Farewell Faerie Girl (wannabe ^.^)….

Qfybmu-Egpj-uyllyzc,

I think you’re very right about the Other Side being like my shadows–not as empty as I may like to or be convinced to believe. There is something remarkable about the world you call “home.” Something that is something about the place you eyeless-eyes have grown to admire, your story-skin has grown to find comfort within. It’s something I think we all here in the Other Something world should like to appreciate more than we do.

For myself, I found becoming a part of your world, Faerie Girl, to be somewhat of a struggle but also, somehow, effortless? There is something very freeing about donning a story-skin and continuing the word-weaving from it. On the Other Side, there is this ability to extend one’s self and one’s reach far beyond what is usually/feasibly capable this side. And, because I’m wearing a story-skin, it’s less to scary to perform that extension. Because, despite what additional connection is fostered via the Other Side’s “magic”, I am still difficult to touch. You may feel me in writing but you cannot grasp me, not wholly. Which may be viewed as a blessing or a curse depending on who you talk to, methinks 😉

That said, I do feel like I was able to connect with many different people and voices through playing pretend? with you, Faerie Girl, and others from the Other Side. Before even journeying to your realm, I felt like I was forging new connections. Like, in my now infamous? story-off with @dogtrax. We weren’t just word-weaving. No, our little powwow, knitting circle was something else. There was more creation and creativity going on than what word-links were appearing in this chain. At least, it felt like more. Like something powerful. Magickal. In the Something world, it’s not always so easy to foster this kind of reciprocity. Ego can get in the way or timing or environment or any number of things the Other Side can oft level out or, to some extent, alleviate. This moment of collaboration and of sincere reciprocity is one of my fondest memories and one I am most proud of. I felt a part of something bigger than myself but also like an integral part of that something. I was both tapping into something and being the thing that was tapped into (keep the thoughts clean, folks~ kids read these ^.^).

Aside from that, Faerie Girl, I’m also quite proud of the stories I wove these past few months from the nonsense words of bots. They weren’t necessary but they allowed me to interact with the Other Side in a way that was comfortably familiar but also new and unexpected. Really, these stories were a segue into the Other World for me. Despite having taken a “crash-course”, so to speak, in Elit last semester, I was till unsure about how to conduct myself in an online, collaborative space. Still very self-conscious about how I would be perceived. And, more, I was certainly afraid I wasn’t “up-to-par” with the outside participants who would be taking part in this adventure with us. But, finding this small way to insert myself into the community, to offer something of myself so that others could get to know me and where I come from, made me, overall, feel more comfortable participating in the more interactive aspects of the Other Side’s way. If any of that at all makes sense. I just felt more comfortable existing in this community once I had a more fleshed out identity.

That, I think, comes back to something that was recently discussed irl–the dissonance many writers experience when it comes to what they write versus how it sounds. I didn’t think I sounded authentic till I had more writing to show for who I am. Till I had this piece of e online for others to get a sense of and feel. It’s an evolution of that mindful fear of dissonance, I think–not believing you can possibly sound authentic enough in an online space without incorporating some tokens of authenticity from the Something world. Again, I don’t know if any of this makes sense but, I hope at least some small part of it does in some way. When working in a digital space, you are putting yourself out there in front of a whole lot of people–more people than you ever do in a Something classroom and certainly before more strangers. You’ve got to find some sense of confidence or nerve or you’re not going to be able to write anything at all in this kind of a setting–in my opinion.

Anyway, Faerie Girl, sorry to go off that self-centered tangent. I’m sure you’ve had  enough of me, by now ^.^ I know I have. Though, I’d like to think future explorers will be able to explore themselves as much they will the Other Side. Will learn just as much about the magic within as they will the magic of collaboration. To do that, I think future alchemists have to, first, find a way to incorporate what already interests them into a digital medium. Like, I brought my love of telling twisted tales and weaving disturbing words into disconcerting harmony almost immediately over into the Other Side. I found a way to use it to engage with the proposed assignments explorations. From the beginning of a Something class like this, I think it’s crucial to emphasize the place of the self in the work. Online spaces can be great places to forge an identity but they can also be very daunting places to do that very thing as well. For future alchemists to make meaningful explorations into the Other Side, I think a foundation of the self must first be laid in some way. Once again, if that makes sense.

….Look at that, another self-centered bum-bumbling ramble. You may have me pegged after all, Faerie Girl. It’s almost like you’re inside my head or something….

Before I get lost in my head again, let’s wrap this up! I’m sure you’ve got fancy places to be, fancy folk to unsee and all that jazz, Faerie Girl. I don’t want to keep you 😉

Honestly, though, exploring the Other Side and getting to know the alchemists who call it home has been, all joke aside, magickal and unforgettable…..Well, some of the more, shall we say stressful weeks may be more blocked out than others. But, that’s neither here nor there. Back to the point. Focus, Shadow Girl! Hopefully, I am able to keep in touch in some way with some of the amazingly and immensely talented and driven folk I’ve met on my journeys thus far. It would be meaningful, too, I think, and it would do justice to all I’ve learned navigating this new world if I tried to make something out of the unexpectedness and the reciprocity I was able to experience. I don’t know what but I want it to manifest in some way on the outside. And, maybe that’s enough–wanting to create something so much more than myself but so necessary to me. Putting that energy out there, I mean, is enough, is something. Despite the Something world being, well, the Something World, there seems to be a shortage of this desire for the reciprocal, for collaboration and appreciation. The Something World has become, if you can believe it, even more self-centered than myself! More focused on and less on what can do for other people. So, I believe just being able to emit a more positive energy through my endeavors and my demeanor would have a minor but meaningful impact. It would alter my perspective, at the very least.

And, on that note, I end this ram-rambling on.  I really am long-winded, though, huh? How have you put up with it, Faerie Girl? 

Anyway, Faerie Girl, try not to be a stranger either. You, by far, are one of my fave folk to collab with ^.^ It’s like we’re just on the same wavelength, same page or something. Truth be told, it’s a little crazy.  That said, I think it’s been real.

Till next time, Faerie Girl ❤

Shadow Girl signing off~

****

Daily Digital Alchemies

Life in the Margins

Look at how big my mouth is!

….and how pesky this Faerie Girl has been!

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You Kant Make Me Argue Ethics…

Do you have to make it entirely clear when an account is a bot?

Is it misleading, or, more, deceptive to keep that information not secret, per say, but not readily available either? Like, what are the moral obligations of bot-creators? Are there any? Is there a kind of digital, moral imperative? Or, more simply, rules of conduct in online spaces that are true all of the time? (Or else how can they be moral imperatives?)

These concerns and questions arose not while I was in the process of setting up a bot but, after I had created the bot and realized that I didn’t necessarily want to allocate a space on my account to revealing the “trick.” Honestly, I felt and still feel doing so steals some of the magic. (Kind of like over-tagging in fanfic. Stating an account is a bot–announcing it’s run on a systematic queue as opposed to a flesh and blood person amounts to the same a as adding so many tags to a fic that it becomes undeniable that it isn’t canon. And, I think some of the joy of fanfic is that it toes the line of reality in the same kind of way that bots can. Anyway, that was a long deviation. Back to the matter at hand!)

Is non-disclosure in this context wrong?

To complicate matters, I came across this thread of discussion between one pesky faerie and a circle-talking prophet. In it, a question about whether or not one can be at fault for another’s faith is posed. Simply, how responsible is one for another’s willingness to be deceived? If all the info/evidence, aside from an outright admission/confession, is freely available for one to interpret and draw logical–you’d hope–conclusions from, is my fault they decide one plausibility is more credible than another? Trumps another?

For example, if you walk into a grocery store, see all the bar-codes on products, the numbers following little $ symbols on shelves, then notice the registers at the front of the establishment with scanners–scanning as you watch the items of other guests to the establishment and ringing up, again, numbers beside $ symbols which prompt the guests to exchange currency in some form–and you still attempt to/decide to grab an apple pie and mosey on out of that store without swinging by the registers like everyone else, the resulting consequences are kind of on you. I know many grocery stores and other retail establishments will have signs that say things like, Pay Here, but I don’t think they have ones that explicitly say: You must purchase goods from this store via monetary means (i.e cash or card) before you can leave or else you will be arrested Sure, there also signs that probably say, “Shoplifters will be prosecuted” but, again, those kinds of signs are asking you to infer something–that you must buy before you can take–and are not explicitly stating the “rules” of the transaction. Just the consequences that will proceed it if it is not carried out properly.

A good counter-argument to the one just posed would, of course, be that the “etiquette” or “conduct” is imposed by greater sociocultural norms, which are implicit and so don’t always need enforcement through direct statement. By merit of being a social space, a grocery store has rules of practice anyone in the culture in which this grocery store exists will know or, at least, be familiar enough with to understand. So, I guess, my question is whether or not the internet culture of right now is at a place that allows members of it to properly recognize and interpret the signs that would signal whether or not a bot is a bot without an explicit warning/disclaimer?

….To be honest, my gut feeling is no. Non. Nada. 아니오.  Nílim. Really, no.

If the widespread acceptance of “fake news” is any indication of the internet society’s ability to interpret info–gauge its credibility–and make informed decisions, then I don’t believe any symbols/signals in online spaces ubiquitous and made intuit enough yet for bots to go unannounced.  That said, I still don’t want it be necessary that I reveal my bot in so many words. Personally, I just don’t feel like that is one of my responsibilities. But, does that make me part of a greater problem–the proliferation of falsehoods masquerading freely as not in digital spaces? Even if it seems like such a minor offense?

I believe this issue is a significant one when it comes to discussing netprov as a whole. In the Studio Visit with Mark Marino and Rob Wittig, both netprov creators touched upon this concern and said they came to the conclusion that “deception” is all well and good until someone gets “hurt”–their feelings or otherwise. Like, it’s “good fun”. A magic trick. Especially when there is a big reveal at the end. Of course, that presupposes an amicable end where everyone will feel inclined to come together for discussion…. but, whatev.

Anyway, I guess that’s where I my thoughts on this whole thing keep returning–to the idea that, so long as my deception, my magic trick, is not causing anyone undue* harm or offense, why is it wrong? Because lying is inherently wrong? All the time? There’s never an acceptable or appropriate reason to keep something hidden? You must be a delight when it comes to surprise parties, huh?

I’ll admit, though, I’m not sure where this leaves the issue of “fake news.” And, it’s my understanding that there are now courses being offered to study just that–the issue of it and, also, how it is even created. So, there are no simple solutions or short answers or, really, answers. All I can say, I think, is that the internet culture/society needs to integrate more of a desire for truth and for critical consumption of info into its practices. Finding something that agrees with one’s views of the world is “great” but, like, what are that something’s sources? And, do those sources have agendas of their own? What do they gain by attaining your belief? And, more, internet culture needs to shift away from aggression as a universal response–violently reacting to anyone or any group which dares to share a view that isn’t compatible with another’s. In many cases, I agree that anger is a justifiable feeling towards an idea being forwarded but it shouldn’t be the driving force behind your reaction. Anger seldom provokes meaningful discussion these days so much as it does a nasty argument. Then again, I’m speaking from a particular context of my own–which I can never fully exist outside of–so, maybe, these suggestions are “fine and good” but not useful in alleviating another’s struggles or solving their particular problems.

So, because I don’t want this post to turn into a venting/ranting one and I don’t feel like delving into ethics because, again, no. Nope. Nah–

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via GIPHY

This is where Shadow Girl will take her leave and sign out. She’s got pesky faeries and persnickety prophets to eavesdrop on, after all. Much too much on her plate… ^.^

****

*according to how I define the word and how you do too~

 

Shadow Girl Reflects VII: Or Does She?

This week, shadow has been severed–cleaved in two. Something and Other. Which is which?

From near to far reaches it seems one has become many, has, at least, realized there is more than meets the eye. Another side. Someplace beyond but surround as well.

Contact has been made–by the Other’s denizens. Letters in invisible ink, thrums from an invisible (?) world, and nonsense ramblings have appeared from the miasma. Are they greetings? Warnings? Will time reveal which or run out first?

In order to discover some answers of my own, I have been following some pesky fey–aos sí the great secret society of old. One pesky faerie in particular‘s writing on the wall seems to be, for all its darkness and double-speak, rather illuminating. Exactly of what will require further study. Delving deeper into the shadows.

Perhaps there are no answers, though. No rhymes or reasons–not yet. Perhaps even these creatures who have hazarded crossing the screen separating Other from Something know not yet whyPerhaps that’s not important.

Maybe it’s not what these creatures may what to teach us that matters. Not most. What we learn from them, what we see reflected back, may be a slant rhyme but the closest thing to one we’re going to get.

My faerie, for now, is making full use of that sewn-shut mouth of hers. Guess the telling will come after the taunting ends…

****

So, looking forward, I hope to be able to set up a bot sometime this long weekend. Just had no time to get to it this week–was tied up in both metals & drawing ventures ^.^ I follow the flow of my creativity and those areas are where it wanted to go this week~

Still, I’m planning to do some tinkering of my own, whether the current wants to go that way or not. Look forward to that!

Hopefully, too, another story will make its way up onto the ol’ blog by tomorrow(?). Maybe. A pesky faerie seems to have commandeered their own chunk of my creativity….

Anyway, that’s how I’m faring so far. Head above water but bobbing below every so oft. Hopefully I’ll come across my second wind…or some floaties. Either or. Whichever comes first ^.^

Shadow Girl signing off till next time~

Daily Digital Alchemies

Shadow Girl Reflects VI: Sharing

“World building” is somehow a difficult concept to attribute to the world–proper, so to speak. Actually, it’s kind of a hard term to think of the world in/with because the world is built, isn’t it? All around us, there are these constructed and contrived places. Infrastructure and institutions. Spaces with such seemingly benign, or, should I say, obvious stories that even considering them as storied spaces at all is bizarre. Like, I know why the library is in the center of main campus–access and availability. And, a library is a resource center, one that provides books for your needs/interests so long as you have a card with the institution. It’s all very prescribed. Background noise at this point. Facts my brain doesn’t need time with to process and sort.

And, yet…

There is a world that exists behind or beyond that kind of dictated, socio-culturally enforced, shallow surface. When I think of the library, utilitarian purposes don’t exclusively come to mind. The books I’ve checked out do. The conversations I had with the librarians do. The friendship I formed with one of the librarians does. Even, all my anxiety about tripping down the library’s totally trippable steps comes to mind when I think of the library! (Don’t judge. I’m afraid of all heights equally and I’ve seen more than a couple of people miss those tricky steps~)

Anyway, it still sounds weird to think of my own personal experiences with an environment or place as being “world building” but, I guess they are. I mean, it’s how I see my world–through my interactions with it. Those interactions inform how I navigate and how I structure my life. If I had a poor experience at a certain restaurant, I probably won’t go back there, regardless of how hungry I may be and my proximity (i.e ease of access) to it. Through a utilitarian lens, when hungry, I should go to the nearest place that provides food. But, that’s just not the reality of the world. Not the one I live in, at least. I’m not eating someplace where I don’t like the service. End of story.

I’m not sure if there’s a means of communicating all the stories a space can accumulate in a way that isn’t overwhelming or too selective, still. Like I said earlier, my brain can process a place’s utilitarian, dictated purposes like second nature. Increasing the amount of info (i.e stories) it would need to process in a short amount of time may become more of an interference in how I’m informed about a space instead of an improvement. Maybe. Our brains are capable of processing such an abundance of info though–but it takes time to do it well. And, I think when it comes to attaching a multitude of associations to a place, time becomes a reasonable concern. Over-stimulation, a major concern. Plus, how much does every person who walks through/uses the library need to know about my fear of falling down the stairs? What would that meaningfully add to their concept of the space? Would they walk a little slower down the steps? Again, maybe. If they cared. Which is another thing.

I may know the technical purpose of a space and know the intended use of a space, but that doesn’t mean I care. For another example, the Quick Check’s (local convenience store) back lot by my high school may have been intended for parking–and it was used for parking–but everyone also knew it was a great place to skateboard after the skate park closed. And, to be honest, that function superseded the original because it was the only one most anyone cared about. The police would come by and round you up every now and again but that didn’t deter anyone. So, that was my roundabout way of explaining that there is a level of care that goes into the conceiving of a place. It’s the functions that everyone cares about that become a place’s associations, become what it is renowned for. Applying this idea to storied spaces, to me, means that people will still only care about a select few stories themselves because there’s nothing stopping them from doing that. Attempting to give a place a greater depth of meaning through attributing more stories to it, while admirable and overall nice, doesn’t ensure any intentions will stick. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer :/

Still, I think there’s some merit to using digital means or digital storytelling to help inform people about how to conceive of a place, how to build it. At the very least, it can provide a place for a record of another place’s experiences. Like, a lot of museums have apps now that allow you to explore the entire museum via your phone. Some even have cool activities you can do whilst meandering through the galleries. Essentially, those who do care about what lies below the surface of a space can dive in. I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable for other spaces like universities to have apps specifically for cataloging the experiences of their students in order to possibly enrich experience of the entire space overall. For any place, really, I don’t think that’s unreasonable or, too far off from reality. Not with the way technology is developing.

(Let me know if any apps already exist that are attempting to do what I just spent for-freakin’- ever describing!)

Sharing Stories

Apparently, I was in a sharing mood this week. Adding a dash of “feelings” to both this week’s blog post and to the Padlet. Just couldn’t help myself.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about the purpose (or, intended purpose, should I say) or, really, the person, behind the writing on this blog, I’d check out this week’s post. Also, if you want to hear me curse at Audacity. And, read a story in my own voice….

(Speaking of, the items I used to make the sound effects are, in order, sticks of vine charcoal for the tinkling sound in the beginning, 2 faux-skulls banged together for the steady beat + mortar & pestle, a stick of vine charcoal snapped in half for snapping bird bones, and a handful of tortilla chips I crushed for the crunching bone sound. Kind of difficult guesses. Sorry~ but not really)

Creative Enterprise (i.e that section you can skip if you don’t care~ I’ll only cry myself to sleep a little bit)

This week saw a grand total of….*drum beat* bot story written.

Skin Girl

This is largely due to the fact that I have a new-found addiction to My Favorite Murder. That podcast I mentioned in my blog post this week. It’s ruining my life (i.e productivity) and I love it. Highly recommend.

Anyway, before I became a raging addict, I did manage to finish a jewelry-making project–a necklace that I’m still describing as “blood-splatter wings” because I haven’t picked a name yet…. Like I said, this has been a poor past few days for getting sh*t done.

Also, I’ve managed to acquire some bones (chicken, relax, and ethically gathered) for my project I’m working on now. Have a new friend who dabbles in taxidermy. Score. So, definitely check back to see how that turns out.

Hopefully, the creativity will pick back up. I’m like half-way through the podcast’s archive so I’m on my way to getting it out of my system. Or, you know, maybe I’ll accept moderation into my heart….

Final Thoughts

I like the idea of storied spaces catching on. Would make the world feel “homier”, I think. Less indoctrinated and more lived in.

Actually, it would be cool, I think, to create a kind of storied space with my writing an art. Like a show or an exhibit that sought to join the two mediums together via a personal interjection of some sort. Maybe that could be accessed in a digital format. I’d like to find some way to get people to hear me reading my stories too–so, that could also be an element to this concept. Think that would be pretty cool and be a way to “story a space” because everyone would have their own interactions and experiences with the exhibit to add to the ones that are already installations of it. It’s something to think about anyway.

Shadow Girl signing off~

****

 

 

 

Shedding Silence

So, my laptop managed to make a miraculous recovery. *killjoys make some noise~* She’s a real trooper.

Anyway, that means I finally got around to playing with sound. And, to being frustrated by it.

That said, I didn’t really feel a strong pull towards any of the not-to-do-list prompts. I did really like reading one of my works aloud in class this past week, though. So, I decided to run with that and record myself–again–reading my story. Only, this time, with some added sound effects to set the mood. Create an atmosphere.

It was not easy.

Audacity seems like a simple, user-friendly interface until you start piling on the different sounds and then it get complicated. (see, uncooperative) Adding a sound here or there moves everything else out-of-place. And, cutting something is a very, shall we say, hellish delicate process. Always, always listen a few dozen times after every little change to ensure you’ve done what you intended is all I want have to say. Always.

Without further ado, why don’t you take a little listen to the fruits of Shadow Girl’s many frustrations~

(Can you guess what I props I used to make the sound effect? Yes? No? Maybe? All will be revealed in this week’s reflection~)

This is the same story I read in class and, to be honest, it’s a favourite I’ve written so far.

In class, I talked a little about the inspiration behind a lot of my work. But, because I was kind of nervous speaking in front of everyone, I only discussed one aspect of my work–that I like writing girls who are as cruel as their world has been to them. More, I enjoy writing stories about female characters who’s motivations are not responses to a patriarchal influence. My girls are violent or disturbed/disturbing in and of themselves.

But, there is more to it than that.

For many years, when I was young, I was silent. Silenced by some unspeakable things that happened to me. It was very hard for me to speak because I didn’t feel like I had a voice of my own. More, I didn’t feel like my voice was mine. It belonged to someone else who preferred my mouth shut.

It’s taken many years and lots of intervention for me to realize my own preferences. For me to speak as I please. Still, though, I struggle to do that–speak at all. Break the silence. It’s not easy to exercise something you didn’t believe you had the right to for a long time. Often, I worry I come across as disengaged or uninterested, maybe unimpressed, when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In my writing, I think my feelings obvious. On the page is where I began to rediscover my voice so I think it makes sense that it is where you can hear me clearest. But, I wish I could find my voice just as well beyond the edges of the page.

That’s another reason why I don’t like to speak aloud–I don’t sound the way I do in my writing and I so desperately want to. Hearing the difference between what I’ve written and how I voice it frustrates me. It sounds like a disservice. Sounds disappointing.

In class, though, it was an unexpected surprise to hear that people liked how I read my work. Apparently, my soft tone paired with my “brutal” words created a discordant, eerie harmony that actually worked really well. Which, is something I never really considered–that my gentle from disuse, honestly voice could add another, meaningful layer to my writing.

Forgive the long preface but that other aspect of my work I didn’t mention in class is that most of it is an exploration of trauma and how it informs one’s future interaction as well as its, overall, lasting impact/effect on one’s life. It’s a focus of both my written and metals work. Specifically, when it comes to my metalwork and jewelry-making, I like to create wings–in case you haven’t noticed.

(Really, in case you haven’t)

To me, making these symbols of freedom out of a fixed medium transforms them into a profound statement. Emblems of what could be or could have been but isn’t or wasn’t.

They become almost escapes.

It’s an inherent contradiction I hope I can continue to finesse in my art.

Getting back to the writing, though, I think that discordant harmony I was made aware of fits in appropriately with my overarching theme–something I would never have known if I hadn’t spoken up.

Silence is such a hard adversary to conquer. Especially when doing so feels like a betrayal. I mean, silence is an old friend. The oldest of mine, even. An integral part of me. And yet, it’s not. It’s a companion I didn’t choose for myself. Still, though, they’ve always been there. Like a crutch. Like a friend.

Our relationship is one of attrition.

Living with trauma is attrition–a back-and-forth tug-of-war with yourself. No matter on which side ground is lost, you feel like you are playing a losing game. It’s, like I said, contradictory a lot of the time.

It’s calm, too, sometimes. Inside. When it’s stalemate. Usually, deadlock occurs when I’m writing or in the metals studio.

Writing and creating from that silence is revenge. It is opening a mouth that was preferred shut. It is telling a story I was supposed to keep secret. It is traitorous. It is truth.

If a lot of my work seems coarse or vengeful that’s because it is. It is my vengeance. These girls I write in these vicious worlds are meant to articulate the sorrow and rage trauma sows in the heart it broke. That most of these stories end on the crux of closure or with a tinge of something at best bittersweet/disappointing is not a mistake. It is for your contemplation.

Anyway, personal introspection/rambling aside, I imagine incorporating readings of some of these short works in some digital storytelling format with my metal projects. I think telling my stories with my own intonation and in my own voice is necessary for meaningful communication. After all, it is what my body of work sounds like to me. Me. It sound like me.

Something else I’ve also discovered since reading my work aloud is how similar my vengeance sounds like confession–like honesty starving for listeners. Hungry to be heard almost as much as it is ravenous for revenge.

When it comes to confession, I know, it’s best to be all-in. To be unapologetic. To be brave. I want to be.

If nothing else is heard, I hope that is.

****

~Extras~

Speaking of listening, I’ve recently been introduced to a great podcast.

My Favorite Murder  is all about these two freakin’ awesome chicks discussing, you guessed it, murder–a decidedly morbid interest/fascination of my own. My friend @libraryguy introduced me to this delightful show as one of their entries in our own little March Madness competition. We dubbed it #marchmacabreness/#marchmorbidness and, since we’re both connoisseurs of the creepy, horrific, and otherwise disturbing, the object of it is to see who can freak out the other more each week with some deep, dark internet find/fave. Well, at least, that was the object. It’s kind of turned into us just sharing freaky sh*t with each other back and forth. 

That’s beside the point though.

Check out the podcast! It’s not so much about employing sound itself to tell story, I’ll admit, but the way the hosts structure their conversations and use tone to convey different feelings is worth appreciating. And, the content is killer. It’s to my tastes, at the very least, so take that for what you will…. 😉

***Got that featured image up! A recent, horror-esque drawing of my hand in charcoal ^.^***

Shadow Girl signing off!

Shadow Girl Reflects V: Silent

So, you may have noticed that I’ve been rather silent this week. Or, maybe you haven’t….

Anyway, the reason why Shadow Girl has been on the down-low these past few days is because she is currently–and unfortunately–without a reliable mode of access to the digitalscape 😦

Last Wednesday, in fact, my laptop decided to–moment of silence–die. At least, that’s the official diagnosis till I hear back from the repair techs. (And, tbh, they’re outlook was not very encouraging.) Since, I’ve been relegated to an ancient–see, shitty–tablet that I haven’t used for a while. As you can imagine, my internet travels have been quite slow. I wish I could say I’m taking the, uh, scenic route but, I can’t really see the images yet. They’re still loading….

To make a long story short, I was unable to play around on Audacity this week or with using sounds to create a narrative. Hopefully, I will be able to do that soon but now was a really bad time for my laptop to pull a kamikaze. (See, financially) But, I will figure something out.

Sorry to ditch once more on an opportunity for me to share my voice. Keeps seeming to happen…. First on the Studio Visit and now with Audacity T_T For some reason, the universe is conspiring against me, it seems. (Vengeance shall be wreaked, mark my words. My revenge will be inevitable, Universe.)

Creative Enterprise

Despite my difficulties–see, struggles with ancient relics of the technological age–I was able to add to my own creative pursuits. A poem and a story.

Attrition~ poem I posted to YWP about how hard hope can be to welcome inside, more, how hard it can be to accept an invitation out. (Look out for more posts from me on YWP!)

Split Girl~ Another twisted tale ^.^ This one may be a little disturbing for anyone struggling with their gender identity–may evoke gender dysphoria–so fair warning.

**My writing is never meant to offend but I am aware that it still can. And, I’m sorry if that happens. Let me know if there are any tags I can add to help alleviate any issues :)**

Aside from these new works, I’ve a few others I’m rather proud of (All can be found under the Killing It tag):

Bone Girl~ What fortunes lie in your bones?

Bone Girl .V~ Every bird hatches from some egg…

Wasteland Girl~ How dangerous can you be?

Dream Girl~ How much can you take before you crack?

It Will Be Satisfied~ Bad karma’s a b*tch.

Ghost Girl~ What lies have you been tricked into believing believed?

And, my long-running series (which should be back to weekly updates by next week, fingers crossed….)

Living Dead Girl

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV,

**All are inspired in some way by random, bot posts. Some more closely, other loosely. In my opinion, using bot posts for writing prompts is an easy way to incorporate technology into the classroom in a meaningful way and, it is lots of fun ^.^ Unexpected and nonsensical but full of endless creative, well, enterprise.

Speaking of….

Not digital storytelling related exactly but, remember that scalex analogy I gave at the end of this post? Remember that scalex protects one side of a metal piece while the other is enameled? Well, I’ve finally finished that piece I was working on!

Untitled (TBA) Copper, enamel, epoxy, acrylic paint, & resin

Like I said, this isn’t so related to digital storytelling, per say, as it is to creativity itself. But, all of my work is related in some way to my writing and this piece is certainly no exception. I’m rather proud of how it has turned out ^.^ See? The scalex was totally worth it. Without it, I never would’ve been able to create this work. Maybe I’ll bring it to class Wednesday night….

(Does it look like how I write?)

Final Thoughts

I’ve had a rough week. Productive in some ways but disheartening and aggravating in others. Hopefully, next week will be something worth writing home about!

Catch you all on the flip side!
 

 

Because I Am Alive

Better to live on a beggar’s bread with those we love alive, than taste their blood in rich feasts spread and, guiltily survive.

(Pics on this one so be sure to check out the blog)

If I had the chance to start my own Elit piece all over again, I would want to make it like Porpentine’s With Those We Love Alive. To me, it is the most compelling piece of Elit I’ve read so far and I am a little bit more than a little jealous that I did not pick this piece for my own presentation (though I was rather taken with Nelson’s This is How You Will Die).

With Those We Love Alive is a hypertext work created in Twine that transports readers into this fantastical and casually violent world in which they must use their magickal abilities to serve a merciless larval queen and her bloody empire. In this nightmare-scape, there are rat and slime kids, diremaidens, silent gods, and dream thieves. It seems dreams fuel this nightmare world, actually. Or, at least, the thievery of these dreams fuels this world, death standing audience. Maybe we’re all dead….

I found this metaphor of absent/stolen dreams to be a very powerful representation of abuse and its lasting mark. In this work, you as the character you create are able to travel to different spaces in this world–the balcony, the garden, the throne room, your workplace, the city–and, once in these different spaces, you are able to interact with other spaces. It’s kind of like a web. Anyway, the city-space has the Dream Distillery where you can drink the dreams harvested every day (from the eternally sleeping), each day offering a different mixture of flavours–things like anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure), miscarriage, agoraphobia. exile, etc. After you drink of the dreams, you can talk to the workers who will tell you something about the process of harvesting dreams. And, one of the things they say is something about the dreams usually becoming too bitter for consumption after 6 years (they say something to the effect of wanting to change the pipes, I think, to remedy that problem). But, this line made me think of how many child abusers don’t want their victim anymore once they reach a certain age. The child becomes too “old” for them. To me, this idea with the dreams seems to be referencing this commonality in cases of abuse. The dreams become symbolic of youth and childhood and naivety and the siphoning of them as fuel for monsters, their breeding, and their monstrous world becomes symbolic of abuse and its lasting effects. I think this reading is further supported by what we find out about our character’s younger years.

At least, when I played this piece, I discovered that when I (my character) was younger, my (their) mother made them drink this vile potion that made me (them) dream all the dreams I (they) ever could have in one sitting so that I (they) would not be taken to have my (their) dreams harvested (as was in vogue to do at the time). In consequence, I never dreamed again. There is only darkness and emptiness. This dream thievery represents a different kind of abuse from the previous mentioned but I think its lasting effects are still evident in my (character’s) apparent apathy and depression.Their is this resignment and listlessness to my actions that seems to relate back to this emptying of my dreams against my will. I believe Sedina, at some point, says that what was done to her can be seen on the outside (meaning her scars) but what was done to me was done to the inside and so cannot be seen. All of this, I believe, is meant to reference abuse and its many varieties and levels. And, Sedina and me (my character) and the rat and slime kids, the dreamers in the distillery, and the diremaidens are all meant to show that abuse manifests in different ways. No two people cope–or don’t cope–the same way. Some of us turn to religion while others turn to whatever will make us most numb, even if that means allowing ourselves to be consumed or sucked dry.

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Focusing specifically on myself (my character), I think my listlessness and apathy were very well-conveyed through the medium. There is this kind of blase feeling that is communicated through allowing me only to keep flipping pages, going from one thing to the next without much room for processing. Everything is very shallow by allowing me only to click and flip. There is this lack of depth in my ability to navigate this piece. Even the music remains relatively unmoved throughout the reading of this piece, morphing only at certain points. Also, I’m only allowed 1 choice of response sometimes, making me a complicit entity in this abusive and ugly world; which seems to represent how abuse and its effects make choices for us sometimes. Again, Sedina says something that seems to relate to the overall experience of this phenomena–“The brain won’t let you know what happened till it’s over.” Often, the exact nature of abuse suffered doesn’t really come to light or hit until many years after the fact. More, you are so young when it occurs that you don’t even have the words to identify it let alone process it. I think this line and what the interface of this piece is trying to communicate is that idea–that the true impact of everything read won’t really come until later. Like, my (our character’s) escape that doesn’t come until after many shallow readings through what seems like an endless cycle of events. Freedom, like realization, takes time. So much time.

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Another aspect of this piece that is compelling is the, well, physical one. In this work, readers are invited to draw sigils of remembrance on themselves.

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This one really got me.

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Marks for letting go, for new beginnings, for shame, for pain, for choices made…. I think doing this is supposed to be reminiscent of how abuse and violence imprint themselves on us, oft in very physical ways. Very personal ways, as well. These marks we draw on our skin become a record not just of our journey through this piece (that is instructing us to draw them) but also a record of our own realities that inspire–individualize–them. Through these marks, this Elit piece is able to transcend its technological bounds and merge with our own realities. In many ways, this interaction, too, becomes symbolic of how abuse transcends whatever “neat little box” we try to tuck it away in and bleeds into all aspects of our lives. Meeting Sedina again for the first time in the palace, just meeting their eyes, seeing their scars, was enough to silence me and transport me back to a time in which I (my character) was powerless. Looking at the weapon I made for the queen gave me no sense of accomplishment and seemed, also, to be only symbolic of my powerlessness. And, the telescope, served only as a reminder that I am trapped on the inside, an eternal observer. All of these little things brought me back to this central idea that I am what has been done to me and not what I choose to be. And, that is how abuse operates. It bleeds into every interaction with the world. Swallows everything you feel till it is all you feel. Watches you like a dead person only you can see. Makes you feel like a dead person.

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Clicking each word makes them disappear until only damage is left and then it disappears.

It is very isolating as well which, I think, is another aspect this piece captures very well. Throughout play, you rarely interact with another (living) soul. Mostly, you are a quiet observer. A ghost moving from one haunt to the next. Messengers are sent for you when the queen needs you and the workers at the dream distillery feed you the same lines on repeat but, other than that, there are no pages that offer you (your character) meaningful or thoughtful interaction. It isn’t until Sedina shows up that dialogue is really introduced in this work.

Through interaction with Sedina, you are given more avenues of expression. There is less complicity and more individuality (perhaps showing how the system is created to silence while people are not). You can choose how you are “coping” or how you imagine what your character has gone though. As I read this piece as a narrative of abuse, I chose to say things that related to that experience. Like, when Sedina asked if it still hurt, I’d say, “Yes.” Or, if she asked if I was doing okay though, I’d lie and say, “I’m okay.” And, Sedina seemed to both commiserate with me and counsel me. She is the instigator of escape. Sedina wants to kill the queen. I write her a letter begging her not try for trying is in and of itself an act that will not be forgiven. And, my reaction seems to be a very accurate response. Tackling the monster that is abuse is very scary and seems like something that will come back to bit with vengeance. But, as this piece communicates, it is necessary to face our monsters. And, it’s alright to fail–as Sedina does. Killing the monster is not the point. Facing it is. Realizing that there are things that are more important than it is. Wanting things again is. Realizing you are alive is.

Honestly, there are far too many aspects of this piece to touch upon in one analysis. I could go on and on and probably still find new things every time. Like, I didn’t even really get to go into detail about the diremaidens but I think those characters are infinitely fascinating even though their time in the piece is brief. They surrender themselves. Humiliate themselves. Empty themselves forever into boxes. In ritual. People leave petals of memory to worship their plights. To me, they are the victims who could not live with the idea that there were no gods to give greater purpose to life and thus provide reason for their abuse and suffering. So, they made themselves into offerings. Chose to forget themselves/lose themselves to a cause. After a few pages, all memory of them disappears. Exactly as they wanted.

I didn’t really get to talk about the queen and just how symbolic of abuse she is. I mean, she communicates via implanting her thoughts directly into your brain. How much more intrusive and invasive can this monster be? How much less can she care about your bodily autonomy. And, when she wants something, the only options this piece gives you are to fulfill the queen’s desires. You are complicit and made a conscript. Which is what an abusive context does.

And, we have the gods who derive power from silence.

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Never any explanation.

Truthfully, this concept makes me think of that graffiti that was supposedly found on the wall in one of the concentration camps– “If there is a god, he will have to beg my forgiveness.” And, I think this whole concept is supposed to juxtapose the diremaidens–who are putting themselves in the service of these silent gods–the ones who presumably chose silence over interfering with their abuse. There’s an accusation of betrayal charging this statement, to me. A, “where were you?” A, “why didn’t you do anything?” Ultimately, I think this aspect of the piece is meant to convey the betrayal victims feel towards figures of authority who either committed the act of abuse or violence or who simply did nothing, whether they were aware of what was happening or not.

There is just so much to explore through this piece. Even though the interface is relatively simple, the story that is being told is infinitely inviting of deeper reading. So, I suppose this is a decidedly literary piece of Elit. Most of its meaning is derived from its text paired with sound and some colour. This simplicity, though, I think resonates because it allows readers to realize how  abuse can be so simple in process but so difficult and complicated to process. The complexity of it exists in its implications, in the marks it leaves and that are remembered.

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It is so hard to fill the emptiness.

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

(I got so absorbed in this piece that I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be writing about the other piece yet–sorry Jess if I don’t. In fact, I’m very inspired from this piece to work on my own Elit work.

As for the title suggestions for TiM, I’ll either add them to this post later, create a new one for them, or just bring my suggestions to class. It’s hard to be clever when you’re trying to be. I need more time to mull.)

Oddly Soothed

I don’t think I express my appreciation enough for the words I read remaining still on their pages. I’m not sure if it was the intention of Sooth, by David Jhave Johnston, to evoke this heightened sense of appreciation but, it certainly accomplished that.

In Sooth, the poems presented for reading “float” in a kind of amniotic space. They appear to recede into and return from some depth in the screen. Like water, they ebb and flow. Sometimes they graze, others they assault. Point is, the words are not fixed in place. This movement creates for a different kind of compelling experience with poetry.

Because the words are constantly in motion, each line floating in and out of sight, there becomes no one way to read the poem. There is no linearity here to these narratives. Coherence is what you make of it. In order to make the lines appear on your screen initially, you have to click with your mouse. And, as you continue reading, the lines will keep coming, the “beginning” and “ending” lines just cycling back into the poem until there really isn’t even an entry or exit point anymore. Paired with the rather trippy sounds that play in the background for this poetry, this looping motion becomes almost meditative. I know I found myself focusing more on each individual line if only to try to “catch” it. In a way, I feel like I savored each line of poetry more in this piece than I have with other strictly print-based works.

The imagery that went along with this poetry was also interesting. At least, an interesting choice. I believe there was a Venus fly trap, a woman in bed, possibly some abstract sand dunes, water, a fish in a tank, and what looked like a close-up of either snow or sugar granules. There seemed to be no explicit connections to any of the imagery chosen with the poetry. I mean, I definitely formed my own connections but I don’t think there’s anything in the poetry itself that directly addressed its context as it relates to the imagery. I know I found it weird that the poem titled Weeds did not have the Venus fly trap imagery but that of the woman’s body. This piece seemed to play on and off of our perceptions and associations.

For a moment there, I also thought this piece wanted to play off of our perceptions of communication and of language because the last 2 poems began in French instead of English. I was trying to draw on my 4 years of high school French to get through them before I realized I could just change the language via a little icon on the bottom right hand corner. I made it farther than I thought I would but, anyway….

Sooth utilizes a rather simple interface to engage readers with the text floating across their screens by, literally, making that text float. By giving the poetry actual movement, readers are encouraged to follow the text with their eyes and so focus more on that text than if it what stationary. Readers become immersed, submerged, in the water-like movements of this poetry.

Dark Dr. Seuss

(And, I thought my piece was entirely too on the nose for current times….)

So, I did not read carefully enough through the introduction for Hobo Lobo of Hamelin and, because of that, I was not aware until my second reading through that it was referencing/ inspired by the tale of the Pied Piper. After I was aware of that though, this piece really came together and I felt like I was better able to appreciate all of elements. And, let’s get into exactly why that is!

Upon first accessing this Elit piece, before I knew about its inspiration, I thought it was riffing on Dr. Seuss–twisting the aesthetic of Dr. Seuss and his picture books into something urban and dark. The illustrations used to guide readers through the piece just seem very reminiscent of Dr. Seuss’s work. There are animals mingling with humanesque characters. Odd proportions. A picturesque environment. All distinctive elements of most of Dr. Seuss’s picture books. Mixed with the edgy tone and point-blank language of the story–which discussed “coked-up rats” and the dark underbelly of the bureaucratic/ “democratic” process–I was expecting re-imagined telling of a Dr. Seuss classic now with more cynicism and tricked out with moral dilemmas. No happy endings.

Hobo Lobo sure delivered all of that, riffing on the Dr. Seuss aesthetic or not.

The story here starts out in a rather traditional way. On page 1 (because, yes, we do have pages for navigation in this piece), which is divided into 7 short pages itself, we have our setting laid out and a conflict introduced. The quaint little hamlet of Hamelin is under “siege” by some coked-up rats–just in time for election season. Our dick mayor Dick Mayor (heavily inspired, it seems, by the concept of Big Brother) is freaking out cause he doesn’t know how to get rid of these rats. He consults a psychic who advises him to find the help of a professional, much to the mayor’s frustration. Throughout this whole exposition, illustrations depicting what is going on–with the rats, the mayor, etc.–float by along the top of the screen. And, they are continuous on each page. There are no page breaks. All of the mini-pages on each page bleed seamlessly into each other, an illusion emphasized by these illustrations flowing one into the next. You don’t even feel like you’re flipping pages. This kind of site-structure really creates a sense of a cinematic experience for readers. And, when you do go to the next page and the illustrations do change to a new setting, it’s like a cut-scene.

Anyway, flipping to page 2 introduces us to our protagonist-of-sorts–a stranger from a strange land rolling into town. And, look at that! This stranger’s–Hobo Lobo’s–is just what the mayor ordered. Hobo Lobo is a jack-of-all trades, a real Renaissance wolf. You got a problem, he can solve it–within reason of course. One of the illustrations depicts a scene where a boy brings their dead fish to Hobo Lobo who can only shake his wolfy head, unable to fix this particular problem. This is where I would differentiation between Dr. Seuss and Stevan Živadinovic (Hobo Lobo‘s creator). I mean, there are obviously many different between the 2 artists and their illustration styles. When I talk about differentiating between the 2, I’m referencing the manner in which the artists present themes. I think that Živadinovic is less subtle with the presentation and, I think because of the medium and content he’s working with, he doesn’t have to be as subtle. He’s not specifically writing for an audience of children. As evidenced purely by the language being used, Hobo Lobo is clearly directed towards an older audience and so more mature themes can be more explicitly expressed.

Continuing, Dick Mayor tasks Hobo Lobo with ridding Hamelin of its rat infestation–for a hefty sum of treasure. Hobo Lobo accepts under the pretense of being paid for his service. The next page of this piece is possibly the most interesting of all of them and so explicitly a reference to the tale of the Pied Piper that I can’t believe I didn’t realize it on my first read-through. Page 3 opens without any words accompanying the illustrations–as there have been up until this point. The lack of guiding words prompts turning the pages to see if you can figure out what’s going on. At around the 3rd or 4th page flip, crickets chirping give way to music–soft before it gets louder as you continue flipping the pages. Rats walking through the woods, ostensibly towards the source of the sound, are illustrated. On page 10, words appear again, posing the question of whether or not rats have wings? An image of a line of rats walking towards the edge of a cliff accompanies this question. The next page cuts the music to something more foreboding and adds a scythe to the illustration. Then, we have this odd collage of animated images that I am not sure what to make of (so, I can’t wait to hear what Katherine has to say on Tuesday night about them).

Anyway, the reference to the tale of the Pied Piper was very clear here–the rats being led to their demise by the hypnotic sound of music (a fiddle and an accordion? instead of a pipe in this case). In my recollection of the tale, I thought the rats were drowned but according to a quick Google search, there are many variations of this tale so the cliff interpretation here is perfectly within reason. I also think it references that idiom, “when pigs fly.” Even though it’s rats, we do get an image of a pig on a silver platter being chased by a chef on one of the min-pages.

After Hobo Lobo deals with the rat problem, Dick Mayor gets re-elected as dick mayor of Hamelin. He, of course, promptly takes credit for ridding the town of its rat infestation. We get a lot of animated images on page 4 that mimic TV sets flickering and lighting up. And, the content of these images seems to be making fun of mainstream media news outlets and their penchant for “stirring the pot” and for reaffirming the images of certain people, like the mayor, as being gold standards of behavior who can do nothing reprehensible. Or, at the very least, mainstream media is not keen to call out public figures for their reprehensible actions even when those actions are and news outlets should. Hobo Lobo watches this all go down, his reflection in the TV screens mimicking my own reflection in my computer screen.

On the next page, Hobo Lobo tries to get recompense for his services–it does not go well. Essentially, the mayor asserts that he saved Hamelin and that Hobo Lobo is a usurper. The animation here on the illustrations zooms in on the mayor’s dick face, turning red as it really focuses on how bulbous the mayor’s dick head is. This emphasized focal point and colour change really communicates a sense of anger.

On the next to last page, we see Hobo Lobo losing his case in court against the mayor–no written agreement = no court in the world will side with you. Got to love the legal process. It’s really there for the little man. The illustrations fade into a radio show broadcast the mayor is doing in which he frames everything he says in his favor and avoids any questions that actually seek a real answer.Dick Mayor is sure to emphasize that all his actions have the people of Hamelin in mind. He only wants to see that Hamelin remains a great place. The radio show hosts decides its time to take some questions from the audience here and the 1st question is about the safety of the children of Hamelin. Dick Mayor reassures the caller that all the children of Hamelin will be safe because they are kept in the mayor’s prayers. He prays for their future, one free from the burdens of “the debts of the mooching class.” Hobo Lobo, who had been listening to this broadcast, kicks the radio, breaking it.

The last page of this Elit piece is a direct reference to the tale of the Pied Piper. Because the mayor did not pay his debts, Hobo Lobo led all the children out of Hamelin and trapped them in a cave. Lesson learned, right Mr. Mayor? The animation on this last page is that of a steady stream of children, illustrated as if playing and having a grand ol’ time. Slowly but surely they slide across 1, 2, 3 pages, disappearing into the open mouth of a cave. Hobo Lobo’s wolfy shadow can be seen. Demon-like creature pull and prod at the rock above the entrance to the cave. Once all the children are inside, Hobo Lob’s shadow disappears and the demons disappear too, the rock they were prodding finally falling in place, trapping the kids inside. The last mini-page of this page depicts Hobo Lobo covering his face, obviously ashamed and begrieved by what he had to do. Possibly exhausted as well.

Overall, I think Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is interesting re-imagining of the typical storybook tale. And, it is fascinating to see how the pop-up book medium can be articulated in an electronic space. Despite none of the illustrations being able to physically enter your space, the use of animation is still able to communicate that sense of the story entering your personal at times. Also, there is the added element of sound to this piece which I also think helps this piece enter your personal space. Hobo Lobo is a very creative exploration of the power of sound and animation to create a very visceral reading experience when no physical elements exist.

 

Finding the Right Words

To an extent, I think we are all aware of the editing of ourselves we do. Whether it be in regards to how we write or how we dress or speak or move, I think we all are aware of the compromises we make in our conduct. Oft, these compromises are made to spare feelings–our own or another’s. So, in a sense, the way we edit ourselves is actually an exercise of our power. It is how we exert a measure of control over otherwise nonsensical, uncontrollable existences. Excuse me, though, if that is getting a little too deep. I just know that, in regards to my own interactions with the world around me, I make plenty of compromises. I hold my tongue. Restrict. Constrict. Contain. Toe the line but never cross it. Scratch down words then scribble them out. Replace them with the “right” ones. The ones that understand and accuse no one. The ones that seek abnegation in place of self- actualization.

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, there are rules of conduct in this world. And, every role you assume has its own tailor-fit code. This is how it has been for a very long time–something I believe Emily Short and Liza Daly’s First Draft of the Revolution captures considerably well. In this work of ELit, the ways in which we compromise and edit ourselves are explored though an interactive, letter-constructing interface. Readers of this piece assume the role of 1 of 4 different letter-writers and are then able to “revise” or “review” or “construct” letters based upon the unique concerns presented to them according to which letter-writer’s role they are assuming. All of those option are in quotations (i.e “review”) because, while there are certainly many responses to different revisionary suggestions, all of those responses are provided by the interface. So, readers don’t get to generate their own, entirely unique responses. Though, sometimes, you do get the option to erase a line entirely from a letter which I would argue, to a certain extent, allows some level of personal contribution to the piece–through exemption, oddly enough (i.e refer to the mention of abnegation above).

Anyway, it is very interesting to see how each role you assume imposes its own concerns on your psyche as a reader.For example, when I “was” Henri, I definitely felt more conservative with what I wrote–like I was withholding information in order to preserve some of my own concerns. Whereas, when I “was” Juliette, I felt more manipulative while I was choosing my words–revealing or not particular things depending upon what would get me to my own ends. The ends justify the means and all that. So, I viewed secrecy in different ways depending upon which role I had. And, this was definitely not a conscious decision. It’s only afterward, thinking about how I chose to conduct myself, that I realize these distinctions. Which, I think is also reflective of real life–there are many roles we play whose rules are just intuit or inherent now. When I’m on the train, I immediately curl inward–shoulders hunched, bags close, legs crossed. I’m trying to take up as little room as possible. And, if I someone still brushes shoulders with me, I apologize. Especially if they’re a man. Even though I don’t always want to–because it’s not always my fault–I’ve been taught to be small and apologetic first. Men, not so much. Man-spreading is every bit the issue you’ve heard–lots of space on public transportation devoured without thought by the male sex. Because, taking up space is not ingrained as a taboo in them. It is not an ever-conscious concern the same ways in which it is for me as a young woman. My role dictates conscious concern. Though, as I said, sometimes that concern just becomes so embedded that you no longer pay it much concentrated attention. It’s just something you do. Which, is what happened for me in First Draft of the Revolution.

And, while I appreciate the attention of this piece to reality, I found myself irritated at certain points because I had to revise all of the letter sometimes instead of just parts of it. The piece would not let me send the letter if I did not edit some lines. Sometimes, there were multiple choices of revision and you could just settle for one and the piece would let you move forward but other times, if there was only one suggestion for revision, you had to take it in order to send the letter and progress. For example, one of Juliette’s letters started with, “Do you think I am so stupid?” and I really wanted to keep that as the first line for that letter but the piece would not allow me to progress without erasing that beginning entirely. To me, I did not think it was so outlandish for the material that was being addressed in the letter itself but I guess that was just my interpretation. To me, that was a perfectly acceptable reaction for a young wife finding out about her husband’s bastard child and then being spared as know the knowledge were not perfectly clear. Like, who did Henri think he was attempting to for one second pull the wool over Juliette’s eyes? Juliette knew long before Henri’s letters even began to broach the suspicion. At least, I believe she did.

Perhaps, the role Juliette had to play struck a chord too close to home for me as a young, female reader myself. That, “Do you think I am so stupid?” is a kind of sentiment about a lot of things I’d definitely like to feel more comfortable expressing and so, maybe, I imprinted that on Juliette. Maybe the role she is in does not allow for such liberties with language. Maybe I just want it to.

Overall, I found this piece to be a rather compelling exploration of how the roles we are made to assume compromise our abilities to freely express ourselves as individuals. The ending (I experienced) I found to be a bit rushed–like, I have questions about the bastard son! Is he really on his father’s side now? What became of the country friar? And, of Bernadette? Did she come to live with her son in Paris? What was her story? The Countess, too? What does she know about magic and the rebellion being stages against it and the aristocracy? Like, this could be a book! ….Well, it was a book. At least, it was presented in a traditional kind of book format with pages to turn and plot points which is unusual for more contemporary pieces of Elit–which this one is (2012).

I think this piece lends itself to a lot of speculation. And, a lot of intrigue, of course. I think the letter-writing interface really communicates this idea of “seeing behind the curtains.” Discovering how a trick is performed. Which, interestingly enough takes away some of the magic but does have its own mystique nonetheless. There is something deeply personal about writing letters. It carries this connotation of divulging, of revealing the otherwise unstated. And yet, here, we see that is seldom the case. Even in our seemingly personal spheres, we are still subject to outside influence. Prisoners to circumstance, even. I think this piece gets you to contemplate the ways in which you strip your own freedoms from yourself and why. While I don’t think this piece encourages direct confrontation with the status quo of conduct, I do think it invites readers to think about why they don’t speak their minds as oft as they no doubt want to.

“Be brave. No remembers a coward.” ~ Something I wanted to tell Juliette sooner but something I think she learned nonetheless toawrds the end of the piece.