All posts by emmanuelagyemangdua

Long Blog Post #2–THE LAST PERFORMANCE

THE LAST PERFORMANCE

http://thelastperformance.org/title.php

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The electronic literature project that I chose to explore and engage for my second long blog post is a writing project called “The Last Performance”. It is a constrained archive of collaborative writings that has been synchronized under the theme of lastness in relation to modern art forms of interpretation like dancing (final art of expression), and theatre (a final performance). The Last Performance is an ongoing project that was “conceived in response to work of the Chicago-based performance collective, Goat Island, and their decision, after 20 years of practice, to create a last performance.” Upon completion of this writing project, the Goat Island Company will end in other to make room for the ‘unknown’ as they have put it on their mission statement.

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The Last Performance is a broad social interface that invites participants to contribute texts and words that will be incorporated into the unfinished work to function as raw (material) data for the site’s performance via algorithmic processes. The database is catalogues into lenses, and each lens has a word bank that fits less than one of the six project catalogues to reflect the derivative of the word Last. Tangentially the format of The Last Performance is structured to emulate the Haggai Sophia—the dome that was constructed as a church, then restricted into a mosque but now is a museum of arts that holds the history and jewels of Istanbul. The transformations of which the dome went through then become the precursor for this digital literature project.

The process of contributing to this particular project is guided by specific constraints or directives, (the project uses these two words interchangeably: the former being more usually associated with writing, the latter with performance), and the use of creative response to fit within the theme of Lastness. The constraints, which may be phrased as a question, an instruction, a topic, etc., are open to interpretation and may be responded to in any number of ways: directly or indirectly, overtly or discretely depending on how the audience

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The image above is the structure of the main platform on which The Last Performance is constructed. The ©s are the six main constrains by which the database organizes the word contributions that are submitted to the lenses. Each lens serves a different purpose of cataloguing underneath the six different constraints.

 

Within one of the many feature that are showcased in the project is a Lasting Directive feature that shows the many forms in which the word last could be used in the English language. I found this to be very profound and useful to my person, as it was a way for me to expound on one of the many meanings of the project (which was to explain The Last Performance)

 

http://collection.eliterature.org/2/

Fun

Pie Fingers Watermelon: Delicious

My chin and fingers sticky enough to lick when there’s nothing left

Watermelon pie with a sweet cookie crust and a creamy topping … down my chin, fingers sticky enough to like when there’s nothing left

My family loves this pie. Cubes of sweet watermelon “float” in a creamy filling made from condensed milk and whipped topping with a hint

Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add pistachios. … Finger food · Christmas finger food about a pint

See, I had this idea of making a “watermelon pie” that was as light, cool German way of frying

Oh yes, and there was a cow in my past, so we sometimes ate at the Sticky Fingers, Barbecue Restaurant in Myrtle Beach.

This 4 ingredient pie is just what you need on a hot summer day! Easy, light and delicious

Watermelon flavoring is racially insensitive…after she licks her fingers then rubs her belly

Thanks for the pie, Tess

We’re going to bet that some of you ate watermelon over the weekend. For us going back and forth through a watermelon with a few prayers that the knife doesn’t suddenly decide to fly through the thick rind and cut off a finger is a delicious thought

 

After much merited excitement and  silly thoughts about this assignment and the many words I could fuse together to create nonsense, I concluded to work with the words ‘pie’ and ‘watermelon’. The results I found on the two words were more than adequate to use to  formulate  a flarf poem but I was not satisfied with what I found so I spiced it up the searching by inserting ‘finger’ since it plays a big role in both pie and watermelon consumption. It was a wild decision but I loved what I discovered by adding a twist to my nonsense search. I love flarf poetry I think it’s a wonderful past time. I might have found a hobby by this assignment.

Long Blog Post #1: Technology Dependence

What we have been accessing in class this half of the semester has had much to do with the down-spiraling of human society because of technology. The juncture at which technology meets humanity is one of compromise. A comprise by which humanity is the price to pay for a feasible, more orderly lifestyle.  To mitigate the discomfort of human intercourse, we substitute face time conversations with virtual ones, or in many instances (as observed in in-class texts) we utilize cyberspace appliances to run our everyday knowledge transactions. In the past weeks we have discussed and perused novels and blogs, as well as, databases and have accessed their harmfulness to us.

In the Feed, M.T. Anderson shows us the dangers of technology through the character of Titus; the character of Titus warns us about how complacent and ejected from our basic selves technology makes people.  After losing the one he loved (Violet) he learns that the love for one another is more important than the “Feed”. The lesson of suggests that we must not be marked by self-satisfaction especially when it is accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies; there is much more in life to live for as people. The universality of the lesson not only applies to Titus, but extends beyond the boundaries of the “Feed” to admonish today’s society.  The parallel between the “Feed” story and today’s society is so powerful that ignoring it will be detrimental to self. In the book “Feed” the masses have computer chips inserted inside their brains (making their life decisions). Similarly, our society today is grotesquely dependent on technology. With the pace of advancements in social media technology, as well as, digital communication devices we slowly forgo the propriety that is our ability to think for ourselves. Just like in the “Feed” we now leave decisions both trivial and life-changing to tools like Siri*–an apple application that works as an ‘informative and suggestive engine’. With the frequency at which we use laptops, smartphones, Facebook, and e-mail it is not impossible to see that one day we may have computer chips inserted inside our heads. As time passes the fictional plotline of “Feed” could be our reality. The “Feed” then becomes a thematic representation of how we are surrounded by so much technology that we ignore the finer things in life, like family and friends. It alludes to our natural knack to be led or have our lives facilitated by a medium or by another force beside ourselves. This has been true in much of the literature we have looked at this semester. For instance, in “The Machine Stops”, the dystopian future describes a world in which almost all humans have lost the ability to fend for themselves. As a result they create around them artificial dependencies like a machine that facilitates and makes up for their shortcomings as human beings. So now they have created an environment whereby they are driven by the functionality of such a machine. So that if ‘The machine’ was to have a shortage and becomes incapable of doing [mundane task] then they are left complacent, or indisposed towards such a task. The idea of dependency on technology of an object thing is almost dehumanizing.

As we have seen in “Feed”, “The machine stops” as well as in “the library of babel” humanity and the mind has been enslaved by a proliferating culture of short-cuts, and human indecision that has been brought on by technology dependency. An excerpt from “the library of babel” alludes to the built in cluelessness that comes with humanity, and the emptiness that fails us when we need to follow instinct, as well as when we need to depend on each other rather than on object things:

“When it was announced that the library contained all the books, the first reaction was unbounded joy. All men felt themselves the possessors of an intact secret treasure. There was no personal problem, no world problem, whose eloquent solution did not exist—somewhere in some hexagon. The universe was justified; the universe suddenly became congruent with the unlimited width and breadth of humankind’s hope. At that period there was much talk of The Vindications—books of apologies and prophecies that would vindicate for all time the actions of every person in the universe and that held wondrous arcana for men’s futures. Thousands of greedy individuals abandoned their sweet native hexagons and rushed downstairs…but those who went in quest of them failed to recall that the chance of a man’s finding his own vindication, or some perfidious version of his own, can be calculated to be zero”

In “the Library of babel” Jorge Borges suggests that we are directionless persons constantly in search of purpose to drive us. We always subdue our existence to a decider; leaders who will draft out of lives and vindicate us. Someone or something that can be in control of us is what the people living in hexagons sought after most of their lives. When the people heard that the library contained their answers they became dependent on finding such an answer, making the library their mechanism for survival. When the virus infected the survival mechanism of Titus and his friend’s they were displaced and directionless. By the same token when “the Machine” being the engine that facilitated life in a dystopian future stopped, humanity was dismayed. In all of these, there has been a resounding cry against the dependency on technology.

Technology and humanity works in such a way that the very nature of their coexistence accelerates the social lives of this generation. People are now able to communicate at a pace that is rapidly creating disconnect between humans on this planet, especially within the youth. The ability to be in constant communication with your peers as early as age 12 (within the best situation) cripples society’s personal connection with one another. Virtual modes of communication through phones, tablets, computers,   etcetera, have little to no emotion behind them and can be inexplicably misinterpreted by the recipient whether it be through race, relationships, or opinionated conversations. An underlying theme of “the library of babel” was perception and the duplicity of understanding on one subject thing, and such a theme is not so far from the duplicity of functions we ascribe to our social media and our smart-devices.

Technology plays a double role in society. It quickens the understanding process but in a way that destroys the foundation of communication established by personal conversations. It has in some ways taken the god role of delegating and regulating our lives, just like in the “Feed”, “Neuromancer” and “The Machine Stops”. And at this level of dependency, much sooner than later, ‘everything will go’.

Blog #2 : “The Mind is a Metaphor”

The database has multiple facets that work as an engine for metaphors used as far back as the English language itself. It draws from a broad archive of literature and authorships, while offering the option to filter your search of a particular metaphor by the theme of the particular metaphor you may find interesting to inquire. And as if an army of librarians were shuffling assiduously and speedily through catalogues of the information, the database records for you the rapidness of the search. This is one feature that I found excessive, but became one of the many features that nonetheless impressed me. The database is like a mind. Bolstered by the fact that it is under frequent improvement and development, the database may just be that external mind of metaphors English majors and authors will revel about. After an hour of messing around with “The Mind is a Metaphor”, I began to internalize the metaphor to be true. I childishly fed my curiosity by selecting random categories and discovered fascination. This fascination the many in which the mechanics of the site worked together liked a mini-google search engine (but for metaphors) to produce rapid metaphors under the seekers classifications. An image below explains this, I think.

 

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Another fascinating thing that stood out was the mechanics of the database. The structuring of the search tool makes the site a useful tool for scholars as well as researchers. The database offers multiple filters like: literary period, metaphor category gender of author, genre, and even the nationality and religion of the author.  For example, while I researched the site, I was curious about the metaphoric prevalence of food in the industrial revolution period of history. I realized then that maybe the industrial period, because of its lack social progressivism, prioritized authorship for males over females. On the other hand, it leaves room to argue that: maybe female authors in the industrial period were primarily focused on prohibition and social reformation rather than on food, or that they simply didn’t fancy the usage of metaphors. The image below is a sample search of a food metaphor in the industrial revolution based on a population.

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BLOG POST #1: Education and Learning

 

I was prompted by my interest in social innovation to assess the words ‘Education’ and ‘Learning’. More specifically, I was seeking a conclusion whereby there is a decoupling of the two ideas. The delineating differences between ‘Education’ and ‘Learning” is underreported, and as a result unbeknown to education innovators. From consulting the OED for a standard definition I collected that learning is “a process which leads to the modification of behavior or the acquisition of new abilities or responses, and which is additional to natural development by growth or maturation”, while education is “The process of bringing up a child, with reference to forming character, shaping manners and behavior, etc.; the manner in which a person has been brought up”. These two words offer almost similar definitions that may be used interchangeably. For instance, the first accounted definition of the word education in 1527 posits that good education is as well in nurture as good learning. There is misrepresentation of these two ideas but Ngram does not truly show that difference. Education on the one hand is the institutional matrix that articulates our expression and personal creativity to teach each other and hold each other accountable for the knowledge expressed, learning is about the desire to be educated.

The education system into which we thrust young people generally expels their individual capacities with standardize teaching methods and standardized testing. Not only that, the mainstream practices of many urban schools is to subject delinquent children to detention or deal them a punishment for not adhering to the status quo. Overtime this has created a conundrum whereby the education system is failing children by not tailoring resources to their individual needs for learning. In E. R. Hilgard’s Theories of Learning xii (1948), he expressed that with reasonable confidence there are changes in the nervous system accompanying learning. This definition of learning highlights the subjectivity of learning.

One interesting thing that struck me about the two definitions is that in reality, the institution of education is a defeating mechanism that suppresses the “process by which children and people will modify their behaviors”. If you look at the graph you can see that the word ‘education is prioritized in literature or emphasized by Google, while the emphasis on the word learning may show that it is not a thriving either. This can invoke many conclusions, many of which may be unsatisfying, like the de-emphasis on learning may mean that: we are stigmatizing and demonizing children for their academic shortcomings by placing our investment in education rather than their personal learning habits. If education has become a substitute for learning, which may not be true, then the graph makes sense.

The Google Ngram expresses the role literature has in emphasizing the word education over the word learning. The graph shows an intersect of the two words in the 1830s which does not really tell me much about the reality of the representations of the idea learning and education. Historically however the rise of the word “learning” can be attributed to the era of progressivism in late 1890s, when the first social reforms were mobilized to edify society. Also as the faculty of psychology expanded through the 1900s the word ‘learning’ became a thing again. The Ngram does little to show any kind of correlation between the two words, and before the definitions from OED offer minimal historical accounts on the two words, it is near impossible to draw conclusions without surmising. The Ngram becomes an arbitrary word tool that doesn’t allow an effective frame for referencing the understanding of words if you have to guess why words are based on the frequency its used.