All posts by findingyourstories

Is it poetry?

(Since I am going away for the weekend, my blogpost is published a few days early.)

This time I am going to write about Pentametron, which is a poetry generator. The website seems not to be in use, so here is a link to the Twitter page: https://twitter.com/pentametron

The Twitter account was created in March 2012, and has since gained over 20.000 followers.

The poems usually consist of four lines where each line is a tweet of its own. All the tweets used are retweeted from other Twitter accounts despite the fact that Pentametron is only following two users. I am not sure how the account works, but find it quite interesting.

According to “I love e-poetry” (http://iloveepoetry.com/?p=48), Pentametron is made by Ranjit Bhatnagar and sifts through 10% of all Tweets, passing them through a dictionary for pronunciation (to find out what rhymes with what, I assume). The mechanism behind Pentametron sounds rather simple, but effective. Though when I say simple, I do not mean to say I know how it is done – because I do not (I would love to learn though!), I just imagine that the process behind how Pentametron works is very simple once you know how to set it all up.

Now that we know a bit about how this Twitterbot works, let’s move on to the big billion dollar question that Pentametron and similar bots raise: Is it art? Is it poetry? We discussed this a bit in class already, so instead of trying to speak of this in an objective matter I will write down my own thoughts about this.

So – is Pentametron poetry? Is it even art?

Well, traditionally speaking art, and the traditional genres of art (music, poetry, paintings, etc) were made to express feelings. Emotions which the bots cannot understand, meaning Pentametron contains no feelings. However, that does not mean the reader cannot feel anything from reading the poems. Therefore, emotions may be involved after all. Thus making the “emotions”-argument not valid.

Pentametron rhymes. Pentametron is (at times) cryptic. Pentametron opens for interpretation, at least to some extent. Pentametron produces poetry… But back to emotions, will the reader feel anything?

In my opinion yes – sometimes. Some of the poems made me feel emotions. Others did not (but maybe they made others feel an emotion and just not me?). What wakes emotions is individual.

“So over everything and everyone,
(they alternated roles throughout the run),
When will the lonely feelings go away?,
Up doing homework got a test today.”

This poem perfectly describes the life of a teenager- they feel done with the world, and lonely – and got no time to talk to their friends because they got homework and tests to work with. I think many can relate to this – meaning it will cause people to feel something.

So, is it poetry? Yes, one could say that – but not in the traditional meaning. Many of the poems does not really make sense, no matter how much one tries.

So, do I like Pentametron? Kind of. I find the technology behind it fascinating, but I am not really a fan of the poetry it results in. Which brings us to the question if I am a fan of poetry in general (because otherwise of course one would not like Pentametron).

Yes, I do like poetry. While looking for a more classic poem speaking of loneliness, to compare with Pentametron, I remembered this:
“By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,”
(taken from “Dreamland” (1844) by Edgar Allan Poe).

I think that Poe opens for interpretation on a completely different level than Pentametron. Though the loneliness in the two poems may not be in the same context, I still find the differences fascinating. Pentametron tells us of loneliness and being done with everyone, while saying they have to do homework, which means more isolation from friends (hence feeding the loneliness). Poe, on the other hand, does not explain as much what is going on – leaving the reader more freedom to interpret. Also I think Poe “paints” the poem better, by giving one pictures to imagine in ones head. However, Pentametron’s poems are more fun to read – and not as exhausting because one does not need to rethink and interpret every single line or even every word.

Is this a matter of taste? Quite possible. It is not fair of me to compare Pentametron to my favorite poet, because that makes the whole comparison so much more subjective. But then again, this is my blog – meaning I decide when to be subjective and when not to be.

Overall, Pentametron is fascinating – real poetry or mocketry (mock + poetry = mocketry. Yes I just made that up) does not matter as much because Pentametron is meant as a way of entertainment. However, is not all art meant as entertainment?

 

The discussion of what is art and what is not, of what can be considered poetry and what cannot, the discussion of what entertainment is or is not, the discussion of taste/subjectivity vs objectivity… They can go on forever. Therefore I am not going to expand more on them in this blogpost. Even though these subjects are fun to discuss, I believe there is no objective truth because everyone is different. We are all individuals. And there you have my final answer to whether Pentametron is art and/or poetry: it is up to each and everyone of us to decide for ourselves whether it is or is not.

Thank you for reading my blogpost. More to come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The death of videogames

The news are all over. Videogames are no more, they belong to the past. Now, the Earth and all its inhabitants wonder – what do I do with all my newfound free-time?

Now, just disregard what is written above and relax. Breathe. No need to call emergency services.

Video games are still a thing. However, in the electronic literature work of “Quing’s Quest VII – the death of videogames” well, videogames do die. Possibly not in the sense you imagine – as in this work videogames is a planet which has been invaded.

To discover and explore “Quing’s Quest VII” for yourself, the work can be found here:
http://collection.eliterature.org/3/works/quings-quest-vii/index.html

The character the reader takes control of, was born on the planet of videogames – but had to escape after the invasion. Now our character is miserable and wants to go back. However, this is not as easy as one might think. Misogynerds have taken over the planet. Can it be rescued? Probably not. Our main character and their friend (or should I say partner?) decides to try anyway.

I never thought peeling an orange would be a reason to get arrested, but here we go. Bad fashion sense? Well, some people want a fashion police… Playing minigolf in an office building? I would guess many people do that. Shouting at trees? Ok, this is strange. Now let us try to avoid being arrested, despite all our crimes (I mean, we did steal a spacecraft, so I guess we do deserve prison-time after all…)

After inserting countless discs (the last one had a number way past 20 – and I actually caught myself wondering if a video game ever was released with so many discs? Yeah I doubt it) and trying countless ways of escaping, an epic dance session ends up saving our characters from the Misogynerds police, but lose their home planet for ever. A happy ending? Bittersweet, I would say. But at least the good guys won… Unless you prefer the bad guys. Then I guess the ending of the story is rather a bad one – but for me it was bittersweet.

Did I like “Quing’s Quest VII – the death of videogames”? Yes, I did. Nostalgia, choosing my path and videogames are all things I enjoy. At times, the layout felt a bit over the top – but nothing that the fun story could not overshadow.

I especially liked the references to older videogames like Monkey Island, and the mention of the Konami code. I remember as a child, playing my good old tv games and having to type this kind of code either as a cheat or just to gain access to the level where I last left off. Haha, I think a few years ago, this also worked on Facebook to produce some colorful circles or whatever? I cannot remember exactly, but I think some kind of Konami was involved in the circles appearing.

The game also refers to other 80s and 90s stuff, for example in the dancing part where it mentions Macarena “Hey Macarena!”… And now that that song is stuck in our heads for a couple of days, let us finish the adventure. Shortly summarized: our home planet dies, and we reach the end of the story.

I cannot say anything confused me about this work, but I kind of wish we would have gotten a tiny bit more background information. Also I wonder if Quing is the name of our main character, and/or if the character is a king? I did not get the feeling that the character fits the personality of a king, but if their home planet is named videogames then who knows? Aside from that, I enjoyed this work very much. Even though we were lead in a certain direction, I still got the feeling of choosing my own path – which is good in my opinion.

“Quing’s Quest VII” deals with themes like loss, sadness and hope with a fun and entertaining twist – and adding a dash of nostalgia to it all while having a sci-fi theme. All in all, I would really recommend people to check it out.

Is it a game? A work of fiction? A digital sci-fi book? A story? A good mix of them all. It may not feel much like a game, but in a sense it is.

This piece of electronic literature reminded me of a game I played when I was younger. A browser game, consisting purely of text and commands – I believe the name was “You Find Yourself In A Room” and I had lots of fun with it despite the game telling me what an idiot I was for being human and not a machine. A google-search tells me this game is still online and playable. Great.

I think that, even though the story is wrapped in a sci-fi packaging, there is talent needed to create a story where loss and despair are the main topics – yet make it entertaining and even funny to discover. I think, with all the sad events taking place in our world, that the demand for this genre will continue growing. The way of turning sad themes into a fun adventure is beautiful!

And with that, I consider my poetic sign-off complete. I am kinda surprised I did one for this blogpost as well, I was not quite expecting to be able to do that considering the fun atmosphere of “Quing’s Quest VII”.

Be prepared for another blogpost soon!
Oh, and thanks for reading.

 


Why don’t you read the way I write?

“Why don’t you write the way you talk?
Why don’t you read the way I write?”

These two sentences were written at the «begin»-page of Soliloquy and were something I kept in mind as I read my way through it. The sentences give depth to the piece, and adds another dimension on how to read it.

“Soliloquy” is written by Kenneth Goldsmith. It is a piece of electronic literature that gives the reader either a question or a sentence for each page and as one moves the pointer somewhere on the page, a response is shown – which changes depending on which part of the site one points to.

Discover “Soliloquy” yourself

At first I tried reading all the possible responses in the order they were written – “why don’t you read the way I write?” But I soon realized that things would not make much more sense that way. “You don’t write the way you talk.”

Apparently the sentences at the «begin»-page not only are poetic or a hint towards how to read this piece of e-lit – but it is actually a way of human interpretation. I think most of us would not write exactly the same sentences if they were to be spoken out loud instead. And what we write can be interpreted in so many more different ways than what we intend them to be. This reminds me of when in class, we were told to think about what we write in our blog posts – because they are public and we never know who will read them (or how they will be interpreted).

“Soliloquy” gives the reader seven options, one for each day of the week. Each day of the week has several pages, each with a different opening and different bunch of replies. I think they are in chronological order, but the order in which they are read does not matter that much. I have seen the mention of the names John, David, Suzanne, Margo, Xenakis, Chavez, Bruce, Blair, Marjorie, Phillipa and Cheryl Donegan (another character’s wife, I think their spouse is called Munsy) but could not understand so much who they were. I have a feeling though that maybe we are reading the story from Munsy’s point of view? Partly because their wife, Cheryl, is the most mentioned person in the story from what I’ve read.

I found many nice quotes throughout the work. Here are some examples:
“So tell me” – “Well, I don’t know” (This happens a lot, right?)
“Hi.” – “You just bad mouthed me” (I thought this one was a bit funny)
“Hey, I can sit behind my computer and be real anti-social” – “Yeah”
“Nobody listens everybody talks at once” – “Mine nobody listens, nobody talks”

I liked this piece of electronic literature because it gives the reader the chance to interpret everything on its own, the work is just there and the way one reads it – and the path one chooses – is completely open. On the other side, this openness does bring a bit confusion as to what the meaning of the work is. I am given many conversations where each gives me information about something, which makes it difficult to find the story behind it all. It is like a jigsaw puzzle consisting of thousands of pieces where some pieces are missing, others don’t fit and some you might even have duplicates of.

I do wonder in which way it is supposed to be read – am I supposed to read all the replies in order and let them form a conversation? Or pick one of them? I found out that either way, a lot of it would not make sense. The replies make sense for a while, as if being a conversation between two people, but suddenly it will not make sense anymore. I think maybe each page contains several conversations? Perhaps even conversations between different people? I’m not sure, but that would be my best guess if I am to make sense of every single reply. My other guess is that by looking at what soliloquy means, that the work is a monologue and made up of a person’s thoughts – but honestly I can’t quite get that to make sense, either.

In the end, I allowed myself to read the description of “Soliloquy” – which I had not done beforehand in order to allow myself to interpret the work freely and without any knowledge about it. Apparently, this piece of e-lit consists of everything the author said for a whole week in April 1996. I cannot say though, that “Soliloquy” makes more sense to me now. To me it still is bits of pieces of conversations that give small pieces of information about people and their lives – which I guess is true either way.

Way earlier in this blog post, I wrote that “I think most of us would not write exactly the same sentences if they were to be spoken out loud instead.” And I guess this becomes even more relevant now that we know this work is transcribed from a recording consisting of everything a man said for a week. It also is a reason why the pages were difficult to understand, because they were meant to be spoken words heard by our ears, and not words in a literary piece to be read by our eyes.

I think my strategy for reading e-lit in the future will be the same as it was this time. I will continue to interpret the work of e-lit first, and then read about it later. That way I will be more open-minded when discovering the works. I think it will be an interesting journey.

And through these blog posts I am already starting to realise how much of myself shines through the analyse, and how they teach me to know myself better. When we were told in class that we would get to know ourselves better through this subject, yet I never thought it would be as literally as it seems right now.
(Hmm, is a poetic sign-off my way of ending blog posts? We’ll see.)

See you soon!
And thank you for reading.