Author Archives: carlymcd

Review of Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky: Enchanting and Uplifting

Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky is an interactive piece of poems scattered across a starry sky. In the background, certain stars glow blue. These glowing stars hide first, a title, and then once explored further, each star houses an elegant poem. In the background we can hear what sounds like a blowing of wind chimes and birds singing. This piece’s interactivity is in the form of scrolling your mouse over these glowing stars to reveal a poem; each poem tells a story about love, family and life.

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Review of Strings By Dan Waber

                Strings is a Flash piece of literature by Dan Waber; Strings was published in 1999 and it includes eight separate moving pieces of black string across a white screen. Dan Waber developed this piece to resemble relationships; he explores the relationship between words, movement, handwriting and human experiences. The separate parts of his piece are involved with ideas of argument, flirting, and laughter.

                I clicked on the first link titled “Argument,” here I saw a piece of string tugging left and right, spelling the words yes and no. I liked this idea of tension between the two words. The actual movement from the formation of yes to know represented an actual physical pulling back and forth. This movement mirrors the argumentative relationship between the words yes and no. “Argument 2,” dealt with the same notion of the struggle but it added in a medium of maybe. There was no shifting between the words, just the words appearing in different order on the screen. The addition of the word maybe, brought a less tense tone to the piece.

The second idea Waber plays with in his flash presentation is flirting. The image of a handwritten word that I cannot decipher, tucks in and out of view across the screen. By doing this, Waber is teasing us; I found myself waiting impatiently for the handwriting to be clearer and to fully present itself but it never does. Therefore, Waber successfully captures the idea of flirting in this portion of Strings.

Laughter is the third idea in Waber’s piece. The handwritten laughter “ha-ha” sways from left to right and continuously grows. With each shift, the laughter becomes longer. This mirrors the idea of real life laughter; laughing usually starts out small and grows as things become funnier.
                Strings is a interesting flash piece of literature that plays with notions of human behaviors and handwriting. It intertwines simple concepts of motion and handwriting to portray these actions. Strings is unique in the fact that such a simple idea can become very complex and intriguing. It’s almost as if he gives life to an inanimate object. I would be interested in seeing more works like this.

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Technology may advance but personality traits remain constant

In A Brave New World, Aldous Huxley tells a story of a seemingly sterile and concrete society, in which structure and regularity play an important role in governing and deciding the actions of its citizens; this novel takes an ignorant poke at the future, while capturing certain aspects of human traits and characteristics. The characters and events in the novel are based on assumptions of technological and cultural advancements that Huxley perceived during his time. The novel starts out describing to us the setting and tone; Huxley describes a Hatchery, where the citizens of The World State are all cloned into different castes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon. Each succeeding castes plays a less physical and intellectual role in the World State, than the next.  Throughout the novel different characters emerge; each of these characters play the parts of a certain persona in the society.  There are also world controllers of the state, who serve as the powerful and political roles in the World state. The story ends off with one of the characters succumbing to the pressures he faces, and hangs himself.

 Huxley successfully illustrates a futuristic view on different personalities of not only a society but also the different aspects of a person. He creates each of his characters based on a particular trait that lives in every human being. These traits might be more visible in some than others but the DNA for these traits lives in us all. He uses different characters as puzzle pieces; when you fit all the characters together you get a complete picture, or a complete person. We can relate to an aspect of every one of his characters, whether it is Linda, the promiscuous girl who drugs herself so she doesn’t have to deal with her problems, or Bernard, the misunderstood and confused. When meeting these characters, we can associate with them, and understand their role in the World State. It is Huxley’s ability to create this holistic picture that has deemed his book a continual success.

The fact that advancements in time and technology cannot recreate different types of personalities and character traits is what makes Huxley’s novel of this utopia world so popular; these traits are just re-inhabited in different people.  A Brave New World has become and remained so successful because with each year, as one audience dies, a new one is born; with that birth, breeds, in every human being, those same traits. It is the sensation that we get from relating to the traits that has kept Huxley’s novel in the eye’s of readers in the past, present and future.

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Emily Dickinson as The Muse of literature


In response to Susan Howe’s essay These Flames and Generosities of the Heart, it is evident that Susan is declaring Emily Dickinson as her muse (the goddesses or spirits who inspire the creation of literature and the arts). Proof of this presents itself throughout the essay. What gave me this impression to begin with was when Howe outlined that Emily had muses who influenced her writing; Newton and Wadsworth subsequently played the roles of Dickinson’s mentors.  Also, Howe’s essay style mirrors the way Emily wrote her literary works. Emily had breaks and dashes and crosses in her work, which appeared in no real pattern. Susan is attaching a value to these breaks in the page.  Howe states, “this space is a poem’s space…this space is a poet’s space” (H120). Similar to Dickinson’s works, Howe formats her essay sporadically with no repeated layout; in the form of whitespace Howe lets the reader’s absorb what they are reading. Another way Howe represents Emily’s style during her essay is when she describes Emily’s work in a contradictory way: “Emily Dickinson almost never titled a poem. She titled a poem several times. She drew an ink slash at the end of a poem. Sometimes she didn’t” (H124). Consciously or not, Howe is mirroring Emily’s nonconformity in her literary style. Susan doesn’t want to generalize Emily’s work; she believes that there are no parallels in her writing and that we can’t explain it. Howe says it is “something produced absolutely without thought of publication and solely by way of the writers own mind…” (H124). After reading Susan Howe’s essay, it is clear to me that Dickinson serves as Howe’s muse; Howe’s essay layout and style of writing thoroughly reflect Emily’s approach to literature.


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