#1 Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky

Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky makes me feel like I’m sitting in a desert and looking up at all the beautiful and clear stars, while a fellow traveller – perhaps someone I’ve only just met, is telling stories of their life, a life so different to mine, and yet quite alike.

When first entering the piece by Sharrif Ezzat you see a black screen and hear a man talk in Arabic with english “subtitles”. While the titles of the stories within the piece are said out loud, the black screen get’s filled up with stars, some brighter than others. The brightest (or bluest) are his stories.

As mentioned the piece consist of different short stories, styled almost as poems, and each of them have some sort of existential questions at the end. “Is this life a test? / Is that why we suffer? / Or is that how we endure it?” (Shall I tell you about my uncle whose life is a test?) or “What will it take to make him happy?” (Shall I tell you about my cousin, whose palace is unfinished?). The questions make the piece stick with the reader, at least it did with me, and the desert sky and arabic voice made me think of a culture so different from mine and yet close to it.

In my first notes about this piece I wrote that the stories were about people who are unhappy, and I think that is true to some extend, but as I have read them again I think the main theme of these stories are love, both the happy and less happy (not necessarily unhappy). There is the story of a man who is married to a woman who despises the place he is from, but I think he still loves her, or sees the part of her he fell in love with, even though other parts of her are now showing. In that story you could say the unhappiness lies within the couple.    

In another story (Shall I tell you about my sister? Please let me tell you about my sister …) the unhappiness is coming from outside. The storyteller’s sister falls in love with a man below her social class, which her parents disapprove, and they try to break them apart. Within this story I don’t necessarily think the couple in love are unhappy, not always anyway. Therefore I think the main theme of these stories are the struggles of love.

There is also larger narratives that goes beyond the family and friends of the storyteller.  In the story Perhaps I should tell you that the whole world is determined to become my family I get the idea that it’s about refugees; “Some are scared and seeking shelter. / Some are confused and don’t know how they / arrived. / Others are overjoyed. / And have already / Started cooking the first meal.”. I think this translates very well to what people immigrating to a new country must feel, while it also illustrates that no one has the exact same experience. I think there is an element of social criticism in this piece, even though it is more obvious in some texts than others.

Overall I really liked this piece it made me stop and think, instead of just be “something I had to read for a class”. Apart from that I really think the layout of it is beautiful and the text, audio and visuals really suit each other.  


Soliloquy

This week’s piece of electronic literature is Soliloquy, created by Kenneth Goldsmith.

I decided to go in without fully reading the description so that it would make for a bit of a surprise what would happen. When you at first open the piece you are greeted by two quotes that pertain to the work in some way, and to begin with I did not pay them that much attention, nor did I know what the title of the work actually meant, but I will be getting to that shortly. After these two screens you are given the freedom to pick a weekday, and from there an additional ten separate pages for each day to potentially explore. I randomly picked Friday, and was greeted by a single word; “Hi.”. I went on to page two, where there was an entire sentence, and so on until I tried to move the mouse around on page five. That was when it hit me that each of the pages were filled with a wall of text with seemingly little rhyme or reason. It was at this point that I took a step away from the work to read the description, as well as look up what the title meant and I reread the quotes at the beginning to help gain a better understanding of what was going on. Soliloquy is the act of talking out loud to yourself, and Kenneth had been recording himself doing just that for an entire week, before gathering it into one collective work.

Now, despite there being no sound or imagery I was still left with quite the impression when I first noticed that there was far more text on each page than I thought at first. It also meant the piece seemed a bit more overwhelming in the sense that there would simply be no way to really understand what all of the text is about, because it is in the end just a guy talking to himself. And in a similar fashion to when you think to yourself, the brain is pretty bad at sticking with one topic for too long, so Soliloquy in a way visualizes through text just how unstructured our thoughts can be even when spoken out loud in an informal setting. It also means that it doesn’t matter all that much what order you read it in as there is no greater narrative or meaning to the topics that are brought up.

Despite there being no sound or imagery I was still left with quite the impression when I first noticed that there was far more text on each page than I thought at first. It also meant the piece seemed a bit more overwhelming in the sense that there would simply be no way to really understand what all of the text is about, because it is in the end just a guy talking to himself. And in a similar fashion to when you think to yourself, the brain is pretty bad at sticking with one topic for too long, so Soliloquy in a way visualizes through text just how unstructured our thoughts can be even when spoken out loud in an informal setting. It also means that it doesn’t matter all that much what order you read it in as there is no greater narrative or meaning to the topics that are brought up.

This makes me question how it is considered a literary work. Because when it comes to literature you have a set of expectations as to how you understand them, yet so many of these are broken here.

Technically the piece is chronological, in that it overall takes place over the course of a week, but there is both the freedom to choose what day to explore, as well as a lack of other defined times that makes it difficult to discern what time of day a part of the text might take place. The same goes for place, as one can at best guess where Kenneth is for one sentence, yet the following line could be somewhere else entirely and you would never know without context. This is where I think the two quotes at the beginning of the work comes in;

“Don’t for heaven’s sake, be afraid of talking nonsense! But you must pay attention to your nonsense.” (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

Reporter: Why don’t you write the way you talk?

Gertrude Stein: Why don’t you read the way I write?

The first quote could perhaps suggest that it is okay if what is said makes no sense, as can be said for a lot of the work, yet at the same time it isn’t meaningless if you actually pay some attention to it. Even if not everything is clear to me as a reader there are still details to be found in the text that can paint a picture of a scene sometimes.

The second quote is an interesting one, as -indeed- the entire work is written the way Kenneth spoke for an entire week, and I feel this can be understood either literally or symbolically. Certainly, you can read it all in order and you will indeed read the work as it was written. Or you could read it in any order you like, and given how nonsensical the writing can appear to be then it stands to reason that so too can the order you read it in be. There doesn’t have to be some greater meaning as to why you read one part before another, just like how not everything you say during the day will be in a specific order. So how is it a literary work, exactly? Well, even if it breaks the conventional rules of literature, there is still some sense of time, place and progression going on throughout the text. It may come across as nonsensical, but it isn’t meaningless or pointless either.

In the end it makes for an interesting and thoughtful piece even in its simplicity. No pictures, no sound, only the written words that were spoken over the course of a week. And it does not have to be more than that to be intriguing.


Monday Blog / 4 September

I’m jumping into all of this a little last minute without much knowledge about how or what I should be doing, but that can be good right? I still have thoughts!

For this post, I’m choosing to respond to “like stars in a clear night sky” by Shariff Ezzat.

And what better way to start off a semester of e-lit than with a particularly striking line: “I am full of stories.”

Compared to other e-lit pieces I’ve come across, this played more ethereal. The formatting is lovely, and the sounds/voice works surprisingly well for being played out of my computer speakers. I didn’t mute it, which is important. Even the font is really sweet. “Pretty” I suppose.

In this piece, a calming male voice begins by speaking in arabic while english subtitles appear on the bottom of the screen. Everything that is said appears once again when the voice stops, little pieces of the monologue can be found when scrolling over one of the pages many stars.

The small bits of text you get when clicking on a star read like short poems. I’m sure you could spend a long time digging into them, but they read to me like a lullaby.

Not every star on the page has a story attached, and searching for them takes patience. However, the page had a sort of calming effect — I didn’t feel like running my mouse all over so I could be done quickly. When you finally land on a story it’s like finding a little gem or present.

These are mere observations, and they’re not very analytic (I’ll get better). All I know for certain is that some e-lit texts have horrible graphics, and some are lovely. I enjoy the pretty ones more, and the sound of bells and bird chirps doesn’t hurt.

Screen Shot 2017-09-04 at 1.24.48 AM
my favorite. am I “you” ?

The stars lived together. They danced and sang, ecstatic in their intimacy and novelty…

For our first blogpost in this semester’s Elit class we could choose between three different pieces:

Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky by Sharif Ezzat

Soliloquy by Kenneth Goldsmith

RedRidinghood by Donna Leishman

I chose the first piece by Sharif Ezzat because I liked the visualization of the texts.
Navigating through this piece of Elit is easy – the blue stars (which turn white – I liked that little effect!) serve as the hyperlinks to the different texts. While a few pieces are rather short, some others need some simple scrolling down. Another little effect I liked is that the hyperlink-stars change their position when you reopen Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky – so one hyperlink will never be in the same place you first saw it at.
Another point I liked about Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky is that it starts with someone reading in a foreign language and the stars appearing slowly in the background. The sounds of bells and chirping birds which the reader hears

For my reading I started with “Shall I tell you about my water, which is getting thirsty?” – one of the shorter texts in this piece of Elit. Even though I would not consider it a poem in a classical way, I think the language of this piece has something poetic and metaphors like „But now my water is thirsty.“
The next one I read was “Shall I tell you about the stars, why they respond so slowly?”, again a rather “short” piece. In my opinion, this piece has also something poetic about it.
Next up was “Shall I tell you about my love? She is near to me always.” This was the first longer text I encountered and is rather a very short short story than the first two pieces I read.
I read the remaining pieces and saved “Perhaps I should tell you that the whole world is determined to become my family” for last, because, in contrast to the other titles, it does not start with “Shall I tell you about …” and I thought it could be some sort of starting or ending point (even though to work as a starting point for my reading, I discovered it too late). It is also a very short piece but in my opinion, it can work as a starting point as well as an ending point and it is the only piece that addresses the reader directly “I asked them to keep it down; you are still sleeping in a small room upstairs.”

Even though the texts do not really seem connected at first, I think one can read them as one story, maybe some biography.

Overall I really liked Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky a lot and I think the way this piece of Elit is presented is well thought out.

 


RedRidingHood

My first blogpost is going to be a analysis on the Elit piece RedRidinghood by Donna Leishman. This is going to be exiting, but also challenging.

Before we begin to explore, RedRidinghood gets introduced as a “playful retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale” and it even comes with an instruction: “To hear the sound, turn on the computer’s speakers or plug in headphones. Move the mouse over and click active areas to interact with the environment”. This should be fun, lets begin!

Skjermbilde 2017-09-03 kl. 21.50.26

The first thing i notice is the color scheme; red and black.. The red probably symbolize red riding hood, and the black makes the vibe kind of “scary”. I see a girls face, and she is telling me to read a book, she obviously wants me to click on it – and by doing that, the story starts.

I really like that this story is interactive, that the reader have to participate, and i also love that it is not hard to understand what to click on next… but if you get confused on where to click next, the mouse changes from a arrow to a hand icon on the spot that is a new link to the next part of the story.

Skjermbilde 2017-09-03 kl. 21.50.55 In this picture, the the arrow change when you slide the mouse over the window. Then you know thats where to click next.

The girls mom gives her a basket, and red riding hood is off to the woods to pick flowers for her grandma.. we see red riding hood walking in the woods with a wolf following her, and second later, a boy with wolf arms is next to her on a kick wheel while she is walking. The boy is liking his lips.

Skjermbilde 2017-09-03 kl. 21.51.20    Skjermbilde 2017-09-03 kl. 21.52.16

Red riding hood picks flowers and falls asleep. We get two options; “Shall red dream?” or “Wake her up!” — we have to make a decision! I am choosing to let her dream… lets see what happens next!.. oh no.. we had to wake her up. The “shall red dream” button didn’t work… I looked it up, and that button should work, but I tried it several times and it didn’t work any of the times I tried.. so I think that ruined the point of the story for me.

I clicked on the “wake her up” and then we see the wolf boy skates to the grandmas house and walks in. Red riding hood arrives with the flowers, she sees the wolf boy in bed.. but then suddenly she is the one lying on the bed… a person comes over (wolf boy??)…. touches her forehead.. and she has a baby in her stomach..??

Skjermbilde 2017-09-03 kl. 21.52.34

Did red riding hood and the wolf boy get a baby together?? When did this happen? Did they fall in love? What happened to the grandma?? OR is she dreaming??  So many questions..

The ending was so fast, so I had to watch it at least three times so that I could catch everything that was happening. It was kind of a weird ending, and i dont know what the authors meaning behind it is.. And I think I missed a lot of the point because the “dream” button didn’t work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


like stars in a clear night sky

Hello this is my firts real blog post in Dikult 203 and its about my tought and reactions about  the e-litt “like stars in a clear night sky” by Shraif Ezzat.

A little diclaimer English is not my native language and im also part dyslexic  so expect some spelling and grammar error. sorry about that.

The work start with an Arbic voice telling you about diffrent story he knows and ask if you want to hear/read them. The voic speaks in arabic but theres english text that tell you what the voice says. After a short introduction you are free to explore the stars thats tells the story. I took this stories as to the type of lore often passed from parents to children, there the parents tell their childeren about their uncel and sister and so on.

I really liked the interface in this work since its easy to understand and eye pleasing. The interface are designed as an night sky with many stars there you need to look for the stars that tells the story.  A cool thing about the stars is, that if you restart or start over with the piece the stars change place. This make every read different and unique.

I started moving the cursor around and pointing it on the differents stars, and just as I had hoped ,some of the stars started showed me text and a story . The first text was the story about his unceld thats life was an test because he wasnt happy in his marriage. Beause I looked at these stories as stories for children (parents telling their kids stories about their aunt and the water) I didnt look for a connection in the different stories.  The way I see it, the story are only connected by the voice telling his family stories to you the reader.

To sum upp my experience with this work: I liked it alot. I think it was a great move to have the night sky as an template to tell the diffrent story, because there are infinitve stars and infinitve stories in this world. Also to change to location on the story stars was great because different places means different stories and experience. The main point for me was that I was able to explore a different colture in this piece. As a guy from Norway Im happy to se storytelling in an more arbic way  and how the stars are more importen in their storytelling and culture than mine.

 


Why don’t you read the way I write?

“Why don’t you write the way you talk?
Why don’t you read the way I write?”

These two sentences were written at the «begin»-page of Soliloquy and were something I kept in mind as I read my way through it. The sentences give depth to the piece, and adds another dimension on how to read it.

“Soliloquy” is written by Kenneth Goldsmith. It is a piece of electronic literature that gives the reader either a question or a sentence for each page and as one moves the pointer somewhere on the page, a response is shown – which changes depending on which part of the site one points to.

Discover “Soliloquy” yourself

At first I tried reading all the possible responses in the order they were written – “why don’t you read the way I write?” But I soon realized that things would not make much more sense that way. “You don’t write the way you talk.”

Apparently the sentences at the «begin»-page not only are poetic or a hint towards how to read this piece of e-lit – but it is actually a way of human interpretation. I think most of us would not write exactly the same sentences if they were to be spoken out loud instead. And what we write can be interpreted in so many more different ways than what we intend them to be. This reminds me of when in class, we were told to think about what we write in our blog posts – because they are public and we never know who will read them (or how they will be interpreted).

“Soliloquy” gives the reader seven options, one for each day of the week. Each day of the week has several pages, each with a different opening and different bunch of replies. I think they are in chronological order, but the order in which they are read does not matter that much. I have seen the mention of the names John, David, Suzanne, Margo, Xenakis, Chavez, Bruce, Blair, Marjorie, Phillipa and Cheryl Donegan (another character’s wife, I think their spouse is called Munsy) but could not understand so much who they were. I have a feeling though that maybe we are reading the story from Munsy’s point of view? Partly because their wife, Cheryl, is the most mentioned person in the story from what I’ve read.

I found many nice quotes throughout the work. Here are some examples:
“So tell me” – “Well, I don’t know” (This happens a lot, right?)
“Hi.” – “You just bad mouthed me” (I thought this one was a bit funny)
“Hey, I can sit behind my computer and be real anti-social” – “Yeah”
“Nobody listens everybody talks at once” – “Mine nobody listens, nobody talks”

I liked this piece of electronic literature because it gives the reader the chance to interpret everything on its own, the work is just there and the way one reads it – and the path one chooses – is completely open. On the other side, this openness does bring a bit confusion as to what the meaning of the work is. I am given many conversations where each gives me information about something, which makes it difficult to find the story behind it all. It is like a jigsaw puzzle consisting of thousands of pieces where some pieces are missing, others don’t fit and some you might even have duplicates of.

I do wonder in which way it is supposed to be read – am I supposed to read all the replies in order and let them form a conversation? Or pick one of them? I found out that either way, a lot of it would not make sense. The replies make sense for a while, as if being a conversation between two people, but suddenly it will not make sense anymore. I think maybe each page contains several conversations? Perhaps even conversations between different people? I’m not sure, but that would be my best guess if I am to make sense of every single reply. My other guess is that by looking at what soliloquy means, that the work is a monologue and made up of a person’s thoughts – but honestly I can’t quite get that to make sense, either.

In the end, I allowed myself to read the description of “Soliloquy” – which I had not done beforehand in order to allow myself to interpret the work freely and without any knowledge about it. Apparently, this piece of e-lit consists of everything the author said for a whole week in April 1996. I cannot say though, that “Soliloquy” makes more sense to me now. To me it still is bits of pieces of conversations that give small pieces of information about people and their lives – which I guess is true either way.

Way earlier in this blog post, I wrote that “I think most of us would not write exactly the same sentences if they were to be spoken out loud instead.” And I guess this becomes even more relevant now that we know this work is transcribed from a recording consisting of everything a man said for a week. It also is a reason why the pages were difficult to understand, because they were meant to be spoken words heard by our ears, and not words in a literary piece to be read by our eyes.

I think my strategy for reading e-lit in the future will be the same as it was this time. I will continue to interpret the work of e-lit first, and then read about it later. That way I will be more open-minded when discovering the works. I think it will be an interesting journey.

And through these blog posts I am already starting to realise how much of myself shines through the analyse, and how they teach me to know myself better. When we were told in class that we would get to know ourselves better through this subject, yet I never thought it would be as literally as it seems right now.
(Hmm, is a poetic sign-off my way of ending blog posts? We’ll see.)

See you soon!
And thank you for reading.

 


Back again!

This is the first blogpost in a while, i have been off from school, and I kind of dint think I would be using this blog for a while. But now I am taking a class in Electronic literature and we are going to blog about the works we are looking at for class, so here goes!

Soliloquy

Soliloquy is a work by Kenneth Goldsmith, where he recorded every work he said for a whole ween, in 1996. The work itself is presented in the days Monday through Sunday, then split into 10 parts, probably to make it more manageable. The chunks of text or lexias, are hidden unless you hover over them with your cursor, all except the first lexia on each page. The lexias can be just one word, or up to about two sentences.

There is an exception, on page 2 on Monday the line “This is really cool.” Is shown in addition to the first line. After checking the code, I found that it is a code error, and most probably not intended to be shown. If it was intentional it would probably not have been done by code error, but intentional in the code.blog1Soliloquy2.png

Back to Soliloquy

Now in the electronic literature class we have been talking about how we read electronic literature, what strategies we use. The first time saw that the text appeared when I hovered over it with the cursor I immediately tried to select all (CTRL=A), it worked and I could read all the text on that page, I read almost a full page like this. Then I thought that this was a terrible way to read the work, first, if that was the intended way to read it, why hide all the text? And secondly it was way too much text, there is seven days with ten pages each. Thirdly, when all the text was visible, the individual lexias all became jumbled into one big one.

So, I decided to not select all, instead just to mark random lexias, and see if any of them took my interest, and the work became much more enjoyable.

That’s how I read, now for what I read.

The work, as I stated above. It’s a record off all the things Kenneth Goldsmith said for a whole week. In my random look at the days I found a bit about porn that I thought was funny, also he mentioned using Internet explorer, and explaining how to search to someone. That was funny to me, but in general I found the work to be much more enjoyable when I was just randomly looking through it, and not reading everything.

blog1Soliloquy

I spent some time just trying to find a theme, first I was looking for a theme for the whole thing, then I looked for themes for the days, but I ended up thinking that there is no “theme”, in the sense that there is no real purpose to the work, no end goal, but that’s not a bad thing is it?

It seems to me that randomly looking at things a person says during a week is much like meeting that person, unless you spend every waking moment with that person you can’t know all the things they say, you will only hear somethings, and if you’re lucky, you’ll hear the interesting things.

That is what I came out of this piece thinking, all in all, it was quite enjoyable to look at.


Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky…

So, for my first blog post for this class, we got to choose between three different Elit works;  –Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky, –Soliloquy, and –RedRidinghood. Me being both fairly new to the world of Electronic Literature and almost blind, I went for the first one. Like many of the elite texts I’ve come across so far you kind of go into it with both many and few expectations of what to find, annualize quickly wether or not they were met. This particular piece opens with a voice talking in a foreign language (no idea what), the voice is accompanied with a black background that slowly turns into a night sky filled with stars, and of course subtitles to translate what the voice is saying. Due to my vision loss I weren’t able to pick up everything he was saying, though I assume, after exploring te piece, he was talking about telling stories that concerned him about people and such that have had meaning for his own life.

After the voice had stopped speaking, and I were left to myself with the night sky full of stars, I started moving my cursor around, and just as I had expected, some of the stars showed me prompts to tell a story of his (the man with the voice). So by clicking on one of the stars I got access to the first story. The first story I got was about his sister and how she had met a man and they had fallen in love. But the story also revealed a backside to the happiness, both the disapproval of her parents, and the difference in their expectations of life.

After reading the first story, with was “written in the stars” in plain white text, I started at once “expecting” what would come next. Would it be a continuance of this story? A side story? Another perspective? So I moved on to another star and clicked it.

During the second story, my mind kind of wanted this story to be related to the first one I read, making me think for a second that this was the story of the man that had met the sister, but after reading on I realize this story didn’t relate at all, at least mot in the way my mind wanted it to. So I sort of “turned off my mind”, and pursued the rest of the stories, one by one, seeing if the I would grasp some kind of relationship between them.

But after reading all of them (I THINK I got them all) I sort of felt a connection between them, even though these were totally independent stories with no apparent relationships at all. The only thing they all had in common was exactly that, they were totally individual.

The feeling I’m left with after exploring this piece is that of when you stare into the night sky, wondering how people’s lives, or other events plays out on the other side of the world. The randomness of how you pick the star, or even the serene, almost primitive music in the background accompanied with birds tweeting about, actually did a good job of project that feeling in me. Almost as if I were in God’s position peeking into people’s lives. Just to observe…

I have no idea if this were the author’s intention, but I’m fairly sure I’m at least on to something here.

 

So until next time folks, Dannyboy is out 🙂