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Elegy for a Dead World

A Destroyed Earth

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Prompt 1: “This was my World”

Overall, I enjoyed playing ELEGY FOR A DEAD WORLD, especially with the Lord Byron “Darkness” prompt. It was interesting to intertwine such a lyrical and “old”  text with a narrative so currently relevant and a genre relatively new to when Byron wrote his poem.

However, before I had written into Byron’s prompt, I had selected the “This was my World” option. I found that the narrative was much the same. When I compare my first prompt above to the byron one below, I found the my own narrative was much the same. Thus, I think that ELEGY FOR A DEAD WORLD has succeeded in it’s tone, mood, especially in its inspiring scenery.

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Prompt 2: “Lord Byron’s Darkness”

Though I would like to play through all of the prompts, I am concerned that there is littler variety in the narrative (which, to me, is a constraint). Perhaps it was simply the two prompts I chose, but I felt like I was rewriting the same “the world exploded and everyone died” narrative. I think that to find diversity in this game and to experiment further, all of the prompts have to be played.

On a simpler note, the game was very easy to play and the design was beautiful.

 

 

Working with “R”

I had never coded or done anything close to coding until class today. And it was amazing! Though it definitely took some trial and error, it was so fun! The specific program the class used was “R”.

Dr. Elizabeth Callaway presented “R”to us (she gave a very clear and entertaining presentation). “R” can read textual statistics. For example: how many times a word has been used in a text or even multiple texts.

I decided to work with “R” in correlation with the response I wrote to Christina Rossetti’s, “Goblin Market”. The premise of my response was that Rossetti used devices in a fantasy story to write a possibly queer poem. Thus, I entered words that either suggested sensuality or simply words that came to mind looking back at her work and my response.

My first word was “honey”:

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Number four is “Goblin Market”, while the Brothers Grimm follows suit:  “The Briar Rose” as first, “Snow White”second, and third as “The Goose Girl”.

I was expecting “Goblin Market” to have the highest number of “honey” usages, simply because I remember it the most vividly within the “Goblin Market”. Little did I expect to “Briar Rose”  come in first (I am still surprised and wonder if I messed-up).

The second word I used was “kiss”. Which, especially keeping Disney’s cartoons in mind, I assumed would appear in at least “Snow White”, “The Briar Rose”. I was certain that it would appear in the “Goblin Market” due to there being a a whole stanza, nearly, dedicated to kisses.

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Once again! My expectations went wayward. “Briar Rose”, unsurprisingly, mentions “kiss” the most frequently. Surprisingly though, “Snow White” does not mention a kiss at all. Which perhaps is better off anyway, since she is like twelve in the story.

My third word choice was “sister”. In “Goblin Market” Lizzie and Laura are sisters, they are two vines twined together (figuratively). I was 100% confident that “sister” would have a high count number.

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Then behold! “Goblin Market” is the only of the four that uses the word. That does not surprise me, however, since none of the other three stories contain tales of sisterhood.

Though the coding and word count section of “R” was fun, my favorite part was the topics that were produced…by doing some “command-returning” and other things I cannot remember. Here are some examples:

———————– 1 ————————-
day night lizzie watch fire water death felt fell caught breath sun morning run watched life past light care full
———————– 2 ————————-
maid waiting king princess horse bride daughter great royal water aged heart falada drops blood stream standing girl true mother
———————– 3 ————————-
queen child beautiful snow heart huntsman white lung liver time grew black blood envy forest kill years looked finger higher
———————– 4 ————————-
king queen spindle wise day child fulfilled daughter girl women left home round good sleep happened frog year feast invited
———————– 5 ————————-
sucked day ate fruits men sister golden good hands days gold night weather laura glen fruit honey met loiter pined

I found these the most fascinating, because frankly, they are more stimulating for my creativity. I feel like I could write short stories, or even novels, based on these nonsensical (arguably) blurbs.

 

“The Garden of Forking Paths”: a new path

“The Garden of Forking Paths” is a story in which labyrinth meets labyrinth and fate meets fate- the moment taking place, one of many possible moments in the infinity of time.

Originally, I pictured the story as a series of Nesting Dolls. The mother of the dolls being the theory driving the story- Tu’si Pen’s. The other nesting dolls within her, representing the various outcomes- their order and placement depending on the hand. In other words, anyone could assort them in whichever order, however, in the end, they all stack within the mother.

On Twine however, I attempted to recreate the story patterning a “Jacob’s Ladder” (the toy). At a first look, a beginning and end to the ladder is clear, however, once one starts playing with it, the extra block that ripples down the ladder at random, blurs the known end and beginning- it mixes it up the middle, though the end and beginning blocks are still there, they are just confused.

“The Garden of Forking Paths”:a new path, is what I came up with. Tu’si Pin’s labyrinth, and it’s description, open the story, since the story does follow and replicate it’s theory and pattern. However, to best exemplify the possibility of different fates (to confuse the end and the beginning), I made two fates possible. The narrator either shoots Albert, or he doesn’t. In the end however, he is still arrested and waits for execution. In the middle of the “ladder”, i placed the journey, the literal path taking that occurs in the book. Every ladder requires a middle section that allows it too work, and that in the story, is the path that must be taken- any path, just as long as it is a path. The beginning block and ending block, though blurred by the middle, go unchanged.

I think this replicates the pattern of the story and theory behind the labyrinth. There is fate, but before fate’s outcome, there are various moments that must occur.

Here is the screen shot of the “ladder”:

 

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A Chess Match with Alice: a new move

 “So they walked on together through the wood, Alice with her arms clasped lovingly round the soft neck of the Fawn, till they came out into another open field…”
-Carroll, 138.

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Alice and the Fawn

One moment in Through the Looking-Glass that I had difficulty with was in the Forest. The unnamed Forest where memory seems to slip- specifically concerning names. The Fawn, however, seems to remember where one can recover their memory. In this moment, I feel that there is a lack of adventure. If memory is challenged in the Forest, then I do not think that reaching the spot where memory can be recovered would be easy.

At first, I wanted to move the Red Knight into this moment, to create conflict. However, I could not find a logical way that would follow the rules of chess,to do it. Then as we discussed in class, the fact that Alice runs into little danger of being eliminated by another piece, I thought it would be interesting to create some danger. I would make the Absent Red Knight, not absent. In fact the way he would be eliminated is this:  in aiming to eliminate the White Castle, he must move into Alice’s square (assuming that she is the white pawn). Being imaginary and in a dreamscape, I would have the Red Queen of White Queen interfere, insisting that Alice not be killed.  Thus, the Absent Red Knight would be eliminated.

When the Fawn and Alice reach the “open field”, before the Fawn and Alice’s memories are restored, the Absent Red Knight would descend upon them in a flurry. He would chase them (awkwardly, walking in that “L” shape) back into the forest. The Fawn, with all his little might, would attempt to stop the Absent Red Knight. Then, naturally, at the very last minute when the Fawn feels weak and tired, the White Queen (for if the Absent Red Knight moved, it would be the white’s turn), would save the day. Though not in a heroic sort of way…to stay true to her “clueless” character. She would stumble in, from the diagonal square, and  momentarily breaking a rule of chess by being in Alice’s square, push the knight out. Perhaps the White Queen could recite a poem beforehand or during, a poem that seems to be nonsense, but is a prophecy of Alice wearing a crown. Meanwhile, frightened, Alice and the Fawn would run back to the field where the memories would recover. Then as if nothing had happened, Alice would meet the “TWEEDLE” brothers.

 This move would add extra adventure  and even a dramatic scene of action into the work, but it would not make complete logical sense. I have to admit that I chose this scene due to the “cuteness” of Alice and the Fawn being diminished when their memories (thus their “labels” and “thingness”) are returned.

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Words a-Wordle!

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!”
Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll

 

Wordle is a word count site that spins the most frequently used words in a text, into a visual form. Using Wordle was more fun than I thought it would be. Of course it looked fun- like another cool and nerdy homage to words and design. However, by using the “randomize” tool on Wordle’s “Create” box, I noticed an interesting pattern. I was also drawn back to the original texts from which the visualizations were produced, and required to think of them from a visual perspective. 

For the two (required) Visualizations (the spinning, whirling forms that Wordle creates from words), I chose three for each, just to best illustrate my point.

VISUALIZATION 1:

Jabberwocky, from Lewis Carroll’s: Through the Looking-Glass

I chose Jabberwocky, because it itself is a play on words. I thought that using Wordle would be playing with words on a play on words. Which is something, I think, Carroll would be amused by.

 

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It’s the color schemes that I find the most fascinating. Each one seems fabricated to communicate not only the most frequently used words, but something else about the set of words inputed. It’s as if a part of the story, or narrative, exists within the visualization. 

In the first image (left), I feel like the colors of the subject (the Jabberwocky), are being evoked. Not everyone would agree with that, but picturing the beast, I see dinosaur and dragon greens. The color scheme is one typical of Alice in Wonderland too, i.e. in the films there are many shades of green and blue (as seen being worn by Alice frequently), as well as on book covers such Juniper Book’s edition. 

The second image (right), and its red and grey color scheme, places an emphasis on more “violent” words. Or “active words”, i.e. “thought”, “slithy”, “catch”, and “Twas” are all in dark red- a color associated with violence and action.  

Chaos is what comes to mind in the third image (bottom). The multiple colors and inconsistent font- as well as the shape, which is disorderly and looks like a raging flame coming from a dragon’s rage. This image embodies, I think, the chaotic nature of the poem- the nonsensical words and the chaos that the Jabberwocky itself brings. 

This coincidence- this matching of fonts, forms, and colors all based on word count- may be stemming from my own imagination and the knowledge I have of the intertextuality of Alice’s world- a kind of postmodern reading. In other words, I am unsure if the site purposefully designed the images so tactfully- being digital.

VISUALIZATION 2: 

Snow White, from the Brothers Grimm

For Snow White, I did the very same thing as above. However, I selected the first paragraph of Snow White. “Once upon a time…” is just so classic, I nearly felt obligated to use it. 

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Frankly, my favorite image is the third one. This is because of how “blunt” it is. The bold black “Snow” to the left, against the white, makes the white greater than the black lettering. The same occurs with “window”, though more subtly.on the right. Snow, I would bet, would be the most frequently occurring word through the entire text. Thus it makes sense for it to have such a contrast- Snow and Snow White are the major adjectives/subjects in the tale. It’s as if the visualization is literally offering the viewer a “window” into the story. Also, it’s horizontal…and I’ve always preferred horizontal painting to vertical (I don’t know why… it’s personal, I guess?).   

The first image is interesting, because “Window” stands out due to it being horizontal in comparison with the mass majority of the vertical words. It seems that the word count is confirming itself to be a window into the work. That, I think is true. The word count reveals something about texts- for if “snow” is the most commonly used word, then would that not indicate the importance of it in the story? Just like “Jabberwock”.  

I though the coloring of the second image (right) intriguing because the color red it missing. “Blood” is a shade close to red, but is closer to brown. The earthy greens and yellows, of course browns, bring the forest in which the dwarves live to mind.  Snow White being so closely tied to a natural element herself,  the coloring inspires the natural traits/environment/natural elements within the text to be confronted. 

 

This response might be too “out there”, but whether or not the visualizations are created by random, the word count at least indicates something about the original text. The visualizations, as they have for me, also offer a literal “visual” experience. I found myself intrigued by the combinations of colors, fonts, and forms. I wouldn’t necessarily hang one of the up in my bedroom, but they are entertaining and requires one to think about the original texts in a visual depth. 

 

 

 

Digital Plot Generator (for Writer’s block)

(LAB ASSIGNMENT #2 )

Have you ever tried one of those online plot generators? Well, I just did, and boy, do I have a lot to say.

Writingexercises.co.uk is a space for those with “writers block”. The purpose of its generator is to create a situation that will inspire an idea- it does this by creating characters, a setting, a situation, a theme, and a character action for the writer. There are other tools as well, such as a “Town Name” button. It is an example of a plot generator that does not give the writer an actual plot, but provides enough detail to formulate a plot. For example, it does not give the writer a time frame or the length that a character’s action takes, or even the environment that the character action is taking place (i.e. it may give the writer a hotel as the setting, but it does not allude to the type of hotel or its cleanliness, etc.). However, after using it for my own “writer’s block” I did find some tension within it.

To best analyze Writingexercises.co.uk, I have generated a potential plot…

Title: “The Broken Sword”
Town name(s): “Yewsford” VS “Galbourne” 

Character: “A man in his eighties, who can be quite stubborn.”
Character 2: “A woman in her late forties, who is very eccentric.”
Setting: “The story begins on a battlefield.”
Situation: “Someone is fired from a job.”
Theme: “It’s a story about memories.”
Character action: “Your character sets out to change everyone’s opinion.”

Immediately after generating these details, my imagination began to run. The main character? He could be a stubborn king. The second character? The Queen! Who, of course, his half the king’s age (which deems the king as being kind of creepy) and is eccentric, thus she may be a bit like Lady MacBeth. the setting being on a battlefield, the king and queen could be warring with each other, could be fighting with a neighboring town, or could be quelling a civil war. Since there is a town name generator, I went ahead and decided that the king queen and king, rulers of Yewsford, were at war with Galbourne. That however, is simply the background of the plot. The main theme, as the generator has deemed, is “about memories”. Thus, the situation of the story is this: during battle, the king’s best buddy was leading the cavalry. The best buddy messes up and the queen demands that he is not only fired, but executed! The king wanting to please his young(ish) wife, complies. The people of Yewsford then deem the best buddy as being bad. The king however, thinks back to the good ol’ days and spends time going through various memories. Yet, being as stubborn as he is, he goes through with the execution. Then afterwards, being so distraught, he sits in silence, remembering all that had passed between him and his (now dead) best old buddy. After days of solitude, he then decides that he can at least change the minds of his people, and convince them that his old buddy was flawed, but a true victim of the “Yewsford VS Galbourne War”.

So, I created a plot, a story in fact. It could potentially have much more detail and depth.

However, something about what the generator provided me with, feels forced and off- typical even. The names of the town for example, to me anyhow, seem odd and inauthentic. Comedic even, which would be great for a comedic story. They sound too British (I mean, the site IS British), and if I were to truly create a unique and compelling plot, I think unique and original town names would be required of me, or any other writer.

As a way to defeat writers block, I think that the site is great. The plot traits that the generator gave me could aspire to be something more. However, I think it ends there.

For example, if I were to take this plot further, I would rename the towns first thing, give a name to the old buddy, and of course, put more investment into the story’s environment, relationships, and “secondary world” characteristics.

This plot generator seems to struggle between giving too much detail and too little detail. For example, the town names are great, and so are the ages and traits of characters. Yet, it makes me feel that it could also provide more dialogue options and, like the more advanced plot generator we looked at in class, could give actual lines. It seems to be between a tool for writer’s block and tool to provide entire plots. Something that could improve it, would be slimming down or thickening its tools.

Again though, for writer’s block? I think this is great.

 

For Your Information

“The Word Count Times” is a periodical that discusses the Digital Humanities, yes, but it has been created for a class, “Literature by the Numbers”,  at the University of Utah. Thus, the weekly posts- “articles, etc.” as mentioned on the “Front Page”- will all be based on assignments done in the classroom. With all my writing and creative abilities however, I will attempt to structure the assignments like blog posts as much as I can. Being a digital “periodical”, I hope that “The Word Count Times” will at least seem fun (not entirely academic).