E-Lit: The Beginning

I have not encountered much of this kind of writing, but it strikes as a fascinating way to use the senses to communicate a story beyond text on the page. Upon first looking at it, it struck me a bit like ee cummings who tried to defy conventional writing styles to give the aesthetic quality of his words meaning and add to the communicative value of those words.  Now, through technology, that seems like just the tip of the iceberg.

I first chose to investigate “Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky“.  The initial impression of the experience was that it is designed to put you at ease through the use of bells and the slow, gradual appearance of the stars. The foreign language also adds to the sense of the expotic. It sounded Middle Eastern to me and the whole thing gave me the impression of being in a Middle Eastern desert, at a bazaar or something – perhaps long ago, listening to stories.  The aesthetics certainly put you in the mood for a story, that’s for sure.  The tiny script on the opening page certainly intrigued me, like it was almost a secret. The tone of the voice is somewhat hushed as well. I immediately moved my cursor to the stars to see if captions would appear (which they did).  I was a bit impatient and began clicking on them as soon as I had checked out the first few.  I only looked at 3 or 4 before clicking to read my first poem.  (I actually went back and restarted the program three times and found that in my impatience, I realized I was ignoring the tone and tenor of the speaking voice entirely and was annoyed that I had to wait so long for new stars/stories to pop up. The captions came up very slowly. I guess my sense of relaxation dissipated as soon as I had the opportunity to explore the experience further). I first tried the story titled “The boy who dreamed the world” and found the poem there did not make sense to me.  First of all, I didn’t feel the poem fit the title (and found that in subsequent readings I had the same issue – that the title was a clever phrase that seemed to be chosen more for its pithiness than its representation of the story).  The poem itself was a musing on the nature of heaven.  But the boy talks about the immensity of eternity and about all the adventures he could have but then says he could become bored with it.  Did he mean that the adventures could only happen in life and not in death/eternity? It didn’t make sense. It took away from the overall experience. I also read poems about the uncle whose “life was a test” and the water “that is thirsty”. The “uncle” narrative I found to be disjointed and the ending felt tacked on – a different story about a different man who said his life was a test.  While it was supposed to be evocative , I think the story of a man who finds a woman he loves and follows to a different country and raises wonderful children with – then is upset because she says something petty is not a substantive enough account to make me consider his suggestion in a serious light. The water story is more of a poem – and it is good for what it is.  But what does me mean his water is thirsty?  The author, Ezzat, plays with language but doesn’t hone in on anything.  He just uses water metaphors.  I liked the story about the land that is changed by its inhabitants and the author’s opportunity to decry those who no longer hear the voice of the land, but it’s a story and a pint of view that’s been expressed before.  Another poem in which the author talks about the world wanting to become his family and says they are knocking at the door, ends with a line where he says “I ask them to keep it down; you are still sleeping in a small room upstairs.” That is nonsense in my opinion and poor writing.  Clearly, the entire poem is a metaphor and yet in the last line he is using realistic language?  Is the idea that you are sleeping upstairs a metaphor for something? If so, I don’t see it.  In all, I found this site aesthetically beautiful and well put together.  However, when you weigh the “setup” (the bells, the tones, the images) against the actual poems/stories, the poems and stories fail to deliver.  I found this site disappointing overall.

After checking out the other two, I can say that I found Soliloquy to be an interesting setup but frustrating in its execution.  The text is very small, the screen once you get to the conversation has no ornamentation and clicking on line at a time was tedious at best.  I thought it interesting that you could search for words and phrases, but I wasn’t sure what meaning one could derive from the fact that let’s say, he mentions Diane’s name nine times. The aesthetic value of this site was essentially nil. I ended up highlighting the entire paragraph so I could see everything at once.  I felt it was more interesting in theory than in practice.

redridinghood was also interesting – a far more complicated aesthetic than the other two and by and large, it kept me interested when the story went awry.  First thing I noticed was that it opened in a small box not a fullscreen which gave it a level of intimacy but also felt like a school project (like it was somewhat incomplete). The box tab read “they are evil” which i thought was a spooky little aspect. The music was fantastic – a little industrial, punk, grunge.  It made it clear this was not the fable you are used to.  I watched the video multiple times to make sure i clicked on as many of the little icons as possible.  The ones on the first screen did nothing (which was a bummer) and it seems like no matter what you do, you end up in the apartment highrise where it appears you can click on many different windows but you can actually only click the lit one.  Ultimately the only place I could see that you could try alternate storylines was once redridinghood falls asleep and you can pick different directions for her dreams.  The music changes in each of these progressive scenes and that was great.  But I felt there were multiple missed opportunities for other things to happen.  What about the mother?  What about the raccoon that appears to be chasing her?  What about the boy that confronts her on the path?  It was visually interesting and the art was compelling.  There were some cool little tricks – like the fact that the flowers spin and seem to explode if you put your cursor on them.  But the dreams were just a sidebar to the “story” which was that the boy apparently gets rid of whoever the woman in the bed is (grandma i assume?) and then once redridinghood is in the bed, he appears to be ready to shoot her in the head before the story ends.  It felt like it skipped around a bit and that the author relied on us knowing the original fairy tale in order to fill in gaps that they either didn’t want to bother with or didn’t have time to flesh out.  Again, the art was great, the music was great and I thought it had some promise, but ultimately I felt like there could have been more.





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