Lotus Blossom begins with a countdown, which right off the bat suggests an impending urgency. What is to come has been expected for a while and once the music begins, the story unravels fastly. The speaker finds himself wanting to leave for different places that for various reasons cannot finally happen. Being stuck in Ulchiro, the bad ventilation provides for a stale and chaotic environment defined by a rainy weather that increases the suffocation with its humidity. After the speaker gives up on escaping to Pyongyang or the French Riviera, he manages to find a way to exit into the underground transportation tunnels, where he finds a most peculiar woman that will come to be his only nexus to a new reality. This man is in a concrete place, but the constantly fast flashing words resemble his fast paced thoughts. He’s receiving a new perspective from what the woman teaches him only by explaining what is garbage and how we relate to it. The music playing in the background is an upbeat jazz, and the words flash according to it’s melodious dissonance. At first, what the woman says makes no sense to the speaker, but soon he comes to realize that she’s speaking in great wisdom like that of great postmodernist philosophers Derrida and Deleuzes. The woman calmly explains that they too have been where he is at, and he is confused, wondering if it was this same woman who inspired their philosophical theories. The woman explains indirectly how she has never met these men he mentions, which goes to exemplify how the value of her words may fall on deaf ears easily, as it always tends to happen. However, her insight into what we deem irrelevant makes the speaker reflect on the importance of all we ignore/take for granted, and how in our self-imposed entrapment, enlightment is always waiting to be discovered. All the woman had to give was garbage, as she continued to talk while emptying the (very specific) 232 trash cans, but that same garbage is everywhere along with us because we are part of its material existance. It depends on us to be produced, left behind and abandoned, yet in its meaningless appearance, our purpose in life is reflected: “Matter has no essence, it’s essence it’s its contrary.”
Humidity increases as the poem ends, and the sense of urgency returns (or rather never left) but is now redirected into the constructiveness of the new reality the speaker has come upon. The lights keep flickering, and her final reflection is of her as Sisyphus; her existence will cease, but matter (garbage) will remain, and that which we ignore is in fact a better survivor than we are.
Rock, paper, scissors… He must decide what and where to lead on to with this newly discovered perspective. This unknown cleaning lady, has opened Pandora’s Box for him and now he must make do with his reality and the fact that no matter what, all his worries will cease with him and the cycle will always continue with another self-enslaved human. Like Sisyphus, we are condemned to an uphill prison, but only those wise enough manage to see it and theorize upon it. We happen to expect such sophisticated thoughts from philosophers, but in the end, matter superseding matter, makes us all the same, and this time, the cleaning lady exemplifies such concept.
Check it out: http://www.yhchang.com/LOTUS_BLOSSOM.html
The three works assigned for today were rather different from those of the past. I am starting to see an evolution, a more poem-like quality to them than I had thought I ever would. Their technique and approach to poesy is different from the usual verse/stanza poem, maybe I’m finally adapting/learning to use the difference in favor of the poetic value of each piece.
Out of the three, “Thoughts Go By” was my favorite. It is a small poem, but in its size one cannot tell the depths to which it can go, or else Pound and Neruda have deceived me so far. The effect caused by one reading the words while listening to a different set of words emulates the reality of a train of thought. We never stop to ponder where our thoughts go, or how while thinking about something important our other senses interject with all sorts of random details. From that mental collage that we have learned to filter and use to our convenience, emerge our final thoughts, but who is to say that observing the pigeon drinking from the muddy water gathered in a pot hole along the way home did not affect somehow one’s emotions or perceptions? The contrast achieved by the writers shows an intricate care for detail because both texts used are relevant to each other, while remaining individual enough for one’s mind to notice the difference whilst observing their similarities.
“ii-in the white darkness” manages to establish a deeper connection between the images and the readers’ own experiences. It is framed with a sense of lethargy and longing for all the past lost to idle memories. Each slide sweeps in smoothly, and with the colors and textures presented it entices the reader to establish a certain degree of empathy towards the emotions represented by the images. Besides, who nowadays hasn’t met someone with Alzheimers’, which makes this story even more impressive. “Ah” is the most simple of the three but it still manages to captivate one’s attention with the constant smooth waves. Its topic is different and not lethargic as with the previous two, which is perhaps why it is a much lighter poem to read/interpret.
What makes these e-poems more “poemy” in my point of view, is the topic around which they were developed. These are much more in touch with our human sensibility, thus they manage to grasp one’s attention better. A poem should be a work of art that evokes different and sometimes contrasting emotions in its readers. A poet writes of unknown times and emotions with a language that anybody can interpret, and everybody else will only live through that particular experience through the poet’s words. Writing a good poem is no easy task, because capturing emotions and feeling into words is near impossible.
I see light at the end of the tunnel, these poems seem to have finally tweaked with my perspective about e-poetry, hopefully the winds will carry on the same path.
Although the three works in question were written (made?) by the same author, their plausibility fluctuates from E for Effective to W for WTF. A Fine View gets the E for effective and/or effort. The movement reminded me of Star Wars which could ail my bias but not really; I liked this one the most. As one keeps reading, the movement creates a sense of urgency and tragedy, this playing against the urgency of the words too.
Euclid is somewhere in between the E and the W, but it is somewhat more coherent than Walkdon’t. If it hadn’t been for the brief explanation given before attempting to read it, I would have been even more lost with Walkdon’t. The movement of the words seems much more simple and erratical, and perhaps only succeeds in creating a good circular confusion. Was it intended so by the writer? If so, jackpot. If not, maybe I just didn’t get it…
The reality portrayed by Illya Szilak’s novel Reconstructing Mayakovsy, makes a perfect example for the real use of electronic literature and its maze-like characteristics. She had an interface woven that prompts the reader to find an ever-elusive sense of direction and place, when stranded in the middle of a narrative that has apparently neither beginning nor end. Depending on the reader’s choice, the story unfolds without prior contextualization, and an almost random sorting of the options given encompass what Russian Futurists foretold a thousand years ago. They envisioned a world where technology would make us acquire a fast-paced lifestyle, and our artful expression would never be stoic again. The writer herself refers to the influence of the Russian Futurists as an “air of absurdity” that inspired her work. Writers like Vladimir Mayakovsky preferred to emphasize on the singularity of a certain experience instead of forcefully having to see everything as a chain of events. With conventional literature, a chapter has little to no value when analyzed just by itself. Only when it is accompanied by its proper successions –and/or other prior chapters, the reader is able to see it as a complete work and thus esteem the value of the book as a whole, because that is how conventionality has taught us to frame literary worth. Contemporary followers of Russian Futurists like Szilak -through Mayakovsky’s inspiration, present literature and art as momentary glances into what is then to be constructed into a concept of wholeness. With her technique, the reader has almost unlimited choices as to how to proceed and her novel may be read from numerous orders and variations while still adhering to a narrative and quasi-conclusive storyline.
The choices made by Szilak, compliment her narrative intentionality as they provide a proper contextualization for the story’s development. The way in which the reader interprets Reconstructing Mayakovsky is highly aided by the textuality provided by its interface. The movement, sounds, and randomization, make her text pertain to its inspiration in Russian Futurists. Perhaps her work could be understood without the mention of them, but that serves to anchor her novel into a historical background that also provides an explanation for the emergence of this movement. The characters in her novel are undergoing an impending war and the death causalities it always brings, and just as in the past, they too are unsure of what time will bring or how they have survived so far. Similarly, the war events prior to 1912, lead a generation of artists to seek change and advocate changeability. Permanence and patterns did not have a place in what their generation sought because their lives were constantly busied with their ever-present reality of war and death. When challenged and oppressed by their environment, they turned their cataclysmic fears into single portrayals that when put together may mesh into almost a whole reality. Their apprehension at life’s vulnerability and the stoicism to which their artful expressions had been confined, is the direct reason of their desire for change. They pioneered in enticing the reader to savor an instant of art, a glimpse into the artists’ mind, without ever getting a final and definite ending piece because there is no possibility of ever getting to know it all, especially in times of political and social instabilities. However, their intent was not precisely to make the reader appreciate everything as a microcosm, but to defy conventionality and establish a free way for a literary erratic meandering, and that they did. The multiple narratives present in this electronic work, manage to remain cohesive because of the precedent established by its interface. Even though not all of the concepts presented are necessarily, constantly, or obviously related, they manage to intertwine in their casual and implicit cohesion through the frame of reference from which they depart. More than an inspiration, Russian Futurism makes Szilak’s text exist because it is the essence upon which she developed her narrative.
Because of the way in which Szilak’s work is framed, the reader may come to different realizations about its significance and meaning. One of the many choices allowed by technology in this case, is the endless possibilities that may be expected out of this work. Mayakovsky and his colleagues envisioned in 1912 a world of change and fast-paced innovation. Perhaps unknowingly, they foretold today’s frantic dependence on faster machines and the implications of such speedy lifestyles. They wanted the extreme opposite of what their lives were like, so they aimed for a chaotic depiction of reality in which nothing is ever constant because some things never manage to materialize before they have been tweaked already, like with electronic literature. The Russian Futurists would have indubitably enjoyed the change from their lives to our fast-paced existences. However, their apathy at their sober lives was an entrapment that still lingers nowadays. When everything is already going at full speed, one may ponder what –if any, are the solutions for our present fast-paced technological prisons. The only escape most of them saw fit was suicide and even though we live in a Russian Futurist’s utopia, the same feelings that brought their catharsis may still lead us all into the same demise that took most of their lives. After all, the speed of entrapment does not matter, for its suffocating effects may be even more lethal when warped out of control.
Strings and Strings Mark II seem to me a perfect example of minimal usage of words that aided by their movement manage to convey much more than a couple of words could deliver. For example, the ones about Flirting, are not entirely visible, yet the movement suggests doubt and anxiety at finally disclosing the words that are buoying in the surface. Technically, there are no “real” words used on flirt and flirt (cntnd), yet the errant way in which they move, allow the reader who has been in that same situation, to understand the complexity of this situation. Nevertheless, perhaps a prior familiarization with the contexts Waber wants to describe is crucial in order to understand what is going on. Otherwise, the erratic movement would mean nothing to someone who is completely detached/not fond of human interaction (Asperger’s?)
In Wishes, by Annie Abrahams, the wishes are much more vivid because of the interactive layout she used. The colors and frantic patterns of movement, suggest an urgency for seeking said wishes. If these texts were not animated and able to flash and twirl, and so on, they would have no meaning whatsoever. That is the crucial importance of e-literature, yet it may also be one of the many points one could argue against it. What validity can something have, if with a handful of words it is trying to convey deep emotions and desires that can only be attained by distracting our minds into color and pattern association? Highly debatable…
My questions for Dan Waber:
I’ve read the Sestinas as changing moods and tones because the 6 repeated words hint at stressed and distressed states of being. Am I far from the actual intent of the repetition of said words? (Irais)
Do you think it would be possible to transmit what these electronic works do, if their format was changed? Could they be portrayed in a different style/mode as to resemble the author’s original intent, or they are just made to be e-lit? (Irais)
The only prevalent pattern in the two sestinas I read, is that the ending words of each line give it a slight frame from which to be analyzed around. The six ending words are needful, Sunday, relaxed, unsure, mended, furtive. In every verse, their order is shuffled, but since they work as modifiers for the noun following them, they also assign a special tone to the lines. In having these words used constantly, each line keeps a constant digression from being relaxed stories to unsure codes. While I was reading it, these words kept altering my perception of the poem overall because a single setting or mood for the situations presented. Although it is randomly paired like so, because the poem is structured as a sistine, it retains much more “sense” and emotiveness than other randomized works.
As it was mentioned in class before, this type of poem evokes a stream of consciousness because if one tried to verbalize what goes in our minds when looking/observing something, the result would pretty much be like what Dan Waber presents. There is no logic way of setting in paper the dynamics of how we think and process external input into concepts and thoughts, yet we have been taught to appreciate the quality of permanence in our literature. Maybe it’s time for a shift in how we want/see literature; perhaps in a few years e-lit will be representative of our generation’s way of life… That for me raises the terrible fear that it may be for better or for worse, and I fear the latter.
I want this ring!!
I was bored and made this. Its a TARDIS based ring with a tension set 1CT Princess Cut center stone. The three round stones is the Police Box sign, the two sets of four baguettes symbolize the windows, and a small princess cut below that to symbolize the instructions found on the front of the Police Box.
HOY que es el cumpleaños de mi hermana, no tengo
nada que darle, nada. No tengo nada, hermana.
Todo lo que poseo siempre lo llevo lejos.
A veces hasta mi alma me parece lejana.
Pobre como una hoja amarilla de otoño
y cantor como un hilo de agua sobre una huerta:
los dolores, tú sabes cómo me caen todos
como al camino caen todas las hojas muertas.
Mis alegrías nunca las sabrás, hermanita,
y mi dolor es ése, no te las puedo dar:
vinieron como pájaros a posarse en mi vida,
una palabra dura las haría volar.
Pienso que también ellas me dejarán un día,
que me quedaré solo, como nunca lo estuve.
Tú lo sabes, hermana, la soledad me lleva
hacia el fin de la tierra como el viento a las nubes!
Pero para qué es esto de pensamientos tristes!
A ti menos que a nadie debe afligir mi voz!
Después de todo nada de esto que digo existe…
No vayas a contárselo a mi madre, por Dios!
Uno no sabe cómo va hilvanando mentiras,
y uno dice por ellas, y ellas hablan por uno.
Piensa que tengo el alma toda llena de risas,
y no te engañarás, hermana, te lo juro.
A day like today, in 2002, my sister dedicated this poem to me. Now that she’s gone, my birthday is just not the same. I miss you P.
Vladimir Mayakovsky was a Soviet and Russian poet whose work often portrayed social critiques that only some managed to understand. That caused him to be frowned upon at times, but after the Bolshevik Revolution, his publications became synonyms to political activism and an emphasis of their need of change. However, he soon grew weary of Joseph Stalin’s false attempts at change and he became one of the focuses of his political manifestos. Like his fellow Russian Futurists, he followed in the footsteps of Filipo Marinetti, and repudiated the stoic character of art in the past. They deemed classical works like Dostoyevsky or Dashkin as “static art” and their new style advocated a lack of “proper” order. One of their most curious practices was that of “Zaum”, in which they blended words in incoherent ways sometimes for their sound alone. Zaum may roughly be interpreted as “beyonsense” and because they challenged literature so directly, their aim even covered political affiliations. In Reconstructing Mayakovsky, the layout is presented in a mixed way and in the archives, the interaction is through pictures that act like pop-ups. That chaotic dis-order aims to present the reader with a futuristic view of no uncertainties or discordance of life’s different aspects through technology. Upon clicking one picture, some others related to it light up and thus one is indicated which way could be followed.
Generative Poetry is run by a machine with a code developed for Concatenation, and their main aim is to present different combinations of words that can also represent violence. The colors and sounds employed also serve to emphasize on such principle.The first of the works is called Concatenation, and each string of words is connected with the others in succession but it also allows for a periodic repetition, perhaps to maintain a poetic vibe. The second work is called When you reach Kyoto and its pictures echo with the loud and aggravating sounds of a busy city played in the background. The third one is called Samtexts, and it shows a long string of incoherent letters that one can click on to make them disappear and reveal the “true” word or phrase. In each of them, violence is present and succeeds in presenting a somewhat inhospitable setting, so their purpose of portraying violence is well served.
After reading about Mayakovsky’s life and political let downs, I believe I would like to explore his work along with that of the Russian Futurists into understanding Reconstructing Mayakovsky as the “commercial website gone amok” described by Illya Szilak. My approach is yet undeveloped, but I think the topic may be analyzed as presented electronically comparing how it impacts -whether positively or negatively, the work of Vladimir Mayakovsky himself.