Tag Archives: Elitclass

Pieces of Herself & Façade

“Pieces of Herself”

I love the piece! Truly! It reminds me a poem:

 I Leave Bits of Me Everywhere
poem-words are my clothing, 
stripped late at night 
a trail from the threshold to the foot of bed 
along the stairs lay verbs the actions i need to climb twelve steps at 2 am 
a vowel left adjacent to toothbrush i get sloppy with tartar and allusions 
over the cornice of mirror, hangs a strand of pearly metaphors 
a simile in my sink 
a limerick needing to be laundered the clothes hamper is full of rimes & meters in want of mending 
kick off the shoes, 
make a pile of cacophony wrap myself in the plum flannel of sonnet 
hair up-tied with haiku 
find the resting place for naked poet...  
in ambiance i light a candle 
a sestina goes up in flames.

The piece is a sort of reinterpretation. They are real pieces with which you can made up and know a person.  But this time, it is not “pieces of her”, but “pieces of herself”. Find the secrets? Because you are not going to find the original “her” but create a new “her”.

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You can choose from seven scenes. My favorite is the “outside”. When I grabbed a little baby in the street, the old song “When I was a little girl” rose.  I can see her childhood, she played in the yard and enjoyed sun. It is so imagery.

Click to view slideshow.

“Façade”

There is a technical problem for me, I cannot download the exe.file. But except the technical complexity, it is a very smart piece.

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I cannot move in! That’s disappointing. It may be something wrong with my computer. But many players show their processes on YouTube.

They are creative but a little dark (lol).

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This piece maximizes the interaction between elite and readers. It is very intelligent design and requests a high technical level.  It is more close to artificial intelligence, like Siri, but it is a insightful approach to produce elites.

Piecing Myself Together

Am I in pieces?

“This was the hardest thing to internalize; that something permanent but invisible had happened.” The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

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In Juliet Davis’ Pieces of Herself, the embodiment and construction of feminine identity as well as the relationship of the female self to public and private space is explored. This work of Elit operates through a drag-and-drop interface which allows readers to comb through different environments of the work for icons that can be “dragged” and “dropped” on the female, paper-doll-like motif adjacent to her environment. In this way, readers are able to see how a woman’s environment inscribes itself upon her. More, readers are able to explore how different contexts, such as home, community, and work, affect construction of identity and perception of the self. “Dropping” an icon on the paper doll triggers an audio clip that typically reveals something about how the space being explored imprints itself emotionally or physically on the woman. The icons themselves, paired with the nearly 400 pictures used to create this piece, seem to denote more than their mere connotation would suggest as well (i.e. blood drop icons in the shower room, diary entries and hidden keys in the bedroom, a fetus en-wombed by a church, a sex toy behind a discreet couch cushion etc.). The mere act of uncovering these icons seems reflective of the many layers of feminine identity and the further act of layering these icons atop the paper doll motif seems to suggest the multiplicity, the mutability, and precarious balancing of feminine embodiment. How each sound is layered atop another until there is a steady cacophony of steadily increasing headache-fuel seems to only further illustrate how jarring and overwhelming a task it is to be all these women–at once. Though seemingly simple in design, operation, and presentation of its ideas, Davis’ work is quite a compelling and profound exploration of the intricacies at work in constructing feminine identity as well as a frightening one in how accurately and heartbreakingly it articulates how social and cultural contexts can be all-consuming.

Perhaps it is because of my own context–my gender identity, my age, my education–but I found this work to be particularly poignant. Especially as I combed through the unspecified, female narrator’s private spaces–their bedroom, their bathroom, their kitchen, their living room–I felt this growing lump in my throat, this increasing ache in my chest. The diary entry in the hamper–“In my dreams, I’m home but it’s not really home. And I don’t recognize the town but I know where everything is. So why do I keep running into things…”–reminded me of my own journal, sitting beside me as I write this post, and all of the secret parts of me inside its page no one will ever know. The rain cloud in the bedroom reminded me of the nights no one will ever see. The narrator recalling how hard they tried to but never could quite recreate their own mother’s passed-down recipes–“In the kitchen, where she was forever looking for the right ingredients”that hurt. It hurt me but also made me ache for all the girls and women I know who–secretly–try so hard to be half as good as their moms. Who are are always almost but neverI wonder if my own mom aches like this too? The mask at the front door in the living room and the narrator’s recollection of the monetary worth of what they’re wearing–of who gave it to them— made me remember a time when I was showered with all the gifts babe’s money could buy. I remember finding out the return on that investment did not equal love. Maybe it never could have.

 

Click to view slideshow.
Who I became~

To me, this work, in its content, purpose, and design, is one of the most powerful and compelling pieces of Elit I’ve come across. There’s something so inherently moving about making an unseen, hidden process–such as social inscription; more, construction of feminine identity–visible. Maybe that’s the voyeur in me but I’d also argue that Davis is placing us purposefully in the role of voyeur. But, it’s like we’re spying on ourselvesIs that really spying???? Questions of ownership of the self are raised in this piece and authenticity as a construct seems to be being challenged here. Rather than constructing who we are from navigating our environments, Davis’ work seems to posit that our environments navigate us, that our navigation of our environments is decided long before the question can be posed. According to Davis’ work, we are not imprinting ourselves on our environments. No, our environments are imprinting upon us until we are, essentially, composed entirely of pieces of our environments. This work seems to ask readers to really consider the nature of feminine agency and autonomy in a culture that poses so many, often conflicting, restrictions upon women.

Maybe my reading of this work is singular, a response to the many interactions of my life that brought me to experiencing it. But, if anything, I believe Pieces of Herself is trying to communicate the significance of lived experience. Of all women’s lived experiences.  Of my lived experience. I think that’s an incredibly profound message. More, I think it should not be as revolutionary as it is and yet…. How ’bout that Kavanaugh hearing, right??

Ultimately, Davis’ Pieces of Herself operates on many levels but, perhaps most importantly, it seems to read as almost autobiographic, allowing the reader to assume the unspecified narrator’s identity as they simultaneously engage in the process, navigation,  and negotiation of constructing that identity. Davis achieves this level of engagement through the drag-and-drop interface of the work, the use of audio and commentary, and the visual/design aspects working in tandem in this piece to create an inviting and immersive experience. This work left me feeling overwhelmed and naked(?) as well as left me with many questions about the complex nature of the self and its complicated presentation and representations. How much of me is me? How much is what others want me to be? How do I tell the pieces apart? And, am I broken into pieces? Scattered? Shattered?

Mostly, though, I was left wondering this:

Can I be a mosaic?

****

References

“Pieces of Herself” – ELMCIP

“Bookish Electronic Literature: Remediating the Paper Arts through a Feminist Perspective” – Jessica Pressman, ELMCIP

“‘Pieces of Herself'” by Juliet Davis – Cynthia Roman, I ❤ E-Poetry

Fun Fact

I actually wrote about this piece a while back, during my first Elit “rodeo”. I decided to read what I had previously written until after I finished this post. Let me tell ya, it is wild. Like, reading something you wrote when you know you were an entirely different person than you are now is wildSlightly cringe-worthy. Anyway, I figured I’d provide you with a link to that initial post for your own entertainment. Also, I think it’s interesting, in the context of reading Pieces of Herself, to compare and contrast who I am and who I was in writing. It was fun revisiting her. I miss her, who I was. I wonder if she sees who I am now and wishes she could’ve done more.

Anyway….

BTW

So, this work reminded me of a couple songs I thought I’d share with the class~ I couldn’t help singing them in my head as I was reading this piece and so I thought I’d share that particular level of my experience as well….

Pretty Little Head – Eliza Rickman

Francis Forever – Mitski

Copycat – Billie Eilish

Gasoline – Halsey

~Till next time~

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v. *block b voice* HER (OH oh!)

For the love of god, please never let me put references in my blog post titles again. Like I’ve made some okay ones in the past, but I’ve reached a new low with this one. Anyway, stan block b.

Before I get into the e-lit pieces we’re going to cover this week, Façade and Pieces of Herself (aka the point of reference for that blog title, but let’s forget that exists, shall we?), I’d like to touch on the shared document we wrote on in class last week, in which we brainstormed our ideas for our own e-lit pieces. I posted this:

I was thinking of having some kind of branching hypertext narrative that kind of starts off fantasy/almost children’s book-like (like this kids book I wrote recently about a baby owl) and gradually getting more realistic (Maybe even branching into autobiographic snippets???)? Maybe?? Like starts off with simple sketchy drawings with few words and what seems like a single story then you realize that there are multiple things to click on on the page (pictures or words of the text I suppose?) that branch off into other little stories (maybe connected? maybe not?). With actual pictures and more color and links to music and videos. Idk I think the transition from simple to complex/fantasy to reality would be cool to play around with. I was thinking of throwing in bits of stories I’ve already written, actually. Wondering if I could (and would be able to) have a page where readers/users/players could type in “passwords” from other parts of the piece in order to unlock other pages… Wondering how to do that… make it kind of a game.

I… think I’m being a little over-ambitious here, but BIG SHRUG. I’ve noticed I have a habit of doing Too Much sometimes. Don’t really know what more to say about that except I doubt I’ll be able to make it extremely poignant or anything… more of a mass dump of all the stories and thoughts in my head. Previews of sorts scattered through hyperlinked pages of sketches and doodles I can hopefully gather from past notebooks. I guess in a sense it’ll be a look into my head?

Not…… sure…… if that’s a good idea. BUT WE’LL SEE, I GUESS?

I’m glad I got my presentation out of the way relatively early so I can focus on this for a longer period of time.

Anyway, look forward to disjointed rambles and thinly veiled social commentary, I guess.

Okay, onto Façade.

I’m going to preface this by saying that, as of writing this post, I haven’t played the game yet. Excuses being: my everyday laptop is a Chromebook, my Windows laptop at home is too decrepit to run anything above Word these days, I’m pretending my old baby Gateway laptop doesn’t exist (plus it could barely run Undertale), and my Fancy New Desktop stopped connecting to its monitor.

But I know Façade. I know it from back in my YouTube days, when I religiously watched Let’s Players. There wasn’t a cryaotic, markiplier, or jacksepticeye vid I hadn’t seen back then. But anyway. Most of the youtubers I watched played it at some point, so I’d skimmed their playthroughs out of curiosity.

And lemme tell you. This game is wild.

User-input-dominated. Incredibly intelligent. Wildly open-ended. I don’t even know how many endings there are with this game, but I know they can get… interesting.

Hopefully I’ll be able to play it at some point, and when I do I’ll be sure to link either a video or my commentary on it [HERE]. If you see no link, please carry on reading and pray I get my life together some day. *wink + finger guns*

Alrighty, onto Pieces of Herself.

First impression of the little point-and-click story is Wow, these controls are wonky. The side-scrolling was incredibly frustratingly sensitive and it was a little difficult to drag the little objects over to the “doll” on the left side of the screen. Plus it looked like you could still click on the areas where the objects were, but it didn’t do anything, so it gave me a little paranoid feeling that I was missing something (OOF. INTENTIONAL?). I can’t complain too much about the sounds, as the cacophony of sound effects and music clips was undoubtedly intentional.

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My “doll” once I’d found what I believe to be every hidden object. The water droplet and frog croaking never stopped…

The overall sense I got from the game, while ominous and foreboding from the black-and-white and jauntiness of the programming, was overwhelming. All the societal expectations of being “female” (whatever that means, amirite?) and being A Good Wife/Girlfriend/Daughter/Woman/Girl (Eeugh.) were expertly represented. Be timid but not boring. Be social but not too much so. Be sexual but no, not like that. (don’t think I didn’t peep that hidden vibe in the living room) Women are meant to be contradictions in society, therefore. But then it’s seen as frustrating when we contradict ourselves…?

That’s… does that make sense? Man, I don’t even know.

Being a woman, I’d like to think I’m over those kinds of expectations and I’m currently actually living as myself, but I suppose there are those self-conscious moments of Am I allowed to do this? or Is it my place to say that/have that opinion? I catch myself seconds later, because maaaaan heck that mentality. I’m allowed to have whatever opinion I want (within reason, tho, let’s be real), and being a woman shouldn’t deter me of choices I make.

(Oof, I’m listening to some inspiration music at the moment so pardon the Emo Turn this post has taken.)

Story-wise, though I feel like a lot of the environment’s little voice clips and such can be relatable and the overall story can be up to interpretation, I know there is an actual story to go along with this particular woman’s environment. Something to do with mental health and gender identity and coming to terms with (and hopefully defying) societal expectations. There really is no “end” that I could find, which only adds to the ominousness of the “Main St.” scene. Did something happen? What’s with the hospital? The cop cars? The car on the far right? What happened to this woman?

I’m looking forward to discussing this piece more in class. This piece as well as Façade. I hope we get to play both, and that we don’t have any more technical problems. Lookin @ you, wi-fi. Get your life together.

Alrighty! That’ll be all this week!

Have a lovely day/night/whatever!

–Masooch

Brainstrips: Strip Your Brain

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I enjoy reading the piece. It is intriguing. I went through an emotional reverse when I read it. I held a high expectation to it, but the “nonsense” shown later astonished me. But it also excited me that I feel a strong intention of the author.

The author Alan Bigelow is a professor in the Interdisciplinary Studies. “Interdisciplinary” would be the theme through the whole piece. Here to learn more about Bigelow: https://www.medaille.edu/alan-bigelow-phd

Walkthrough & Analysis

The first part is “strip”.

It uses comic strips to answer “deep philosophical questions”.

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The opening comic is quite interpretative.  A woman or man always says, “I am leaving you and finding the real meaning of  life.” THEN they runs away with the other man or woman and falls in a new loop. “What is the right answer of life?” that is a philosophical question that has never ever been answered.  The starting page reveals the theme of ” strip” part. It speaks of those” nonsense” and tricky questions that we try to but fail to answer in the life.

 

Click to view slideshow.

When we read those questions in advance, we would really think of those philosophically. Whereas, the author gives us a “… “. It is really creepy that we might feel ” a load of bull”, but they are so true that we cannot say they are wrong.  The author gives us an interdisciplinary perspectives. He questions what real philosophy is. Should it really base on Aristotle, Schopenhauer or Kant? His answer is NO. Philosophy is about life. We saw things from angles, we got disparate interpretations. Those questions have never ever had “right” answers.

Those strips from the Gloden Age of American Comics are recreated and be given different understandings. #Reconstructing Mayakovsky. It breaks a regular cognitive in literacies and constructs old literature in a new way.

The next part is “Brain”.  This part is ” science of idiot”.

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The title is a paradox. As the reader asked above:” Who is the idiot?” Who is the author addressing? The idiots could be science itself or the one who believes the “science” is the science.  If those scientifical elements have no meanings when they get together, what does the fact really do to us? The author reminds of us reading what behind the “facts” and do not be fooled by “idiots”.

 

Click to view slideshow.

Interestingly, you cannot go back after finishing a topic.  I feel like it is a deliberate design. We do not look back what we read as they are nothing. We should feel what we read and remember the astonishing moment. It is a sensation that let us ask WHY? What is the author want to tell us?  When science is not presented traditionally, should we accept it traditionally? When things go out of expectation, can we fit in immediately? Can we turn our mind to identify what it is?

That is also a rule in reading elit. We cannot predict what will happen next but we should keep going and exploring.

The last part is “S. It speaks of ” Higher Math.”

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Click to view slideshow.

Those ” Googleplex”, “Geometry”, “Irrational Numbers”, ” Addition”, and “Subtraction” are not talk about mathematics. Rather, they applied to explain “values” things. But is it really “valueless”? or how do we define the “value”? Bigelow plays a tricky game with us. He let us hold a high expectation to that stuff. But he fails us. “If you are too serious with them, you are out.” He intends to involve us in playing and enjoy the electronic tour. Science and math should belong to everyone.

http://writingelectronicliterature.miazamoraphd.com/category/student-blogs/

Bigelow is not the first one who jokes the science. It reminds me of the Ig Nobel Prize.

According to Improbable Research, Ig Noble Prize awards unusual and imaginative achievements in science, medicine, and technology.  Click to know more: https://www.improbable.com/ig/.

Let us learn more about Ig Nobel Prize 2018:

Finally, here is a math test for you.

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Again, DO BE SERIOUS. Whatever you choose, the result would be the same.

All in all. Bigelow shows us the possibility of playing knowledge and language. The philosophy, science and math are humorous but satirical. They are connected with politics, ethics and social problems. They are thought-provoking and let us ponder what the real issues behind. They are presented as the powerful language that raises new awareness. The interdisciplinary reconstructing demonstrates more possibilities of elit.

 

iv. i love existentialism in the morning

I hecked up, friends. Y’know how you have a thing to do sometimes, but you’re like “mehhh I can wait a bit; I need to rest right now, but I’ll get to it” and then you just… fall asleep?

Case in point: this blog post.

But that’s okay! Because I got to read Brainstrips just after I woke up. And what a wild ride that was.

It’s interesting reading something so offhandedly deep and philosophical so early in the morning, because in that still-tired state, you both miss things and catch things and basically get a whole different story than you would while reading it when you’re fully awake.

Maybe that doesn’t make much sense.

Anyway. I got to experience both Brainstrips and the Taroko Gorge remixes, but I’ll be chatting here about the former just based on the bigger impact it had on me. (Sorry, Vee ;u; )

The “comic” / e-lit piece had what seemed like 2 layers to me (probably more to be honest, but I’m capping it at 2): the ridiculous humor layer, and the serious layer. I considered calling the second layer the “Things We Don’t Want To Talk About Because They’re Too Off-puttingly Serious” layer but the title seems too long to keep typing.

The humor of that first layer is one I’ve seen around the internet a lot, particularly in nihilistic games/posts/etc. A kind of “hahahahah this makes no sense but it’s okay we’re all dying inside” kind of millennial humor.

Regardless of if that makes sense or not, Brainstrips was intriguing in that it explored deep matters–philosophy, morality, environmental awareness–in a sort of flippant way.

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Borrowed respectfully from here.

Like this. Peak internet humor. Blatant use of wordart. Stock image of a button I could swear I’ve seen floating around the internet in other games/game-type things like this.

In the first section (and the other two, but I’m just focusing on the first right now) we have that comic-style lightheartedness, but with questions in the corner that would stop a person short and either a) make them squirm, or b) start a whole existential discussion that may or may not end in tears and an awkward but good-natured and consoling pat on the back.

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Also borrowed from Brainstrips pls don’t make me link to it again.

Anyway is it just me… or does it give off that feeling like from Back to the Future 2… in a very materialistic future where Everything’s Great but really Everything’s Terrible? Maybe BttF2 is a bad example. I dunno. But do you get what I mean? Like some kind of false-utopian/actually-dystopian genre vibe?

Maybe I’m looking too much into it.

Regarding the questions, Brainstrips is absolutely literary. Comics on their own are a form of literature–a stance which I will defend to my dying breath–and Brainstrips is no different based on formatting alone.

When navigating through the text, I tried changing up what I thought would be The Correct Order of the story by clicking on questions lower on the list before the higher ones on the first page. Turns out the order didn’t matter, but just that small bit of ability to choose was… nice. And frustrating once I realized the choice didn’t matter but hey, that’s life ain’t it.

One more thing before I sign off and finally post this thing. The sounds were a crucial aspect of the piece. Ambient and creepy sometimes, loud and garish at other times, all-around off-putting and perfect the entire time. Sound in a story can make a story. Just look at horror movies/horror games. Watch them/play them with the sound off and you have a whole different experience. There are probably articles on it that’ll get all psychological and such which I’d love to look into, but! That’s for another time!

As for now, I will bid thee adieu with a final screencap from Brainstrips:

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Have a lovely day 🙂

–Masooch

Re-imagining Assemblage in the Taroko Gorge Remix Collection~

Some Reassembly Required…

Taroko Gorge (2009) is a work of generative poetry created by Nick Monfort and inspired by a body of poetry written about the Taiwanese national park of the same name. Lines of poetry are generated via a JavaScript program, designed to format each line of the work in a specific way. Monfort states, “…this generator forms strophes that begin and end with a “path” line and may have one or more more static “site” lines in between. Between each pair of such strophes is a “cave” line that trails off, as if into darkness, like the tunnels in the park that were carved by Chiang Kai-shek‘s Nationalist army.” Essentially, the work is designed to generate a pattern that alternates between providing a pairing or grouping of lines and a singular line. That singular line always ends with an em-dash, inviting readers into the void beyond the text. Inviting readers to walk beyond where the sidewalk ends. This text is produced limitlessly, the poem without an end until the reader decides to stop reading and exit the screen.  The work’s generative programming challenges traditional notions of authorship and of agency in navigating a text (how do I know when to stop reading?), has inspired multiple creative and compelling remixes (which I’ll get to), and was not very interesting to me at first (tbh).

See, I’m all about challenging the academy/the establishment/whoever the authority is but, in the case of Taroko Gorge and its remixes, I was a little underwhelmed by the gauntlet being thrown down. I guess, in comparison to other works of Elit I’ve encountered, this body of work just seemed so much less??? That was until I came across an article by our friend Katherine Hayles in which she described the design of Taroko Gorge and its subsequent remixes as a kind of digital assemblage. That’s some art shit. My kind of art shitHeck yeah. Once I donned those art lenses, I was able to see past the work’s seemingly simple interface and really take a gander and what I was looking at: neo-assemblage. Double heck yeah.

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First page of Taroko Gorge for me~

So, assemblage has existed in many forms over the years. Most notably by Picasso and good ol’ Duchamp but also by artist such as Dubuffet (real cool guy with a real cool body of work) and Tatlin. Many Dadaists preferred “photomontage“, a cousin to assemblage and a precursor to Photoshop, while Neo-Dada artists, like Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, preferred to call their process of making works of art from composing found objects into different arrangements “combines“. Assemblage also brings to mind bricolage, which is a kind of “do-it-yourself” combining of seemingly disparate found objects into a whole work (a topic I’m researching for my thesis).

Anyway, art history lesson over, viewing Taroko Gorge and its subsequent remixes such as Along the Briny Beach (2012) by J.R. Carpenter and Tokyo Garage (2009) by Scott Rettberg, as contemporary assemblage, I think, generates some interesting questions about the composing process and its performance–how much of what we write is simply found language, pasted together and given meaning because we decide it has meaning? All of it. But, also, I think viewing these works as digital assemblages helps re-conceptualize the seeming nonsense of their decontextualization.

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Self portrait made out of butterfly wings by Dubuffet

Assemblage was a way to help expand the mind beyond the constricting constraints of traditionalism by pairing non-like objects together and asking viewers to read them as related, as a new whole. Taroko Gorge and, especially, Along the Briny Beach, seem to do something similar in the ways both works make use of their lexia and display. Taroko Gorge places absurdly paired wording in a traditional strophic form while Along the Briny Beach does the same, even using quotes about beaches and the sea from traditional literature, but adds further complexity to the canvas, so to speak, by having 3 additional strings of lexia run horizontally across the screen, one string invisible until an image of a beach slides behind the otherwise background-colored text, revealing it. Kind of overwhelming at first, tbh. Both pose unique challenges to readers and their processes of reading and processing information. But, they also offer so many fascinating possibilities in regards to both. Like with Michael Joyce’s Twelve Blue, there are no clear answers and there is certainly no easy sense of closure. Only limitless possibility. A large expanse of blank space open to interpretation.

Along the Briny Beach

My first page of Along the Briny Beach~

I’m reminded of what Hayles said in an earlier article of her’s we read–that there is no story; only readings. I think this concept applies to Taroko Gorge and its many remixes (and also too many works of assemblage). The traditional notion of authorship is blown out of the water by pieces like these. The program combines the text into stanzas. And, I would argue, the traditional notion of reading is also obliterated by the infinite scroll. I can’t go back. I can only watch. Watch and remember. In this way, the poem becomes a little bit mine–for as long as I can remember it. This work and its design places readers in this odd space, somewhere half-between passive observer and cognitively engaged participant. Along the Briny Beach and Tokyo Garage similarly place readers in this limbo.

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My first page of my fave Tokyo Garage~

The text that slowly inches up the screen is often intellectually or aesthetically or poetically stimulating but, at the same time, its steady and unending ascent can make the text become this endless stream of nonsense, without clear purpose or intent to guide reading. In some ways, these works read as a kind of counter-to, anti-poetry. There is no inherent meaning. No specific place to start nor any closure. At the same time, though, there seems to be this invitation to meditate on the use of language to convey poetic thought and aesthetic appeal and just beauty. What does any of this language really capture? It’s all words. What is beautiful about their repetitive recombinations? Anything? What is the function of poetry and language, especially in this digital age where forms of aesthetic representation are vast and varied and so easily accessible but so rarely able to be appreciated?

Ultimately, I think Taroko Gorge and its remixes provide a way for readers to explore their own preconceptions about language, semiotics, authorship, authorial intent, and reader expectations. The works certainly challenge many traditional conceptions of these topics. But, I think viewing these works as both digital and cognitive kinds of assemblages allows these works to become a question about the overall nature of composing, creating, and interpreting meaning and signification in online spaces as well. At the very least, doing so engaged me with the work in a new–and interesting–way and provided me with a way to develop insight I might not have otherwise.

Sources

Taroko Gorge collection

“Literary Texts as Cognitive Assemblages: The Case of Electronic Literature”

 

~Till next time~

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iii. Hobo Lobo of Hamelin: part twisted fable, part uncanny predictor

When I was looking for the e-lit piece I wanted to present, I knew I had to pick something creative. Something story-driven and maybe just a bit weird. Don’t get me wrong, all of the pieces in the Electronic Literature Collection are extremely creative. Many are story-driven, as well. And many are so very very weird. But something about Hobo Lobo of Hamelin really struck me as The One. Maybe it was the story line blending old fable and modern socio-political commentary. Maybe it was the blended setting of Renaissance and 21st century. Maybe it was the really cool color schemes and site design and music and sketchiness and humor and subtle (and not so much) grotesqueness of it all–

Okay, it was a lot of things, so here goes nothing.

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is a webcomic, a medium I am relatively familiar with, posted from 2011-2014. It is, according to the Hobo Lobo ELC page, “a digital pop-up book about a city, its scruples, some rats, a wolf, his woodwind and the stuff that goes down.” Sounds simple, but it turns out to be a lot more complicated than that. Just one look at the first page gives the reader an expectation of something lighthearted and playful, but… it’s clear by the third “panel” of “page” one–(see: “coked-up rats… freaking everybody out” as citizens of Hamelin try to “get them to fuck off”)–that this story will be a lot more real than originally thought.

There are a few topics I’d like to hit in my exploration of Hobo Lobo, and I’ll put them here in a nice little list so I don’t forget:

  1. Background – programs, author, inspiration, etc.
  2. Story – a simple fable twisted beyond recognition
  3. Themes – the eerie way the tale has aged and “predicted the future”
  4. “More to come…” – ???

Will I be able to cover everything in extensive detail? Probably not. But hey, we’re all friends here. All human. Let’s just go with the flow and maybe we’ll discover some things together.

Background 

First, we’ll check out the behind the scenes, or the back end, of the piece, starting with its author.

Stevan Živadinović of San Antonio, Texas, is a graphic designer, artist, video game design teacher at a creative youth development program, creator of “comics and comic-like things,” and overall a pretty rad dude, if his Twitter and Tumblr are anything to go by. (Note: they are; he’s pretty active.)

On the main Hobo Lobo website, Živadinović has linked his professional portfolio page detailing his credentials, projects, areas of expertise, and contact links. It’s an aesthetically pleasing page with charmingly simple (yet still professional) language and a subtle, almost dry humor (see “Marketing that is dead inside,” “I make things special,” etc.) that carries over into Hobo Lobo. There’s also the quirkily “hidden” background/statistics/about/credits page helpfully titled “What is this thing?” It’s kind of like an info-dump on that page. Any questions you want answered (and others you didn’t know you wanted answered) can be found there.

As for programs, Živadinović utilized an amalgamation of Photoshop, jQuery, JavaScript, Flash, a whole mess of plugins, etc. that culminate into a “Parallaxer platform” / “parallax scrolling storytelling framework,” as far as I understand it, to make Hobo Lobo possible. Each “page” of the story is a long, horizontal strip of an image, consisting of “panels” that blend together (no traditional “gutters” as with print comics) with pencil-drawn images and subtle animations. It’s a mix of 2D and 3D that really just works. Below, you can see the different layers that go into creating this many layered side-scroller, as well as some bits of the coding involved and the visual editing process:

Click to view slideshow.

Borrowed respectfully from here.

Živadinović linked to a tutorial on building said framework and throwing everything together on that info-dump page I mentioned, for those crazy kids out there who want to make their own side-scrolling web comic. He claims himself that the formatting is “janky as hell” under the Technical Considerations section, but personally I find it adds to the sketchy charm of the piece.

I can’t say I’m well-versed in back end stuff like this–coding and site-building and whatnot–so I’ll cap it off here, but as far as I’ve seen, the amount of work and consideration that went into this multimedia work is incredibly impressive. Feel free to peruse those links I gave. There’s some quirky coding throughout that’s arguably as enjoyable as Hobo Lobo itself.

Ah, one more interesting thing I noticed: Živadinović mentioned some of his influences for Hobo Lobo in his parallax tutorial, one of which was MS Paint Adventures. Color me surprised, as I was neck deep in that fandom several years ago. Turns out you can never really escape Homestuck. Learning this, though, I can see the connections–the dry humor, the deep story hidden by lighthearted visuals, the charming music, the multimedia aspects. Maybe it’s fate I picked this comic, then. Or it’ll go terribly wrong and we’re in a doomed timeline, and–

Let’s move on.

Story

ELC’s editorial statement summed up the story as: “A wolf turned Renaissance journeyman travels to the town of Hamelin where the local mayor refuses to pay him for ridding the town of ‘coked-up rats.'” That’s… honestly exactly what we have.

It’s a liner story, nothing crazy or hard to follow. Despite the multimedia aspects, a majority of the story is told through text. Let’s go with like… 35% text, 55% visual imagery, 15% cool animations, 5% rad tunes.

Those statistics are not real, I’m just conjecturing. Bottom line, there’s a lot of text / visuals.

As for content, Hobo Lobo is a curious blend of old and new–“medieval Pied Piper”/”European folktale” and the modern-day-esque, political and media disaster of a town called Hamelin. Even the characters themselves are a mix of this old and new. Heck, even the genre itself and the design choices down to the coding are a mix. It’s really cool.

We’ll read the story together in class (I’d like to get through the whole thing, as it’s not particularly long), but I’d still like to touch a bit on the main characters of Hobo Lobo.

First, we have the story of the Mayor, whose name is literally Mayor Dick Mayor–(did I say subtle humor earlier? I take it back). The mayor runs a “progressive Fascist-Calvinist coalition government” in Hamelin–(essentially, for those like me who can’t really keep political anything straight, it’s an ultra-religious dictatorship). He’s… a terrible and corrupt politician who ignores due process, goes to psychics for advice, and wants to purge the city of rats–all for the purpose of staying in power during the next election.

Hm……… Interesting………… That’s not familiar at all………………..

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 01.36.27.png
“DICK MAYOR HATES YOU” – p. 1.4

He’s cryptically told to hire a professional.

Thus enters Hobo Lobo, the “protagonist” of sorts.

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 02.16.21
“I am Hobo Lobo, a mover, a shaker, a fraternal boilermaker, a mender of loose ends, a doer of deeds, and a sometimes indoctrinator of youth! If you have a Gordian knot that is blowing your mind, bring it here for the untying—I’ll even draw you a complimentary diagram!” – p. 2.3

This “Renaissance Journeyman” rolls into town ready to accept any job he can for the barest of fees. Seems a little too good of a match for our Mayor Dick Mayor.

It’s interesting in the beginning–seeing the way these two characters are set up. The mayor gives a very established, power-driven but laissez-faire vibe. Words that come to mind when thinking about his character, to me, include: manufactured, corrupt (-ed and -ing), uncaring, misled, ignorant, perfection-seeking, power-hungry, modern (in the bleakest sense).

Hobo Lobo, on the other hand, from the very start has more of an old but carefree vibe. Words like versatile, pure (in a weird sense), supernatural/fantasy (see: page, folklore come to mind. (I’m struggling to find the right words, but basically: he’s a complex character that juxtaposes the mayor… but when you think a little harder they have some things in common. Would it be selfishness, perhaps?) You get the sense that he knows what’s up from the get-go regarding his eventual deal with the mayor, but it would seem that a more base need wins out in Lobo’s moral dilemma.

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 07.37.32
“Sometimes it wasn’t easy being a professional renaissance journeyman. It was often harder being a hobo.” — p. 2.10

Continuing this look at blending old and new, simple and complex: the plot itself is another element. We start off with a simple story about a simple (but grim) deal made in a town–one that could take place in any setting and for now seems to be more medieval than anything–but come to realize that there are more complex things at play here. Socio-political unrest, religious zealots in power, xenophobia, genocide, the effect of the media (Fourth Estate)… All of which… is uncannily relevant.

Which brings us to the themes of Hobo Lobo.

Themes

Let’s start with the obvious. Hobo Lobo is very politically charged, showcasing political extremism, complacency for that extremism, racial and social ignorance, and overall exacerbation by the media (which, in Hobo Lobo, is aptly named “Fourth Estate” in a logo startlingly reminiscent of General Electric and another of Fox News).

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 11.51.28
Please note the ass and the clown as news anchors. Gave me a good chuckle.

As I am not particularly one for going on and on about politics, so I won’t be touching too much on it (aside from opening the floor for discussion, of course), I’ll just point out that this piece was written in 2014. While the themes were relevant back then, it was more of an extreme future–a laughable 1984-esque dystopian dream.

Well.

In our year 2018.

It’s safe to say that Stevan Živadinović predicted the future.

That’s really all I’ll say about that, unless anyone has any comments they’d like to bring up about anything socio-political or Fourth Estate. Feel free to discuss!

There is one other topic that I would like to touch on, though. The rats.

The rats, while not given much of a voice in the story, are portrayed in a somewhat polarized way. The narrator and the mayor both boast about how the rats are “freaking people out” (p. 1) and “destroying the livelihoods of taxpayers” (p.2),  but on the third page, we’re given a wordless panorama of their lives–a vibrant array of who rats are as a people. You can even see it subtly throughout the second page, as rats go about their lives and get help from Lobo, as well.

Click to view slideshow.

… only to be slaughtered by him.

Click to view slideshow.

It’s a brief snapshot, the beginning of the third page, but it works, because the rats’ absence is felt very strongly in the subsequent page. “This was noticed” (p. 3.2), but the mayor and media gloated of this great achievement of historical significance. It’s a testament to the rampant xenophobia/racism of today–of the fear of someone “different,” the impact of their absence to a society, and the disgusting, prideful sense of achievement when that society is consequently seen as “free” from that “different” force.

“More to come…” 

The seventh page of Hobo Lobo is, in one word, haunting. You can tell on the previous page that Lobo is fed up with the mayor, with Hamelin’s ignorance, with the whole of society, and so he comes to a decision with a swift kick and a busted radio.

The anticipation that builds up with the seventh page, and the realization of what Lobo is doing–luring the town’s children in that same Pied Piper-esque way that he lured the rats to their deaths–is like watching the second shoe drop. That simple, almost righteous vibe Lobo gave off earlier crumbles away–purely visually, which is even more powerful–and you get a sick sense that there really are no “good” characters in this story.

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 08.32.36
“More to come…” — p. 7.4

And he must realize it, too, with that distraught, perhaps even self-loathing, look to him. This must go against everything about his character, but it must also give him some kind of twisted satisfaction to get revenge. The question is, which one wins out? Will he regret this decision or accept it and be satisfied by it?

I’m sure that that is what we would find out later on in the story… but this is the final page, and has been for about four years. According to that Info-Dump page

screenshot-2018-10-02-at-08-41-44.png

… it’s been a while. That chart there represents the days between pages. It looks like an update won’t be coming in the near future. (Which is fair! It’s common in the fanfiction world; life gets in the way and updates come few and far between. It’s also a mood, I say as I recall a story I started sophomore year of high school that is only halfway finished… I’m a graduate student… Actually, Hobo Lobo started the same year I started that story. Ha. Small world.)

Anyway, honestly? This “final page” acting as an ending is… actually perfect. Hauntingly poetic. Stories with no definite ending that leave you with more questions than answers, with a sense of worry in your gut for what comes next and dreaded acceptance that you’ll never find out… they’re really cool. Especially a deeply morally-rooted and horribly relatable one as this.

Were this story to continue…what do you think the ending would be? Are the children okay? What will Lobo do? What will become of the mayor? the town?

And, considering the eerily similar state of our own society today, as touched on earlier, what does that say about the future of our society? Are we waiting for the second shoe to drop? Where are we in the Hobo Lobo story? What will become of us?

Well. I’d say that about wraps up my little exploration of Hobo Lobo of Hamelin. Props to Stevan Živadinović for “[MAKING] A THING” that would turn out to be a masterpiece on modern-day socio-political commentary and complex moral dilemma.

It’s a rad little tale.

— Masooch

 

Links Links Links!

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin: http://hobolobo.net/
Behind the Scenes page: http://hobolobo.net/what-is-this-thing
ELC Entry page: http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=hobo-lobo-of-hamelin
Stevan Živadinović’s portfolio page: http://portfolio.hobolobo.net/
Parallax Tutorial: https://www.creativebloq.com/javascript/building-parallax-scrolling-storytelling-framework-8112838

“Hobo Lobo of Hamelin” & “ScareMail Generator”

Screenshot_5    “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin”  is my favorite elit so far. It recreates the European folktale” Pied Piper of Hamelin”.  I have never heard the folktale before but I can catch up with by reading the elit version.  I love the idea of side-scrolling and “infinite canvas”. They recall my memory of the comic books I read when I was a kid.

Screenshot_1

The third page impressed me a lot. It has a few texts, but provides a long image to show how Hobe Lobe eliminated rats. The creepy images, which illustrate death of rats, are also presented as a politcial satrie. I saw the irrelevent objects flying everywhere, such as apples, trukey, lobstor, a shirt, socks, tie and sculptrues. some sybolisms,  like the statues of liberty, may be implications of  political situations.

Screenshot_2

I really enjoy the ending. It is implict but leaves a reader some imaging space. I really want to proceed reading but it ends at page7.

Screenshot_4

The ScareMail Generater is quite siginificant. I learned its value of “nonsense” by reading its intruction and oprating the project.  it is defending the dataveillance and asking for privacy. It perhaps cannot change anything, but it stands for a brave voice and initiative awareness.

Screenshot_3

I am very curious with the reason that ScareMail can be one of the elit. By reading and dicussing with my classmates, I am gradually understanding that. The mail is using digital language to interve the NSA Deploy Program and fight against govermental surveilance.  That means some people are using electronic literature to change the traditional mind. The power of elit not only deliever message but also is a weapon to defend ourselves.  Besides ScareMail, the web provides other projects, such as Safebook, which is againt privacy stealing. Those work seems to be nonsense. But they are pioneers to  lead an innovation and revolution of human society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Journalism!

“It’s like journalism–only better.” (pg. 6, slide 3)

This is bad

My Second Rodeo

So….that Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is some story, right? Some great work of far-off, far-fetched fiction, right? Like, could you even imagine living in a world like that???? Wild, right?

nervous laughter

I’m dying

WildHelp.

Alright, alright. Enough thinly veiled references to the blazing “hugest” dumpster fire politics in the greatest country in the world have become. However cathartic it may be…. 

I’m ready for Ashton Kutcher to pop out and reveal America’s been punked.

I remember when I first read Stevan Živadinovic’s Hobo Lobo a few years back, during election year, I believe. I was blown away, then, by how poignant the piece seemed. The allusions to socio-political points of contention such as xenophobia, nationalism, and big news media corporations (like Fox News) seemed so clear and so powerful, especially when paired with the invocations of Big Brother and the Fourth Estate. These complex, complicate, and, often, dark concepts seemed such a contrast, too, to the storybook, Dr-Seuss-esque elements used to convey them. It was shocking to see these elements so overtly packaged for consumption by the youth. Indoctrination is supposed to be subtle, you know?

Hobo Lobo seemed to be as much a modern reimagining of The Pied Piper medieval folktale as it was scathing commentary on contemporary politics, the 24/7 news cycle, and the effects of late-capitalism on the US.

Now, the work is f*cking horrifying.

the horror

If Hobo Lobo was too close for comfort before, now it’s a living nightmare.

I mean, look at this face:

Dick's bulbous head.png

Could use more orange….

Nightmare fuel.

And, that’s just the imagery. When paired with the actual language used in this work, Hobo Lobo becomes highly unsettling. In fact, despite this work being ELit, I found it very difficult not to read it as I would a traditional narrative. The work, though, I think lends itself to that kind of reading–being modeled after a hybrid of the standard design of a pop-up storybook and the typical design of comic books. Unlike comic books proper, though, pages shift fluidly into each other, elements of both language and imagery flowing from one “panel” to the next, creating a “poly-linear timeline” and a kind of “infinite canvas”. Time seems to progress as the work “flows” from one event into the next. Persistence of narrative occurs in that the imagery of each page coincides with the lexia beneath it, nothing de-contextualized about it. In fact, everything seems embedded in a thinly-veiled context–i.e a not veiled at all one #didn’teventry~ The pieces of propaganda strewn purposefully in the background of most panels seem to reinforce a socio-political reading.

1st screen_LI

I mean, you can’t reference Big Brother and not expect the ghost of Orwell to ruin the party. That’s his thing.

Hobo Lobo is a work that is meant to be read. Even the pages that do not make use of lexia, use images and sound–like pipe music and the laughter of children, the resolute thud of stone against earth–to convey not-totally-illusive narrative.

Click to view slideshow.

I mean, these images are narrative. Even if I did not have the accompanying limerick to direct my interpretation, I think I could figure out the story. 

Anyway, regardless of what contemporary parallels I draw from the content, I believe  Živadinovic’s Hobo Lobo is a compelling work of Elit, whose language, design, and aesthetic all work in tandem to immerse readers in this upside-down, surreal-but-hyper-real, topsy-turvy caricature world.  It’s combination of whimsical, folktale, Dr. Seuss-esque with snarky, political satire is both charming and revealing of the dark truth of indoctrination: that it’s all child’s play until the stone bites the dust and you’re swallowed whole.

Click to view slideshow.

References How I know my sh*t:

Elmcip “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin”

I ❤ E-Poetry “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin”

****

~Till next time~

hannibalwinkingsexilygif

 

ii. something something robots ?

I’m last minute/late (depending on whenif I fall asleep at my laptop) buT HERE WE GO.

Let’s start off by touching on what went on last week. I went into class knowing not much about Twelve Blue and I think I came out knowing even less. It’s a beautifully artful and interactive piece filled with deep themes and meanings and intertwining plotlines about life and all that jazz, but when we were trying to figure out the precise who’s and the what’s and such, not even the internet could help us get the full picture together.

Thanks, internet.

Regardless, just from reading through (note: reading; not comprehending,  not understanding) an hour’s worth of pages from the piece, you get a lost and jumbled feeling, but… and this could just be me… a sense of empathy for the characters? Considering they’re all going through That Jumbled Mess and are probably on a similar (but definitely not exact) level of confusion and lost…ness (?) as you are just reading it.

Well, anyway.

That was last week.

I still think it was a conscious decision to have the already-clicked links blend into the background color to, idk, signify a dwindling lack of choice? Like running out of options? But you can still click the link if you look hard enough?? Does that make you stubborn??? Does that signify repeating past mistakes and reaching the same outcomes even though you think you’ll find something different or achieve a different result???? Idk man, I’m tired.

Anyway. This week we start presentations. I’m looking forward to them. I’m glad someone picked Façade. I would have, but (1) I’ve only ever watched someone play it, (2) that takes some Download Power feat. A Lot of Effort, and (3) … -shrug- I like The Hobo Lobo of Hamelin, sue me. (Fun fact: I almost picked The Hunt for The Gay Planet{happy #BiWeek y’all} but the story, while hilarious and oddly deep, gets mildly Lewd™ at one point, and I am Far Too Shy to read that out loud to a bunch of my peers. Maybe I’ll do a blog post on it one day. That day is not Today, though, so–). Looking forward to the Façade presentation, though! I’ll definitely contribute to that conversation. c. 2011 Masooch is ready to shine.

Let’s. Talk. About. The. I forget–

BOTS. That’s it. These buggers:

Screenshot 2018-09-25 at 00.11.31
Screenshotted respectfully from here.

I remember these from #NetNarr days. Wild times. We had the option to make our own, but I think I was too busy reading fanfic so I just reacted to them instead. Y’know, like those React Youtubers who are wildly popular for some reason. No I’m not tagging any of them good golly do you think I wanna get sued? Please, I am broke.

It’s Fine, tho, I guess.

Anyway.

{Totally random, but this song is stuck in my head. Anyone else here see Ed the other night? Oof. Bless.}

Bots. Bots are cool. We checked out Pentametron in class last week, and I had no idea how complex these lil friends can be. Pulling tweets that just happen to be in iambic pentameter?? First of all, rad. Second of all, I love iambic pentameter. Any kind of writing with a rhythm to it is just… just…

https://giphy.com/embed/l41YleLHixOeCWNe8

via GIPHY

Alright, now I’ll chat a bit about some of the other ones I checked out. Won’t go into all of them because, I’mma tell you now, I have no idea where to begin with RealHumanPraise. Let’s not even go there.

Station 51000 is a good mix of a story: of the ridiculous plus the realistic. I feel like a combination like that always makes something–even an inanimate object like an adrift buoy–have a personality, a life. It’s like those Disney Pixar movies. It’s WALL-E, only with weather warnings and a sailor’s wistful musings and guilt. I think. I never read Moby Dick.

But anyway, that buoy is now my son and I love him.

Speaking of sons, I’ve also adopted TinyCrossword. My little annoying honor student who doesn’t get any retweets or replies but still churns out crossword after crossword… You go, lil buddy. You’re doing great and I love you. (The words you use are terrible, though, my god.)

Then there is Tiny Star Field, who is adorable and pure and wholesome. I mean look at this:

How cute is that???

Brings up the question of “is this literature?” or, as my sleep deprived brain gets a chuckle at, “is it lit tho.”

… it is 12:45 AM.

I suppose the literature aspect is just up to interpretation. Tiny Star Fields can be inspiration or add to an aesthetic. Station 51000 absolutely has a story in and of itself. Tiny Crossword’s purpose is to irritate inspire an expansion of vocabulary. I guess. In a sense, they’re all stories. And like I said about personifying inanimate objects earlier, there’s a semblance of life to them, and that gives them personality and charm.

Long story short, Twitter bots take a lot of work and are real cute/real cool/mildly irritating (seriously, Tiny Crossword? “Oireachtas”? “ChristianUnion”? I love you, but lighten up.) and produce really cool things!

Is that what being a parent is like.

Alright, one more little thing to touch on before I crash. And I am about to crash.

Reconstructing Mayakovsky is … I was gonna say terrifying just based on this accursed menu and its echo-y, click-y, Doppler-effect-y noise.

I mean look at this thing. Click that link. I’ll even help you out. Click this link. Hear that? That’s what you hear in the void. That’s chilling. Do Not Like.

Screenshot 2018-09-25 at 01.02.56
Screenshotted respectfully from here.

I’m positive there’s some good story in this piece. Positive. Did I spend more than a few minutes trying to find it? Big yikes because I did not. It’s not that I was weirded out, but I was weirded out. I did click on “Movies” there and watched some kind of infomercial… something about human-machine stuff and a four P model and Better Life Guaranteed! dystopia kinda stuff. So yeah. Not terrified at all. Just from that bit alone, I was reminded of a game called Soma. Y’all like some psychological/survivor horror games? Moral and ethical ambiguity and underwater nightmares? Robots??? Click away.

Honestly… I think… That’s it for this week…

This one jumped around a bit, but! That’s how life knows, y’know?

See y’all next week.

–Masooch