Powerlessness in the “Interactive” Girls’ Day Out

In Kerry Lawrynovicz’s Girls’ Day Out, a seemingly innocuous story of adolescent bliss is superimposed over a tale of death – six girls were sexually assaulted and murdered in the riding paths where the author spent her childhood.  As you read about a certain trip when the weather turned sour and the author’s horse, spooked at some imperceptible thing, stopped suddenly and threw her over his shoulder, she remarks “But there [was] nothing to see. Only wind-torn field.”  And the reason for the horse’s alarm and obstinacy remains unaddressed.

When I finished the poem, I immediately thought, “Is that it?”  It felt incomplete – a small snapshot of a wide, enigmatic landscape.  In fact, it was not “it,” and my initial response was wholly appropriate to the next sequence, where the poem would regularly fade away and leave fragments conveying a profound tragedy. But none of the material about the dismal event was new (strictly speaking).   All words were taken from the original poem, indicating that the murders are not far off from the author’s own experiences: it could have easily been Lawrynovicz and her sister buried beneath the plateau grass.  So from their tale of an idyllic ride through the paths could be derived one of  horror and suffering.

I could not gather the “secret message” from my first assessment and, more significantly, the author, Lawrynovicz, could not as well.  When she was riding, the horses sensed a disturbance, perhaps the stench of decay, but she did not and chose not to investigate the matter further; thus, Lawrynoviz only learned of the murders years later by reading an article in the newspaper.  It is a joint discovery shared by reader and author alike, invoking feelings of ignorance of the scene’s deeper implications and helplessness that we (and she) could not perceive this initially.  We are unable to intervene as the letters fade and reveal their true malevolence.  It is a (technically) interactive experience – the reader must click the screen to proceed in the story – but there is no control, on our parts nor the part of the creator, to recognize, comprehend, or prevent the hidden tragedy.

-Victoria Lang

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~ by victoriafrolics on January 22, 2011.

One Response to “Powerlessness in the “Interactive” Girls’ Day Out”

  1. If I were you, Victoria Lang, the summary in the beginning (albeit brief) could be omitted in order to make room for more analysis of the method of presentation, emotional impact of story and the method, etc.

    Perhaps you could have talked abstractly about the piece – i.e. what you mentioned in class about the fractal, or “embedded protocol” theme. Each aspect of the poem – the entire poem itself, each subsection of words, the mode of transmittance – share the same properties and convey the same message or story of discovering a hidden, more tragic subtext.

    As well, you tend to focus on one topic and discuss it extensively and sort of ignore elements of the piece that might not correspond with your subject. You should analyze as many parts of the work as possible to demonstrate your collective comprehension.

    Other than that, it was wonderful, fantastic even. You are truly an exemplar to us all.

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