Blog post #1- Kayla Hunter

Galatea was the first assignment I “read” for this week, and upon first try, it reaffirmed my suspicion that I was incapable of understanding anything both artsy and tech-y. I looked around for a text box to type in, and then the sentences I typed elicited a confused response. Finally I read the notes to give me an idea for what to do, and succeeded in having some sort of “conversation” with Galatea. We went from talking about her physical appearance, to her sleeping and eating patterns, to museums (which she transformed into muses, apparently going on her “own train of thought”), to art and how she was formed, to her creator and whether she loved him or not. According to her this love was her “one and only secret.”

The trajectory of the conversation was interesting to me because it moved from the surface to deeper issues, as a regular story would, but by my own command (and, remember, I had no idea what I was doing or why I was asking these questions.) The result for me as a reader/interactor was mild amusement, more at my ability on the first try to get anywhere in this “game” than at the story itself, which was pretty predictable and a little trite. I guess I must remind myself that this was created when hypertext technology was still novel.

The second hypertext work of fiction, my body: a wunderkammer, was much more interesting to me, although I had similar anxieties about figuring out the “right” way to use it and read it. Do I wait until I read one whole page before clicking on the embedded links to new pages? Or do I let my short attention span take over and click on them before I’m done? I ended up doing a mixture of both and just let myself really explore her stories. Although there was no discernible narrative, I was stunned by her beautiful, lyrical writing style and just fell in love with some of her sentences. (“Bodies were restfully relieved of the burden of heads.”) She had a poetic way of looking at a topic as time-worn as the human body and breaking it down into fascinating perspectives.

I tried to figure out if there was any rhyme or reason behind the links, especially those that led to dead-end pages, through which you could only go back to the previous page. These piqued my curiosity especially, along with the few links that occupied several lines worth of text. Why the variation? Why do some pages carry more supposed weight and include several links, while others are almost like sidebars? These are questions best directed toward the creator, but it’s worth consideration. Did she organize the story this way so that it was resemble a body, with the sidebars as the fingers and toes? I would have to dig into my body further and map the links in order to figure that out.

 

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~ by kah117 on January 17, 2011.

One Response to “Blog post #1- Kayla Hunter”

  1. We both had similar experiences with Galatea, which I think stems from our unfamiliarity with this sort of narrative. We’re both English majors who have had extensive experience with texts in print form, but not much with this kind of interactive, electronic literature. I think it’s interesting to consider this perspective and the kind of reaction that typically follows someone’s first experience with this kind of text. It’s usually confusion or frustration, which you brought up in your blog post. I think that before we can really engage in these texts on a technical level, we need to familiarize ourselves with them and their interactive aspect that can be confusing and foreign. I really like your use of the word “conversation,” which is a strange concept to think about when it comes to narratives.

    It sounds like you did the same thing I did..which was just to play with the text for awhile to try to figure it out. It’s not as straightforward as reading a book, where the reader doesn’t really have any control over what happens, and that’s an element that takes a lot of getting used to, especially when you haven’t had any exposure to it.

    Another interesting point you brought up was your anxiety about trying to figure out the “right” way to get through the “my body” narrative. I think we’re inclined to want to think that a narrative has a certain correct structure and order, and the way that this text plays with that order is part of its appeal, and also the source of its frustration. I know I felt the same way when I was reading through it.

    Even though you can re-read a book and derive a new meaning from it, the order of events never changes and the words are in the same place. That isn’t so with either of these texts, and the fact that the reader has control over it is both exciting and unfamiliar, and I can definitely relate to your reactions because mine were very similar.

    I also really loved the content of ‘my body.’ I thought the writing was beautiful and engaging, which made me wonder about all the great narratives that might be out there that I might not have learned about or studied in a classroom. Sure, reading Shakespeare is important and interesting, but reading your response and realizing we had similar experiences made me wish that my classes had given me more exposure to these kinds of narratives, because I think they have just as much to offer as Shakespeare.

    -Julie Howell

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