Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Oh Mary Jo...

As you guys might know, I am developing (or in charge of, I guess, since I’m not really writing it) a chain story. I wrote the first sentence to the story and then made a premade list that everyone is to follow. After you write your sentence you send the story to the person following your name to write the next sentence. Well, I sent out the story through email at midnight of October 2/3. There are 43 people that volunteered to help me write my story. It is October 9, and we are only on person number 18. I was really planning on the story only taking 24-48 hours to complete, but as you can see, that was a HUGH underestimate. Through an essay, I want to relate the chain story to both the narrative and technology sides.

The narrative side would include that this is a story containing many different writers. Therefore, since I know who wrote what sentence, I can analyze why they wrote that particular sentence. Also, the story shows that since there are different writers, the story can randomly jump from one event to another since we all don’t think on the same line. Thus the doesn’t have a perfect flow to it.

Furthermore, the technology side would include how the internet allows for this type of chain story to be done at a faster rate (even though this isn’t really that fast, it is still faster than if I did it through mail!). The internet also limits and changes how people express themselves, especially through acronyms (i.e. lol, j/k --- does anyone know if there is a word for the internet language. My mind is going blank).

Moreover, since we were talking about art yesterday I thought this would be a cool concept to incorporate (tell me to forget about it if you think it’s not worth it). Anyways, there is this genre called the ‘Exquisite Corpse’ that was made during the European anti-Hollywood movement. It basically started with one thing and people kept adding to it (kind of like my story). This movement was also related to an art movement where people would fold a piece of paper several times and one by one different people would draw on a section of it. After it was full, the people would be opened to see what it looked like. Apparently, this form of art actually turned into writing (perhaps where these chain stories come from).

I need some more ideas on how to relate this to the narrative and technology side of things. Also after hell week for my major is over (tomorrow), I am going to start writing the essay part and post it on the blog. Since I am a horrible writer, I would really appreciate it if you guys could proof read it and give me more suggestions to make it better. I’m all ears (or eyes in this case).

Just for your curiosity here is the first few sentence of the story so far. I know the whole story as of now but I don’t want to give it away, especially since there are people in the class that still haven’t written their sentence yet. Plus, I got to keep the suspense.

**It was a hot summer day with the sun shining bright in the cloudless sky. The Pitt campus was alive with busy students bustling about. None of those students realized, though, that today would be the day their entire life would change. And so the story begins with Mary Jo Freebush, an aspiring mortician. **


Mike K said...

You can call the internet language "l337 sp34k", which includes not only number-letters but also common misspellings like "jur m0m r0xx0rs teh pr0n". The common "lol"s, you could call NetLingo.

Jessica S. said...

Well, since you were looking for relationships to technology.

I think the first that stood out to me was efficiency and our expectations. In technology we kind of have to try things before we can analyse the efficiency of that method. In this case you tried a new technique/technology.

Also, this narrative kind of points out that different people have different visions, and that narrative usually operates in the opposite way, that we all read rather than write. So normally, cpnflict with the direction of a narrative based on our expectations is internal to the reader, but in this case it's visible in the writing.

Maybe you could also point out that the very virtue that HOW this narrative was written changes the meaning. Have somebody read it who wasn't told the method of its creation, I'm sure they'll figure the author was either psychotic or intoxicated somehow. Maybe it serves a similar purpose either way, though: It's weird/funny.

I'm just throwing some things out there since I can't respond on the work itself, but hopefully that helps! Also I think the internet abbreviations are called NetSpeak or more pejoritively "AOLSpeak"... l33t generally doesn't encompass simple "LOL" but rather a style of replacing characters or words to seem esoteric in a really lame way.

Adam Johns said...

One of my freshman students is writing this cool paper about objectivity and subjectivity. She's working with William Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying, which has many unreliable narrators. Most people would argue that the use of many untrustworthy narrators makes the novel into a fascinating mess of subjectivities.

Her argument, though, is that "objectivity" is created by combining multiple subjectivities. Does that make sense?

Jessica argues that readers of your narrative (para-narrative?) who didn't know what you were up to would think that the "author" was in an altered state of consciousness. She has a point -- let me extend it, though.

Maybe that altered state -- a collective or shifting consciousness, one constructed out of many, which is precisely what my freshman student is arguing about the nature of objectivity herself -- is in some way open to analysis itself. Maybe it's worthwhile to analyze it _as if_ it were coherent.

I admit that was a strange suggestion, but it seems possibly just strange enough for your interestingly strange project... I look forward to actually seeing it.