I haven't decided exactly which work(s) I'm going to write about (it'll be something from the Elit Collections, or Dreaming Methods), but I've at least settled on a topic. I want to focus on aspects of the work that are hidden, or are otherwise purposely downplayed or obscured (but present all the same). I'm fascinated by the ways in which authors hide information in their works, and I'd like to look at 1) the techniques employed to hide information, 2) the effect achieved by doing so, and 3) the ways in which the reader will notice what is hidden. I'll be focusing mostly on aspects of the work that are fairly easy to access, but nonetheless deviate from the guiding narrative - if one is present. If there isn't some kind of guiding framework, I'll try to analyze how readers make sense of disparate elements (and how some elements become favored over others due to aesthetic decisions).
I will base my paper on Mao II. I aim to connect two of the major issues addressed in the book relevant to our analysis of the post-print fiction: authorship, and crowds as transformers of the act of authoring. The book dedicates a great deal of time setting in separate, if not opposite directions, these two situations within the story. On his part, Bill Gray not only struggles with redefining the place and role of the author, but he insists on isolating him by isolating himself. On a parallel line, the book is full of images of crowds, like snapshots of a world that no longer functions at an individual level.
I will rely, among other works, on Crowds and power by Elias Canetti and The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes to argue that there is a relationship between authorship and the behavior of crowds, and this relationship directly determines the role authors will perform in an overpopulated world transformed by technology. While Bill sees only terrorism as a new form of authorship, just as powerful is the crowd to redefine and usurp the identity of the author. One way to incorporate terrorism in my analysis is to look at it as a contributor of the formation of a mass in fear helping shape a world that behaves in mass.
Barthes in his essay says, “Mallarme was doubtless the first to see and to foresee in its full extent the necessity to substitute language itself for the person who until then had been supposed to be its owner. For him, for us too, it is language which speaks, not the author; to write is, through a prerequisite impersonality…to reach that point where only language acts, ‘performs,’ and not ‘me.’” This theory seems to be in direct opposition of Bill’s romantic views of the role of the author. He and Scott seem to give more value and importance to the person of the writer than to the work itself. As a result Bill rebels against this disfranchising of the writers who become less powerful as they incorporate and as they become absorbed by the mass media. The next step in mass production of writers is the collective authorship, the act of collaborating works and authors incorporating its mass-audience, so inherent of the post-print authorship.
I plan to analyze Braid in my final paper. I had a hard time thinking of games as literature before playing Braid, so I am intrigued by how it creates a fictional world and a coherent narrative. Marie-Laure Ryan puts forth some ideas in "Toward an Interactive Narratology" that will be useful in my analysis, along with several other sources. It is remarkable how Braid plays with time and represents the complexities of human emotion. One may fairly ask whether the author could have told this story as effectively using another method or technology, and I hope to address that question.
I wanted to focus my final paper on an elit. work, or perhaps even the video game Braid. I have been looking at the Dreaming Methods website. I read several elit. stories in this site such as Changed, Nightingale, and Book of Waste. While reading, I kept in mind what Manovich says about Databases and Narratives:
“Rather than trying to correlate database and narrative forms with modern media and information technologies, or deduce them from these technologies, I prefer to think of them as two competing imaginations, two basic creative impulses, two essential responses to the world” (“The Database” 233).
I continue to struggle with this notion that these two forms are “competing” instead of working together to utilize the multimedia world. I would like to examine an elit., perhaps two or three, and explain how this genre are “correlates” the two forms.
In addition to Manovich’s article, I will probably be citing from the articles “The Garden of the Forking Paths,” “Avatars of Story,” and perhaps “The Codex and its Variations.”
I spent a lot of time playing the Interactive Fiction games and I would like to write about them for my final paper. I am a huge fan of RPGs and games in general, and Interactive Fiction seemed very similar to these types of games. Since we have not yet had the chance to talk about Braid, I don't know if it falls under the same kind of category as Violet or the other Interactive Fiction games we have played, but if it does, I would also like to write about it. I'd like to explore narrative as it appears in games and/or interactive format. I am especially interested in how narratives are uncovered and presented to readers using this type of platform.
Hahaha, my roommate helped me come up with that title. I also had a hard time deciding what piece of post-print fiction to do my paper on. Originally, I wanted to do something new; I looked at different online projects, from sources on the course site, as well as the samples Professor Sample sent today. However, I realized that as much as I wanted to do something new, I thought that House of Leaves would be my best option, as I found it to have the most content open to interpretation. So I settled on that. Now, to explain my title, so its known that I'm not a druggie. We talked a lot in class about substance abuse - the marajuana and alcohol and most importantly, the HOUSE - that affected the various characters both in their own self-destructions and the destruction of their relationships with other characters; the obsession and the repercussions that follow it. The house in intself becomes an addictive drug, and is the main source of drama throughout the novel, so delving into how the house is drug-like and its effects is probably my main goal. Also in this analysis, I'd like to possibly address the depths of human emotions, the constant search for something more, and the need for other people. But if this is too far off my main topic or I have enough from that, I probably won't add it in.
For my final paper I want to examine Italo Calvino's role as an author in his novel If on a winter's night a traveler. Unlike Roland Barthes article, "The Death of the Author," I think that Calvino is still in control to manipulate the text and how his readers read. Because of this, the readers only have a limited authority over the text. I will reference an article by Inge Fink, "The Power behind the Pronoun: Narrative Games in Calino's If on a winter's night a traveler which looks at Calvino's power through his choice of narrating in the second person. It also references back to Roland Barthes article "The Death of the Author."
I plan to write about Calvino's If On A Winter's Night a Traveler for my analytic paper. I will draw on some of the earlier readings we had for class and discuss how the novel both plays with authorship and the readers themselves. One thing I wish to cover in detail is the novel's self conscious and self referential nature; the novel constantly draws attention to itself, and I wish to explore the idea of meta fiction as seen in A Winter's Night. For the purposes of my paper, this will cover the novels use of print as a plot device itself, the narrative structure of the work, and espescially how those portions of the text not explicitly self referential still figure into the broader theme in question.
Originally, I was scrambling to try and find something new to research for this final paper but then I realized there were many rich pieces of work and topics of discussion which we were really only able to "gloss over" in the short we've had in this course. The one topic, in particular which I would like to revisit and make the topic of my paper research is the function of the database in the "post-print" world. I'll be focusing my paper on We Feel Fine. and use class readings and other research on databases to help support my claims. After a closer re-reading of Manovich's "The Database" a few statements of his really jumped out at me which I'd like to use to frame my discussion.
The first is what Manovich describes as the "anti-narrative logic of the web." ("The Database" 4) When we think of the use of functionality of the web, particularly how people navigate it, I think we can see where Manovich is coming from. If writers, artist's and creates are going to be increasingly turning to the internet to create, it shouldn't be a surprise that many e-lit works are going to be forced to, in some ways, embrace the database genre.
Another statement I'd like to use to frame my paper is the comparison Manovich makes between databases and narratives. How narratives seek to link "seemingly unordered" items, while a database is interested in "representing the world as a list of items." I'd like to isolate the intentions of both genres and then look to see how/where they meet.
In my paper I'm going to discuss how Danielewski's transformation of the role of the reader contributes to the genre of "post-print" fiction. The sources I'm consulting are Hansen's "The Digital Topography of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves," Hayles' "Saving the Subject:Remediation in House of Leaves," Pressman's "House of Leaves: reading the networked novel," and, to a certain degree, Hamilton's "The a-mazing house: the labyrinth as theme and form in Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves." The sources have all been very useful since they discuss a lot of the varying arguments as to why House of Leaves can be considered "post-print." For example, the idea behind House of Leaves is that a house can not contain itself, which is very similar to the idea that a book can not contain itself. In order for the reader to absorb the entire story, he/she must go beyond the physical book and explore other forms of media such as music and the internet. It is only when the reader learns to change their reading habits from simply extracting information from the tangible source of the book, to exploring other, less tangible, but just as informative sources that the reader is rewarded with a better understanding of the narrative. In this way, the role of the reader must change in order to read post-print fiction.
Another way House of Leaves calls attention to the changing role of the reader is through its discussion of "the uncanny " or "unheimlich." The definition that is presented in the story is something familiar being made unfamiliar. There are many examples of this within the story such as the house (which is supposed to be the very essence of familiarity) being made into an unfamiliar place. The text, itself, is also "uncanny" in this sense because the story is bound in a codex book (a very familiar form), but integrates innovative and unfamiliar typography and other forms of media into the story that make the role of the reader unfamiliar. In her essay, Hamilton notes that House of Leaves has "an unheimlich quality" and that the "bizarre and unfamiliar typography of the book…makes the act of reading the novel an unfamiliar experience."(6)
At the same time, House of Leaves must restore and/or reference familiar conventions of print novels, because the genre isn't "anti-print", its "post-print." The new genre builds off of what the old has created. House of Leaves couldn't solely exist as a work of electronic literature just as little as it could exist solely as a work of conventional print literature.
For my final paper, I plan to write about Salvador Plascencia’s novel People of Paper. I want to concentrate on Plascencia’s internal struggle between being traditionalist and innovate while focusing on Barthe’s article The Death of the Author. Barthes states that the author must remove him or herself from the work in order for the reader to be born. To do so the author must allow for the words in the work to perform for themselves, and he or she must be born simultaneously with the work as opposed it being a retelling of the author’s past. Although People of Paper breaks the rules of conventional codex novels with its various blacked out passages, cut out names, and sideways text, Plascencia is traditionalist in the sense that he embraces the author, Plascencia himself, as opposed to suppressing him. Whereas Barthes writes that the destination of the modern novel can no longer be personal - in People of Paper, Plascencia is quick to personalize the novel by not only including himself, but also by basing the background of the story on his own Mexican heritage and experiences of living in El Monte, California. Whether Plascencia’s relationship with Liz and Cameroon is fictitious or not, Plascencia still brings enough of his personal life into the novel that he is able to personalize it. Aside from not removing himself from the work, Plascencia is also very traditional in how he describes women and the Hispanic community more specifically Mexican-Americans.
Once the author in a novel is identified the text is “explained”, therefore, when we discover that Salvador Plascencia is Saturn suddenly we come to understand that the novel is based on the pursuit of the reader to liberate him or herself from the author. At the same time by not including a deeper meaning into the text either with the plot or the mechanical turtles, Plascencia “liberates what may be called an anti-theological activity.” Along with Plascencia’s presence in the novel, I want to further explore readers’ mission to free themselves from the author. Two of the ways of achieving this is through post-print works such as Interactive Fiction and Interactive YouTube videos where users have the opportunity to interact with the work and become his or her own author.
For my paper, I would like to explore Anne Carson’s Nox under the lenses of Lev Manovich’s “The Database” and Roland Barthes’s “The Death of the Author.” I would like to probe the topic of absence versus presence in the novel and how that influences its role as a literary database. While the novel is about the death of Carson’s brother, Michael, his absence in her life is overcompensated by his presence in her novel. Consequently, his presence in the novel eclipses hers. Barthes notes in his article, “Thus is revealed the total existence of writing: a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations of dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place here this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader, not, as was hitherto said, the author.” Is the presentation of this book to be construed as a DIY spectacle or to assist Carson in transitioning from her grieving period? Nox becomes the paradigm of Barthes's statement through Carson’s juxtaposition of various memories, interactions, and experiences of Michael. Some other questions I would like to consider: In a novel about her brother, how does Carson maintain a sense of identity/voice? Is the accordion codex employed for Carson’s benefit, Michael’s benefit, or the reader’s benefit? Would the execution of this poignant novel be as successful if it was presented in a more linear and conventionally crafted codex?
Carson treats lamenting as it should be, as a scrapbook. The level of poignancy this topic holds transcends the boundaries of a linear narrative. Because the reader is exposed to Carson’s grieving period, the reader is forced to rifle through a box interspersed connections (e.g. redundancy, letters, photos, etc.) and create his or her own course. As Manovich’s article suggests, “The world appears to us as an end less and unstructured collection of images, texts, and other data records, it is only appropriate that we will be moved to model it as a database.” Since the novel is presented as an elegy for the brother, his overarching presence allows Carson to freely place his artifacts into the database of this book. I would essentially like to explore how Carson’s authorship dictated the presentation of her novel.
Beginning with the seminal thoughts of Cawelti’s article on “The Writer as a Celebrity,” I want to continue to explore the issues of fame and celebrity as presented in Don DeLillo’s Mao II. I want to expand on these initial concepts to discuss Bill Gray’s bid for freedom from his celebrity, as well as the loss of faith which makes his final desperate actions necessary and also meaningful. I want to also look at the dichotomy of faith vs. cult (as represented in the triangle of Bill, Karen, and Scott); as well as fanaticism that drives celebrity worship and is present in the dynamics of the terrorist and his followers as well. Finally, the role of the novel and consequently, the novelist, will be explored and the immortality which is promised by the writer's work itself.
So I've figured out how to host my IF game. Which is still not finished of course. You'll notice dialogue options may end conversation's abruptly. In this case, type undo to go to the last action to get back into the conversation again.. Well hey, there's a meta explanation for that in game! Or cop out depending on how you see it. I feel however you can get a pretty good idea of what I was going for with what I have posted.
What I learned from this is that branching dialogue snowballs really quick. Among other things.
Here is my link to my electronic literature project: