semblance of life to them, and that gives them personality and charm.

Long story short, Twitter bots take a lot of work and are real cute/real cool/mildly irritating (seriously, Tiny Crossword? “Oireachtas”? “ChristianUnion”? I love you, but lighten up.) and produce really cool things!

Is that what being a parent is like.

Alright, one more little thing to touch on before I crash. And I am about to crash.

Reconstructing Mayakovsky is … I was gonna say terrifying just based on this accursed menu and its echo-y, click-y, Doppler-effect-y noise.

I mean look at this thing. Click that link. I’ll even help you out. Click this link. Hear that? That’s what you hear in the void. That’s chilling. Do Not Like.

Screenshot 2018-09-25 at 01.02.56
Screenshotted respectfully from here.

I’m positive there’s some good story in this piece. Positive. Did I spend more than a few minutes trying to find it? Big yikes because I did not. It’s not that I was weirded out, but I was weirded out. I did click on “Movies” there and watched some kind of infomercial… something about human-machine stuff and a four P model and Better Life Guaranteed! dystopia kinda stuff. So yeah. Not terrified at all. Just from that bit alone, I was reminded of a game called Soma. Y’all like some psychological/survivor horror games? Moral and ethical ambiguity and underwater nightmares? Robots??? Click away.

Honestly… I think… That’s it for this week…

This one jumped around a bit, but! That’s how life knows, y’know?

See y’all next week.

–Masooch

 

i. back into the fray

Alright. First post. I’m bad at starting things. I think too long and never get to the actual starting bit. Sooooo I’m just gonna go!

Hullo hullo, I’m Masooch. Grad student and writer/editor and serial complainer. This is my second blog on WordPress (this time, with less owl puns) for as many classes and I look forward to ranting to you about Electronic Literature (henceforth e-lit) and anything else that just kinda… comes out of my head.

Chances are, I’ll be connecting the topics and works we cover in class to games or other media I’m familiar with from my Pre-Grad era. I’ll link to anything and everything (plus extra) in case anyone wants to do a deep dive and get lost like I did in the article we had to read this past week.

Ayyyy see that? Segues still strong.

So we were instructed to read through Jessica Pressman’s “Navigating Electronic Literature.” Gonna be real with you, I read it two days ago and don’t remember much because of the striking detour I took (which I will get to later on) so pardon as I skim through the reading once again.

Feel free to throw on some chill jams in the meantime.

(For those who are new to reading my posts: I have a fondness for the Korean music scene. Expect links and asides and blatant plugs. Also: feel free to ignore! I won’t be mad, promise.)

Okie, I’m back!

I feel like I’ve always had a fondness for literature that doesn’t follow the set textual, linear structure we all know and love. Fun fact: I wrote my undergrad senior thesis on the narrative of videogames and why/how games (choice-determinant story-based games in particular) should be considered literature. Interactive literature (a nod to the Interactive Fiction we talked about in class), but literature nonetheless.

Now, I’m not proud of the end product of that thesis, so catch me Not Linking That Here. I’ll definitely refer to it at some point in the semester. Maybe post excerpts that were, idk, decent, but! This is not the time! This ain’t the Masooch show, it’s Jessica Pressman’s.

 

“Navigating Electronic Literature”

I love the idea that readers/users/players of e-lit are navigating through a work, affecting it, rather than just absorbing it. Well, in certain works, of course. It’s all so different. You have a piece on the one hand where you’re walking around on a screen and discovering bits of a story in your own way… then you have another where random letters are being thrown around and you have no other choice that to just… sit there and take it.

I mean, or close the window. There’s always that option, too. -shrug-

Anyway, that’s the big beautiful part of e-lit, though, ain’t it? That it’s all so different. Each genre that we brought up in class or that Ms. Pressman brought up in her article, I could think of some work I’d read/watched/experienced at some capacity at some point.

As I read through the article, I thought it’d be best to try out the e-lit pieces that were being mentioned and used as examples. The first that I looked at was “Blue Hyacinth,” a “stir fry text” that solidified in my mind the decision that I’m not fond of “stir fry texts.” No offense to Jim Andrews or Pauline Masurel or even William Burrough, but the frantic, visual shuffling between the phrases that I hovered over and the choppiness of the randomized lines thereafter couldn’t hold my attention long. Gave me a headache. Not really but like. An annoyance headache. (That’s not a thing..)

Don’t get me wrong, I see the merit and beauty of that type of work. It’s just not my cup of tea. I like the interactive aspect of it, the simplicity of it that can produce a complex mass of stories or poems (of varying intelligibility, but what have you). In the end, it’s a very interesting type of e-lit. Very user-dependent. Very cool.

Now, Pressman got to IF pieces a bit later in her article. One of such pieces was Andrew Plotkin’s “Shade.” Ooooooookayyyyyyy. How do I start talking about this. Know how I mentioned earlier that I deep dove and detoured? Here’s the sucker that caused it.

Here I was, at my rinkydink lil laptop, minding my own business, getting work done, when a curious little text game/user-input narrative decides to suck me in for two hours. I spent more time on this than I did on the actual readings/the e-lit piece we were supposed to read. Grumbling aside, I’m familiar with this type of game/narrative, but I’ve never actually played one myself, so I was like, “Aiight, I can’t pass this up. Plus, it says it’s short, so.”

-looks to sky- The game lied to me.

Anyway, “Shade” started off chill and relatively melancholic. It progressively got… weird. Like, a good weird. Eerie weird. Time seemed to go, for me, slowly but quickly at the same time? Considering I spent two hours on it and it felt like nothing? And that ending. Wow. Wild stuff. I don’t wanna spoil anything, because you definitely have to play it for yourself, experience it on your own. Go forth, friends. (I linked it again. Just to save you the slight exertion of scrolling up. You’re very welcome.) And keep checking the to-do list.

{It’s funny, though. At one point, I think I got caught in some kind of inescapable loop and couldn’t progress in the game, so I caved and looked up a walkthrough. No shame in getting a little help!)

I’d love to go more into the other game mentioned in the article, Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern’s Façadeand how I know it, but I think that’s a topic for another post. Maybe my presentation? Probably my presentation. We’ll see.

 

“Twelve Blue”

Alright, hold on, I have notes for this. I’m already doing better than I did for the article. Probably because I knew the second I finished the required hour of reading, I would forget everything. Ç’est la vie. Ç’est mon mémoire terrible.

I can’t speak French.

Twelve Blue” is a series of hypertext stories broken into parts that all link to and interweave with each other. Clicking on this handy dandy lil Help link at the bottom of the main page reveals the existence of “two hundred and sixty nine links … among ninety six spaces.” Interesting. Slightly similar to the concept of the “stir fry text” in its randomization, but it’s more directed by the user and on a larger scale. Rather than a rapid intermixing of phrases and sentences that could really not make sense, you’re presented with chunks of a story that you have to piece together. If you’re patient enough, that is. I’m sure one day, given the right motivation, I’ll come back to it and try figuring it all out.

The visual aspects of it were intriguing. The first you see is this little friend:

Borrowed respectfully from here.

On the actual site, you can click on little sections of the image to take you to all the different parts of the story/stories. I’m wondering if the threads in the picture are actually reminiscent of how the stories flow and connect to each other. If so, then there are a lot of storylines that don’t meet… Reading it, it didn’t seem like that, so I’m gonna go with a resounding nah.

Anyway, as you maneuver through the links, a slice of the picture shows up on the side of the screen for you to click on if there are no hyperlinks on the actual page you’re reading.

Jumping back to the visuals, as I was reading I took note of something:

it’s like there’s a story, then a visual (often with a link) but then it jumps back into the story – the visual gives kind of a feeling, and maybe it’s what the story is supposed to be giving off? so it’s correcting your thought? or altering it ?

I probably won’t be able to find the exact page, but I remember there was a bit of story on one page, then a hyperlinked line depicting a girl holding a pearl or something, then it hopped back to the story. The story parts didn’t seem too descriptive, more thoughtful and about abstract concepts, but the hyperlinked line gave a clear picture that kinda made me stop and see it. Very interesting. Not sure what it means. But interesting.

I made some other notes as I read:

invisible links? how many have i missed? no, stupid, they’re links you’ve already clicked and just blend into the background.

interesting color choice then. symbolic?

i keep coming back to the same ones jdkflsj the pic slice on the side is my new best friend now ig

tab title changes with each new page !!! cool

i wonder if i can follow the actual story more easily if i alter the links

woAH OKAY TONE SHIFT WE WENT FROM POETIC TO SAILOR (aka me)

now i’ve got two picture slices on the side ?

Honestly, I could probably wax poetic for ages about this e-lit piece. Both storywise and coding-wise. Probably would have kept reading and exploring for far longer than the required hour and would have a lot more notes.

One note I do wanna touch on before I bring this lengthy post to a close is this: it’s interesting how the story comes together more like a scattered puzzle being filled in and not linearly as usual.

Now that, I like. I said earlier that I’ve always been a fan of non-linear storytelling, and this is what I mean. Sometimes you have authors who write specifically in a non-linear way, which I can appreciate. But with this, you have the option. If you’re careful, you could piece the story together linearly (at least I think so, if you figure out the patterns of the URLs or meticulously click along the threads in the picture, assuming that they represent the linear storylines……………..). Or, y’know, maybe you’ll be lost in this mess of a puzzle of a story. Which… could be the point of it, in a sense?

Ç’est la vie, I guess.

Welp! I think that’ll be enough for this post. It’s… pretty big already, haha, nearly 2k words? Heck, wish I could churn out fic chapters this easily.

Alrighty, last little thing: If you’re reading this on a dark brown/maroon-looking blog, I apologize. As I write this, I haven’t prettied-up my blog yet, so it looks kinda terrible. If it’s not gross-looking, though, great! Good on me for getting around to doing something productive.

See you in class, everyone!

–Masooch