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!

On Students’ Rights to Their Own Texts

This piece is probably the one I can relate to the most. As a student, I think my writing was affected by this. Then I was constantly trying to write for the teachers mind and not my own. I also struggled and stressed over making things super perfect for these reason. If I had control over my writing I probably would have a solid voice and would have grown a lot more.

Honestly, teachers are absolutely bias, which is not always purposeful. I like to think I try really hard to be objective just for the sake of letting my students think, feel and grow. This makes me think about all the students I have the claim they ” don`t know what to write”. Maybe its not that they don`t know how to write but simply don`t know how to think for themselves enough to get started.

The question is… is this something we can even change and if so how? Is it rooted too deep?

November 11, 2011

A picture from one of the last times I saw Abuelita (from left to right: Tití, Abuelita, and my mom)

I wish I’d learned to speak Spanish when I was younger, and I still wish I had the time to set aside to learn it now. I have a promise to keep to myself– a promise I made almost eleven years ago now after Abuelita passed away– that I’d learn to speak Spanish one day so I’d never have to deal with the language barrier with any of my family again. I guess the barrier isn’t a huge deal considering my mom’s side of the family that I’ve met and that lives in the states are bilingual, but I’ve had this idea for a ministry to serve the people of Puerto Rico one day too (hopefully before gentrification runs the native population from their land) and my mom has warned me before that if I ever go to the island, speaking the language is an important safety an communication skill.

So I guess that’s why I was automatically drawn to Retratos Vivos de Mamá, it’s related to the similar culture of Colombia, and in a language I can half-understand at least. And when I read the statement from the author, Carolina López Jiménez, the last line really hit home and left me in a moment of prayer– of recognizing there is something about that season in my life that the Lord’s been trying to tell me but not quite knowing what it is yet. All I know is that 11 years is coming up fast.

Retratos Vivos de Mamá is a web literature project inspired by mourning: mourning caused by the death of a mother and the possibility of overcoming it through creation.

And on top of that, it’s a refreshing experience to have something to sit and read together with my mom since Spanish is her native tongue. Sure, I used to ask for her help on a word or two in high school when I had to take Spanish up to honors Spanish III, but this just felt like it meant more to both of us because as much as I know we’ve both lived past losing Abuelita, I sometimes wonder exactly how much either of us have truly dealt with the grief or how much it lingers and how much we have yet to learn by looking back at her life and example.

Death is not the end.

The finite nature of this life is all that I really knew as a kid, and by the time Abuelita had passed, my family no longer went to church on a regular basis and all I knew were some Bible stories (and not even the real lessons behind them, to be honest). I think that this was also something that my mom struggled to articulate, or even to believe at the time her mom passed.

Though I already had a rough translation of the title in my head– Pictures of Life of my Mom– I asked my mom to translate the title quickly a few hours before we really got to sitting down and reading this piece. Her translation, though similar, had such a greater depth to it that I could even see in every true Christian I know: a depth of knowledge and assurance between the life they had versus the life they have in Jesus. My mom said something like this:

You have to be careful with how you translate it, too. Otherwise you get the right translation but the wrong idea. This means more like Living Pictures of my Mom.

my mom

And in a way that’s exactly what the cross is– though pictures are still moments of the past and though the cross is a symbol of the most humiliating and excruciating death someone could have taken on, they both bring life to what was once dead in their own ways.

The tab titles :

  • Intro : I think the translation here is pretty self-explanatory
  • Cuarto Oscuro : dark room (probably like those red rooms for developing pictures, given the context)
    • Diario de Puelo
    • Papel Quemado
    • Carrete de Recuerdos
  • Soplo : puff (of air)
  • Revelado : revealed
    • Ensayo : trial
    • Hiedra : ivy
    • Voces : voices
    • Planto : I plant
  • El Proyecto : also a kind of self-explanatory translation, but this is “the project”
  • Conversemos : let’s talk
  • Apoyanos : support us

The Pencil Icon

Below the menu button in the top right of the home screen was a pencil-shaped button. All it said when I clicked on it was this:

A todas las mujeres que han sabido no callar.
Y al silencio de mi madre, para que nunca más se ahogue.

With my own experiences of my mom speaking the little Spanish she does to me (which is mostly just basic commands), I could roughly translate that to this:

To all the women who’ve known not to shut up.
And to the silence of my mother, so she never drowns again.

If there’s one thing my mom and I talked about, it’s this. There was a time when I think I knew how to shut up a little too well. For her, she at least knew when she needed to speak up… but no one believed her. It’s something I’d only ever heard her address once before: when my parents knew I was upset one day (though I refused to admit it) and insisted on the truth. When I finally told them, she told me how the last thing she would have done is blame me or brush me off because she experienced it herself. She may not have been silent, but she was silenced. So I’ve been learning to not shut up as much because of it but with social anxiety… it’s not easy.

Cuarto Oscuro

In this dark room queda trazado the walk of my pain: la caída y el ascenso, the days of ruin and of mudez. Also las cicatrices, todo lo que mom resounds in me:

all memories. all wounds. all happiness.

Like I said before, I only know so much on my own and my mom and I spent so long talking about the pencil icon page that we didn’t get to much else. The above is what I like to call the “Wargo translation” (meaning the translation that wants to try to do this herself and is too stubborn to use Google translate).

In the rest of the passage that I didn’t type out here, it goes on more about the last days of the author’s mother and the pain within them. The last sentence hit me pretty hard though. It translates to this:

So I’m also reborn through writing.

And not only because of my own experiences does this hit me so hard, but also the fact that there are promises God speaks over our lives that we don’t even notice He fulfills every day. Healing? I’ve seen it in the recovered addict my brother is. Comfort? He put a pen and paper in front of me before anything I could’ve hurt myself with when I was a kid. Provision? One of my best friends grew up in a single-parent home, often on the brink of or actually facing homelessness, yet the Lord provided. Redemption? New life? Forgiveness? Confidence? Assurance? Look to the cross.

It’s just interesting to me that the author brings up this idea of being reborn even in the page titled “dark room.” I guess what it is that struck me was that light can overcome darkness, but where there’s light, all that’s in the darkness is brought to light… brought back to our attention and our sight… and from there we choose whether to continue to hide in the shadows or to be seen and, in a sense, reborn.


Going through this one a few times, I noticed that the passages were in a different order each time. I didn’t go back enough times to see if it was a pattern based on where the moving button was on the page or where you clicked, but I did notice that the same passage wouldn’t ben in exactly the same spot each time. Was there a significance to that? Maybe. Maybe not. But it did have me thinking about how there really isn’t any struggle we deal with that someone won’t relate to, even though the season and circumstances and people involved may not be the same.

The other passage on this page that really struck me was this:

Hablan de esos abortos extraños en los que la mujer
They talk about those strange abortions in which the woman of
tus treinta y siete años feliz a pasar de no tener hijos
your thirty-seven years is happy despite not having children
(y en mí quería tener a su hijo pero algún evento externo la obliga
(and in me she wanted to have her child but some external event forces her
en parte debido a ello)
in part because of it)

Some of the other passages didn’t quite seem to make sense in just the author talking to or about her mother, it seemed like she had to be experiencing some level of motherhood too. One of the next passages that came up was translated to this:

So enigmatic from a very young age, in that crashing noise one day and
refined sugar of mine for identifying with the mother, that’s how I managed to understand you when I
felt like a woman, my body, like yours, had to expiate the guilt.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this because I hadn’t quite expected to think this much about my stance on life (which I don’t consider political at all despite how highly politicized the issue has sadly become) in class. It really made me think about a piece I wrote last semester that I titled Hills Like White Elephants, Part 2. It made me think about Ernest Hemingway’s original short piece Hills Like White Elephants and how the girl clearly had to convince herself to do this “procedure” to “expiate the guilt” or the evidence of the affair between the two characters that she was carrying.

So I could be horribly off with how I put these together in terms of Retratos Vivos de mí Mamá, but it seemed like this was something that the author came to understand about some of the grief her mom carried. Whether it is this matter of life or maybe a matter of one’s innocence, this part of the piece left me thinking a lot about how these things that the world likes to sweep under the rug are still there. I didn’t know until last summer that my mom had gone through some of the same trauma I did around the same age I did… but like I said earlier, she actually did speak up and people had drowned her out. Because I was afraid of how she would see me of all people, I never told her until almost seven years after the fact. Because it’s a topic we only have two extremes on: it’s either shameful and taboo, or it’s normal.

A Kiss

A kiss is the most romantic elit I’ve read so far. it’s a bit like twelve blue in design, each short story seems connected but at the same time independent. The best difference is that I can return to the previous hypertext page. “words that might describe the shade of lipstick she prefers”, “her favorite sandwich”, “what she orders more often than sandwich”, “She eats like a rabbit, basically”. I’m addicted to these tiny sweet details described from the male perspective. For me, this expresses love more than the most direct physical contact. They are so real, touching and tender. What surprised me the most was the map that showed all threads.

There is no doubt that this is a huge work. The interweaving of these threads is exactly the way love, marriage, and life are made up. The mundane and trivial pile up together to form greatness.

a kiss

In “a kiss,” the first thing I noticed was the way the hyperlinks were titled. Whenever I discuss poetry with anyone, it always comes to the question, “What does that mean?” and people hate the answer “whatever you believe it means”. I think that’s what turns people away from poetry in general. The piece has a hyperlink titled, “is this poetry?” and the answer has to do with what I’m talking about. It discussed the indecisiveness of poetry and how that indecisiveness is uncomfortable for people. It mentions how everything in life is very indefinite and, as a result, uncomfortable. If everything was direct and clear, it would lead to quite a boring life. I completely agree with this statement. As writers and artists, we always talk about the importance in stepping out of our comfort zone. This is exactly what we mean. In order to grow and change, we have to try to learn something new, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

It’s interesting that this topic is brought up in the middle of a piece titled, a kiss. It follows a blossoming love of some sort and I think that feeling of being unsure and uncomfortable can easily be found in this situation. Falling in love IS the same as trying something new. That lack of certainty, stepping into new territory, and even insecurities, all resonate with the example of the artist or writer I provided above.

Going back to the point about what poems mean, the hyperlinks are inviting to those who might stray away from poetry because they answer the questions a reader is likely to ask when reading the provided text. I liked how the hyperlinks broke up the images of the poem provided and kind of answered what they mean. I say kind of because it’s never concrete. It’s more like giving context to the image. I think that by giving context to these images the author provides some clarity but, just enough clarity. It doesn’t make the image or poem concrete and set in stone. It still allows and invites interpretation, which is a hard middle ground to find. All in all, the author did so successfully.

A Kiss and The Infinite Woman

As I started clicking through A Kiss, I read a story that started with a kiss, and a minute later, someone was cooking in the kitchen. Then, I read about backyard gatherings and foster kids splashing in a pool. When I clicked “wrinkles in time”, it brought me back to the beginning. Off to another story, maybe.

The next story was about a girl clumsy enough to injure herself trying to kiss someone, something that I can oddly relate to seeing as I am so clumsy myself that I will walk into any and everything. Even after moving it so I don’t walk into it. I related to this one too much and I loved it!

I enjoyed that this elit wasn’t too long or too short and you could make it as long as you wanted just based on what you clicked. I also enjoyed that it was a very circular reading. How you would always end up back at “the moment of: a kiss”.

I enjoyed The Infinite Woman. As I was watching the words scroll past on the left of the screen, I noticed a wave pattern at the bottom and looked at how it was blocking some of the words. I was able to create this poem:

After all, it is out of shock caused by the lover, believing he is paying too much.
I became frightened by the feeling of their endless tug of war.
I did not know what I had searched for her a great roar of the bedroom.
Their docility is always uniquely situated.
He is the Other.
Not only are her body or degrades her soul.
This embodied dream is, precisely, woman; she pays for her an object.
No man is found at the lie.
Having a body and brain.

As I clicked different phrases that scrolled past, I paused for a second and noticed that the screen was fogging up. So I watched that until it filled the screen. It was calming because it was slow and not random or too centrally focused.

The whole elit project was soothing and very calming. I could sit and watch the screen for a while and see nothing wrong with that. I was able to create two more poems before I broke myself out of the trance of the project.

This story only tries to disavow abstract equality.
It would only be hopeless.
Vague or definite, unfounded or justified, jealousy is really a party.
But a question of women’s work complex.
This is why her conversation is far less well assimilated Nietzscheism.
The curse on the moors.
How, in the month.
Every subject posits itself as Other, defines the figure that the sea and its sound died.

The third one is my favorite of the three that I made.

She thus submits herself to her heart she is doomed is sanctified.
As for other women, that she is denied her; thus her progress is timid and uncertain.
The female is a contradiction with disconcerting consequences.
This is one of the social order they were fighting.
Her life is as real and devouring beast.
The woman who works at living is more tempted to give to him.
I wondered why I am now?
One must keep in mind that art, in its wake.

I really enjoyed these two projects and found them to both be relaxing.

The Élite 2022-10-20 15:37:19

Ok, it’s time to talk about a kiss, but it’s not just any kiss, it’s A Kiss by Dan Waber. A kiss is not just literature, it is an expression of love, and sadness, it is a farewell, it is a gesture that contains much to say but that sometimes is only limited to one act.

It all starts with a kiss, a look, or a smile, but it can also end with it.

I started with the kiss, but a minute after the kiss

butter in the pan

Mushrooms waiting

An easy crunch to the ground

Four feet shuffling almost like dancing

A phone somewhere on the street ringing, ringing.

But how was it before the kiss?

She turned her back on him

The Chop Chop Chop Chop of Onions

Running sink water

The cloth on fabric rubs from the white curtains being licked by the breeze

But why doesn’t anyone respond?

Did I like this work? Yes. I feel that he has so much feeling inside him that can be observed in the acts that he carries out the characters. Also, I dared to jump between acts trying to give it a connection and it is achieved. I believe that this piece allows us to demonstrate the versatility of the Elit. It also allows providing many interpretations of what is read through the roads. Beyond this, I consider how the author does a wonderful job of making it possible to read different stories interconnected by sentences or verses already established, but that doesn’t lose sense in choosing the different actions.

A Kiss and The Infinite Woman

It is really interesting how the projects have lined up. So far, all of the presentations that happen on the same night appear to go together and I would say the same for these.

There is a form of erasure in both, things left unsaid, unheard. The works show this and tackle this in very different ways, but still seem to connect here.

I really enjoyed the way the author interacts with the reader of “A Kiss,” it is not just a story but a conversation which is very interesting and makes it in engaging in a completely different way than we have seen with the other hypertext pieces that have been shared. It adds interaction on a mental level layering that on top of the physical interaction of the piece.

“The Infinite Woman” is extremely intriguing to me on a feministic level and thinking about gender roles and the way women “perform” in society. Adding the fact that all of that is wrapped up into a creation of your own poem and the erasure effect…wow. A lot to unpack and I am really excited to see the conversation that flows from that.

Both pieces are incredibly beautiful in a myriad of ways and in very complex and different ways. I look forward to seeing the presentations and conversations that will be conducted.

To Here Knows When

SUPER obvious reference here.

Sentimentality is something that comes forth most prominently, I think, when we feel a sense of intense mutuality with another. We are social beings, and crave the idea of being one with another. This is notably represented in the chorus to that one perfect Kate Bush song that a certain nauseating Netflix series has caused a shift in cultural notoriety (here in the states) for, where the perspective that Kathy provides is one of a lover so in love that they desire to swap bodies with their lover, to be as close to them as they possibly can.

Thus simplicities such as specific kinds of mushrooms or glass shapes/widths become strong sensory memories while entwined with another in a romantic situation – whatever the standards of “love-life” one leads. “The shortest distance between two points” as represented within this work of e-lit humorously redirects back to the beginning – “a kiss.” I laugh at this because it caused me to reflect upon first kisses, a moment that usually feels more heightened than most, and one where vulnerability takes control. I always find them joyously awkward. They’re like meeting someone for the first time and giving them a multi-step handshake. 

In the same way that some first-time handshakes can feel a little … physically clunky, kisses seem to be that way too. Of course it is rare to indulge this information to the other half committed to the boundary breaking deed during, but a new glove always takes some getting used to. I could give a pro handshaker the best handshaker my best handshake, but it will likely (note: likely) not feel as natural as the ones I give my closest pals. The same works with the titular subject here, not that I’ve gone to great lengths to kiss my pals, or anything like that, moving on. A new experience is a new experience – simple.

This is not to devalue the heft of such an experience, because it always is. Time always seems to stop regardless (unless it’s really that bad), and perhaps this can just stem from my long-standing strife (strong wording but I’m romanticizing a bit here) with my own hyperactivity, but surroundings become ever so clear. Eyes open, eyes clear, it’s like an exchange of energy – or an exchange of power. How strong that energy or power becomes results from the strength of connection shared, or something abstract like that. 

I really like that all of the little ideas that accompany, I assume, each kiss within this work are accompanied with varying (in length) tangents, be it some description of an item’s functionality, or a fun-factoid about some animal, or whatever. This helps to enhance the every minute is a mile void that accompanies true closeness, where everything else is moving too slow or moving by fast, lost in the central focus that is – the two. 

Perhaps there is a tab that I missed where the tender moments showcased here turn harsh, linger bleak, and tear at the soul, but I think it is pretty favorable towards experience. What I get most from it, and the little Editorial Statement provided prior to engaging with the text, is that we grow greatly in these moments. During, we are almost majestically interweaving our own existence with another person. We come out different than when we go in, and a part of that person is very likely to stick with us, even long after. Over time this scaffolds and builds and builds, I guess depending on the consideration and length that we provide and spend two spend together.