Author Archives: AlexandraDietrich

I wrote this position paper today – Does it makes sense? I was sugar deprived at the time.

I have always been, and always will be a lover of pen to paper and cover to cover. Although the traditional method of writing a poem, story, essay, or even a grocery list has changed over the years and now includes input by typewriters, computers, handheld PDA’s and blackberries I will never stray from the simple basic method of writing and reading literature – word only.

Adding pictures and sound to literature is in no way a new revelation. Yet for as long as I can remember these added images and sound were still enclosed in a book, and were not flashing across a computer screen in a bold and intrusive method  as thought they were saying, “look at me.” No thanks. I have given it a chance. I struggled with the click through tabs, the abode upgrade downloads, the self navigation, and worst of all the 10 minute trickling of letters down the screen that at first developed a sense of intrigue in me that maybe somehow something might happen. But then at a point where it appears there is no end.. it does end, and rather abruptly thereby leaving me desperate for the wasted ten minutes of my life back.

As a child, my mom bought me the books that had a soundboard along the side. The reader, me in this case, is usually under the age of 5 and is instructed to push a button on this soundboard and a little speaker at the bottom would blast some sort of animal sound, Disney character quote or plane, train and automobile noise. They did not hold my interest; even then it was my opinion that you can’t use bells and whistles to detract from your lack of content. I have concluded that there is a reason that pictures are reserved for children’s books. They are there to aid in the development of a child’s creative side, to stimulate interest and promote a child’s own imagination. I don’t need this. I prefer to create my own images, to get lost in the writing, and to develop meaning for the words myself. That being said, I am also the person who abhors the thought of seeing a Hollywood adaptation of a novel I love. Why on earth would I want to erase the beautiful images I have made for myself and replace them with some Hollywood hotshot nitwits idea of what the novel should look like. For example: White Oleander: Novel, spectacular; Film, horrid. Blindness, a book that impacted my life so much so that I gave it as a gift to everyone I loved for Christmas that year, and the film adaptation was tragic and despicable. Please don’t even get me started on the upcoming adaptation of Alice Sebold’s “The lovely bones” I may just cry.

Maybe it is for this reason that I loathe the E-Literature. The only film adaptations that have ever been successful in my eyes are those of children’s novels. Novels that are designed to be entertainment like “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” I will welcome with open arms to the screen. Yes by all means, create e-literature for children, but give me words on paper enclosed in two covers. I need the definitive beginning and end that comes with such a format.. So no, I do not see E-Lit as a vibrant exciting strand of literary production. All the flash, html, image, sound, and click through nonsense is another way to distract the reader from actually looking at words on a page and deciding what to do with them. Sure e-lit does hold a place somewhere in the land of literature, but that place should be reserved for children.

Yours Truly,

Alexandra “Anti-E.Lit” Loslier

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Cruisin’ with “Cruising”

“Cruising” by Ingrid Ankerson and Megan Sapnar is an electronic, reader-controlled piece of  literature that combines written word, image and sound.  It is the manipulation of the reader’s tactile, visual and auditory senses that make the poem effective and quite enjoyable. “Cruising” is about the ritualistic activity of driving in a vehicle up and down the main street of a small town seeking excitement, and feeling desperate to quell the boredom that comes with being young in Wisconsin. The keyword “Place” is one that stuck out in my mind, as it is applicable to this poem in a number of ways.

The reader must learn the skill of mouse placement in order to view the e-lit piece effectively. The first time reader will realize that the mouse being placed too high or low or left or right will greatly impair their ability to read the words or view the images being displayed in this piece. It is the mastering of this skill that allows the reader to fully enjoy the poem. Although Sapnar and Ankerson offer the reader some level of interactivity they limit the ability to self-stop and start the word flow. It is my understanding that this control is based on the authors need to maintain the idea behind the story. The characters are driving, and as they are moving the reader should move with them. The fact that a simple hand slip drives the poem faster really evokes a certain feeling in the reader, the feeling that they too are in the car and they are moving with the characters.

The jovial music plays, and the sound of the narrator’s voice is youthful and excited. It is as though the viewer is there, in small town Wisconsin, where the highlight of a Friday night is a flirtation between two car windows and an opportunity to (maybe) smudge that pink lipstick. The authors did a brilliant job in making sure that place was communicated effectively, and I believe that it was their intention to use such an innocent, excited voice to emphasize the age of the characters and the need for excitement in the town the story is set in.

All in all I would recommend this piece. “Cruising” was heartwarming. The description of place in regards to the viewer’s hand placement and the place where the story is set were well executed. Reading, watching and listening to this poem made me feel like I was there.

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Inanimate Alice, Episode 1: China

Review and Response to Inanimate Alice, Episode 1: China 

Keyword: Childrens Literature

Review by Kolton Smith; Response by Alexandra Loslier

 

REVIEW:

Inanimate Alice, Episode 1: China by Kate Pullinger and babel is a part of the Electronic Literature Collection and is uniquely different from other pieces. One of the main classifications this is under is children literature. Going through the piece I really couldn’t feel it. It did have a child in it, but it was not something that stood out or something that I could relate to as a child. I found that this piece offered a lot things, but Children literature wasn’t one of them. The main thing that struck my eye was that this piece is Flash based which requires the Flash plugin to be run. It offers many benefits that other traditional literature and other electronic literature don’t have. This piece uses sound and visual stimuli that go along with the story.  The sound and visuals are perfectly integrated with the text. The story allows the reader to read the text and still be able to enjoy everything else. The story is presented in a linear fashion just like traditional stories. On occasion the reader is required to progress the story by pressing “>>” or by solving a puzzle. Just like the sound and visuals, this is just another way that the story is able to keep the reader’s attention for the whole duration of the story. Along the way a chapter menu appears on the side of the piece. This allows you to progress backwards in the story, but it doesn’t allow you to go forward read the ending.  Overall the story was very amusing and was able to keep my short attention span occupied for the whole 5 minutes, which was hard for some other electronic literature pieces. This type of story has great potential in the future. It’s able to deliver a detailed rich story in a short amount of time and keep the reader entertained. Flash is very common so other stories could easily replicate this format. The only problem with this format is that being so short and having details highly compressed it’s easy to miss information that the author thinks is important. Maybe that is why I never got some parts of it. I think different people are going to get different things out of it. It’s a unique experience and I hope to read more like this in the future.

 

RESPONSE:

            This piece of electronic literature really tugged at my heartstrings. Firstly, as an only child I can really empathize with the young narrator of the story. The authors illustrated the feeling of loneliness quite well and were thoughtful in they way they used the 8 year olds voice to bring light to what some readers might have interpreted as a dark tale. The setting is a far away place, devoid of playmates and the young girl must use her imagination and her toys to create a sense of peace for herself in what seems to be a hectic and static environment.  The story truly speaks to the only child of not only this generation but of future generations as well. Although I disagree with Kolton about the applicability of the keyword “Childrens Story” I do agree that the use of flash and multimedia is very prominent and a very fitting keyword. Pullinger and Babel use static and aggressive sound, image and vocals to set a mood for the reader, a mood that is somber and tense. The sounds associated with the flash production project the idea that the future holds static filled skies and white noise in barren lands. Pullingers description of this story states that this is a part of a collection of stories that chronicle the growth of a young woman named “Alice,” and that this specific story was written in as a chapter of her early years as an 8 year old. Pullinger calls the title “Inanimate Alice,” which is strange for a children’s piece as inanimate means lifeless, dead, non-living, and dull. What I glean from this title is that the word inanimate refers to the objects, such as the Ba-Xi and her imaginary friend Brad, which Alice must use to fill the void that she feels from not having any physical contact with her playmates.  The tension felt in the story is splattered with bits of youthful naivety in both the interactivity the reader has with the electronic literature and with the sweet way a young girl describes what could be interpreted as a sad, dark and lonely place. I may not recommend this reading to an 8 year old in our present day but I can understand how the authors feel that this will be the format for children stories of the future.

QUESTIONS:

  1. How do you envision the children’s stories of the future? Do you see them being presented in such a format, why or why not?
  2. Why do you think the author’s chose such an uncomfortable soundtrack for the story, do you feel it was effective, what feeling did it evoke in you?
  3. Did you appreciate the interactivity of the story? What did it remind you of? Do you think the author used too much audience interaction, too little, or just enough?

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A brave new world? How do you define brave?

How do you envision the future? Do you imagine a world without war, one where everyone is equal, one where we travel via spaceship or one where each person is born of machines and are conditioned at birth into a designated role?

Author Aldous Huxley paints, in my opinion, a grim portrait of the future in his novel, “A Brave New World”. Set in 2540, or 632 A.F. (After Ford) the opening paragraph conjures an image of a sterile and strategic dystopian society controlled by consumerism and structured class systems. The tale twists to reveal the juxtaposition of truth and happiness; in the story Huxley highlights the fact that in this future society both cannot exist together. As we in the present use recreational drugs and alcohol to numb our senses, characters in the novel self medicate with a state distributed drug named “Soma”. Soma, by definition, means body as distinct from mind and refers to all cells in the body aside from germ cells.  It is under the influence of this drug that the people of this future society may be disconnected from the truth and reality of their mind control.

When a character named John is introduced we become more in tune to just how defunct the new world is. This character is unlike the others living in England in 632 A.F. he is a savage, which is a man born from a human mother, not a decanting bottle. John does not understand why the people of this world cannot see the power the state holds over them and in chapter 15 he cries out upon encountering a group of boys about to take their doses of soma. John tries to encourage the boys against it, stating that Soma is the way the state controls them. A riot erupts and before long the state police show up and spray the drug into the crowd, restoring order once again.

This novel depicts a society where class is determined before inception and where the state and it’s people have a don’t ask don’t tell policy. Frighteningly prophetic in some of it’s projections Huxley’s novel is an engrossing read that offers the reader an opportunity to view the future through the eyes of the past.

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Imagination and the written word.

Sunset reflections

 

Why do I read?  I believe that reading is the most powerful form of escapism that any person could take part in.  Why should everyone read? The written word, as opposed to the spoken word, allows for so much interpretation, experience, and involvement.

If given the choice of a television with 100 different channels ranging in variety from culinary programming to mystery or a library stocked with 100 books with the same range, I would hands down take the books. I know that I am not alone with this feeling however I am aware of the opposition to my perspective. While a part of the population will argue that television or film is the most effective form of escapism, I disagree. One can only glean so much from the moving pictures, backgrounds, dialogues and settings displayed upon a screen. Each time the crisp cover of a new novel is cracked, and fingers dance across smooth pages of endless imagination the reader creates. The reader becomes a part of the story by envisioning an image for each scenario and character. It is in that way that the book becomes an experience that is shared solely by the reader and author and is never repeated by anyone else. We all must read. Literacy is of the utmost importance in our society.  To be illiterate in our present day is to be uninformed, unaware, and nearly unconscious. To read is to create a unique experience, to use the brain rather than numb it and to be able to share with others. I learned to love reading from a very young age and whether I am reading to escape reality or to learn something new, I am always growing with each turned page and am never closed off to possibility. 

In the words of author Motoko Rich, “The gestation of a true, committed reader is in some ways a magical process, shaped in part by external forces but also by a spark within the imagination.”

 

 Works Cited

Rich, Motoko. “A Good Mystery: Why We Read.” New York Times 25 November 2007. 21 September 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/25/weekinreview/25rich.html?_r=

 

– Alexandra 

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