Twelve Blue

The article “Navigating Electronic Literature” discusses the navigation of electronic literature and how it is the signification of the work itself. I had a general sense about what they were talking about, but once I started “Twelve Blue” I understood better.

I chose “6” to begin and immediately fell in love with the author’s writing style, I thought it was romantic & experimental. Now, thinking back to those thoughts, I’m wondering if their writing style is experimental or is it the format (E-lit) in which it’s presented that makes it appear that way?

As we were told, this was a non-linear plot which did disorient me at times. There were also times when things began to click and I feel like it excited me more than it would in a print text. The disorientation of the plot made every thing so unexpected.

At first, I was frustrated. I wanted to love this piece so bad because I genuinely loved the writing, but the disorientation threw me off and annoyed me quite frankly. As I started connecting characters to each other and it felt more like a story, it subdued and I started to get sucked in.

Something from the essay came to mind as I was feeling my frustrations.
The idea of “relearning & reconstructing” the act of reading sounded all fun & great, until it reminded of all of the frustrations that come with that. The urge I had to just start from the beginning and “pick a new story” was definitely present. Thinking back, I can see how that’s also a positive aspect of e-lit. You don’t have to give up entirely on a piece of work because you have options.

As for the narrative itself, I think the hypertext form suits it well because it seems to intentionally create a dream-like state or something liminal. The chunks of text seemed to mimic a stream of consciousness. The narrative I followed had to do with a deaf boy who drowned in a creek and the writer seems to focus on that in-between life & death state by describing beautifully in depth what sounds & slight visions surrounded him. They also visit a woman’s life that had also been taken by the sea & how her mother also passed by drowning. There is a strong sense of nostalgia for something unknown. The woman waiting for her mother to return, even though she didn’t know her. The girlfriend of the drowning boy nostalgic for that blossoming romance cut short. What I couldn’t connect too easily were the doctors. I can see how they are both longing for new love after loss, but not much else. Although, I’m sure if I went farther into the narrative I would pick up more.

All in all, I would rate this first time experience a 7/10. I enjoy discovering and exploring anything new, but this was something entirely unknown. Either way, I did find myself wanting more and that’s always a good sign!

Let’s play

In 1963 the book Rayuela by Julio Cortazar was published, where stereotypes and schemes were replaced before an exploration and narrative experimentation in which the reader has the possibility of reading 155 chapters that can be read in the order that the reader prefers. This same author, sometime later, affirmed in interviews the transcendentality of his work, in addition to how complex it is to read this type of literature where the reader is in the same place as the author. Today, almost 60 years later, electronic literature breaks, to a certain extent, with that same structuralist and allows us to interact more deeply with the texts. This same literature allows transforming the way in which one reads, going beyond the word, there is more communication between the reader and the text, in a way. In addition to this, it makes it possible to increase understanding, because the one who reads must be committed to what is read, to what is seen and to what follows. Like Rayuela, Hypertext allows non-linear navigation, we jump from one side to the other and this action determines what is read and how it is read. Thus, reading electronically is a constant learning process. Hypertext and electronic literature make it possible to create different stories with each click, it can become confusing, because, perhaps, there is no established route, but as that song by Serrat says, walker there is no way is made by walking, in literature there is not a single path, there are many endings, many bridges, many plots, there is no longer only one version.

«Follow me before the choices disappear», was the first hypertext in Twelve Blue, coincidence? I don’t think so. It was very crazy to read this story, I really didn’t know what I was reading, or where I was going, but little by little I got carried away. I noticed that the hyperlinks were connected (worth the redundancy) with words that made a lot of sense, that is, they were chosen strategically. Something that caught my attention and caught me was the alliterations, the way I tried to connect the fragments with novels I already knew. IT WAS VERY CRAZY and sometimes stressful because it confused me, I got frustrated, then I liked it again and connected, it was a very long hour, but I took advantage of it.

E-lit Got Me Actin’ Up

Ye West came over my house to check out my record collection. My mom took this photo of us, she said “your friend is very nice.”

Okay, so the more stand-out of the two texts that we read for this week is easily Navigating Electronic Literature, as I felt that I got more out of it. Even my note page is much more detailed, despite being a FAR quicker read. Within it are ideas of “digital textuality” and the interactivity of electronic media. Note: I read this one first as well, so it may have impacted my experience with the second, and in more negative ways than I anticipated. However, I do really like the idea of literature being presented in such a presentation-based form, one that I find similar to the difference of playing a record on vinyl rather than CD/Digital.

Imagine if Kanye West made an interactive album, woah, I might have to drop this course because y’all wouldn’t see me for the rest of this semester (there you go Edna ;)).

It is a different experience if you are really ingrained in the various subcultures of the interests that you have. Holding a record and seeing that artwork blown-up to a beautiful 12×12” frame never ceases to elate me, never. It makes such a difference to my overall appreciation of the slab of music that I am holding, and not necessarily to how much I like the album itself, but rather my time with the album. It is almost a ritualistic experience be it  glossy new pressing or a withered old one, and I can tell-no-feel the difference between the sonic purity of a new pressing of Joni Mitchell’s Blue compared to the warmth that extends from the grooves of an old pressing that I alone have claimed ownership of for nearly a decade, and that was pressed in the 70’s.

Electronic Literature does have this same power to, as the text states, “produce unique questions and theoretical implications.” I don’t find the process of interactive literacies to be of some trivial, gimmicky nature, like some of the critics expressed from within the text claim. It certainly can be that, but I have always been more of a style IS substance kind of individual (Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) HELLO!!!). I like the idea that Electronic Literature can challenge our expectations with the medium, and the playfulness that accompanies it allows us to control our reading destiny, in ways very similar to a video game (and hey, if you disagree, I ain’t much of a gamer. I’m very much not in-tune with these 40 hour cut-scene expanded narrative obstacles of patience, m’kay. I’ll take my barebones arcade-fare any day). 

This is kind of where my problem with Electronic Literature comes into play, because when I absorb art I don’t like to control it, I like to submit to one’s artistic vision. It’s not mine, so I find a lack of authenticity and patience to control the vision that someone else has set for me, and though I always get excited to pick up a video game and pop it into my PS5 (don’t ask me why I have one, actually, it’s so I can hang out with my gamer friends who I rarely see because they’re in their twenties but never want to leave the house) I rarely last more than an hour with any of controller-based destiny quest before saving my data file, and moving on.

This did indeed happen with Twelve Blue. From what I read the text has a lot of what I generally like to read; melancholic, season-based, focusing on heavy topics. I mean, there is some familial drama sprinkled in here and there which kind of drew away my attention but perhaps that is to due with the simple realization that the electronic medium did impact my ability to engage with the text. I could not tell if it consisted of fragmented narratives from different characters and whatnot, but there was nothing clear that I could follow with it throughout the allotted one-hour time.

I did set a silly rule, however, being that if I were to click a link within the text that I could not backtrack my way throughout the work. I wanted it to be a streamlined and forward-based experience. This was not the best idea, but it did engage me in the sense that it drew me closer to the possibilities of Electronic Media, and met the expectations tinged within the prior text. It was like reading with consequences. I remember thinking “do I wanna know more about Samantha or do I want to run the risk of hearing more about creepy boyfriends or possibly how dope the Fall season is?” Often times I would click the link, but hey, I’m a hyperactive creature drawn to impulsive surprise, so while my experience reading the text may not have been what Michael Joyce wanted his readers to get out of it (solely being assumptive there), the experience was an organic one where I controlled destiny – for a bit.

Twelve Blue/ Pressman’s Article

Twelve Blue

Before I even began this literary journey I was immediately confused. Michael Joyce’s description of Twelve Blue had my head spinning. I felt like it was a long run-on sentence. It didn’t provide me any clues as to what Twelve Blue would be about. I had a hard time reading the blue text with the blue background, it hurt my eyes and I found it a bit overwhelming. The size of the text also had me straining to see and comprehend what I was reading. I know I’m old but I’m not that old, yet.

As soon as I started the story I was immediately, confused. I felt like I was listening to a drunk person ramble on about a distant memory that had nothing to do with me. I tried my best to follow along, but it made no sense. I had this nagging feeling that I was missing the point of what the author was trying to tell his audience. I felt like the writing jumped around as if I was watching a tennis match. By the end of the hour my dyslexic brain was running on fumes. I can’t even say that I didn’t enjoy it because I didn’t understand it

Pressman’s article

I should have followed the instructions and read Pressman’s article first. But of course, me being the person that I am, I did not. I don’t know if it would have helped because I did not understand the concept or message of twelve blue at all.

 I enjoyed Pressman’s article because she broke down what electronic literature is and how to go about reading it. As someone who is new to this genre, I need as much guidance as possible. I liked that she provided an example of what a hyperlink is and how it changes the narrative, taking the reader on a different path. I noted this concept immediately when I was introduced to this literary genre. It reminded me of the pick your own adventure books from when I was a kid, which I was excited for. I’m an elder millennial and a huge fan of RL Stine’s goosebumps series, especially when he did this concept. It was this type of writing that help spark my passion for writing. I enjoyed having a choice on how the story would play out. 

This interactive approach reminds me of The Oregon Trail. I have always loved games like this because it involves reading and decision making. And depending on the reader’s response it would reveal more narrative and you would continue with the story, or the game would end. I find this entire genre of literature to be fasinating even if I’m a little apprehensive about it. This concept it very new to me. But I’m interested to learn more it and have the ability to create my own work of art.

First look at Elit – the reading experience of Twelve Blue

For the first 10 minutes, I was confused.

For the last 10 minutes, I am still confused.

What on the earth is this??

It is new to me since I have never read anything like this before. No button says next page so it takes me a while to find ways to turn the pages until I see there is one sentence highlighted and lined, I know where should I click 🙂

“So a random set of meanings has softly gathered around the word the way lint collects. The mind does that.” from On Being Blue by William Gass.

I think the most interesting thing about it is that each line in the picture leads to a story. In the left pane, the plot runs around the margins like ripped fabric. There are links there. The text on the right also contains passing links, but they vanish after being followed. Strangely, every time I click the margins in the left pane, there is different text emerges in the right, and I have no idea how it works like this, is there some certain logic it follows??

“She looked out on the creek and measured out the threads like the fates, silk thread in twelve shades of blue.”

This sentence punctuates the title, twelve blue, which is finally reflected in the text. I suppose the twelve blue lines, twelve months, and twelve threads all indicate the title. Twelve Blue investigates how the patterns of our life’ interconnected, many, and recurring surfaces are similar to those of the web, a year, a day, a memory, or a river.

These twelve blue lines appear to be independent, but they will interact together at some point. All the stories seem to develop in a single line, but at some point, they will also connect.

Above all, this kind of text stimulates my desire to explore as in hypertext the reader navigates a non-linear, branching narrative by clicking on hyperlinks to access new chunks of text.