What allows Ren Yang’s 醉詠詩 Zui Yong Shi to be quite the engaging little piece of E-lit. comes through in how simple it is, and how this simplicity influences the themes observed within the artwork that it provided. Admittedly, I did read the statement that is provided from Yang prior to engaging with the text. I am usually one not to read it at all or only after typing one of my blogs because I like the purity of my uninitiated perception and understanding of the pieces that we engage with within this course.
The artwork that the musical poetry lines accompany superbly captures a glimpse into a cast of characters that all seem so close-knit to one another. Even the characters that seem to be off in their own tasks, and not necessarily interacting with the grand majority of the rest, seem to have a functionality here. There is a functionality to all of us, we all coexist within the same environment, we, for a lexiconical purpose, are all in the same. There may be clumps of cliques here, where some duos and trios are closer to the rest of the populus, but the world and living space is contained, close- knit, and well-worn.
The music is simple but tasteful in how comfortable it is, as are the phrases that blink to accompany each note played. Specified seasonal changes, simplistic everyday tasks, and homely paraphernalia are considerably present within the text. They are all communal in relevance as you can picture the characters picnicking outside retrieving the same vibes/environment in cold times, harsh times, and fitting times. One character is appreciating a sight up high off to the distance, with a stern focus … simple matters made important, though they do not seem trivial. They seem lively. To do with living and living an individual life.
Some characters are drinking, there is mention of being drunk within the text, yet none of the characters seem displeased or in-conflict with one another. They are all individual, but do not seem to be impeding on another’s own personality within the collective. The distance outside of their living space seems to be a great land of water, “vast and obscure” indeed. It is almost as if the environment lived in here is of its own world, and logic – lacking human conflicts that seem to impact our modern day, digital lexicon of desperate news and problematic flooze, a scattering of intrigue, not interests. A portal into a world more real, more tangible, more here as ourselves, and with others.
Jessica Barnes’ work here is pretty cool in that it, in itself within this Electronic Literature collection that we are diving into throughout this course, is a compilation itself. There is something very inviting about diving into letters written by people that we don’t know. There really are no stakes to be had in doing so, not like the personal truths and self-world building that may arise in reading, say, your parents, lovers, or best friends private letters. Perhaps they will write some juicy tidbit on our mutual friend Terry, or they will reveal some secret hobby that they have, or better yet, maybe they will have something bad to write about… me! In this case reading letters has stakes, it has consequences, but in Letters to X, the consequences are not directly related to our own individual journey’s.
Impactful, though, they are. And a great deal of them are wonderfully and sincerely written. Which makes the option to fill in certain blanks throughout FEEL as if there were consequences. As if I were defiling a strangers work, while though (I’m keeping kayfabe here for anyone who has been following all of my professional wrestling musings) they may not ever come into contact with me, there is still a tangible influence in how I serve to a tiny moment within this world, within this existence, as I can play a hand in a creation of another.
It is a fun little gimmick, that would be just so if these were some silly letters, the kinds that my friends and I would pass around in school to confuse someone – completely void of sincerity or truthfulness. What also really intrigues me is that some of the letters cannot be altered as a means of reminding us that though our actions will always be done, their traces can cease to remain.
Alright, well… of course I’m going to write about Everything is Going to Be OK, because it is joyously morbid with an underlining heft of “we’re all fucked.” I’m a pretty cynical person, sometimes optimistically existential, sometimes depressingly so. But I really dig the cutesy humor on the surface to all of this, and the artwork pops so much that it never depresses me while experiencing the work. Afterwards, I reflected on my emotions in a way that is elated, despite the heft of “negativity” that I acknowledge is inside me while doing so.
I would compare this akin to watching something like David Lynch’s Eraserhead or Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession, where the works are not necessarily intending to make you feel like shit, but there are realizations and subconscious tacklings and tinglings that awaken a deeper sense of the the deeper within ourselves that may seem ugly, especially to those outside. However, for me, an elation does extend from works such as these in just how subconsciously and revelatory I can feel as a result of them, and feel so strongly in doing so. In reality, everything just IS, so perhaps a bit of joy can arise from that, a chaotic joy. The sort of joy where we let belief and inhibitions loose, let them breathe, and simply let them do. Consequences perhaps are just what they are, and they are just there, and significance is weightless.
The pancake resembling the common poop emoji had me rolling.
I really liked this piece of e-lit, High Muck a Muck had my mind a little stuck. The art style going throughout was super swell, and it really rung my bell. Can you tell, that while experiencing it, this whole electronic platform really seemed to gel?
While easy to navigate (thanks to the inclusion of arrow guidance, book/boat emoji-style buttons, etc.) I still found this work to be quite an investigation. I’m not sure what it is about, but I’m pretty sure if I showed it to one of my history buff friends they’d really question how little fanfare I have for such a thing. But still, I am very curious about space, environments, and sensory experiences. A lot of the droning music was pleasant, but lulled me into the work in a way that is foreign to me, comfortably patient.
Usually I am one to sprint through a task, or an interest, and move on to the next, but this one held me. I particularly appreciated that one video that simply zoomed in on some elder’s face. I was honestly expecting some sort of payoff, some revelatory bit of knowledge, to pop up at the end, but nope. The video simply transported me into a state of mind, and an internal state of environment, and that is a notable compliment coming this way.
A bit of a complaint here, some of the texts fade away far too soon. I tend to hang onto words when I read poetry, so for me to reread a pairing that I was really enticed by, or that served of some musical quality, only for it to be erased was a bit of a negative rub. Still, I find something thematic going on here at points, like when it happens over a painting of water (the Pacific Ocean). Like a ship sinking from battle or the natural horrific beauty of Mama Nature. The words fade away just like all of the wondrous and notable journeys, the memories, that those who are not experiencing them will never imagine, never fathom.
And I get that I likely could have gone back to the emoji and whatnot, but once that little thematic nugget hit me, I didn’t dare want to interfere with it. It felt special. There’s also a lot of stuff that sounds like Nine Inch Nails’ more ambient stuff, I think during the video with what looked like a shoulder bag. Like, woah, pretty rad sounding stuff, with a tinge of creepy. There was also some chaotic noise bits with sampled voices scattered throughout which is very much my kinda thang. It’s a shame that there isn’t a link (that I noticed) to where this stuff comes from artist-wise, but in a way it adds to the mysterious aura that surrounds the work.
I wonder if a lot of this has to do with agriculture or industrialism, or the beginning stages of consumerism, in a very primitive sense.
While it never went fully into that direction, the characters painted throughout kind of reminded me of the storytelling of Tom Waits, where they’re vague but you get the feeling like everyone around each other is so at an arm’s distance. They are all distinct, and perhaps they know every observational detail about one another, but there is something seedy present. The environment you are in is almost never really there. Fleeting. Eternal, but inverted. Not as seedy as in Waits’ work, where everyone feels greasy and grimy, but seedy in the sense that I feel like, even if I were one of these kinds of caricatures painted, I wouldn’t truly know the whole story.
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.
Anyone who knows me minimally-so is undoubtedly aware that I’m a victim of vices, and I’m not typing about the redundant ones–drugs, sheet business, explosives–or anything like that. Those never interested me much. But I’ve always been drawn to some sort of sensory stimulation through visual and auditory arts. More specifically, I’m super addicted to record albums, film movies, and professional wrestling (NOTE: not so much sports entertainment). Books are a distant fourth primarily because my favorite books tend to be ABOUT these three things, so writing is interlinked.
I am far more interested in writing than I am books.
I don’t know if these obsessions have anything to do with my being some sort of rabid, hyperactive, raccoon thing, but the excitement I get on days where I am able to just blaze through an abundant amount of these, from one to the other to the next to hopefully never the last, is such a rush. It makes this whole thing worthwhile to me, and fun! I would love for more people to have that energy and the digestive tract that I have for interests.
Everything is SO f’n accessibly digestible nowadays that I think people are just bored with liking and searching for things to like, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
We have this, like, super advanced internet thingy that makes, like, the quite very advanced internet thingy of our youth pale in-comparison. I remember, I wasn’t allowed to use it until I was 10, and even then didn’t REALLY know how to use it (specifically to “illegally” hunt down/pirate my interests) until I was 13/14. I remember waiting over an entire month to get wrestling results from magazines. I would either have to beg my mom to take me to a bookstore or supermarket that carried them (she didn’t let me watch), rip pages out, or pay some kids my lunch money to know what happened to Rey Mysterio on SmackDown.
Once I got a device that would carry internet that wasn’t from 1999 or whatever (an iPad 2 when I was 13) I really felt jipped. I remember I used to go to sleep at 11:30 and wake up at 3:30 every day in high school to watch as many movies and listen to as many albums before, during, and post-school hours. It was owed to myself to make up for lost time. So yeah, there is only so much time, but use it, abuse it, and work at it, because someday, you’ll be gone.
I know that that was all really scatterbrained but that’s kinda what it’s like to talk to me when I get got going.
Basically: Brandon really likes the things he likes, and is a vacuum for them. Every now and then you mess up dumping the insides into the garbage can, and they spill all over the floor.
The Chapbook is done! Well, mine that is, and the “Master Copy” that is intended for Dr. Zamora. I’m pretty satisfied with the end result, and in comparing mine to what I’ve seen from the finished and unfinished “copies” it looks like each of ours will differ quite a bit. That is not to say that there is pure chaos on-display here, as similarities in our contributions and selective stylistic leanings will bleed through from page-to-page, from book-to-book.
My personal favorite page is the “An Ode to Ye” page, as it showcases a poem that I made, in this very course, quite quickly. Despite my spending about two minutes on the poem I really like it, and to showcase the inspiration for this entire blog (the very obvious reference is in the title, after all) accompanied with a little pop-up gimmick is pretty cool.
Anyway, to anyone that read (and perhaps even enjoyed) my blog posts throughout this semester, thank you! I enjoyed writing them.
This whole chapbook final project that my group and I are currently working on is one that I am having a lot of fun putting together. Collaborating in such a crafty blend of visual and written expression is one that endears the silent film lover in me, as well as the ADHD kid that I am at heart. I love moving from thing to thing, so how scrappy and collage-like a project like this is a real sensory pleasure. The glue is a bit of a pain, I must admit, and I honestly almost stabbed myself a few times trying to sew together the pages for my individual copy. My phone case also has about ten new indentations from trying to use it like a hammer on the threading needle.
This project is also one that shows me that I am surrounded by a pretty talented bunch of people, of which all interpret chaos in their own personal way. Some use it to relate to love, nature, their environment, past, present, futures, the whole nine yards, all eight wonders, yadda-yadda. Everyone here has a distinct voice. Perhaps six individual copies of this thing may be a challenge to bring together, especially when considering that some of us are experiencing chaos in location, bringing forth new life, and for those two (C & E) in a room with me presently taping, cutting, and gluing things … dealing with me (haha!).
Nonetheless, a fun experience all around. A few extra pages paying tribute to the ultimate college dropout (and honorary graduate), Kanye West, would have been nice. Unfortunately Chelsea vetoed that idea, and Kathryn as well. I still got two pages total of tribute so I guess they met me 2/40ths of the way from what I originally planned. Working on this thus far has really shown me how cool it was to have the same classes with a handful of people, as we’ve all kinda bonded in our own unique way. Very gradually, but organically, have we all developed our own little in-jokes, character dynamics, and whatnot. I believe that our chapbook(s) will wind up being a very good showcase of this, and hope for such most of all. Very rewarding experience, indeed.
It should come as no surprise to my fellow ENG 5020 students that the idea for this chapbook that we are creating together is one that I am enthused by, because I quite love chaos. Causing it far more than dealing with it, but regardless, I think that any pot could use a little bit of stirring.
As much as I would like to go into this chapbook all guns blazing, I do understand that this is a collaborative project with Chelsea, Edna, Jasmine, and Kathryn. Controlling the chaos in advance is (in a respectfully begrudging way) necessary here, because too many cooks and no control can tip a most sturdy pot over.
This string of chapbooks should be indicative, I feel, of our personalities. As “nice” as they should look I would prefer if there is still that sense of individual bombast that attracts me. Think: Kanye West’s original cover selection for ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.’ Bold, depthful, but also present with a sense of artistic sophistication.
Having the physical books be translated digitally is exciting as well, but I would also like the tangibility of the books created to come across; to transgress mediums, so to say. So, materials, materials, materials… which seems to be a tricky aspect of this whole thing because dinero does not come cheap.
Overall, I am very positive on this project, and think that we’ll make it out reflectively pleased with what we put together. So long as Kean University wasn’t built over some ancient burial ground, or something.
Mark Wiley’s “The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (And Why We Need to Resist)” and Donald Murray’s “Teaching Writing Process Not Product” are two complimentary texts in their mutual encouragement of love towards student learning. In functionality, both texts are as much a plea for school systems to provide students with a guided rope throughout the space of their academic journey’s rather than confining them to the restrictions of outlines, and formulas.
More pointedly is this push-back represented by Wiley, who spends a majority of his work explaining Jane Schaffer’s Approach to Teaching Writing only to demolish it in the remainder. Said approach is not too off from the sort of pattern represented by the (Intro., Body, Conclusion) formula of a Monster Outline. For as hazardous as Wiley presents it as a for the development of students at large in stating, “this sort of writing reinforces the notion that literary knowledge does not so much involve skill in interpreting ambiguity and struggle within the nuances of language, but instead becomes a fixed body of literary facts,” Murray is busy riding home the idea that such formulas solely produce soulless, conveyor-belt replicas of student expression (Wiley 66).
The idea that one fits all does not apply here, as both texts push towards expanding the horizons of what academic writing is with an appreciation to what will allow students to be open towards content, and structure. Implication No. 9 from Murray’s text explains this tackling of pacing norms of yesteryear in stating, “students are individuals who must explore the writing process their own way, some fast, some slow, whatever it takes for them, within the limits of course deadlines, to find their own way to the truth” (Murray 6). Not only is the environment of a student learning greatly considered here, but also is an opposition to the reality proposed by formulaic writing, where “the same material that has bored them … has no relevance to their lives,” and education is more of an obstacle for them than anything else (Wiley 65).
As strong as both texts are in their respective oppositions, one thing that I personally value, of which they both share, is that they do express a mutual level of acknowledgement of how important fundamental writing should be. This importance shows not in how such a means of instruction can dominate entire units of lessons, but in how it can lay the foundation for greener pastures. Even Wiley, the more pointed of the two, acknowledges the role where students “use the Schaffer formula as a general guide in later drafts to help those who need it to better structure” the ideas that they are trying to convey through writing (Wiley 65).
While the formula of say, Schaffer’s approach, never pushed me to pursue my abilities to effectively express my ideas, individuality, and voice through writing, they did condition me as a writer. I would never have developed comfortably in writing had I never engaged myself in the repetitive fundamentals taught to me at such a young age, where appeasing them was just so beyond second nature. That is, until I grew restlessly abhorrent towards the whole process that I ditched these formulas almost entirely starting with my teenage years. Regardless, the redundant formulaic outlines that I now oppose still served as a skeleton for the writer that I am today; forever evolving and adding new layers of detail and character to the proverbial flesh peeled over my intellectual state.
That established, I still completely rally as Wiley states, “these students are precisely the ones to be challenged and who are continuously sold short by their teachers” in reflecting upon the “struggling writers” who are often over relied upon with outline-based formulas (Wiley 65). This impacted me so much because I spent the first half of my academic career being labeled as one of these students, and it was not until I became a teenager that I began to view language as a personal means of “discovery through language … the process of exploration of what we know and what we feel about what we know through language,” that I started progressing within academia to the point where I joined AP English in my Junior year of high school (straight from IEP inclusive classes) (Murray 4).
What ultimately turned out to be my biggest strength as a writer, which my educators have been expressing to me ever since, was my ability to express myself and my voice distinctly and truthfully on page. All this stems from my obtaining a similar amount of love for discovery, understanding, and multimedia linking that connects the experiences around and inside of me, that Wiley and Murray showcase throughout their texts towards students’ expressions through writing coming through in a manner that is a true and extensive expression of themselves.
“Some money smells better than other money, and that money would stink.” How do you relate this quote to your personal lives as potential educators, and more specifically in regards to balancing the line of convenience that comes in leaning on formulaic writing pedagogy?
Is a classroom environment that is beneficial to the teacher’s convenience also beneficial to the students’ experience? How might these lines be of a similar nature, radically different, or perhaps even blur?
How important is the internal, intellectual, and/or emotional stimulation that engage students towards reflective growth in expanding their perspectives, understandings, or writing abilities through academia?
To what degree should formulaic writing be stripped and/or encouraged within the classroom environment?
Murray, David M. “Teach Writing as a Process Not Product.” Cross-Talk in Comp
Theory: A Reader, 3rd ed., National Council of Teachers of English, Urbana, IL,
2011, pp. 3–6.
Wiley, Mark. “The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (And Why We Need to Resist).”
The English Journal, vol. 90, no. 1, Sept. 2000, pp. 61–67., https://doi.org
The official class site for Dr. Mia Zamora’s Fall 2022 Electronic Literature course.