Just from reading the description before I began and entered Sharif Ezzat’s world, I was interested in how the idea was going to be executed. I really liked the idea of traditions between parent and child, and it sounded as though I wasn’t going to really know where I would end up or what I would be reading at any given moment. I really love how the sky became even more filled with stars as the narrator spoke in Arabic, asking questions about what the reader wanted to read. The music created an ambiance that is very calming and set the tone for the entire experience. The world is very dream like. Maybe it is just me, but the poems did not read like poems, but rather personal journals or just individual stories at times. There is no real vivid imagery in the poems. For example, I would like to know how the landscape that his uncle’s wife hated looked. The language is intriguing, but sometimes empty and I am not sure what to make of it.
The concept for Soliloquy by Kenneth Goldsmith is very unique and different. I don’t think I have seen anything like it before. I remember coming across this one as I was looking through the volumes. I remember my eyes widening as I realized how many words were possibly going to appear on the page, and then I became anxious as if I had to find them all and go through them all. I am not sure why those feelings came over me, but they did. It is interesting to see the choppiness of the entire piece and to read different blurbs of speech at different parts of the day. I never knew what my mouse was going to roll over and how much would appear. On one hand, I wanted to keep rolling my mouse around the page just out of curiosity, and on the other hand I felt as though the set up of the piece was a burden. I do, however, love the fact that once the mouse moves from one place the text fades away. On the web, we can get get back to it and just roll our mouse over it again, but during the day we can’t really say something exactly how we said it before unless we are paying close attention to ourselves in that way.
Red Riding Hood was the most interesting of the three, but also the most uncomfortable to me. I was excited for it because I am very familiar with the story, and also did a project on it in Writing for Cyberspace where my group collaborated to create a modern version honed in on today’s technology and how it can be dangerous. In this piece, though, I did not understand the twists and turn that the author was taking. I jumped into all three of these worlds without any previous knowledge of anything associated with it and I felt like this had something to do with how I reacted. I felt that Red Riding Hood had this really storyline-like interactive format, but didn’t really allow you to do much. There was one point where I wanted to click to make her dream, but I couldn’t and I had to choose to wake her up. The option, that turned out not to be an option, made me mad because I kept thinking about all of the things that I wouldn’t know about now. I couldn’t understand what happened at the end of the piece either. To me, it looked as though Red was just laying on the bed and then someone (I’m guessing the wolf) comes to stand beside her and that is it. It had a dark and menacing quality to it and the music really helped to drive the story forward, but I still felt confused throughout the entire piece. I feel like once I know more about it and look up more on the piece I will begin to be able to understand it better and appreciate the decisions the author made.
Overall, I liked surfing through the three pieces. I even went back and forth through them simultaneously, after I surfed them individually, to get a feel of coming in and out of the different worlds. I must say It would be a very hard decision if I had to choose one that I liked the best because I honestly have my reservations about all of them and maybe it was because of the time of day that I looked at them; I may not have been at my most receptive. I definitely want to go back to each world and experience again in a different space and at a different time and see if it makes a difference to how I respond to it.
I was familiar with Carter's name because of having the pleasure of reading Wise Children, as well as reading some excerpts from her notable twisted take on fairytales. When I saw her name at the end of the credits, Leishman's digital piece made a lot more sense to me. Of course, I immediately went to find the specific twist on Red Riding Hood that Leishman was inspired by, where I found the excerpt from In The Company of Wolves. In that specific narrative, Carter subverts the traditional ending of the story of inevitable death into a "happy," sexual one. Instead of either Little Red or the Wolf ending up dead, depending on what tales you read, it ends with them becoming lustful, taboo, and contented lovers.
I went back to Leishman's piece and explored it again, and definitely appreciated it more. Ultimately, her twist on Carter's own twist shows the new dimension in which literature can continue to exist and thrive in; through this element, Leishman demonstrates the thrill of tackling the computational narrative. Like Carter's story, it brings the same, if not more, perverse feelings, which we can see exemplified through the art itself. Leishman shows us the grotesque images of the child Little Red pregnant at the end of the story with the gun to her head, she shows us the lucid, weird montage that Little Red dreams in the field of cross-like flowers that make it nightmarish, and she shows us the suggestion of her impregnation with the cells splitting (which additionally insinuates The Wolf raping her while she sleeps). Additionally, the industrialized setting of her journey also adds to the feeling of postmodern unrest with the fairy tale. However, most unsettling of all, as I said before, is the background music. Again, it adds to that "lucid" and "nightmarish" vibe that the story is striving for; while Carter achieves the same thing with her words, Leishman takes it to another level through the different facets elit creates for the reader. In the end, I think that is what is most important as we start our journey in the class to understanding electronic literature; for me, this story illustrated the potential of the narrative world it can electronically create and exploit for the reader's own interdisciplinary pleasure.
In one sense, "Soliloquy" functions as a cautionary piece, prompting readers to consider the sounds that spill from their lips each day (and "Soliloquy" shows us some of them, a lot of them, are just sounds). A great majority of the text in "Soliloquy" is devoted to verbal fillers and incoherent sentences. Even when it's clear that the topic of speech is something that required a lot of thought, it comes out stunted by parasitic ums and you knows. At first, I found this annoying because it was hard for me to make sense out of what I was reading. I wanted full thoughts and articulate insights; after all, this guy's a writer! Then I realized that what I wanted was dialogue and not speech. Even knowing that this was essentially a work of creative nonfiction, that it was a real person's real words from a real week, I wanted the clarity and significance of fictional dialogue. In short, I was holding this man to an unreal (in every sense of the word) standard. Real people, even brilliant ones, give birth to a lot of meaningless words each day. In helping his readers realize this, Goldsmith urges them to make every word count. He encourages readers to make their everyday speech as meaningful as they can, with the goal of living up to the unreachable significance of fiction. I find this quite interesting because generally an artificial thing is deemed less meaningful than a real thing. "Soliloquy" calls that into question. If fictional dialogue, and the amount of meaning it conveys, is the unattainable divine in this case, then readers, and the hollow ramblings they engender each day, are the lowly sinners. The artificial is above the real. In the words and cadence of Jerry Seinfeld, "What's up with that?"
There is also literary significance in the way that words/phrases are found and accessed in "Soliloquy." Readers can choose to run down a page one line at a time, trying to imagine the words or reactions of the other, invisible, speaker in the conversation, or they can randomly point their cursor and see what pops up. Oddly enough, the phrases make just as little sense in order as they do out of order. This calls to question the way that meaning is created. Earlier this week, I read Kenneth Bruffee's "Collaborative Learning" for another class. Although I was reluctant to accept it at first, Bruffee asserts that meaning and knowledge are created socially, through interactions with other people. "Soliloquy" did more to drive Brufee's point home for me than "Collaborative Learning" itself. Seeing how disorienting and meaningless only one side of a conversation is was genuinely eye-opening.
When one takes the two points of "Soliloquy," the comparative absurdity of real speech to fictional dialogue and the meaninglessness of only one side of a conversation, together with the title, it makes another point: there is not, nor can there ever be, such thing as a soliloquy in real life.
I would love to set aside a few hours to play with the word press site. I’m gonna make some time to blog and read other bloggers posts. Not tomorrow though. I don’t want blogging to feel like something I force myself to do. I want blogging to be something that I enjoy and look forward to doing. I love to reflect on my days and experiences. I want this to become a natural thing in my life. Just as reading has become an enjoyable habit, I want writing for pleasure to feel that way too. I am sure it will, just give yourself time…