Innovation and Capturing our Attention

Inside: A Journal of Dreams works to put the reader into a dreamlike place similar to the narration described. The language, and text, is eerie and fleeting and is reminiscent of nightmares. The running, repetitive background noise is also nightmarish. As Josh discusses in his post, “In the turning off the externally conscious part of your brain by limiting external noise and internal thinking patterns and (to fill that mental vacuum) imersing the experiencer.” This talk of immersion always seems to get discussed when talking about works that are using sound, images, text, all together. It also reminds me of film and the competition between the book and post-print for the attention of viewers/readers. As echoed by fellow class members, these texts are more immersive than a book in print, but how do we feel about that? The argument can definitely be made that reading a book on your porch in the summer is just as immersive if the reader is fully engaged with a text, but there seems to be something more “movie” about these post-print texts.

Like movies, interactive texts with continuous sound like a Journal or The Virtual Disappearance of Miram are forcing a technique onto the overall reader experience. It is no longer the crickets that get lost in the background as we are consumed by a compelling book on our porch, but instead is a fabricated noise that, in these works, consume attention and are unsettling. On one side, it’s awesome because it produces a feeling and a type of absorption, but in some ways, or at least for me, it is distracting in a way and is entirely unlike the back porch book experience. This debate reminds me of the way that sound and color brought a whole new experience to film, and as innovative and cool as it was, the move wasn’t entirely without backlash or rejection. Obviously, films are expense driven productions and even though some filmmakers fought to stay within those genres, black and white pictures, and silent films previously, they ultimately fell out of favor with audiences and became “indi,” but do we have the same sorts of thoughts over these works and print novels? We have seen throughout the semester that there is backlash towards post-print from sects of academia, but might this backlash be as much a desire to keep the book from becoming similarly indi or am I comparing apples with oranges here? It’s something to discuss in class! Alright, I will conclude my blog with a more specific reading of Inside: a Journal of Dreams.

The black and white flash images which interrupts every couple of pages adds to the concept. We, as readers and thus dreamers, are presented with fleeting but connecting moments which are then replaced by less coherent moments conveyed to us through this journal—although who’s journal it is, is unclear. Like House of Leaves, the journal has multiple fonts, and seems to represent multiple states of mind, rather than multiple narrators. The larger font is rare, compared to the smaller font, and it seems to step in and comment on the smaller font, and also carries a parallel narrative related to this man’s gas fireplace that is poisoning him. (Humorously, I may not have made this connection until the very end if it weren’t for the little blurb at the opening of the text that explicitly pointed this plot description out to me). So, not only is the journal describing dreams to us, but it is also detailing the slow and eventual poisoning of the narrator. This poisoning also eventually leads to a blurring of the awake and asleep. Several pages are marked by “no dreams,” and “no dreams today just falling asleep and waking up and nothing between,” suggesting, along with the deteriorating pages and words themselves, that “reality” and the “dream world” are blurring together. The flash images, the swirling and moving text, and the eerie background noise all add to this blurring effect.

Philip Petrunak


~ by philippetrunak on April 12, 2010.

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