The Infinite Woman 

Every week I go through the same process as I decide which blog to read in depth. I begin by reading each author and editorial statements. This week, I knew immediately that I wanted to experience The Infinite Woman Elit piece. What I enjoyed most about this piece was the way the reader could interact with it. The reader was able to create their own poem by selecting certain sentences from the given poem. The best part for me was the ability to turn your poem into a blackout poem by unselect certain words. Blackout poetry is one of my favorite forms of poetry. The one line that stuck out to me was “the myth must not lose her femininity”. I don’t know if it’s a correlation to virginity or not but that’s how I took it. I think in this misogynistic society those two things go hand-in-hand which can be traced back to the bible and Christianity. And as the poem goes on the author gives some push back on those particular conservative views of womanhood. I think every member of the LGBTQ+ community has to go through push back to live their authentic selves. 

I have been part of the LGBTQ+ community for the last 20 years and being able to say that proudly out loud is a gift not every member has been given. I had the honor of marching for love against Prop 8 in California while I was attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I and twenty-five other people held a giant rainbow flag and walked it from the Castro District to city hall. We chanted “we’re here, we’re queer and love is love.” I will never forget that moment and how proud I was to stand up for the rights of everybody in the LGBTQ community.


I noticed every week when I read and interact with a new piece I always say this is my new favorite, but A Kiss…it is definitely a new favorite of mine. I love everything romantic whether it’s a movie, short story or poem. This piece was very easy to navigate through. I loved how I was able to kind of pick where the story went and really enjoyed everything about it.

This piece painted a great picture of what was happening, not only what was happening between the couple but what was happening around them. The poem was also very descriptive. For instance, it shared the color of her lipstick in great detail which gave me an exact picture of the lipstick she was wearing. There was a few times I was longing for more of the story but enjoyed all that it gave. A Kiss was great!

Further reflections

Thank you to Melanie for her presentation on Peaceful Dream, and Xinyu for her presentation on Zui Yong Shi. It seems to me that there were many common thematics in the pieces they selected – the dream like quality of both poetic compositions, and the timeless and meditative quality that emerges when experiencing our own interactivity with these texts. We are all lucky to have benefitted from Melanie & Xinyu’s deeper understanding of the mandarin language (as well as the literary traditions referenced in these two works). We discussed Ottar Omstead’s use of “letter carpets” transposed with Chinese ideographs in combination with images, videos and music. We also discussed the pentatonic melody of the Chinese WuYan JueJu poetry tradition – remixed here in a multimedia context by Ren Yang. In each case, the words connect to nature and feelings and a kind of romantic idealism, helping us to see the significance of nature (overall) in Chinese written tradition.

In many ways, I think our thoughtful discussion last week also highlights the multi-pronged ways in which translation is ever-present in our lives. The act of translation is a complex skill. Translation means to move meaning across a boundary. This work is being done constantly and is a vital part of living in our contemporary and global world. Each of us must “translate” all day, all the time. We move meaning across boundaries – linguistically of course, but also in terms of cultural divides, or representational genres – like visual language, or sound too. These two texts ask us to slow down, and to pay attention to how we do that work. The selections last week were really paired together effectively, and have brought these overall translation concerns to light for us.

Class slides:

Your to-do list for this week:

Read: Jasmine M’s selection: The Infinite Woman 

Read Jules’ selection: A Kiss 

Blog due: Blog about your reading experience and understanding of The Infinite Woman and/or A Kiss

See you in our our CAS classroom next time (10/20)!

The Infinite Woman and a kiss

This week I started with Katie Schaag’s The Infinite Woman. Before delving into my experience with the piece, I would first like to say that it was interesting to see that, while Schaag was the author, there were several other people listed as collaborators, those who did the coding and technical implementation: Alayna Panlilio, Ryan Power, Josh Terry, Alex Yang, Jeffrey Zhang. I was glad to see this sort of collaboration on an e-lit piece, the idea that even if you don’t know how to code, you can collaborate with people who do in order to make your e-lit idea a reality.

I read the statement and the editorial statement beforehand to give me an idea of what I was going into, as I do with most of the pieces we read for class. I’ve read excerpts of The Second Sex for a class before, so I have some familiarity with Beauvoir’s work and its context, but Marshall’s novel is completely unfamiliar to me. I am really intrigued by the project’s goal of critiquing an “eternal female essence” or at least the idea of one. I think the piece is trying to demonstrate that there is no such thing, stating that the algorithmic remixes stretch the logic of Beauvoir and Marshall’s work and the idea of a “female essence” to its breaking point.

While trying to use the canvas to construct a poem, I found the fog to be irritating, but I think this is supposed to be the “point,” as it is a representative of erasure, something highly negative. Through clearing the fog several times and working with some sentences and word erasure, I produced the following poem:

Woman is Flesh, to say anything about her, it is obvious how she looks.
Watching her act, I saw the moon first, full-faced at the lie.
just as well her equal.
Her homosexual tendencies –
a woman is torn between the desire of marriage or lowering herself.
Lord-man will protect liege-woman and will adapt rather quickly.
Even if they are not satisfied with each other.
But the difference in their eyes.
are very different result.

I think that if one spent a lot of time in this piece, they could create some really intriguing poetry! There’s something to be said, too, about the possibility of working WITH the fog, with letting it choose what words you black out in your poetry…

Dan Waber’s a kiss was immediately intriguing to me because it is a novel-length hypertext piece. Just looking at the image of it is boggling, seeing all those connections, all those possible paths and lexias!

I think if I encountered this piece earlier at the beginning of the class, I would feel overwhelmed. See, if I approached this as I’d approach a physical novel, I’d feel like I had to read the whole thing in order to grasp its meaning! However, this class has made me more comfortable with the fact that a variety of meanings can be made out of a single work, that e-lit pieces have no one, set, final meaning anyway. This makes me feel more comfortable just perusing this piece casually and seeing what it has to say to me.

Some memorable quotes from my reading:

“When he opened the cheese he thought Wooof! That smells like a foot, a really nasty foot. “

“She likes mushrooms, but, not enough to die for.”

What’s worth dying for? “No food, that’s for sure. No god, no country, no philosophy. No piece of land, no amount of money, no firmly held principle.”

An excerpt I love:

they share their writing projects in-progress
they work together
they work apart
they remember things the other says
they make time to go on dates
they disagree
they root for each other

other ways they say I love you

I just find that absolutely beautiful, an exploration of love beyond the word. I have a friend who loves love. She loves the ways people express it, loves poems about it, not mushy typical love poems describing someone’s beauty but the unique ones, the “real” ones, I think is how I’d describe it. This poem reminds me of her; I think she’d love it. And, of course, it reminds me of my girlfriend, makes me think of all the ways we say we love each other without just using the words.

More quotes:

“They both think that part of the reason why writers like to form groups is because what they do is so intensely anti-social that they need the social aspects of the group in order to keep from becoming misanthropic hermits.”

Other ways to describe the hug: “a Dali clock on a spoon”

“If someone told you that you could live to be 250 by hitting yourself in the head with a hammer for 20 hours a day, would you do it? Of course not. What’s the point of prolonging a life devoid of the things you enjoy? That’s doubly foolish.”

“Watch closely, and pretend that the way they are treating the animal is the way they’d treat a person weaker than they are. Watch closely, and imagine this is how the person will treat you in your joy and in your moments of need.”

The whole lexia of “the perfect onions and mushrooms to go with steak”; the recipe sounds delicious. I love mushrooms and onions with steak.

This piece, overall, was gorgeous. From what I read, it’s the slice-of-life story about a married couple. I love slice-of-life stories anyway, so it’s pretty much right up my alley. It had a way of being so tender, so full of sentiment without being sentimental. I loved it. I could probably dedicate hours and hours to reading through it. I love, also, the use of words, of images, of metaphors. I mean, “a Dali clock on a spoon” to describe a hug…that’s genius.

The Infinite Woman & A Kiss

A Kiss was my favorite. For starters, I am biased since I identify as a romantic. So the concept of it surrounding a kiss and two people’s interactions automatically piques my interest. I liked how easy it was to navigate; it reminded me of Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce. As I made my way through, I eventually made my way back to the start, ready to start a new adventure. I really have nothing to say; I loved this piece.

The Infinite Woman is a creative concept. I liked that there were endless possibilities to choose from, and you could rearrange the lines to create your own poem. The adaptability made it really appealing and allowed one to make this their own. The lines were thought-provoking and truly challenged your thinking since you’re making a poem that makes sense to you. It also made my mind work 10x’s faster since I was trying to quickly read the lines and see if they made sense with my poem. I definitely struggled to do this, but I liked the challenge. The only thing I didn’t like about this piece was the fog. I didn’t understand the significance of the fog, so it just came off as distracting. I found myself constantly clicking reset fog so that I could enjoy the piece. Outside of that, I liked this.

The Infinite Woman

According to the editorial statement, the Infinite Woman remixes excerpts from two mid-20th century books, Edison Marshall’s novel The Infinite Woman (1950) and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949). It is very interesting to know that the Infinite Woman is an interactive remix and erasure poetry platform, which I never see before.

Like blackout poetry and Letter to X we did before, it is very personal because we can design and make our work. In the Infinite Woman, users can take lines from the endlessly scrolling text and send them to a canvas workspace where they can change the wording and sentence structure. These user-generated erasure poems offer a wealth of opportunities for gendered subjectivity to be dissected and reimagined.

Within the website, we can select whatever sentences we like, and it will show on the right box. When selecting, we are composing our piece and we can click words we dislike so it becomes invisible.

I never thought the meaning behind it are so deep, according to the author’s statement, the Infinite Woman web app literalizes the idea of gendered infinitude by producing lines that will endlessly combine or erase the two source texts. This results in a process in code and in the reading experience that performs the critique underlying both source texts.

Overall, I am still confused about the fog over the text and I think it affects my reading experience.

Here is the piece I made :->

Writing in Voice

I was actually excited to read this piece. I thought this was going to be some sort of guide on how to discover and develop ones voice as a writer. I was a little disappointed to find out that was not the case. Personally, I was never really sure if I had a distinct writing voice. I never saw my writing as something that stood out or gave light to who I was as a person, but maybe that is something for the reader to decide and not me. Elbows piece goes on to discuss the arguments around writing in voice and how it is not exactly talked about as much anymore.

What I found interesting and useful was the “Reasons for Attending to Voice in Texts” section. It made me think about my students in my own classroom. Elbow says, “With practice, people can learn to write prose that ‘has a voice’ or ‘sounds like a person’, and , interestingly, when they do, their language-or when we hear a difficult text read aloud well- we don`t have to work so hard to understand the meaning”(176). My students always ask for me to do the class reading aloud or sometimes to even listen to an audio of what are we reading that day. I thought they preferred this because they just wanted to be lazy, but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s genuinely easier for some of them to grasp the meaning by hearing a voice read it aloud.


Waber’s statement and bio on his piece, a kiss, was an interesting one. The man grows 320 different kinds of tomatoes? I guess I get how gardening can be relaxing and make a person happier– it’s something that definitely brings me back to the happier days of my childhood when my grandparents were still running their flower nursery– but 320 kinds of tomatoes? I didn’t even realize there were that many, let alone over 10,000 varieties.

But in all seriousness, the other thing that struck me about the author’s statement was in these words:

a love letter, a brief moment in time… the largest project ever accomplished in Twine. A novel-length hypertext included in many digital literature classes.

It’s not all that new to me to think of an entire book as a love letter (in particular I’m thinking of a collection of 66 different books by about 40 different authors that was divinely inspired and written over the span of about 1,500 years that we now call “the Bible.”) Both have in common that it’s written about “a brief moment in time” that is key to the piece, one clearly much less brutal than the other. But the idea that both of these moments are moments born out of love still stands, regardless of circumstance.

I have yet to find the “how shared stories connect us” lexia of this hypertext novel, and I’m hoping I eventually will. The fact that our stories connect us in so many ways has always fascinated me and (aside from writing having been more of a coping mechanism in the past) it’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve continued to write. As I’ve grown as a writer and as a person, I’ve realized that it’s not so much the story that matters but rather the One behind it that ultimately redeems the broken parts of us and our stories.

But much like I didn’t realize there were so many different varieties of tomatoes, I didn’t realize there were so many different kinds of love until I started studying the Bible. In Greek, the primary language of the New Testament, there are seven types of love– this concept of different kinds of love is something a vaguely thought of, but never really knew to be true. Though not all of them are specifically used in the original texts, I figured I would try to distinguish which lexia I came across display which type of love throughout my own venture through Waber’s a kiss.


part of speech : noun

This love is most often referred to as a sensual or passionate love. Eros is meant to be the kind of physical or sexual attraction between husband and wife, but in secular culture has expanded into other seasons of life as well.

observed in the following lexia :

zoom out from the kiss

zoom in to the kiss

what he loves about onions

a conversation between their feet

other ways to describe the hug

words their moths could be forming


part of speech : noun

One might recognize this kind of love from Pennsylvania’s own city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. This is the kind of love held between close friends, and is often confused for agape love in real-life application.

observed in the following lexia :

other water they’ve kissed near

what the curtains looked like

the benefits of breathing


part of speech : noun

This one probably sounds familiar because we use this word as it is in English as well. Kudos is a congratulatory kind of love that might be translated also as “praise,” “fame,” or “renown.”

observed in the following lexia :

a story about the house



part of speech : noun

Though not directly written in the Bible, storgé love is still rather important and all-too-often taken for granted. This love is an affectionate, particularly familial love. A naturally occurring feeling.

observed in the following lexia :

the fourth cat

the recent obsession with LPs


part of speech : noun

We might call this kind of love “self-care” these days. Philautia is often related to feelings of confidence and maybe even a bit of pride for oneself.

observed in the following lexia :

who is the daughter?

other ways to describe the hug

the benefits of breathing

an analogy he uses when she tries to get him to eat right


part of speech : noun

A committed, compassionate kind of love. Built on mutual understanding, interest, or goals such as raising a family. Not to be confused with agape love.

observed in the following lexia :

her favorite mushrooms

why no one answers

the fourth cat

the benefits of breathing

other things you can sync


part of speech : verb

The only kind of love that is not merely a feeling. Not only is this a committed love, but it’s a love that puts commitment to action. The choice to love and remain committed, even when feelings fade as they are bound to sometimes. This type of love is what makes the others last, or at least remain in steady and healthy cycles as this love relies on communication and application of what’s said and the feelings of the other six kinds of love.

observed in the following lexia :

the fourth cat

movies they’ve watched recently

a unused balcony

I went through several other lexia aside from the ones that are listed above, but I found some other ones that really spoke to me including one lexia saying “you can’t buy what’s freely given” that lead me back to the beginning of the piece. I mean, all the hyperlinks on that page lead back to the beginning of the piece but this one in particular is something I’ve heard a lot lately, especially as a Christian that encounters a lot of people from other denominations or that aren’t Christian at all that feel like they can’t earn or deserve salvation.

This is going to sound blunt at first but, these people are right: we aren’t able to earn or be deserving of it by our own power. That said, that’s exactly why we have Jesus. He gave up His spirit, He died and rose again so we could be with Him regardless of how many times we’ve nailed Him to that cross. So yes, we can’t buy what’s freely given.

Though this story is far from based on faith, love, along with the rest of creation, is designed to reflect this perfectly good agape love that is presented to us as a free gift. To be honest, had I taken it from any other perspective I would undoubtedly be happy for the author that he has someone to write about like that, but also pretty depressed or lonely or disappointed in myself. I’d still be viewing pieces like this as a picture of some sort of goal rather than a journey– the kind of journey that real love is– even though this piece did display plenty of the journey surrounding a kiss.