Memory: Review

The human mind is a wondrous yet fragile instrument. There are many mysteries to the mind, like how one has the ability to think and how one can keep and store information, memories although it fades with time.

In the ii – in the white darkness, an interactive poem published in January 2004 by Reiner Strasser and M.D. Coverley, the audience is led to understand the life of patients with Alzheimer or Parkinson’s diseases, by entering their “memories”. By doing so, the audience is able to experience how the patients feel from continuously having no control over what memories goes or stays and the exasperation of having the memory constantly eluding them, flittering about on the edge of their minds.

At the opening of the piece, all that is seen is a yellow page with the title, which once selected, has a new window all in white except for the heading popping up. The page then gives way to a veil that has white dots pulsing seemingly from behind it. As the dots are clicked upon one by one, a visual “memory” would appear, sometimes just as animation or accompanied by sounds or words. But the image only lasts for a few seconds before fading away like a fleeting breeze. The dots can also be clicked upon in a combination of times allowing for a more rapid display of memories to be shown. This act of remembering and lost of memory is recreated through the fading in and out of a collaboration of words, pictures, animation, and sounds. And what seems to be someone else’s memory will now become your own through the repetition.

The ii – in the white darkness is a perfect rendition of what one expects the memories of a patient with Alzheimer or Parkinson’s diseases to be. Coverley stated, “…the act of trying to recover what we no longer can identify,” is what is most important and they have successfully captured the essence of such work in their piece, especially with the use of a multimedia medium. But to classify such works as electronic literature is questionable. There are but a few words and phrases in the poem but is that enough to call it literature. There seems to be too little actual text to really say that such work is literature but if their poem were to be altered with more text incorporated in it, would the outcome still be the same as to how memory is portrayed.


1 Comment

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One response to “Memory: Review

  1. timepolice

    The name makes it seem like maybe you wrote this review from memory.

    Sounds like an interesting piece. It must be frustrating, though, for these eLit authors to Google their work and see half of the reviews throwing the very identity of their work into question. Sometimes the content of their work is ignored in favour of declarations about it categorically IS and IS NOT.

    I think it’s more important to consider why and why not certain elements are part of a piece of electro-lit, which you did in your review. I guess if the work would be interpreted the same way with more text as without it, as you suggest in yer last sentence, the piece is successful.

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