Gravitational Stories

Reading my body – a wunderkammer, was strange but in an immersive, good way. At first it read like some abstract ramblings about various body parts, like the “I’m Jack’s colon” articles that were referenced in the movie Fight Club. However as I continued reading the stories subsided to a larger picture. The content soon took second fiddle to the speaker, a somewhat insecure woman (who I assumed was in her early 20’s and reminiscing) who was telling different stories about various body parts as they came to her. Around this time the whole experience took on the feel of a late night conversation, taking place in private after the movie had run its course but before the speaker and listener would part ways for the night. The kind of conversation that starts around midnight and runs until 2 and you’re sure you’ll remember it for years. That’s what was so strange about this story; it managed to artificially replicate a kind of conversation that only comes along once in a while.

Now this immersion could be broken, if you’re like me, and started looping back to check if say “ears” always netted the same response. Similarly the Galatea game had the problem of breaking immersion whenever the right command to continue the conversation became arcane in its phrasing. While this wasn’t always true, such as asking about Aphrodite led to a pretty straight forward path to an end, other times the expected response was somewhat confusing. For instance, I had a hard time moving from learning about Galatea’s owners to trying to get her down from the pedestal, which the game itself suggests. The mix between narrative momentum and meta-game based puzzle solving created a unique mixture of reasons to continue.

All in all these stories were much more involving then standard print, even the mostly normally phrased essay Change the Code, Keep the Text, which brings you in by mixing an infinite canvas with a secondary scavenger hunt. That is except for the Library of Babel, which doesn’t fit in with my main point. Instead, that story was a weird mix between Plato’s cave, an allegory for human scientific understanding, and a bunch of things I didn’t follow.

Rory Coble

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~ by rbc12 on January 17, 2011.

One Response to “Gravitational Stories”

  1. In your responses to the online activities that we participated in you focused most of your response on the difference between the standard printed text and the immersive online fictional world. I had not thought too hard about this idea prior to reading your response but the idea definitely crossed my mind. I found Galatea and My body to be much more immersive than traditional texts and even managed to find myself on the Galatea site for upwards of an hour.

    What you said about the conversation taking place in “My body” and how it reminded you of something that you would remember for the rest of your life was dead on. It gave me the exact same feel now that I think back on my viewing of the site.

    I agree with your thoughts on breaking the immersion that I often found myself in while playing with the different activities. I found myself moving in circles at times while reading through “My body”. The library of Babel on the other hand is more along the lines of a standard text. It seems out of place on this online world but raised very interesting thoughts.

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