How to Rob a Bank

The chat dialog box, Google engine, video games, Amazon, map navigation, and various apps are so close to life despite the theme of robbing a bank, which is unusual. The background music and sound effects of the whole work are also very appropriate to the plot, giving people a sense of immersion.

Although the whole work is about a young Bonnie and Clyde-esque love story, but when I was reading it, my biggest feeling was the influence of electronic products on people or we can say people’s deep reliance on them. The main character uses Google engine to search a lot of information about “how to rob a bank”, “test your morality”, “how to walk in the woods “ even “how to keep a man”, which reminds us that we live in a world of ready-made information. Everything we can think of can be searched using engines. This is likely to lead to one result – the solidification of thinking.

Also in the last chapter: sister sister, there are some weird Chinese recipe pages.

The picture was keeping flashing. This left me with some confusion. In fact many of the plots leave me confused and they seem to be illogical sometimes. I’m looking forward to a more in-depth discussion by Nicole in class.

Retratos Vivos de Mamá and How to Rob a Bank

Giselle’s chosen piece Retratos Vivos de Mamá is in Spanish, and Giselle has encouraged us who do not speak the language to translate it in order to get as much of the full effect of it as possible. I used the Google app on my phone to translate the text on my computer screen; though the translations were not perfect, they were accurate enough for me to understand the story. The piece is about the attempt of the author, Carolina López Jiménez, to tell the story of her deceased’s mother’s life, to trace the life she had before her children. The title translates as “Living Portraits of Mama,” which I think is a beautiful way to look at this piece: Jiménez bringing stories, “portraits” of her late mother to life.

I did not have a way of translating the videos or audio snippets, so although I watched and listened to them, I was not able to understand what they were saying. My understanding is based entirely on visuals.

Jiménez speaks about the mother that only she, her brother, and her father knew. She feels for her mother, having to get up every day with the weight of all those she cared for on her shoulders. She speaks about her mother’s last days, the pain and sickness, and the need to remember her mom in a different way. That is why she created this project; to remember her mother and to tell her story beyond illness and beyond motherhood. She wanted to know and share who her mother had been as a person, not just as a mother or a wife. This is an aspect of motherhood that fascinates me…who a mother is BESIDES a mother, what her life was like before she had children. To me, it feels like after you have children, all of society views you entirely differently. Your identity from before is taken away by them, replaced by your identity as a mother. Something that so touches me about this piece, then, is the refusal by the author to let her mother be remembered as ONLY a mother. She realizes that there were other aspects of this woman’s life and does not want to let them be forgotten.

The author expresses her fears of repeating her mother’s life, of becoming what she was, a selfless woman who sort of gave herself up for everyone else. She fears, too, that the disease that killed her mother lurks within her, too. This reminds me of a quote I saw once in a tumblr post, “mothers and daughters existing as wretched mirrors of each other: I am all you could have been and you are all i might be.” And another quote, I believe from eight bites by Carmen Maria Machado: “There’s something about having a mother when you’re a girl. It’s crushing. Crushing having a mirror that suffers all on its own.” This thought that mothers and daughters are reflections of each other, that they see themselves in one another and see their own suffering reflected back at them. It’s a theme I’ve been exploring in some of my own stories, and a theme I see in this piece as well.

I also really enjoy the way the piece was set up, made to look like diary entries and a scrapbook and so forth, the way it contained photos and documents from Jiménez’s mother’s life. Its construction as an e-lit piece really let Jiménez showcase all of these things and tell her mother’s story.

Though I only consumed what was ultimately a small part of the entire piece, I was extremely moved by it. It’s a beautiful, touching memorial that I’d love to continue exploring more.

I thoroughly enjoyed How to Rob a Bank’s multimodal storytelling approach. In the way that it utilized different apps to tell the story, it reminded me of epistolary stories, those that are told through letters and/or other types of written ephemera. In a way, it even reminds me of certain exploration-based video games like Gone Home where you explore an environment and piece together a story by reading letters, journal entries, etc and examining objects left behind. I love such ways of a telling a story, so it’s really interesting to explore an e-lit piece that uses similar conventions.

The story itself felt almost parodical, though. It was too unrealistic in a strange way, not really in a compelling way that inspires suspension of disbelief. So, I can’t really say I enjoyed the story of the piece or the way it handled it, but I did enjoy its method of storytelling.

How to Rob a Bank

Let me start by saying this might be my favorite e-lit piece so far. When I read the editorial statement, I was immediately captivated. Bonnie and Clyde? Love story? Say no more; I’m already invested. I also think it’s very fitting that Nicole picked this piece. Not that I know her very well, but this feels very much like her vibe.

I appreciated the simple navigation. I didn’t have to figure it out; it just was, making it much more enjoyable. I also liked the progress bar. Sometimes pieces feel like you’re going down an endless rabbit hole, which can be draining. Having a progression bar allows me to see how far I’ve come and how much is left, which definitely eased my mind. I noticed that the background color changed depending on whose phone we were looking at. This clearly indicated the situation and eliminated any potential confusion for me. I loved the little details and touches of this piece.

Overall, this piece was really funny. Watching these young people navigate this situation was hilarious, from the Instagram posts documenting everything to the realism of getting sidetracked and going to watch tv and play video games. It felt so real, as I could imagine a 21st-century couple being young and dumb doing this.

I must admit, the last part, “Sister, Sister,” was a bit of a drab, but I loved reading this. It was an amusing adventure that left me constantly wanting more.

How To Rob A Bank

First of all, I want to thank Nicole for selecting such an interesting piece for us!!

The piece, How To Rob A Bank, is different from any piece we have learned before. According to the editorial statement, How To Rob A Bank is a young Bonnie and Clyde love story about the mishaps that befall a young male bank robber and his female accomplice. I have no idea what Bonnie and Clyde is, so I googled it, then I realized they are two criminals who are known for a series of bank robberies, murders, and kidnappings that took place between 1932 and 1934, the height of the Great Depression. The story is an immersive experience generated through readers’ hands-on use of apps, maps, imagery, animations, and audio.

There are five parts to How To Rob A Bank: research, escape, romance, home, and sister, sister. I find this immersive reading experience very interesting, and I especially like the novelty of informing the reader what to do next through the Google search engine. Also, it feels like playing a very new game, robbing a bank with a partner, and then experiencing the whole process from preparation to real action. The piece also shows a scene of a certain game in the game center, adding a sense of entertainment and tension.

Above all, very interesting piece. I am looking forward to Thursday’s presentation about it!

Retratos vivos de Mamá

To begin, while I can read in Spanish sometimes my overall understanding is just not there. It’s nonexistent sometimes. But regardless, I wanted to try this piece. Giselle made a helpful suggestion via email on translating the text with google translate. Which is what I did. I found not everything was able to translate. Not because google didn’t work but because this piece had a lot of clicking around, my computer would not allow me to copy at most times because of the fact that it would just start moving things around.

But, once I finally got something to translate so I would fully understand, I was excited. For instance this was one of the things I was able to translate;

“Te busqué más allá de la memoria, en los rincones que sólo nosotros conocemos, y no te vi.
Sólo vi, en los rincones, en la negrura de los rincones antes iluminados, el negro de tu ausencia, el dolor sin fin que sólo se puede sentir. Te busqué en los rincones de la noche.”

José Luís Peixoto / Te me moriste

“I looked for you beyond memory, in the corners that only we know, and I didn't see you.
I only saw, in the corners, in the blackness of the previously lit corners, the black of your absence, the endless pain that can only be felt. I looked for you in the corners of the night.

This was interesting, at first read, I was like he is possibly talking about someone he misses, maybe a lover. Then I read it the second time, and I thought how dark looking in the corners of the night could be, and I thought maybe he is talking about a sleep paralysis demon too. But I’ll keep my thoughts light and assume he was talking about someone he misses who has left or left him.

This piece was very interesting and I feel like most of the time, this piece was talking about family and referring to maybe specific family members. I liked how these was also a photo album that was included to show the mother and children and describe features that were passed down.

I’m assuming that this piece was sort of a digital scrapbook/diary of memories and a tribute to family. This piece was very nice to read and very nice interactive touch that wasn’t overwhelming or confusing.

October light, …and ephemerality

October has ripened with its crisp air, its shimmering light, and its colored leaves like shards of golden glass refracting the hues of harvest and reflection. Autumn is a time to pause, to pay attention, and to take account, as our daytime dims and becomes shorter. I hope you have found your own moments to enjoy these rhythmic shifts in the natural world, because they are a bounty that we all should celebrate and share. Nothing lasts forever, but it is beautiful to behold that one thing passes into another. Nature reminds us of this regularly, especially with the shift in seasons.

I am thinking back to our class last week, and so glad to have read A Kiss and also An Infinite Woman with all of you. Thank you to Jules and Jasmine for taking us through the prowess of each story world. Perhaps the common thread in these two pieces is the idea of ephemerality, and also erasure. When thinking about A Kiss together, we talked about the nature of love. And we talked about the difference between “the everydayness” of a life lived with love, verses the grand gestures of romantic stories (think Hallmark channel, etc). I think Dan Wabar shows us how well suited hypertext fiction is in capturing slice-of-life stories, snap shots of love over time, and the everyday minutiae that make up the ebb and flow of real lives lived. Fleeting moments. Moments we forget. Moments that are lost to memory’s editorial hold. But the complex webs that hypertext can build are a kind of storytelling that makes us see so many “sliding door moments” – the shimmering glimpses of moments in time that evaporate. They are lost to us in getting on with life each day, but they still do make up the sum total of love.

In a different sense, the impermanence of our identity and our positioning within the world is addressed with the mash-up poetry of The Infinite Woman. In this piece, we start to think about how the overall concept of womanhood and femininity has be “framed” by a male artist with a prominent male gaze. And how it has also been “recuperated anew” – by a feminist philosopher interested in the disruption of power held within that familiar male gaze. By reading and interacting with these two tracts, we come to see the limits of gender construction itself (and more specifically “femininity”) as a performance. As the fog slowly erases the screen of our words selected, the curtain drops on any final positing of what a woman is. We start to realize that the act of representation (…of “writing the woman”) is an ephemeral fantasy, something that will always be attempted, but never contained as a final “whole”.

Class slides & agenda

Your to-do list:

Read Giselle’s selection: Retratos Vivos de Mama

Read Nicole’s selection: How to Rob a Bank

Blog due: Reflect on your understanding of one or both of these readings!