Tag Archives: ENG4081

Pieces of Herself: pieces of myself

Pieces of Herself by Juliet Davis is a collection of memories of a woman. Her name seems to be Tracy, and her daily activities take place in the shower room, the bedroom, outside, the kitchen, the living room, the office, and the main street. 

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When you move your mouse, you can see words or hear voice records. In the bathroom, the heroine experienced a heartbreak. She wished her love could last forever but her boyfriend betrayed her. A woman says, “remember to wash your hands” when you move to the trash can. That was what my mom told me when I was young. In the toilet bowl, there are fertilized egg growing, indicating that women have the ability to bear children. But menstruation does not make a girl become a woman. The ability to give birth never identifies a woman. After clicking the water in the vanity sink, the dripping sound never stops. 

When you enter the bedroom, you will hear some phone messages from her boyfriend, mom, and her friend. This women is not answering any phone calls. She’s sleeping with thunder roaring and frog chatting. In her computer screen shows the same web page. She wonders if the world is true or it is just a dream. For this part I can understand her very much. Sometimes I just stay alone and do not answer any messages from others. I need to think about everything once for a while. (It turns out that Tracy is missing, her photo is on a poster beside the police car in the main street)

Once you go outside, it will be much noisier. The world is filled with other people’s voices, the birds sing, cars roar, children laughing… The dripping sound and the frog sound are still there. But the question is: can she really go outside? Can we really go outside? Can we really break free? Can we really think out of the box? Can we really stop thinking about ourselves and look outside? By “outside” I mean both physical and mental. 

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The kitchen is filled with her memory of her mom. Those fertilized eggs appear again, as if they are suggesting that cooking is women’s job. When you click on the bowl of milk beside the microwave, you can hear something falling into the water, like someone diving into the water, and the woman says that she will become skinny again. My mom always said that becoming a mom makes a woman fat. My dad would not help with the laundry because he thought it was women’s job. Does a job defines a woman? Does shape defines a woman? 

The living room is filled with money and sex. The woman no longer wishes for perfect love. Instead, money and sex can fake themselves into the sense of love. The living room is a place for the reality. It is totally different from the bedroom, where dreams are hidden under the pillow. The reality is more rational, and more cruel. 

The office is a strange place. A man says “welcome”, he welcomes everyone who wants this job, including women. Women, like anyone else, have to control their emotions and think about money. While back at home, women are also responsible for housework, which means they have to work both in office and at home. Does the office really welcomes woman? 

In the main street, there are mainly two kinds of voices, which are the children’s, and the adults. The little girl is innocent, who cannot think of any dangerous people. But as you move the mouse, an ambulance car sends patients into the emergency room. Not far away from there, a group of teenagers are explaining the reasons why they do not hand in their homework. They have too many other things to worry about. In DQ, a woman says that people are concerned about how other people conceive them. There are people die and people born every minute. As we grow older, we start to think more, and worry more. What will that little girl become when she grow up? Will she think about the same things as the teenagers and the DQ woman do? 

Pieces of herself, pieces of her memories, pieces of her life. She is alive, who is stronger than a symbol or a noun. 

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Brainstrips: a three-part philosophy series)

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The author claims that Brainstrips is a “three-part knowledge series”. The word “brainstrips” is divided into three parts, hyperlinked to other web pages. 

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You can only start with the “strip” part. When the mouse move to this part, it turns red. 

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There are six questions on the left corner. Click each of these questions and they will be answered. 

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What is art? On this page, you can hear mechanical sounds and see the background moving. Can AIs replace artist? We don’t know, really. It was a question asked in my philosophy class. 

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Are men more sensitive then women? The traditional answer is obviously “no”. The background music is strange, applause blended with bell sounds. The last strip is creepy. The women are smiling but they are talking about changing men’s gene to make them sensitive. The difference in feelings between men and women has been a hot topic since a long time ago. Men and women cannot truly understand each other because their brains are structured differently. But altering human genes is illegal, which may cause serious moral issues. 

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If you listen carefully, you’ll notice that the gunshot actually has rhythm and correspond to the animation. I don’t understand this one. What will happen if God exists? What will happen if God doesn’t exist? 

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The BGM is chaotic siren and futuristic gunshot. How do we know we are human? It seems that we don’t have a clue. The aliens think that human is a lower life form. But this comic doesn’t present humans’ view point towards aliens. Maybe humans think that aliens are lower life forms, savages, barbarians? What made us human? Strength, weakness, evilness, kindness… We cannot give exact answers. Humans are too complex to be defined. 

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This strip reminds me of a funny picture. 

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Retrieved from http://joyreactor.com/post/676306

Research show that vegetables do have senses. They can feel pain but they cannot speak or bark like animals do. Sure trees have rights, but not any more when humans want them. Sure women have rights, but not any more when men want them. 

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This one is really interesting. The fisherman “senses a blackness around them”, in fact, the background color is black. “Your hand is breaking the frame”, “never seeing outside the box” are puns. True, they are comic characters, and always live inside the little box. This makes me think: are we virtual characters too? 

The second stop is “brain”. There are a few scientific topics displayed. Among them, the most astonishing one in “nuclear fission”. This section answers five commonly asked questions about nuclear bombs. After viewing all the answers, I know that it is impossible to escape from a nuclear explosion. But how do they know the answer? I only hope humans will not ruin the whole civilization. 

After viewing all the explanation of the questions, the reader is asked to do a test, which is composed of multiple choices. After finishing the quiz, you will be scolded by the author of being dumb. 

The third part is “s”. This part is all about math. 

This piece evokes philosophical thoughts, but it is actually quite realistic. Many thoughts are evolved, including feminism, anti-warism, surrealism… The more you read, the more you think. We know very little about the world and ourselves. 

Some thoughts on ScareMail Generator and Hobo Lobo of Hamelin

ScareMail Generator is a little app which can generate stories with scaring words. These stories may not make sense but NSA has to examine these nonsense thoroughly because they contain key words that are classified as dangerous words. The author developed ScareMail Generator to express his dissatisfaction of Internet surveillance. He hopes to retain privacy using ScareMail Generator. 

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By changing the number of words to generate, you can generate different lengths of scary stories. For the purpose of this app, it is better to generate longer texts. 

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This app can be downloaded to gmail and generate different scare mails every time you send an email. 

 

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is a dark fairy tale presented in beautiful slides.

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At the beginning of the story, Hamelin was described as a Christian town with beautiful scenery. But underneath this peaceful life, there were dirty and dark things. 

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The rats caused many troubles in Hamelin. The major wanted to kick them out so as to win more votes. At that time, Hobo Lobo came to the town. He is a magical man who can do almost anything. People loved him. 

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The major found Hobo Lobo and promised him a large amount of money as long as he help the town get rid of the rats. 

Hobo Lobo agreed. At one night, he played music and the rats followed him out of the town. The music was light and joyful at the beginning. 

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But as the music became louder and louder, Hobo Lobo brought death to all of the rats.

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Now Hamelin is no longer afraid of God because it has become a believer of Satan. 

Later Hobo Lobo tried to find major and get his reward but it was impossible at the beginning. On previous page, the author gave hint of the major’s personalities. 

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Hobo Lobo called the major’s office but he received useless answers.

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When Hobo Lobo met the major in person, he received insult. The major thought that Hobo Lobo was nobody, he himself was the one who saved the town. 

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Hobo Lobo had no other way but to sue the major, but he could not provide evidence because the major only gave him oral promise. Hobo Lobo lost the trial and he had to pay a large amount of money. 

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When the major was being interviewed, Hobo Lobo was despetare. Ironically, the Major said that “justice was served today”. 

Just then the major received a phone call, saying that all children in Hamelin was outside. But the major did not care about the children. He only cared about himself. 

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At the end of the story, the children followed Hobo Lobo out of the town, like the rats once did. 

This story may want to criticize the current situation in the US. When the rats died, the Statue of Liberty revealed itself from blood. 

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Seeking Utopia in the Virtual World: Reconstructing Mayakovsky

“Let us compose an elegy for the PASSING OF what defined us as human. LET US LAMENT BECAUSE WE ARE still HUMAN.” – Reconstructing Mayakovsky

The world has never been perfect before. Will the world become better in a virtual world?

In Szilak’s book Reconstructing Mayakovsky, humans can live in a virtual world called OnewOrld with the help of the Oracle system. Click the “Mechanism” tab, the reader can see some white spinning words and some star-like spots on a black background, with a background music much like the sound of the outer space.

Click the rotating word “Movies” in the “Mechanism” tab, an advertisement of OnewOrld will show up. The ad shows the audience many disadvantages of living in a real world, such as cost lots of money, waste too much natural resources, expose to terrorist attack and diseases, etc. Then, the ad commits that living in OnewOrld can avoid all those issues and make people happy.

Click “Archive” in the “Mechanism” tab, many pictures will show up. Put the mouse on one picture then the information in this picture is presented. Click the picture, however, will bring the reader into one of the random e-book chapters. Click a globe sign in the right corner will bring the reader to an outer link, which is the source of the picture itself.

Click “audio podcast”, the reader can see chapter numbers hanging in a black background, they move while the mouse moves. Put the mouse on different numbers, the reader can hear different sounds, sometimes men singing, sometimes children playing, sometimes a woman mimicking a cat. Click on the number, the reader can hear an audio record of one of the book chapters.

Click “Manifesto”, there will be some brief philosophical sentences, such as “THE DEATH OF ONE GOD IS THE DEATH OF ALL”. These sentences are the main ideas of this book.

Click “Theater”, an invitation to join the Revolution Nostalgia Disco Theatre will appear. To me, the invitation letter does not make much sense. It is like a piece of random work created by machine.

Click “Mechanism B”, the reader can see some black words with its chapter numbers floating in a red background. Click on one of the words, it will take the reader to the chapter where it is from. Those numbers do not show up in order. They move with the mouse.

Click “Attributions”, it will bring the reader to a page where the author says other information about the creation of this book.

I read several chapters in “Mechanism B” and “Archive”, listened to some chapters in “audio podcast” including the first chapter and the 45th chapter. I can get the main idea and the macro-context of the world in the book. The heroine is called Vera, whose avatar has silver-gray eyes and bleached golden hair. Vera falls in love with Mayakovsky who already passed away, so she tries to reconstruct him in the virtual world.

After viewing the entire website, I realize that Utopia is impossible to achieve in the current world. Whether humans live with their physical bodies or with their virtual avatars, as long as there are human desire and hatred, the world cannot be perfect.

Twelve Blue: what kind of blue?

Pressman writes in her essay  “Navigating Electronic Literature” that navigation is a very strong characteristic of elit. One approach of navigation is hypertext.

Then I read Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce to experience hypertext on my own.

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Every time I read it, it is different from the previous version. Different hyper links lead to different story lines and I never know where the hyper link is going to take me. On the left, there are twelve lines, sometimes go parallel, sometimes intersect. Every inch of the picture can be clicked and then you are in a different section. Sometimes the plot is consistent, sometimes it ends abruptly without any hyperlink on the page.

The color “blue” seems to be the core image of this work. The web page is blue, the words and phrases are blue, the word “blue” appears many times in the text. Also, blue plays an important role as emotion of the characters. Blue is sadness, or a mysterious impression, or a dim thought… I cannot tell which kind of blue the story tries to present. This work makes me feel dizzy and confused.

These stories take place in Canada but there are many exotic elements such as the Chinese poet Li Bo, a Portuguese lover, and the US. These stories are told in third person narrative in a peaceful tone, like memorizing some household things. Nevertheless, I can see harassment, murder, death, lust, unhealthy childhood, etc. Underneath the clear blue water is darkness.

The story also makes me think of one’s roles in life. A woman is a daughter, a mother, a wife, a lover, and a farmer. She can also be a murderer or lifesaver. One can have so many roles in one’s life but with great balance among them. Everything changes and evolves, like the myterious hyperlinks in the story. “He loved his wife once”, “her father died”, both divorce and death can cause the change of one’s roles. What are my roles in my life? I’m a woman, a daughter, a student, a helpful person, an indifferent person, a writer, a customer… Life is as complex as spider web but five hours ago I still thought life is simple.

“Life is hard as coal.” This is a quote from the story. Everyone in the story seems to be helpless and drifting in fate, regardless of their occupations. They seek for and enjoy themselves in little happiness that appears from time to time, like sparks burst on coal. This is what life feels like.