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Bone Girl .V

Flesh dreamed monstrous

beasts. Dreamed somber, faceless

vultures, abandoned

skeletons, splendid demons

of yesteryear, patient 

gargoyles.

Incredible beasts still

call, in the morning. But

only briefly, abandoning

scandalous actuality.

Tweet, tweet….

Ba-dump.

Mama bird was first a baby bird herself. A fledgling, picking at bones brought to the nest. Mama’s Mama bird was an excellent hunter. Proficient collector of Nature’s provisions. And, not a scrap ever went to waste.

Want not, baby bird. Mama’s Mama bird was ever-squawking. Nature always provides.

Mama’s Mama bird taught her everything she needed to know. How to search and skulk. To lure. Catch.

Then, how to use. How to prepare. Preserve. Get to the bone.

The wait, Mama bird tittered, thumbing a bony groove, makes it earned. You’ll understand soon. Good things come to those baby birds who wait. Savory things. 

Mama learned well how to wait. To be patient.

In dreams, she struck. Like the vultures she watched when Mama bird left the nest to stock up on reading materials.

Awake, she held her Mama bird’s bowl steady, the pound of the pestle harmonizing with another rhythmic beat in her young ears. She handed chips and fragments over for reading, performing her own in her head. Good thing Mama bird never touches me like she does the bone.

Blood older, she wove Mama bird’s ligaments for her, tight around the crone’s bony limb. Tighter still around her flabby neck.

Mama’s Mama bird was a good teacher. Good provider.

Too good, perhaps. Or….

Perhaps, Mama bird should’ve read her bone better.

fullsizerender-1

Mama provided.

***I know I wasn’t supposed to add text to this task. My bad. The poem I was able to piece together though reminded me of a pieced-together–er, well not anymore–character and I just had to write. Hope it doesn’t take away from anything. You can read the poem and the proceeding narrative as separate pieces if you prefer ^.^ Kudos to Stephanie as well!***


Tagged: blackoutpoetry, bone girl, Bot Prompts, Killing It, mama provides, netnarr, Networked Narratives, personal, storytelling, what do you think?

My Elit Piece- “Settlement”

I just wanted to start by apologizing to everyone for my absence from class today; I woke up in the middle of the night extremely sick and was not able to get to class. However, I did not want my piece of electronic literature to go without any explanation so I have decided to blog about what I was going to say. I hope you all enjoy it!

Originally what I wanted to do was start off with dice and the reader had to click it in order to “roll it” and one of six different choices would come up. We are all born into a specific life, we cannot choose our families that we get, so just like that, the reader was not able to choose their family. My six options would have been things like a person from a high-income family, someone from a different race, someone who was born from a low-income family, etc. Once receiving your “life” then you proceed to different scenarios that most people face in their lives from childhood all the way to adulthood. Some options you are able to choose and others you must roll the dice again to see your outcome because sometimes in life we do not have a choice and things just happen. I was going to have a pathway on a road to make the choices and a continuing theme of the dice to roll and see what happens. No gender is ever revealed. By the end, the reader would have came to a conclusion depending on what they have rolled and what they chose to do with their options. Those endings were things like death, higher education, homelessness, starting a family, etc. I had to make a lot of changes because I was not able to create such a challenging piece. Instead I made a hypertext linking piece by piece to click and move on, but I did keep the concept of some being choices and some just happening. In the end of the piece you can choose your ending, but if not satisfied you may go back and choose again. The reason I did this was because in real life you cannot choose what happens to you, but in the world of Elit I wanted to allow choices. I also changed the concept of the dice into doors because of my lack of knowledge on how to make dice. The original name was “Roll away, Scroll away,” but it was changed to “Settlement” because that is what I had to do with my piece and what ultimately happens to people in life. They must settle with their choices and with things that just occur and are out of their control.

I was able to create this entire piece using power point and the part that took me the longest to do was linking all of the hypertext to flow smoothly, it is very interactive because you must click to move on, but you must click slowly and wait for each and every part to appear. There are some sounds, for example when you click the door, but I did not add music because I did not want to distract the reader from what was really important, the main idea. The entire piece ended up becoming a huge contradiction at the end because you are able to make a choice and reverse that choice after the entire idea was suppose to be realistic and that is where the “Settlement” derived from. I used images from different sites and even a clip in which if you allow it to play through is a quick video to get a point across and allow my piece to be multimodal and give it a little more excitement.

I am not text savvy at all and was not able to make my piece the way I wanted at all, but I messed around with it for a while and tried to created it to the best of my abilities. I made it nice and short because I know how I felt when exploring one of the longer pieces and after a while my attention would be lost so I wanted to get the point across and straight to the ending which was most important.

Once again I apologize for my absence, I had a great time in class with all of you exploring this entirely new idea to me of electronic literature, thank you for taking the time to read through this blog!

 

 


Blog #11- The Cape

cape http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/carpenter__the_cape/sound_carries_stairs.html

 

J. R. Carpenter’s The Cape, is an interesting form of a hypertext poem using both words and images combined. It is about a woman who seems to be young, visiting her grandmother and uncle in Cape Cod. Although it is believed that the images, maps, data, video, etc. all seem to be factual, we know this not to be true because Carpenter explains it in her description about Cape Cod being a real place, but the pictures and characters are not real or not real in their size. It discusses its history with old black and white photos.

When entering this piece I was tempted to click on an “out-of-order” image when given multiple options, but because of the type of reader I am in which I like things to go from start to finish, I decided on clicking the first image on the top left which was the window of a house. The first few lines describe the woman’s location of where she was or was going and who she would be seeing out in Cape Cod. All of this came along side a compass and an image of what is believed to be her Grandmother’s house because she discusses her grandma living in “Cape Cod with a Cape Cod house” and her uncle living in the same place, but not in that “type” of house so ultimately I saw this house as the “Cape Cod” house. A portion of a map is also provided in order to help the reader get a better understanding of its location.

The next image was interesting because once I scrolled over the larger image, a piece in the middle began floating away slowly. Under that, the image starts moving very slowly as it reveals itself. Fortunately, I was able to find a way to see the image as a whole because I was not seeing the whole picture. By clicking the image and dragging it a little, the entire image pops out in full and we can see it is a person standing on the beach dressed as if it were freezing outside. This goes along with the text describing how in the winter they would walk on the beach.

The next image over is revealing a map and discussing how because this was from so long ago, everything is in black and white. All images still remain black and white as I scroll through. The slow revealing of the images given in some of the sections seem to be slow because back in history everything was slower. Now people are always moving so quickly and not taking the time to really see things anymore. These slow, old images come out little by little allowing the reader to take their time with it.

The last image is interesting because I expect another part of the story, but instead the reader chooses to explain the story and why they did the things they did. For example, it is explained that navigating the piece is fine in anyway chosen, but the narrator does from left to right. There is also a comment box for the reader which I have not come across in any other Elit piece. Overall, I was not a fan of this piece. It was slow and a little boring to me because the black and white images revealed so slowly. I like fast- paced pieces with sounds to help capture my attention.


With those we love alive? Or do we?

With Those We Love Alive is a game built to be an interactive storytelling world of a whole new outlook on elit. Gameplay consists of reading and clicking links, with a platform provided by shifting background colors blistering meaningful words. It’s not your typical game that you would think would be played on a game console or phone for instance. This is a game that will have you traveling through a portal created by your own mind and it’s outcome.

Language is everything in this game, and Porpentine uses it to eerie and mesmerizing effect. Caromine, one of many names serves the Empress, a multi-faceted being whose appearance naked bone, spider legs, moth fur, slithering coils is determined by players’ own choices. Although technically a prisoner, Caromine has the run of the palace and city — she can visit a glass and leafbone garden filled with half-sunken statues, meditate by an inky, dead lake, and sip intoxicating potions at the dream. Some of the language usage and word placement seems to be of a weird and ironic kind. But it best served the underlying message the author was trying to portray.

There is a central question to With Those We Love Alive: “Are you part of the world, one with others, a person, or are you alone and apart?” And unlike the game’s other choices, this one has a right answer.wtwla_image8


Separation By: Annie Abrahams

At first I clicked too fast, and a sign flashed in front of me saying ‘You don’t have the right attitude in front of a computer.. You either click too fast, you use too much force, or you’re too tense…etc.’ I slowed down and a text similar to a poem started to appear on the page, one word with each click.

The lines that I found interesting were,“Your body became mine,but mine, mine muscles, nerves overused, abused, neglected, You don’t feel my pain.”

As I was reading these lines it made me slow down and click after reading each word several times, allowing the next word to appear. These words caught my attention and made me realize how overworked and overused our bodies and minds truly are- and we take it for granted. Even as I was forced to slow down and click slower. The slide that immediately appears after these lines is “Rest” which then leads you to a visual exercise of putting your head on your legs, hanging your arms to the side, and simply breathing. At the end of the text, it states “How to relax a computer? How to massage a computer?” and with one click, a yellow circle appears with what looks like text that I cannot read because it moves across the page so quickly. I tried several times to get to this point “Separation” but failed to comprehend its last word.

All in all, I enjoyed to purity of how the piece opens your eyes to what the world has become blind to. There are many ways during our everyday lives where we lose touch with reality.


Sooth By: David Jhave Johnston

The Beauty of e-poetry

“Sooth” David Jhave Johnston

 

Since childhood, my favorite type of writing has always been poetry. I always looked at it as a chance to put into words a certain feeling or emotion that you want someone else to read and feel. Being raised in a house full of boys, I always found it hard to express myself in a way that others would understand. Technology is and has always been a big part of my life. Having the privilege to read electronic literature and electronic poetry has opened up a whole new world and way of reading that I greatly enjoy. Discovering e-poetry is something that I find great for readers that already enjoy reading and writing poetry.

Electronic poetry is a good tool to help convey the emotion behind the written piece in clever ways that cannot be done on tangible pieces. The piece “Sooth” by Johnston is the piece I will be reviewing. This specific piece draws upon series of love poems recreated into a piece of electronic poetry. The basis behind this piece is the tone and how it’s portrayed within the realm of technology. Instead of flipping through a book, you are forced to electronically travel through several love poems. Sooth is a set of love poems interactively triggered by clicks on each video in tune to display words of a poem. Sounds associated with each phrase are mapped to audio which pans and volume shifts in space as the saying flies through each picture. These phrases are intended to display a certain emotion and/ or behavior within each poem. Interestingly the title “Sooth” means truth. Each poem is derived back to these title theme, presenting words of truth and thoughtful emotional themes.

Upon opening Johnston’s work, the reader is introduced to a dark screen with grey text, forcing the reader to select a poem from the left menu hypertexts. The first of these poems is the piece named “Sooth”. Clicking on the title links starts a video, in this case wind moving ferns. Each new click of the screen introduces new phrases of the poem. The words glide smoothly on to the screen and seem to rustle in the wind with the ferns. The poem and video are combined with sounds of birds, water, and music. With each click and introduction of new words to the screen, the video pans to a different aspect of the landscape and the tone and quality of the color of the video screen changes. As you click on the video and the phrases load, you can see that as the poem continues to pop up on your screen the emotion of the video gets stronger, the music becomes louder, and the colors become more darker.

The second poem, “Weeds” which shows a close up panning of a woman laying down, resting. Their eyes open and close intermittently. There appears to be a strong focus on appearance and texture, of the skin, clothes, and even words. The word choices and movement of each line delivery are both eradicating and interesting. Various words are brought on to the screen and float around. Flashing and fading in and out the same way that the first poem does. The color tone of the screen changes constantly, altering the mood of the poem in front of you as a written piece could never portray.

The third poem, “Body” follows the same format. The video is an image of a color changing scenery of what could be the curves of a body or the outline of a landscape. The words come on the screen in clicks in the same way as the previous poems, overlapping and creating alternating stanzas of compelling language and beautiful words. What stood out to me most in this one was how fast the words would fade out, I thought there was a deeper meaning behind that, but I wasn’t too sure.

 

“Root” is set to a flowing water in a calming background image that features the poems lines swirling and flowing back and forth as soon as they appear on screen, moving with the flowing water. Once I thought the last one was fast paced, this one went even faster, I could barely make out the words at this point. I had to play it a few time to get the words again and again. Each new line seems to be a complete thought, each which flows together nicely with the next. So if the author intended it to be face paced and unreadable, than they succeeded.

“Soul” is a poem in which the background is dark with a fish breathing through its gill very deeply. Each new word comes up twice above the fish. Once in large letters that fades out in the background and is replaced with each click and introduction of a new word, plus a smaller pairing that is always in motion alternating in size and brightness with each other word. The words of this poem are about sex and love, an interesting pairing against such a non-sexual or romantic background setting. At first the language is set in French until you realize there is a button on the bottom that lets you change the language in English. After that sigh of relief that you can actually understand the poem, you than read and realize that this poem had deep sex meanings that came out of nowhere. I guess it was fitting with the whole “love” topic.

The final poem in the series is “Snow.” This still video features and extreme close-up of clean, perfect, snow with a small strip of blue at the top of what looks like the sky. Each phrase appears in white, an interesting choice against a white background that can make them almost unreadable, but each set of words floats up to the blue sky above it, making each phrase legible. The poem features lines about being together and alone at the same time. As the sounds becomes deeper, and the background becomes more of a blur, the words get stronger and begin to shake showing some type of reaction towards that certain part of the piece. The author really made the music match the effect of every word and meaning towards the poems.

The word “Sooth” has the same root as the word “truth”. By the end of the series of love poems, it is evident that these poems are meant to be a quest for truth: The truth about the self and the other, for instance, or the fact that both are indistinguishable (“i sooth i with u / u sooth u with i”). Overall, the author did a great job utilizing the music, moving dramatic images, deep words giving them its meaning, and the way the words faded jumping at you in each poem. I enjoyed reading the e-lit series of love poems as it reminds me of my favorite kind of work as a kid, and that was writing poetry. Hopefully I am inspired enough to go back to what inspires me most to write, poetry is a dead art that I must reach back into.


With Those We Love Alive & The Cape (The Final Post)

With Those We Love Alive (Bhagavad Gita: Better to live on beggar’s bread
with those we love alive, than taste their blood in rich feasts spread, and guiltily survive)

(we see all of these images in the poem to come – beggars surviving in spite of their surroundings, others that have become inhuman, alien by thriving on the blood of those that must die to keep them alive)

Loving the way this starts.. I noticed that the first lines can turn pink (the way forward) – i like them setting you up in a sense…. dont know how to answer the element question ( i picked mud) – this feels very existential and cool in one sense and hokie like a horoscope on the other hand…

cant get a handle on the music – ethereal/industrial

So now you’re in some sort of a science fiction type story – seems futuristic at first, the idea of the skull empress and that you have a skill that is identifiable – but the description of the Empress is creepy and seems like a more primitive world – like a creature, not a person (picking plant matter off her skull?)… now we get into psionics – sending messages through thought/brain waves – this is definitely sci-fi – and creepy.  I wish there were more options for things to do – every time it says “wait” or “leave”, i wish there was an alternative to that choice

Ha – now we have options – they dont take you far, but point to an odd world – with things not of this world (leafbone? even glass flowers on iron stalks seems odd)….

I did the meditations – holding my breath… the blue background is soothing…

So the words that you click arent always instructions or directions – when i find the chest under my bed and it talks about the estroglyphs and spiroglyphs on my body (neither of which is an actual thing but must be some sort of astral version of glyph pictograms), the actionable word is “precious”.  Why?

This whole thing is set up like the earliest versions of choose your own adventure games (like Dungeons and Dragons) where you get only the tiniest bit of information about the options available to you…

I write that and then I reach the canal where there is far more description that at any other point in the story. Why? Either these realizations are critical to the story or it is simply showing us that you learn about a city from its poorest members; that gods and censurs and smoke and all the trappings of the palace are little compared to what these “urchins” and others are going through.  This contains a startling sentence:

angelcorpse

Whoa. Also a kid wearing a fractured skull like an “opera mask” – so something has happened in this world where there were humans, but now there are alternate forms of life – rat kids, “urchins”, dust striders”… the more I click, the more new lines i get – ligabirds, spidercats… I manage to get at least a dozen different images here.

I notice much of this points to a lack of water – there is much dust and mud and the barren hulls of ships… obviously all of this in a dry canal.

More and more disturbing imagery – back to the throne room and we find imagery of a beetle queen and a dead person “swinging their legs” on the balcony.  Does that mean a dead person reanimated? or swinging like he’s been hung?  This is more than just interesting e-lit, it really is a game. It took me a while to figure out that I had to sleep in order to get a message pinned to my door. I made the diadem – and she wears it… interesting options – and strong messages.  Choosing an homage to power, loyalty, or death?  And even more death imagery with the options to wrap the gift in skin or a funeral shroud.   I thought when I got to the end of the ceremony, it was the end of the game. Not so…  The letter from my people elicits anger and/or longing? Then perhaps I am here of my own free will?  Trying to make a pilgrimage of some sort?

Music and colors change when the empress is “hunting humans”.  It feels like we are here now to do something for these people that are getting killed, but its a bit confusing when it talks about “the custom”.  The custom of allowing the empress to hunt humans? To not fight back?  This game is getting long… Already 20 minutes… I made the bow and kept jumping to places I thought I had seen, although the lake says there is a “dead person below the water” which freaked me out a bit. This game is interesting in that it keeps adding just enough to keep you engaged. Interesting that when we see her again, we would get to choose what she looks like – coils, claws, etc….

I feel like I need to break the cycle of whats happening – when the “pink spore” are trying to escape, letting them go seems like the way to do that, but im back in the chambers again. We keep having to reapply hormones.. it seems like courage to me, to stay with the program.  I am feeling that my character is a stranger in a strange land – trying to figure out how to break the chain and understand whats going on. The visitor that is a friend speaks to an experience so horrible that it blocks out all of “real life” – I feel like this could be a link to the idea of losing all your dreams as well.  The failure to save the girl or protect in her in some way is a guilt that seems to block everything. I find it fascinating that the character has to go through an experience that defines an emotion before drawing a sigul on their skin – like you have to go through the metaphorical fire of life and let it burn you before you can understand it. As I am making things for the Empress, I am trying to find things to kill her. I now believe she is keeping me here, it is not my choice.

When the female visitor compliments my dress it is my first hint of gender… perhaps that’s why I couldn’t kill the princess spawn.. was it a motherly instinct?  There is a relationship here but I can’t tell if its sexual, communal, friend, family or what…

Back in the city, the canal is now flooded – another series of very amazing descriptions – about moons rolling across the water, fish with dream tumors, etc, etc.  All this seems to be happening apart and completely separate of what happens at the palace. Is this a commentary on how little politics intersects with real life?

When I let the girl know how much things are bothering me, she gives me the green fluid.  The screen turns blue/green and gives way to happier music.  This is definitely some kind of hallucinogen or drug that helps you escape life..  Wait.  I am talking to a “dead friend”? Is that a metaphor?  The music still seems happy and positive – is this a good thing? I think the idea here is that we are getting a better appreciation of life in whatever forms visits itself upon us.

Ok – so now it appears this is an assassination plot? This is pretty wild – seems like the plot is more concrete that I had assumed.

When the assassin fails and is called a “witch” we realize the truth of who we are – and the fact that nature now serves the bug queen and can be conquered (or must be conquered to escape) is fascinating.. Underscores the ongoing human effort to subdue nature and all its parts. The music is much more exciting here – like a march. This game has gone on nearly an hour, yet it is interesting. The last word in this world is “fight”.  Then we are taken to another world – instantly recognizable as another place.  Rejecting what is dead and dying or what would withhold life from us seems to be the crux of this story. That, and that relationship and memories, can overcome being chained to a particular place or emotion. I should say that I like the way this was structured – the way the scenes were paced and even gave you a chance to catch your breath (by meditating or “sleeping” for example).

The Cape

Because this piece gives you the option of “reading” it in any direction, I am purposefully opting to select the squares that I hit at random. The imagery evokes an old-timey picture postcard type of feel. The use of letters and lines puts every image in the category. The idea of a whistle is a kind of a lonely sound to me.. although it seems like it is the only way a grandfather and grandchild can connect.  Also, on the page where they have the radio clip, it indicates that “turbulent air” is the key difference between a whistle and just blowing air. So you need some sort of turbulence or disturbance to make things interesting. It seems like the girl on the Cape is wishing for some sort of turbulence to make things interesting. The story is so short there is almost nothing to it. I get a lonely feeling from this progression – the lack of people (there are only two), the black and white imagery, the sparseness of the landscapes. Although, saying that, I feel like part of the message here is about how much better the Cape was when it was sparse – when you could be alone enough to go behind a giant rock and practice whistling.  It seems like something that would work best when you are alone on a giant empty beach – not in the midst of a lot of people. The author even mentions how whistling is better in winter when everyone is gone, and the slide shows structures and beach but no people. One slide seems to show the progression of more and more people or signs of life on the Cape as the years pass by. Even the maps themselves move across the screen, giving the sense of progress. (Even if the author would rather things did NOT progress). It seems like a giant homage to the “way things were”, whether it be in grandma or uncle’s time, or even earlier. The slide that points out the Cape in the Holocene period is talking about the way the land was arrayed 10,000 years ago. That’s the good old days! It’s funny – when I went back and looked at the captions for all the images, I was surprised to be reminded that the whole story is about a single visit. The sense I get from it is much more about memories that have been ingrained over a period of years. It is surprising and somewhat moving to me that the memory would be imprinted because of the sparse empty (cold?) beach and this place called Cape Cod. Her memories also go against everything I think of when I think of Cape Cod, which is wealth and privilege, not cold beaches. The kicker is at the end where the author says she doesn’t even have a picture of her grandmother (which means the person by the big boulder near her grandmother’s house is… who?).  So does the memory of whistling, of a sound that exists on the air and is gone, a metaphor for our relatives, especially those that we barely see, that impact our lives in the most random of ways and then are gone again, never to be seen again?  The color choices, particularly the maps and technical language/symbols adds to the impersonal nature of this story and provides an interesting juxtaposition with what should be a fairly personal story, about a child and a relative spending time in Cape Cod.

This is what I think of when I think of Cape Cod….

breslow-cape-cod-house

Thermophiles Title

Also my two cents for a title for Thermophiles in Love is:  Learning to Love your Cell (or you can do it “Learning to Love your Cell(f))


Because I Am Alive

Better to live on a beggar’s bread with those we love alive, than taste their blood in rich feasts spread and, guiltily survive.

(Pics on this one so be sure to check out the blog)

If I had the chance to start my own Elit piece all over again, I would want to make it like Porpentine’s With Those We Love Alive. To me, it is the most compelling piece of Elit I’ve read so far and I am a little bit more than a little jealous that I did not pick this piece for my own presentation (though I was rather taken with Nelson’s This is How You Will Die).

With Those We Love Alive is a hypertext work created in Twine that transports readers into this fantastical and casually violent world in which they must use their magickal abilities to serve a merciless larval queen and her bloody empire. In this nightmare-scape, there are rat and slime kids, diremaidens, silent gods, and dream thieves. It seems dreams fuel this nightmare world, actually. Or, at least, the thievery of these dreams fuels this world, death standing audience. Maybe we’re all dead….

I found this metaphor of absent/stolen dreams to be a very powerful representation of abuse and its lasting mark. In this work, you as the character you create are able to travel to different spaces in this world–the balcony, the garden, the throne room, your workplace, the city–and, once in these different spaces, you are able to interact with other spaces. It’s kind of like a web. Anyway, the city-space has the Dream Distillery where you can drink the dreams harvested every day (from the eternally sleeping), each day offering a different mixture of flavours–things like anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure), miscarriage, agoraphobia. exile, etc. After you drink of the dreams, you can talk to the workers who will tell you something about the process of harvesting dreams. And, one of the things they say is something about the dreams usually becoming too bitter for consumption after 6 years (they say something to the effect of wanting to change the pipes, I think, to remedy that problem). But, this line made me think of how many child abusers don’t want their victim anymore once they reach a certain age. The child becomes too “old” for them. To me, this idea with the dreams seems to be referencing this commonality in cases of abuse. The dreams become symbolic of youth and childhood and naivety and the siphoning of them as fuel for monsters, their breeding, and their monstrous world becomes symbolic of abuse and its lasting effects. I think this reading is further supported by what we find out about our character’s younger years.

At least, when I played this piece, I discovered that when I (my character) was younger, my (their) mother made them drink this vile potion that made me (them) dream all the dreams I (they) ever could have in one sitting so that I (they) would not be taken to have my (their) dreams harvested (as was in vogue to do at the time). In consequence, I never dreamed again. There is only darkness and emptiness. This dream thievery represents a different kind of abuse from the previous mentioned but I think its lasting effects are still evident in my (character’s) apparent apathy and depression.Their is this resignment and listlessness to my actions that seems to relate back to this emptying of my dreams against my will. I believe Sedina, at some point, says that what was done to her can be seen on the outside (meaning her scars) but what was done to me was done to the inside and so cannot be seen. All of this, I believe, is meant to reference abuse and its many varieties and levels. And, Sedina and me (my character) and the rat and slime kids, the dreamers in the distillery, and the diremaidens are all meant to show that abuse manifests in different ways. No two people cope–or don’t cope–the same way. Some of us turn to religion while others turn to whatever will make us most numb, even if that means allowing ourselves to be consumed or sucked dry.

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Focusing specifically on myself (my character), I think my listlessness and apathy were very well-conveyed through the medium. There is this kind of blase feeling that is communicated through allowing me only to keep flipping pages, going from one thing to the next without much room for processing. Everything is very shallow by allowing me only to click and flip. There is this lack of depth in my ability to navigate this piece. Even the music remains relatively unmoved throughout the reading of this piece, morphing only at certain points. Also, I’m only allowed 1 choice of response sometimes, making me a complicit entity in this abusive and ugly world; which seems to represent how abuse and its effects make choices for us sometimes. Again, Sedina says something that seems to relate to the overall experience of this phenomena–“The brain won’t let you know what happened till it’s over.” Often, the exact nature of abuse suffered doesn’t really come to light or hit until many years after the fact. More, you are so young when it occurs that you don’t even have the words to identify it let alone process it. I think this line and what the interface of this piece is trying to communicate is that idea–that the true impact of everything read won’t really come until later. Like, my (our character’s) escape that doesn’t come until after many shallow readings through what seems like an endless cycle of events. Freedom, like realization, takes time. So much time.

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Another aspect of this piece that is compelling is the, well, physical one. In this work, readers are invited to draw sigils of remembrance on themselves.

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This one really got me.

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Marks for letting go, for new beginnings, for shame, for pain, for choices made…. I think doing this is supposed to be reminiscent of how abuse and violence imprint themselves on us, oft in very physical ways. Very personal ways, as well. These marks we draw on our skin become a record not just of our journey through this piece (that is instructing us to draw them) but also a record of our own realities that inspire–individualize–them. Through these marks, this Elit piece is able to transcend its technological bounds and merge with our own realities. In many ways, this interaction, too, becomes symbolic of how abuse transcends whatever “neat little box” we try to tuck it away in and bleeds into all aspects of our lives. Meeting Sedina again for the first time in the palace, just meeting their eyes, seeing their scars, was enough to silence me and transport me back to a time in which I (my character) was powerless. Looking at the weapon I made for the queen gave me no sense of accomplishment and seemed, also, to be only symbolic of my powerlessness. And, the telescope, served only as a reminder that I am trapped on the inside, an eternal observer. All of these little things brought me back to this central idea that I am what has been done to me and not what I choose to be. And, that is how abuse operates. It bleeds into every interaction with the world. Swallows everything you feel till it is all you feel. Watches you like a dead person only you can see. Makes you feel like a dead person.

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Clicking each word makes them disappear until only damage is left and then it disappears.

It is very isolating as well which, I think, is another aspect this piece captures very well. Throughout play, you rarely interact with another (living) soul. Mostly, you are a quiet observer. A ghost moving from one haunt to the next. Messengers are sent for you when the queen needs you and the workers at the dream distillery feed you the same lines on repeat but, other than that, there are no pages that offer you (your character) meaningful or thoughtful interaction. It isn’t until Sedina shows up that dialogue is really introduced in this work.

Through interaction with Sedina, you are given more avenues of expression. There is less complicity and more individuality (perhaps showing how the system is created to silence while people are not). You can choose how you are “coping” or how you imagine what your character has gone though. As I read this piece as a narrative of abuse, I chose to say things that related to that experience. Like, when Sedina asked if it still hurt, I’d say, “Yes.” Or, if she asked if I was doing okay though, I’d lie and say, “I’m okay.” And, Sedina seemed to both commiserate with me and counsel me. She is the instigator of escape. Sedina wants to kill the queen. I write her a letter begging her not try for trying is in and of itself an act that will not be forgiven. And, my reaction seems to be a very accurate response. Tackling the monster that is abuse is very scary and seems like something that will come back to bit with vengeance. But, as this piece communicates, it is necessary to face our monsters. And, it’s alright to fail–as Sedina does. Killing the monster is not the point. Facing it is. Realizing that there are things that are more important than it is. Wanting things again is. Realizing you are alive is.

Honestly, there are far too many aspects of this piece to touch upon in one analysis. I could go on and on and probably still find new things every time. Like, I didn’t even really get to go into detail about the diremaidens but I think those characters are infinitely fascinating even though their time in the piece is brief. They surrender themselves. Humiliate themselves. Empty themselves forever into boxes. In ritual. People leave petals of memory to worship their plights. To me, they are the victims who could not live with the idea that there were no gods to give greater purpose to life and thus provide reason for their abuse and suffering. So, they made themselves into offerings. Chose to forget themselves/lose themselves to a cause. After a few pages, all memory of them disappears. Exactly as they wanted.

I didn’t really get to talk about the queen and just how symbolic of abuse she is. I mean, she communicates via implanting her thoughts directly into your brain. How much more intrusive and invasive can this monster be? How much less can she care about your bodily autonomy. And, when she wants something, the only options this piece gives you are to fulfill the queen’s desires. You are complicit and made a conscript. Which is what an abusive context does.

And, we have the gods who derive power from silence.

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Never any explanation.

Truthfully, this concept makes me think of that graffiti that was supposedly found on the wall in one of the concentration camps– “If there is a god, he will have to beg my forgiveness.” And, I think this whole concept is supposed to juxtapose the diremaidens–who are putting themselves in the service of these silent gods–the ones who presumably chose silence over interfering with their abuse. There’s an accusation of betrayal charging this statement, to me. A, “where were you?” A, “why didn’t you do anything?” Ultimately, I think this aspect of the piece is meant to convey the betrayal victims feel towards figures of authority who either committed the act of abuse or violence or who simply did nothing, whether they were aware of what was happening or not.

There is just so much to explore through this piece. Even though the interface is relatively simple, the story that is being told is infinitely inviting of deeper reading. So, I suppose this is a decidedly literary piece of Elit. Most of its meaning is derived from its text paired with sound and some colour. This simplicity, though, I think resonates because it allows readers to realize how  abuse can be so simple in process but so difficult and complicated to process. The complexity of it exists in its implications, in the marks it leaves and that are remembered.

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It is so hard to fill the emptiness.

“This was the hardest thing to internalize; that something permanent but invisible had happened.” ~ Maggie Stiefvater

(I got so absorbed in this piece that I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be writing about the other piece yet–sorry Jess if I don’t. In fact, I’m very inspired from this piece to work on my own Elit work.

As for the title suggestions for TiM, I’ll either add them to this post later, create a new one for them, or just bring my suggestions to class. It’s hard to be clever when you’re trying to be. I need more time to mull.)


Sooth and Seperation

sooth

I will begin by reflecting on the piece I would have to say I enjoyed more so out of the two for this week. Honestly, and wholeheartedly, I did not enjoy either one in the way that I might have with other pieces this semester. In a brief discussion last night with a few fellow class members, there was talk of the pieces being quite boring and simple. I alluded to the fact that our progression with navigating electronic literature in the class has gone from such simple and classic pieces like Twelve Blue to more multimodal and even more intellectually challenging pieces. I brought up the question of whether readers of e lit, after a while, form a sort of preconceived idea about what a piece of e lit contains  because many can have varying forms of interactivity and multimodality, while others are meant to be a single click until he end of the piece. Can we not enjoy simplistic pieces for what they are anymore, and does interpretations of what e lit should be in an individual’s own biased option then affect the way that one is able to appreciate it?

To retreat from the tangent that I just partook in, Sooth (a noun meaning truth) by David Jhave Johnston was my preferred piece of the two pieces being presented tonight. The fact that the author intended for the images and music within the piece to be purposefully different from what a love poem might be associated with only added tot he intrigue. To me, the animated poems coupled with the looping videos and sounds only brought more… well… truth to what love really is or can be instead of the fairytale versions many people tend to associate with it. Like in the description, one is left to contemplate more deeply about the body, soul, and subconscious in ways that they might not have if they were to look at love on only a surface level. The poem “snow” in itself brought to question many concepts from biochemistry, interestingly, and ideas of looking at the self as an osmotic being (able to gradually process and take in information).

In terms of navigating through the poem, it took me a while to figure out that some of the separate pages lets you click on an open space in the box where the video place and the next line will appear in that area. However, sometimes you can click anywhere and the lines will only appear in a certain area and then zip and zoom to a different area within the box constantly moving. At first, I was frustrated and distracted by this because I couldn’t really get a good sense of what was being communicated if the words were moving and fading too fast, but I came across some scholarly commentary that put things into perspective. Jonathan Baillehache from the University of Georgia in his review of the piece states, “Clicking on the videos does not simple display the text, as in the turning of a page; it disturbs it, it shuffles the lines and complicates the reading experience with he intrusion of more sound, movement and color. Clicking is an act of destruction and disturbance of the text as much as it is a necessary operation to build it and proceed with the reading” (Baillehache, par. 3). This idea really brought things into a new light for me and the way that I looked at the piece.

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As for the second piece Separation, it was written in the hospital under the effects of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) where one cannot work without the computer, but working with a computer is as much of a challenge as not working with it. I can understand the intended purpose of trying to get the reader or navigator to feel what someone else feels who has RSI, but in agreement with a fellow graduate student, Hailey, it reminded me of Tailspin by (author) in Volume 2 which emphasized the effects of Tinnitus in an old man and the repercussions it has on his life and his family’s lives. I am not sure, though, what to make of it and I want to do some more exploring and navigating through the piece a few more times.

 

 

Works Cited

Baillehache, Jonathan. “David Jhave Johnston, Sooth.” Hyperrhiz, 2013, hyperrhiz.io/hyperrhiz10/special-feature-e-lit-reviews/david-jhave-johnston-
sooth.html.

Separation & Sooth

Separation

I liked this poem a lot.. I felt it was e-literature in the sense that it had a message, even a moral for the reader. Unfortunately, much of what I didn’t like about it was contained on the very first page. I felt that making it clear that this was a work based on clinical exercises for a physical condition actually sapped some of the meaning from this work. I understand that it was meant as a commentary on how people have become so involved with their computers that is almost like a relationship, a form of slavish love, that has to be broken, in some cases by an outside force (like a physical injury). But knowing that the unknown entity being related to by the author is a computer and not another person neuters the opportunity for a rich metaphorical experience. And I was particularly surprised and irked by the fact that the author wrote this: The text seems to be about a separation between human beings, only the last two phrases reveal that it’s about a separation between a human being and a computer. Why would the author give that away?

Now for the walkthru: I found it interesting that “lonely” is the first word. The screen is stark like a blank page. The font is tiny and unremarkable. This looks like someone trying to write their story (or rewrite it) from scratch. The first imagery of a woman with her mouth open was jarring. It reminded me of a horror movie or someone being attacked or killed…. I read the text but did not do the exercise (I was tempted to but was in a populated place).  The line with red looked like a thermometer and as it dropped, I felt like it was depicting a reduction in high temperature. To me, this could have been an “exercise” about reducing stress or anger or anxiety,…. the visual aspects spoke more to that than to RSI in my opinion.

The second image of the woman in the silhouette again felt more like a relaxation technique – seemed to be more about resolving mental or emotional strain than physical strain… I did the exercise this time and it felt good (moving your shoulders)… Not sure why the box covered the text and not sure why the imagery popped up at the moment it did, although the last word was “demanding” which infers a strain on the body or mind. (I think for the first image the word preceding it was “pain” which would make sense).  I notice that the language in the poem is very active – lots of -ing endings, meaning things are happening!!

When it comes to the image of “rest”, the figure itself looks beaten down – this appears to match the copy when it talks about the body being overused and abused.  I wanted to stop the red line so i could study the image and the text in the yellow box a little more, but I couldn’t figure out any way to do it.  Maybe that’s the point – you have only a finite amount of time to yourself or to rest or recuperate and then its back to work (or to the task at hand).

The poetry is always about finding a connection with this other entity but it goes from finding the other entity interesting to eventually hating the entity for causing pain. This poem could very well be about love or relationships; how a person gets absorbed in another person to the point of resenting them (and perhaps even taking their own body and their own needs for granted.)

Interesting that when the poem (and the writer) gets to the point about complaining that the other entity doesn’t caress them, there is instruction of how to caress yourself (this red line goes down slower than others). It’s like patting yourself on the back!!

Again, I don’t like knowing that this is about the separation between a person and a computer.  It would have been so much more effective as a metaphor instead of reading it literally (about “repairs” and “receiving input” for example)…

A fascinating twist in this poem – when it told me i didn’t have the right attitude in front of the computer!  I immediately sat up straight and read carefully. I felt like the author was talking to me specifically! (complaining about the way i click, etc).  I actually felt a little embarassed, like I didn’t play the game the right away.  Could it be that the author was forcing me to go through the same kind of mental trial that she goes through when feeling that the computer has gotten the better of her?  That it is no longer she who is dictating the actions, but the computer? I certainly was forced to do things the computer’s way from that point on, being careful to click slowly (even though I was impatient and a tiny bit bored by doing it).  I had to look up the french word “desintoxication” to learn it essentially means rehab.. The “courage” panel seems like an encouragement to relax but also includes instructions about sticking your chest out – a physical depiction of being brave and toughening up under dire circumstances…

Looking back at the poem as a whole, I feel it is along the lines of “the serenity prayer” – give me the grace to accept the things that cannot be changed…..

Ah!  I hate the last two lines!!  “How to relax or massage a computer?” First of all, I think that it does a disservice to the rest of the poem and brings it to a more base level and abandons the higher purpose metaphor…  It’s not a surprise since the author told you ahead of time to watch out for the last two lines!  Also, I think it’s poorly worded, particularly in comparison to the rest of it. The imagery was effective in connecting the body’s needs and the soul’s needs – and the imagery of the people involved in the exercises seemed to represent both a troubled body and a troubled soul.  The starkness of the empty page is, I think, a possible representation of a person trying to start over in their lives or in their relationship – wiping the slate clean.  Overall, I though it was effective – and certainly the part about forcing me to change my actions to get to the end of the poem was noteworthy (I could have clicked off of it entirely, but instead opted to play by the “computer’s” rules.. But I think that all of the messaging could have been done through the language of the poem and the imagery contained therein, as opposed to essentially revealing the “hidden” meaning or twist before we even began.

scream (update my password again?)

Sooth

This is an interesting juxtaposition of imagery and text.  It is certainly e-literature, in that the text carries the bulk of the meaning.  The juxtaposition of sound, color and the motion of text carried the theme of water or being underwater or drowning in water throughout the work. As I point out in the walkthru below, I felt there was a much darker message to this work than the presentation (calling it a “suite of love poems”) let on.

I started from the top and went down – I don’t know what the object is – it all strikes me as being underwater, both the way the grass or the filaments move and the way the words are unanchored in space… Also we get to a water sound about halfway through and the colors of green and blue are like an underwater feeling.  Could all this be a metaphor for drowning in another person? As the lines move around, I get the sense they can arrange themselves in any order and it stills makes sense (there is also no clear ending to the poems, they just repeat in a loop)  Lots and lots of motion here – everything is moving all the time and the sound (of water) denotes motion as well…  The tones are ear splitting at times, like a hearing test – kind of haunting…

The words “immersed complete and immaculate” sounds more like death than love.  of course the next line is about “rich tenuous resilient joy” – the “rich” part I get, but why does he talk about being resilient?  That feels like the part of coming up from the water perhaps… i still don’t know what these images are.  The piece that looks man-made reminds me of something electrical. Of course, electricity underwater is… a bad thing.

“Weeds” also feels like the reflections of someone out of control about something out of control – the sounds like a radio flipping channels and the image of a person seemingly beaten down to the point of being prone on the ground or a bed… The terminology used about “relentless” weeds sprouting “everywhere”, the idea that he has to “contain them before he becomes them” – all of it speaks (to me) to a fear of being out of control like them.  Each of these poems seems darker than some of the language lets on.  I don’t quite buy the idea that this person is shining and laughing – that he has joy.  It seems a bit like he’s trying to put a brave face on a bad situation. Perhaps we can read these as love poems written by someone looking back?  Seeing a relationship through the filter of having seen both highs and lows?

“Body”‘s background looks like the inside of a body, like blood or muscle or innards of some type. Besides the fact that rhythm is spelled incorrectly, the idea that all of these tissues and ligaments combine into a form of reticulation, which means intersecting like a net, leads to the notion of being caught. The idea that the torrents are “inelectuable” , meaning they can’t be escaped supports the same idea.  Why make them really long, difficult words? Again, i think the poem is saying something that it appears to on its face. The last line is “lusting” which is the body out of control.  And again, while the words talk about feeling “wonder” and “blooms” inside (which seem to denote positivity), i read something darker.

In “Root”, the author has lost his own sense of self.  The music is just a single tone. The rain is sad and the coloring is a kind of depressing, sick yellow-green. There is an indication that the author is losing self-identity, arguing that his own limbs remind him of someone else’s. The second part of the poem ddoes feel more like an ode to love and positive feelings, although the feeling is positioned outside of the author and his lover – pointing out that what’s positive “hovers between us” – and is again, out of either of their control – all the action is attributed to “it”. “It” convinces solids to melt”. However, in the end, the author does seem to reference a love between them as “a flame that loves us”…

In “soul”, it starts with the word “baiser” or “kiss” but the fish image gives it an inhuman quality to the idea of a kiss.  The one way to depict a kiss with no love, no passion is to depict it as a fish opening and closing its mouth.  (I realize at this point that I had flipped the button for French, but in English it is translated as “sex”.  I wonder if the original French makes more sense here.  The poem is fine – not particularly groundbreaking or interesting, but again, I think the image of the fish is the most important thing.  The fish isn’t moving, seems to just be staying alive.  It is the opposite of the sexiness you would think would match up to this clip and in fact looks ugly and could be dying.  It’s also underwater – another reference to water that runs throughout this whole piece and seems to put the author and the reader in a situation where they are always out of their natural element.

The final poem, “snow”, is a great metaphor for a person, particularly one that is in love, to distinguish themselves apart from the other person. This author seems to argue that this is the individuals natural state – that one “cannot be alone”.  As such, the snow melts together and one flake, once fallen, can never be separated from its fellows. If I had not read the opening paragraph, I wouldn’t be sure if the author is arguing that it’s a good thing that “uniqueness dissolves”. The fact that Johnston argues says they are a series of love poems indicates that he thinks it is good, but to me, that lack of self-consciousness and handing your self over to another is a bit horrifying. I notice also that Johnston purports to address the “subterranean linkages” of solitudes in present-day Canada, but outside of the French language, I see nothing that distinguishes this as a Canadian work.

wetsock What in God’s name is this?