Tag Archives: ENG4081

Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky: I’m full of stories

Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky” is a narrative elit piece created by Sharif Ezzat. It is a bilingual piece consisting of an audio of Arabic and texts of English, which reminds me of “High Muck a Muck“, which consists of audios of English and images of Chinese.

The author compares stories to stars in the night sky. By clicking the blue stars, the reader is able to read a specific story. What I find is interesting is that every time I access the piece, the stories are located in different places, which gives a sense of arbitrariness. 

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The background music is soothing and quiet. There are nine stories in total. 

Story one is about the author’s cousin whose palace lies unfinished. This cousin, as described, had been successful ever since he was born. However, his domestic life was ruined because of his wide distributed love for women. The author says that it was love for women that led the cousin to unhappiness but I think it was the betrayal that led him to disaster. 

Story two is about the author’s uncle, who perceives life as a test. He quarreled with his wife when she was alive but when she died, he shed tears, saying she was the test of his life, and he has nothing left after her death. At the end of the story, the author asks the reader three questions: “Is this life a test? Is that why we suffer? Or is that how we endure it?” These are philosophical questions. I considered the answers to these questions. Before I answer them, I also want to ask a question: Is life suffering? How can the author assume that “we” all suffer? 

Story three is about the author’s sister, who is well educated and successful in the career. She fell in love with a man who hadn’t received much education and had two children. As the sister fought with her parents and finally started to get along well with her lover’s children, their love became bitter. Then she started to study various dimensions of suffering, which correspond to different aspects of happiness. True, the opposite of suffering is happiness. 

Story four is about the reasons why the stars respond so slowly. This is a romantic fairy tale, which reflects the growth of a person. When the stars were young, they lived together. As they grew up, they started to have dreams and they needed personal space and adventures. So they started to move away from each other and became lonely. If you replace the “stars” in this story with “children”, “siblings”, “classmates”, you will still find the story meaningful. 

Story five is about the author’s love. In this story, the author tells the story how they met and fell in love with each other. 

Story six has a strange title, which is “Shall I tell you of my water, which is getting thirsty?” As I click to read it, I find that the author’s water is a she. She’s born free and untamed. Once she’s under control, she loses her beauty. This story is portrayed in a poetic form but I don’t know who “she” is. 

Story seven is about a boy who dreams of the world. This is a philosophical and creative poem about eternity. Although “eternity” and “paradise” are constantly mentioned in the poem, it turns out that enjoying everything in life helps one to reach eternity. If you are content and happy with your life, then you’re already living in paradise. 

Story eight’s title is “Perhaps I should tell you that the whole world is determined to be my family”. The last two lines reveal the true meaning of this poem: “you” (referring to the author’s child) means the whole world to the author. The author probably wrote this elit piece for his son. 

The last story is about the land where people rush to cross. This land was full of rules and privileged people who break the rules. This land is now dying but it’s waiting for rebirth. Perhaps the author is questioning the unfairness of the world and seeks to change it. 

Overall, this story collection presents the philosophy of living and being part of the world in a soothing and creative style.

Separation: estranged body

The elit piece Separation, created by Annie Abrahams and William Pezet. This text was originally written in the hospital. This elit piece is designed to help with the recovery or prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), which is caused by overuse of muscles or nerves. 

The reader can only read one word at a time by clicking the mouse. After reading some text, the reader is asked to do some exercise or relaxation following the instructions on the screen, such as shrug. Capture i

On the screen, there is a red progress bar. The reader cannot skip the exercise and keep reading. Also, if the reader clicks too fast, the reading will be stopped. That’s an interesting design. The color is also important. The authors selected yellow and black as the main colors, which present a retro and cheerful feeling. The font is retro, which is in the typewriter style, instead of a modern style. Capture ii

As the reader keeps clicking, the text reveals to be a letter to the computer, then the whole text makes sense. Sure, a computer cannot feel pain, nor does it need rest. Capture iii

However, humans feel pain and need rest. It is interesting that humans invented the computer but the computer then controls the human. Somehow, the addiction to the computer may not be voluntary. This text reminds me of Marx’s Estranged Labor. The workers work not because they want to, but because they have to. In the same way, we use the computer not because we want to, but because we have to. The computer and the Internet have brought us too much convenience and efficiency. Nowadays, most university students are required to do homework on their laptops, many companies only hire those who can use computers. Computerization is an unavoidable trend. This is why this elit piece is of great significance. 


About my elit piece:

Most of my ideas are stated in my last blog. Currently, I’m doing well in my piece. I know what to write and I know the ending. I’m about to finish my elit piece. I like it very much! I feel content and happy that I’m able to create an interactive fiction like this! 

Cruising: Cruise in Small Town Wisconsin. And more about my own elit piece.

Cruising is a flash poem created by Ingrid Ankerson and Megan Sapnar. This poem consists of linear audio recording and non-linear flash images.

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The BGM has a combinational style of futuristic and countryside elements. The background picture has three elements: the street sight, a girl looking at something, and a girl putting on lipstick. All of these three elements are mentioned in the poem.

To read this poem, the reader has to put the mouse on the film and try to control the movement of it. You can neither click the film nor drag it. If you do not get it under control, the film will move very fast, which makes it impossible to have a close look at it. Once you get the hang of it, you can control the size and the movement of the film.

I realize that it is literally a “cruise”. The way the film moves, and the BGM, make me feel as if I was really sitting in a car, driving backward and forward on the main street in that little town. Jonnie slides her pink lipstick on, and a skinny girl is sitting at the back of the car.


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My elit piece is called “Orc Valley Game Handbook”. This is a handbook for the game “Orc Valley” (which is a fictional game that exists in my imagination). The player adopts a character called Kayla at first and starts her life in a village. In the beginning, the player has no idea what is going on, so he/she has to follow Kayla’s steps to explore the village. The village sits in a valley, which was named “Orchid Valley” once, but changed its name into “Orc Valley” when the orcs arrived. The valley became dangerous and no one gets out. Kayla will not be able to go out of the village until the player navigates to the Temple. The priest tells Kayla to start her journey. Then the player will exit the village and enter the Orc Valley. However, the player doesn’t know where is the destination. The destination varies when the player makes different choices. I’ll insert some original poems in the story and attach hyperlinks to some keywords to push the game forward. This is called a “Game Handbook” because the player cannot really control the flow of the story. The ending has been decided by the author (me). All the player’s experience is recorded in this handbook. There’s no win or lose in this game because all choices lead to death eventually. The game represents a person’s life. The player can learn something when playing the game, such as:

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I chose to use Twine to create this interactive fiction using hypertext. It’s really interesting and the basic programming is easy. I haven’t figured out how to change the font or how to insert pictures yet. I don’t think I need any of those.

Icarus Needs: Trapping in a Dream?

 

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Icarus Needs is an elit piece taking the form of a video game created by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey. It looks very interesting, and the style is classic.

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The rule is simple. Press WSAD to move the character and help him rescue his girlfriend Kit and get out of his dream. So let’s get started!

 

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The BGM is quiet and depressed. The hero, Icarus, is presented as a shadow. In this blue room, the game says to you, “You didn’t wake up, this is still a dream”. It is quite interesting for it to use second-person. Is it referring to me? Am I still in a dream, like Iracus does?  

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After revealing the fact that you are still in a dream, there is a task for you in the taskbar on the left, “to wake up”. I don’t have any clue yet. I’ll just keep walking. 

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Soon I arrive at this crossroad. I can choose to go upstairs, go down into the sewer, or keep moving through the corridors. Let’s go upstairs to have a look. 

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Go upstairs and turn left, you will come across an unfriendly cat. Behind the cat, there is a key. According to my experience, this key will be very important later in the game. So I have to distract the cat and find something to break the glass. 

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Then I go right. A rat shows up and runs away. Here, Kit “shows up” in the phone. 

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Then I literally “pick up” the phone. Now I have it in my pocket. And I have another task, which is to find Kit. 

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Then I go downstairs into the sewer. The tone becomes green, and the BGM becomes faster and more dangerous. 

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Then Iracus says a bunch of nonsense. This is what people do when they sleeptalk. 

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Walk to the left, it’s a dead end, which doesn’t have any other functions except for joking. Capture i13

 

 

 

Ah-ha! The telephone is not only a bridge for communication, but it can be a real bridge for me to cross the well. But how did I put it in my pocket? It’s almost as tall as me. 

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Someone left his/her fishing equipment here, just beside the sign saying “no fishing”. Interesting. I like this net so I put it in my pocket and walk away before anyone sees me. Now I have this net. I’m going to catch that rat and sent it to the cat to distract it and get the key! 

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I get the rat immediately and put it in my pocket.

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Then I present the rat to the cat. I look like a jerk in some kind of school bullying game. 

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I get the key and say sorry to the rat. Wow! The key is in my taskbar and I’ve finished the task. 

 

 

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Then I go back to the crossroad and turn right to the “reality”. 

 

 

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This strange man says that he’s a door and asks for the key. Luckily, I’ve got the key. What is he guarding? 

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Then I find myself outdoors. The scene becomes orange. The BGM becomes alive but a little mysterious. 

 

 

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The rope vendor tries to sell me a rope. Icarus refuses. Let’s see what happens next. 

 

 

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It seems like my girlfriend Kit is trapped in this well. The rope vendor might be a fortune teller! I wish I was Rapunzel. 

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He asks for apples. I’m glad he doesn’t ask for money because I don’t have any. There’s a tree nearby. Let’s see if it’s an apple tree. 

 

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Bad luck! Some unfriendly squirrels step in my way! Fine, I’ll just keep walking to see if there are other ways. 

 

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Yeah, there’s a balloon. I can take the ballon and avoid the squirrels. 

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Yes, I do. But Icarus says that he dreams of falling more often. 

 

 

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You mean you don’t have eyes now? 

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But I only find a phone in the well. 

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I use the phone to cross a trap. 

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Then I enter a red palace, the BGM sounds like middle Asian style. 

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This place belongs to the royalty. 

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Where can I find the crown? Never mind, I’ll just explore around. 

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There might be a secret chamber upstairs but I don’t have the key. Or it’s merely a wall of poor quality. I’ll leave it alone for now. 

 

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I find a wrench in the room upstairs, and use it to open the box at the bottom of the royal baths. 

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Yes, what the majesty says is absolutely right.

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Then I go right and go downstairs into the cellar and pick up a mud ball. 

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No, I don’t. Who wants a pocket full of mud? I prefer a pocket full of cookies. 

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As I go back and play in the royal bath, the mud is washed off… 

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No one cares about your trousers. This ball looks like a Pokemon ball. 

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Then I go upstairs. Look! A chamber. This ball is the key to the chamber. 

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Eh, the chamber only leads to the roof. 

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Off with whose head? 

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These squirrels are crazy. I’d better run away. 

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Wow, I find Kit! She’s riding a telephone. 

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She’ll be moved when I tell her I’m going to rescue her. 

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Ok, what do you mean? 

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I KNOW. 

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Sure, if it’s a dream, jumping off from the roof of a tall castle won’t cause my death. 

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The reality is down below. I see. Icarus said that he dreamed of falling more often. Once he falls, he wakes up. 

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No, I don’t want to go sleep again. The squirrels will kill me if they see me back. 

 

 

This is the end of this game. The reality is that Kit is the one who saves Icarus. This elit piece explores subconsciousness and reality through a game. The main character wakes up in a building in the dream, but the reality always leads him to the outdoors. I think this means that if you want to go back to reality, you need to look outside of your mind to the outside world. I like the humor and irony in this piece. 

Wait, am I really awake?

 

 

 

 

 

Rough Storyboard for Orc Valley Game Handbook

This is a rough draft of the storyboard for my elit piece, “Orc Valley Game Handbook”. “Orc Valley Game Handbook” is the handbook for the game “Orc Valley” (it is not a real game, I just made it up), in which the player controls the character and experience all events in the character’s life. The content can be broken down into: Nonlinear parts — homepage (information about the game), hyperlinks leading to poems relevant to the character’s experience. Still photos — they can be works of professional photographers or works of myself. Graphics — hand-drawn maps of Orc Valley. Audios — BGM mainly.

The background color of the webpage may change according to the scene.

High Muck a Muck: China is so far away

High Muck a Muck is an interactive poem which reveals feelings and living conditions of Chinese immigrants in Canada. It creatively combines images, music, videos, texts, and audio files to present the poem. This poem is created by a group of artists. I will do a walk-through of this poem collection (as a Chinese now studying in America :D). 

Starting Page

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This is the starting page of this poem. In the middle is a block of Chinese characters. In fact, these characters belong to the beginning part of Qianziwen (also known as the Thousand Character Classic). Qianziwen is a classical text covering many disciplines, which was used to teach children. If you are interested in Qianziwen, please go to this website, http://camcc.org/reading-group/qianziwen,  to learn more about it. This website provides both Chinese and English versions of Qianziwen. Most of the translation on this website makes sense but I would like to give my own version of translation. Due to limited time, I will only translate the part that appears in High Muck a Muck

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Notes: (1) The following Chinese characters may look different from those in the picture because of the difference between traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese. (2) There’s a beautiful rhyme if you read the text in Chinese. 

千字文

The Thousand Character Classic (Qianziwen)

天地玄黄,宇宙洪荒

The sky is black, the earth is yellow. The universe is vast without boundaries and it has existed since the ancient times. 

日月盈昃,辰宿列张

The sun rises and falls, the moon becomes full and parsed. Stars spread in the vast universe. 

寒来暑往,秋收冬藏

Summers and winters come and go, (and years pass). We harvest in autumns and store food in winters. 

闰余成岁,律吕调阳

Extra days form a leap year. We use music to adjust yin and yang

云腾致雨,露结为霜

When clouds rise, they precipitate into raindrops. (When the temperature drops at night), dews condense into frost. 

金生丽水,玉出昆冈

Gold is produced in the Jinsha River, jade is produced in the Kunlun Mountains

剑号巨阙,珠称夜光

The sharpest sword is called “Juque”, the most precious bead is called “Yeguang”

果珍李柰,菜重芥姜

The most precious fruits are plums and apples, the most important vegetables are mustards and gingers. 

海咸河淡,鳞潜羽翔

The sea water is salty, the river water is fresh. Those with scales live in the water, those with feathers fly in the sky

龙师火帝,鸟官人皇

Longshi, Huodi, Niaoguan, Renhuang, (they were officials and kings in the ancient times). 

Homepage

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The homepage is a traditional Chinese painting. Mountains and rivers consist parts of the human body. The blue dots are different places. They correspond to acupuncture points in traditional Chinese medicine. 

Back-Acupressure-Points

Source: https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=acupoint&chips=q:acupoint,g_1:back:CNNSuRGuI5k%3D&usg=AI4_-kQgslc5au6zMT7ai_INBJfp2KoLSA&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiJ5bnb_ZjeAhWBoIMKHWSzCBEQ4lYIMigG&biw=1024&bih=488&dpr=1.88#imgrc=mSOuEblS0whcaM:

Seven places are involved in this poem, which are Canada, Victoria, Nelson, Vancouver, Richmond, Pacific Rim, Everywhere and Nowhere (you may feel confused before you enter this page, but later you will agree that this title is really a smart choice). 

The background music is played by a traditional Chinese instrument called xiao. This piece of music is a little gloomy. At the end of the music, new sounds appear, including people talking, the colliding sound of porcelain, children crying, and erhu playing. On hearing those sounds, you may feel that you are sitting in a traditional restaurant in China or in Chinatown. 

Canada

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Canada is on the arm. Rivers are veins, and the blue acupuncture points are parts of the poem. Click the book on the left side, you can read the whole text. Click the person holding a telescope, the poem will be read in a video. The video combines the history of immigrants with calligraphy. 

The poem is titled “The Line (Pak Ah Pu, the Lottery)”. Pak Ah Pu (白鸽票)is a Chinese lottery game popular in the 19th century. The title corresponds to the starting page, “take a gamble and immigrate”. Immigration is kind of a gamble for Chinese because traditionally Chinese do not like to move. China is an agricultural country, which values settling down rather than moving around. There is a Chinese idiom called “安土重迁”, which means “live peacefully in hometown and easily move”. This idiom is used to describe nostalgia. 

This poem, “The Line (Pak Ah Pu, the Lottery)”, presents a typical Chinese character: a farmer, who respects the land and food, who values hometown and family, who is humble and may be good at cooking. 

However, in the picture, these farmers are standing beside a railway, which represents industry and modernization. In the video, the man hung upside down struggles in pain. These figures present the inner tension of these Chinese immigrants. 

Victoria

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Victoria is more lively than Canada. The background music becomes a little playful. The picture shows a Chinese neighborhood full of residents.

Most of the buildings here are in traditional Chinese style. However, if you click the grey house on the top, a narrator called KL says that this neighborhood has nothing to do with modern China. It still sticks to the old Chinese style.

Click the “Chinese Cemetry” on the right corner, KL also states that Chinatown is the only place for Chinese immigrants to make money because they are not allowed to work outside. Also, this is a place where people know and trust one another (they have to because this is the only thing they can do).

Click the cowboy in the middle, CM says that no Chinese women are allowed to enter the club unless they are entertainers (Chinese women are secondary citizens).

Click the person holding a telescope, you can watch an old movie which sets its scene in Chinatown but the main characters are not Asians (they are being racists). 

This Chinatown seems to be full of happiness but it is actually isolated from China and from Canada. Except for the old memories of China, the residents can only depend on each other. 

Nelson

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Nelson is a more desolate place. The background music is a little bit scary. This is not a nice place. Chinese immigrants are isolated from the local people. Anyone here can bully a Chinese. Click the telescope person, you can watch a video which includes many Chinese elements, abacus, smiling Chinese, mahjong, Chinese music, a doll with a coolie hat, Chinese opera, radio, screen, fingerprint. This video is a combination of modern and traditional elements. 

Vancouver

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The background music can be divided into four parts. The first part is the whistle of the train, the second part is a Chinese song (might be a 70s style popular song), the third part is xiao playing, the fourth part is a combination of traffic and people’s steps. 

What happens here in Chinatown is globalization but other people do not understand Chinese culture. They simply do not care. 

Click the telescope person, you can watch an interesting video. The main characters in this video are a person wearing a coolie hat, and a doll wearing a coolie hat. They dress in ancient style and walk on modern streets. Tradition is being challenged by technology. 

Richmond

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The background music is very futuristic. The stories here are about new immigrants. Unlike the old immigrants who came here a long time ago (most of them are Cantonese speakers), the new immigrants come from PRC (which we consider the “new” China, which has a communist government). These new immigrants speak Mandarin. Many of them come here because they want their children to have a better education (This is true. Some of my middle school and high school classmates have come to North America for a better education. Now I am here, too). Many of them do not feel they belong to the Chinese society here. 

The telescope person here brings us a video about a dream. This is a dream of a new immigrant. He feels he belongs to nowhere. Only in his dream is there a place where he truly considers it a home (this home may come from his memory and will only survive in his memory). 

Pacific Rim

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Three ships carry different stories. 

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The ship on the left corner reminds me of a famous poem by Yu Guangzhong (余光中) called Xiangchou (Nostalgia). The following translation is done by me. My translation is simpler than that on the website. If you want to read a more literary and poetic translation, click the hyperlink above to learn more. 

乡愁 

小时候,
乡愁是一枚小小的邮票,
我在这头,
母亲在那头。
长大后,
乡愁是一张窄窄的船票,
我在这头,
新娘在那头。
后来啊,
乡愁是一方矮矮的坟墓,
我在外头,
母亲在里头。
而现在,
乡愁是一湾浅浅的海峡,
我在这头,
大陆在那头。
Nostalgia
When I was young, 
Nostalgia was a little stamp,
I was on this side, 
My mother was on the other. 
When I grew up, 
Nostalgia was a tiny steamer ticket, 
I was on this side, 
My bride was on the other. 
Later, 
Nostalgia was a small tomb, 
I was outside, 
My mother was inside. 
Now, 
Nostalgia is a shallow channel, 
I am on this side, 
The mainland is on the other. 

Yu Guangzhong immigrated from the mainland to Taiwan, yet he still had nostalgia, especially when his mother passed away. You can imagine how Chinese immigrants in Canada miss their hometowns. In Nelson, Chinese immigrants have their own grave area (because the locals do not want to share the cemetery with Chinese). But, even though they have graves, it is not enough. There is a Chinese idiom called “叶落归根”, literally means “the fallen leaves always return to the root”, the metaphoric meaning is “travelers always return to their hometown at last”. If a Chinese dies outside, his body will be carried to his hometown and buried. However, it was very difficult for an immigrant to carry the body back to China. Therefore, their nostalgia would last to their death. 

The ship in the middle carries a video. Sentences like “Made in China”, “Made in Japan”, “Made in Korea” form waves and national flags, meaning Asian commodities are sold to North America countries. Then Chinese music and western music combine with each other. At the end of the video, a group of people is sitting in the space, the earth is outside the window. The background music becomes something like electromagnetic interference wave in the space. 

The ship on the right side carries a poem about “mouthless anger”. 

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We all know “Chinglish”, but do you know “Engliese”? It is true that once you stay abroad for too long, you carry weird accents or foreign words when you speak your mother language. (My Chinese classmates always say “presentation” instead of Chinese. We do not know the proper translation in Chinese.)

Everywhere and Nowhere

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This part is a combination of Taoism and Buddhism. In the middle is a taiji figure. Click it and then you will watch a video. At first, the video shows the eye of an old man. Finally, it becomes the eye of a baby. Chinese believe that humans have spirits. Their spirits can reincarnate. After one dies, he/she will cross a bridge in the underworld and drink Five Flavored Tea of Forgetfulness so that he/she will forget everything. Once one is reborn, he/she will not remember his/her former life and will live as a new person. 

Back to the Canada page, there is a corresponding part. 

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Chinese worship ancestors and pray for help from their spirits. But what happens when their ancestors are reborn as new babies who have forgotten everything? 

What happens if their ancestors immigrated and never returned to their hometown? 

Something to say at the end… 

High Muck a Muck is an impressive work. It contains strong emotions and compelling facts. It is a work written for all Chinese immigrants around the world. It evokes both love for homeland and nostalgia. China is not only a geographic place, but also culture and memories. China is so far away on the other side of the Pacific Ocean; China is so close in the bottom of our hearts. 

 

High Muck a Muck: China is so far away

High Muck a Muck is an interactive poem which reveals feelings and living conditions of Chinese immigrants in Canada. It creatively combines images, music, videos, texts, and audio files to present the poem. This poem is created by a group of artists. I will do a walk-through of this poem collection (as a Chinese now studying in America :D). 

Starting Page

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This is the starting page of this poem. In the middle is a block of Chinese characters. In fact, these characters belong to the beginning part of Qianziwen (also known as the Thousand Character Classic). Qianziwen is a classical text covering many disciplines, which was used to teach children. If you are interested in Qianziwen, please go to this website, http://camcc.org/reading-group/qianziwen,  to learn more about it. This website provides both Chinese and English versions of Qianziwen. Most of the translation on this website makes sense but I would like to give my own version of translation. Due to limited time, I will only translate the part that appears in High Muck a Muck

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Notes: (1) The following Chinese characters may look different from those in the picture because of the difference between traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese. (2) There’s a beautiful rhyme if you read the text in Chinese. 

千字文

The Thousand Character Classic (Qianziwen)

天地玄黄,宇宙洪荒

The sky is black, the earth is yellow. The universe is vast without boundaries and it has existed since the ancient times. 

日月盈昃,辰宿列张

The sun rises and falls, the moon becomes full and parsed. Stars spread in the vast universe. 

寒来暑往,秋收冬藏

Summers and winters come and go, (and years pass). We harvest in autumns and store food in winters. 

闰余成岁,律吕调阳

Extra days form a leap year. We use music to adjust yin and yang

云腾致雨,露结为霜

When clouds rise, they precipitate into raindrops. (When the temperature drops at night), dews condense into frost. 

金生丽水,玉出昆冈

Gold is produced in the Jinsha River, jade is produced in the Kunlun Mountains

剑号巨阙,珠称夜光

The sharpest sword is called “Juque”, the most precious bead is called “Yeguang”

果珍李柰,菜重芥姜

The most precious fruits are plums and apples, the most important vegetables are mustards and gingers. 

海咸河淡,鳞潜羽翔

The sea water is salty, the river water is fresh. Those with scales live in the water, those with feathers fly in the sky

龙师火帝,鸟官人皇

Longshi, Huodi, Niaoguan, Renhuang, (they were officials and kings in the ancient times). 

Homepage

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The homepage is a traditional Chinese painting. Mountains and rivers consist parts of the human body. The blue dots are different places. They correspond to acupuncture points in traditional Chinese medicine. 

Back-Acupressure-Points

Source: https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=acupoint&chips=q:acupoint,g_1:back:CNNSuRGuI5k%3D&usg=AI4_-kQgslc5au6zMT7ai_INBJfp2KoLSA&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiJ5bnb_ZjeAhWBoIMKHWSzCBEQ4lYIMigG&biw=1024&bih=488&dpr=1.88#imgrc=mSOuEblS0whcaM:

Seven places are involved in this poem, which are Canada, Victoria, Nelson, Vancouver, Richmond, Pacific Rim, Everywhere and Nowhere (you may feel confused before you enter this page, but later you will agree that this title is really a smart choice). 

The background music is played by a traditional Chinese instrument called xiao. This piece of music is a little gloomy. At the end of the music, new sounds appear, including people talking, the colliding sound of porcelain, children crying, and erhu playing. On hearing those sounds, you may feel that you are sitting in a traditional restaurant in China or in Chinatown. 

Canada

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Canada is on the arm. Rivers are veins, and the blue acupuncture points are parts of the poem. Click the book on the left side, you can read the whole text. Click the person holding a telescope, the poem will be read in a video. The video combines the history of immigrants with calligraphy. 

The poem is titled “The Line (Pak Ah Pu, the Lottery)”. Pak Ah Pu (白鸽票)is a Chinese lottery game popular in the 19th century. The title corresponds to the starting page, “take a gamble and immigrate”. Immigration is kind of a gamble for Chinese because traditionally Chinese do not like to move. China is an agricultural country, which values settling down rather than moving around. There is a Chinese idiom called “安土重迁”, which means “live peacefully in hometown and easily move”. This idiom is used to describe nostalgia. 

This poem, “The Line (Pak Ah Pu, the Lottery)”, presents a typical Chinese character: a farmer, who respects the land and food, who values hometown and family, who is humble and may be good at cooking. 

However, in the picture, these farmers are standing beside a railway, which represents industry and modernization. In the video, the man hung upside down struggles in pain. These figures present the inner tension of these Chinese immigrants. 

Victoria

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Victoria is more lively than Canada. The background music becomes a little playful. The picture shows a Chinese neighborhood full of residents.

Most of the buildings here are in traditional Chinese style. However, if you click the grey house on the top, a narrator called KL says that this neighborhood has nothing to do with modern China. It still sticks to the old Chinese style.

Click the “Chinese Cemetry” on the right corner, KL also states that Chinatown is the only place for Chinese immigrants to make money because they are not allowed to work outside. Also, this is a place where people know and trust one another (they have to because this is the only thing they can do).

Click the cowboy in the middle, CM says that no Chinese women are allowed to enter the club unless they are entertainers (Chinese women are secondary citizens).

Click the person holding a telescope, you can watch an old movie which sets its scene in Chinatown but the main characters are not Asians (they are being racists). 

This Chinatown seems to be full of happiness but it is actually isolated from China and from Canada. Except for the old memories of China, the residents can only depend on each other. 

Nelson

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Nelson is a more desolate place. The background music is a little bit scary. This is not a nice place. Chinese immigrants are isolated from the local people. Anyone here can bully a Chinese. Click the telescope person, you can watch a video which includes many Chinese elements, abacus, smiling Chinese, mahjong, Chinese music, a doll with a coolie hat, Chinese opera, radio, screen, fingerprint. This video is a combination of modern and traditional elements. 

Vancouver

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The background music can be divided into four parts. The first part is the whistle of the train, the second part is a Chinese song (might be a 70s style popular song), the third part is xiao playing, the fourth part is a combination of traffic and people’s steps. 

What happens here in Chinatown is globalization but other people do not understand Chinese culture. They simply do not care. 

Click the telescope person, you can watch an interesting video. The main characters in this video are a person wearing a coolie hat, and a doll wearing a coolie hat. They dress in ancient style and walk on modern streets. Tradition is being challenged by technology. 

Richmond

h8

The background music is very futuristic. The stories here are about new immigrants. Unlike the old immigrants who came here a long time ago (most of them are Cantonese speakers), the new immigrants come from PRC (which we consider the “new” China, which has a communist government). These new immigrants speak Mandarin. Many of them come here because they want their children to have a better education (This is true. Some of my middle school and high school classmates have come to North America for a better education. Now I am here, too). Many of them do not feel they belong to the Chinese society here. 

The telescope person here brings us a video about a dream. This is a dream of a new immigrant. He feels he belongs to nowhere. Only in his dream is there a place where he truly considers it a home (this home may come from his memory and will only survive in his memory). 

Pacific Rim

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Three ships carry different stories. 

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The ship on the left corner reminds me of a famous poem by Yu Guangzhong (余光中) called Xiangchou (Nostalgia). The following translation is done by me. My translation is simpler than that on the website. If you want to read a more literary and poetic translation, click the hyperlink above to learn more. 

乡愁 

小时候,
乡愁是一枚小小的邮票,
我在这头,
母亲在那头。
长大后,
乡愁是一张窄窄的船票,
我在这头,
新娘在那头。
后来啊,
乡愁是一方矮矮的坟墓,
我在外头,
母亲在里头。
而现在,
乡愁是一湾浅浅的海峡,
我在这头,
大陆在那头。
Nostalgia
When I was young, 
Nostalgia was a little stamp,
I was on this side, 
My mother was on the other. 
When I grew up, 
Nostalgia was a tiny steamer ticket, 
I was on this side, 
My bride was on the other. 
Later, 
Nostalgia was a small tomb, 
I was outside, 
My mother was inside. 
Now, 
Nostalgia is a shallow channel, 
I am on this side, 
The mainland is on the other. 

Yu Guangzhong immigrated from the mainland to Taiwan, yet he still had nostalgia, especially when his mother passed away. You can imagine how Chinese immigrants in Canada miss their hometowns. In Nelson, Chinese immigrants have their own grave area (because the locals do not want to share the cemetery with Chinese). But, even though they have graves, it is not enough. There is a Chinese idiom called “叶落归根”, literally means “the fallen leaves always return to the root”, the metaphoric meaning is “travelers always return to their hometown at last”. If a Chinese dies outside, his body will be carried to his hometown and buried. However, it was very difficult for an immigrant to carry the body back to China. Therefore, their nostalgia would last to their death. 

The ship in the middle carries a video. Sentences like “Made in China”, “Made in Japan”, “Made in Korea” form waves and national flags, meaning Asian commodities are sold to North America countries. Then Chinese music and western music combine with each other. At the end of the video, a group of people is sitting in the space, the earth is outside the window. The background music becomes something like electromagnetic interference wave in the space. 

The ship on the right side carries a poem about “mouthless anger”. 

h11

We all know “Chinglish”, but do you know “Engliese”? It is true that once you stay abroad for too long, you carry weird accents or foreign words when you speak your mother language. (My Chinese classmates always say “presentation” instead of Chinese. We do not know the proper translation in Chinese.)

Everywhere and Nowhere

h12

This part is a combination of Taoism and Buddhism. In the middle is a taiji figure. Click it and then you will watch a video. At first, the video shows the eye of an old man. Finally, it becomes the eye of a baby. Chinese believe that humans have spirits. Their spirits can reincarnate. After one dies, he/she will cross a bridge in the underworld and drink Five Flavored Tea of Forgetfulness so that he/she will forget everything. Once one is reborn, he/she will not remember his/her former life and will live as a new person. 

Back to the Canada page, there is a corresponding part. 

h13

Chinese worship ancestors and pray for help from their spirits. But what happens when their ancestors are reborn as new babies who have forgotten everything? 

What happens if their ancestors immigrated and never returned to their hometown? 

Something to say at the end… 

High Muck a Muck is an impressive work. It contains strong emotions and compelling facts. It is a work written for all Chinese immigrants around the world. It evokes both love for homeland and nostalgia. China is not only a geographic place, but also culture and memories. China is so far away on the other side of the Pacific Ocean; China is so close in the bottom of our hearts. 

 

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. 

p1

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. 

p2

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. 

p3

Brainstrips: a three-part philosophy series)

b1

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

b2

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

b3

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

b4

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. 

b5

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. 

b6

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? 

b7

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. 

b8

This strip reminds me of a funny picture. 

QQ图片20181009000607

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. 

b9

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. 

9

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. 

10

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.

11

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. 

121314

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. 

money

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. 

before death

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

death

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. 

dick major

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

call

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. 

ma

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. 

justice

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. 

children

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. 

liberty