All posts by martafernandez

Longer Essay #2: Stud Poetry

Marko Niemi takes an interesting approach when creating his piece of electronic poetry called Stud Poetry. I found it to be completely distinct to all the other pieces of electronic and conceptual literature we have dealt with in class. Although we have already dealt with some that are structured like games, what makes Stud Poetry most interesting is the fact that one is gaining and loosing points. This aspect of the game made me more competitive and I wanted to play for longer. It is even structured like a competition, since one is playing against other “people,” who are undoubtedly not real because they are famous. One finds themselves playing against the literary figures: Paul Verlaine, Paul Valery, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, and Jean Moreas, which can even transform the game into something more exiting.

The best way to describe this game of electronic poetry is by calling it poker game, but instead of using cards one uses words. Each card dealt has a single word and in order to win, one has to create the strongest five word hand of poetry. For example, in one of the rounds I played, I had in my hand an “observe” black spade. The other words on the table were fresh, nature, afar, rich, and skin. As one can see, one is creating a five word hand poem composed of rather simple words. Although this changes the whole nature of the game, it is still structured in a similar manner to poker. One can bet, call, raise, check and fold just like in a real poker match. There is even a button that allows one to change the pace that the game is moving by.

Overall, the webpage is designed in clear manner, which allows people like me, who are not computer savvy to manage the website easily. It is arranged in a grid. The left column is titled Poets, which includes the list of actual imaginary poets one is playing against and you. The next column is titled Money, and shows you how many chips you have. One originally starts off with a hundred. Then you have the stake column followed by the hand column, which shows you what word card you have and directly next to it, some of the revealed cards from the competitors are shown.

This is an aspect of the game I liked because when dealing with many of the other electronic literature we have seen in class, I felt like I had a hard time maneuvering the webpage, not only because I am not computer savvy but also because the websites were sometimes not clear. For example, when exploring Sarah Bailey’s longer essay two poem called Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw, it was not made clear to me what I had to click. I know it was about exploring, but it would have made it more interesting if the author gave the player something to look for.

The only aspect of the poem that by nature is flawed is the fact that the assigned value of each word is flawed. Not only is this un-measurable because there is no established value for words, but it really changes the nature of the game. It is not really about making the best five word poetry hand as possible, it is more about just getting the five most valuable cards possible. Even if someone has a hand that makes more sense, and is better quality, does not mean the person is going to win. One can even get repeated worlds and win more points just because the card has more value. In this sense, one can see how the game follows the rules of poker more faithfully than the rules of poetry. This transforms the electronic poetry into purely just a game.

In conclusion, I think that Stud Poetry, as piece of literature, does not really have great value. It is not that Marko Niemi did not have an interesting idea in mind, but the fact that it is hard to assign numerical value to words, especially when being arranged up to a sentence of six, makes it hard to convert Marko’s idea into a piece with literary value. Overall, the best way to evaluate Stud Poetry is within the whole realm of electronic literature. In this perspective, I think Marko Niemi has presented an innovative idea and is demonstrating some of the paths electronic literature can take in the future. It pushes the boundaries in a way that other electronic literature has not done, and as a result I think that it aid electronic literature reach its fullest literary potential in the future. No matter what, Stud Poetry was still very interesting and fun to play.

 

Flarf

Intention: When learning about Flarf poetry the idea of collage came to my mind. It seemed to me that the technique of taking pieces of already existing material and juxtaposing it to make different, more charged meaning, was also occurring in Flarf poetry. As a result, I decided to arrange together eleven distinct lines of poetry from a website that claimed these were some of the most famous lines of the poetic tradition. I wanted to see if juxtaposed an even more epic poem would be created, since after all, these lines were are claimed to be so monumental.

 Shall I compare thee to a summers day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

We face the path of time

A narrow fellow in the grass

I wandered lonely as a cloud

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

It seems like I’m always getting stuck

But I have a promise to keep, and miles to go before I sleep

 

And when wind and winter harden

O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

For if dreams die/ Life is broken–winged bird

Longer Essay #1: Feed

 

            Feed, a novel by M. T. Anderson addresses many questions that today are constantly being asked about the role of technology in society. Although it does not bring forth a clear answer, mostly because there is not one, it provides an additional interpretation that sets it aside from most other parodies and predictions of the future. In addition to answering a variety of different stereotypical questions about the future Anderson also presents the viewer with a question about change in the human nature. One can first observe how kids in the future act, to then be able to answer if the nature of the human beings change in the future because of the new technologies that would be available to us.

Anderson does this most effectively by creating a narrative line that presents the everyday life of an average American of the future. This is an aspect that sets it aside from over futuristic novels like Neuromancer, which is about people that are not considered average in that particular future. As a result, novels like Neuromancer make it harder to consider whatever these characters think and do as the most typical features of the general human population. Thus in Feed, overall the reader will conclude, setting aside the extreme differentiations between the human environment, there are aspects of the human personality and life that remain the same.

On the surface, for example, one can see that the typical day of a teenager consists of many daily activities that are iconic of today’s American life. It is something that at first may be glossed over like the fact that that they go to school, have a spring break, go to parties on weekends, get their first car, but these are activities that by many are imagined to be lost in the future. Yes, with statements like “You write?” (Anderson, 65) and by showing how their curriculum has become worthless, how budget cuts left the students with hologram teachers, and how schools have transformed into a sort of corporation with the trademark label TM Anderson uses school fundamentally as a platform to illustrate how he thinks society will become dumber but these cornerstones that are still present today gives a reader a sense of familiarity. Sometimes many assume that the future, in all senses, will be completely unknown, but Anderson offers a future that is not completely cut off from the present and familiar.

Another way to observe the continuance of many social factors in the future is by observing the relationship between Titus and Violet. Quotes like “I was playing with the magnets on my boots trying not to look at her” (Anderson, 20) seemed like something exerted out of one of today’s popular chick flick films. It was also interesting how through their whole relationship they never had sex. Today it seems that the more time passes the more liberal society gets, and in Anderson’s interpretation of the future society did not seem that much more liberal. Even while looking at the family dynamic, although Titus’s parents were eccentric and spoke as poorly as the children, they seemed to treat their children in a fairly similar way.

All these parallels become clear after reading Anderson’s end not about feed. He claimed, “My intentions wasn’t really to predict future tech – but instead, to think about cultural conditions as they already were then,” (Anderson, 305) which makes it clear that he tried to tie in today’s social conditions to the future. He even claimed to have gotten lines from the novels by listening to people talk in the mall. It was completely intentional, but it also seems like he brought many of the aspects of today’s society, which are elaborated on above, unintentionally. Anderson was particularly was trying to concentrate on consumerism and expressed it in the novel through the new high-tech feed. Thus, leaving similarities like Titus and Violet’s relationship were not necessary in order to express the anxieties of consumerism. It seems like it was done unconsciously.

The novel brings forth another way to interpret the future. It does answer questions like does technology make us smarter or dumber, but by trying to tie today’s consumerist culture with the future Anderson brings forth a completely different angle. One is able to answer if human relations and daily life going to change drastically in the future and the answer Anderson gives is no. Yes, there are going to be drastic changes, but even with the feed it seems like humans really did not change.

Blog Post #2: Mapping the Lakes

 

Mapping the Lakes: A literary GIS attempts to further the understanding of Gray’s Journal and Coleridge’s tour by using the Geographic Information System in order to open up the spatial thinking of these geo-specific texts. It hopes to find out more about the writer-specific, the geo-specific, and the conceptual/theoretical. Not only did they post maps of each journey separately, they also offer comparative maps, which deepens one understanding of how the area influenced the account.

Overall, I think that this website is curtailed specifically for scholars and an audience that is very familiar with both Gray’s and Coleridge’s accounts. Unlike some of the other websites that were assigned in class, I do not this that this particular one would grab the attention of unfamiliar browsers. I personally am not familiar at all with both accounts and was very confused with the website. I did not really learn anything, but I did find it interesting what scholars are doing in order to broaden one’s understanding of a literary subject. I think it would be useful if a scholar were trying to do research on that specific subject. It allows one to visualize more deeply, and comparatively, which is sometimes hard to do only through the imagination since they both are talking about very specific locations.

In regards to the literary projects we are going to do in class, I think that this website was very helpful. I think that maps are something that would work well with Alice in Wonderland. It could be used to heighten the experience of Alice’s travels in wonderland. Although it would not be comparing like this website does, I think that it would take use of the most notable aspect of this website, which is the use of maps, no matter how the Alice in Wonderland group decides to use it.

Blog Post #1: Soups

Before playing with the parameters of the Ngrams I thought that it was most useful for finding out when certain words and phrases came to be popular and how its popularity changed through the course of time.  Then after learning about the vast number of various applications that can be used, I came to realize how much more of an extensive history of the English-speaking world the Ngrams provided to the viewer.

While exploring I started mixing up applications and found an interesting result when mixing the wild card with the application that allows the viewer to narrow the search to just nouns. I ended up learning about the popularity of soups from 1800 to 2000 and which flavors have gained or lost popularity within that time frame by just searching *_NOUN soup.

Although superficially this seemed like a rather useless search, I ended up learning a lot of things about culinary history, especially with the use of the applications. Without them I would have just learned that soup really did not become popular until the 1900’s. Now, with the wild card and noun application I could narrow down the search to find out which flavors of soup are popular and how it has vastly changed throughout time. For example, I would have never guessed that before the 1900’s the most popular soup was turtle soup and how now it is one of the lowest ranking popular soups. It was not until the 1900’s that vegetable soup became more popular than turtle soup. In addition I would have never guessed that chicken soup did not really start become popular until the 1980’s, it only became the second most popular soup until the late 1990’s. Before it was onion soup.

After being able to maneuver the Ngrams more effectively, it is evident how much one can learn from it. Although it is hard at first to specify what exactly one want to find out, once one gets a hold of it the possibilities are vast. One can find out about the simplest things like soup.