Friday, November 30, 2007
My midterm project is a CYOA designed to show how the thinning of the line between reality and manufactured alternate realities creates interesting new ways to interact. Originally a formal essay on simulation, I took many of the main points of my argument and used the decisions of a skilled programmer/developer to show the increasing importance of manufactured alternate realities in our world today and some of the possible consequences (although extreme) of this shift in today’s society.
I presented a lot of interesting scenarios and topics in the midterm but there are moments, though, when my best ideas could be pushed a little bit further. For my final project I intend to do this by incorporating actual references and researching more on VR in an attempt to ground some of my examples. The key plan for my final is depth; mind numbing, overstimulating depth. (As much depth as a CYOA can afford).
The main difference is that House of Leaves tells all of its stories simultaneously by the use of technology. This would never have been a possibility without the use of different fonts. Imagine if Johnny, Zampano, Navidson, and the editors all shared the same font. House of Leaves would cease being a challenging read and instantly become an incomprehensible one. The use of these different fonts of would not have been possible until printing technology was developed that made the printing cost effective.
I know we have talked about these ideas before in class, but for my final project I want to analyze the different fonts in House of Leaves. I hypothesize that the history of these fonts actually correlate in some way, thus providing another piece of evidence that all of the stories were actually written by Johnny.
Believe it or not, every font has a history. A perfect, yet exaggerated, version of this is the movie Helvetica. Graphic designers and many other people involved in the creation of the font were interviewed. This movie also explores the importance of fonts and their impact on the reader.
I don't know if this is feasible, but I definitely want to explore the use of different fonts in the book. I feel that Johnny is always trying to hide himself throughout the book and I believe he uses font to some extent to accomplish this.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
After thinking it through a bit, I am considering creating a meta-fiction based on the Alien universe (see previous blog entry).
What I have in mind is a sort of House of Leaves layout, with a narrator reading and commenting on a book/article/etc. that he or she discovers. I spent some time thinking (as well as researching the "accepted" Alien universe), and came up with a possible project.
Going along the lines of HOL, the narrator is a medical officer stationed aboard the U.S.M. Auriga. The story takes place shortly after the Auriga had completed her trials (prior to the events of Alien Resurrection). The story begins with the Auriga returning to Earth after it made a small detour to Arcturus. Military officials on Arcturus had discovered the wreck of the long-believed-to-be-lost U.S.S. Maverick. They find secret files belonging to Weyland-Yutani hidden within the ship's hull. The Auriga was to take the files back to home base.
Our curious medical officer decides to take a peek at the files. There, he/she discovers the diary of a U.S.C.M. private named Alicia Hendrick who had been stationed aboard the Maverick. The officer discovers, through the files and the diary, that Weyland-Yutani had secretly organized two seperate "research" missions, the first to LV-426, the second (which the Maverick took part in) was to investigate the remains of her sister ship, the U.S.S. Sulaco. Here, only the diary provides information as to what happened to the Maverick and the Sulaco.
This story is losely based on a small question that popped into my head after watching Alien 3, "what if the alien queen (from Aliens) had left more than one egg aboard the Sulaco?"
The first egg hatched and resulted in Alien 3. This is the story of the second egg...
I'm still not sure if I want to do this in a House of Leaves style.
What do you guys think?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I was thinking about writing a paper on dancing and how it allows for the dancer to tell a narrative through their expression and movements. There are certain moves that are consistently done to expresses the type of mood the dance is suppose to display. Moreover, the music and type of lighting also adds to the mood of the dance.
The best possible way I could come up with to display this method is by having the reader watch a certain dance (or multiple and compare) on the internet (i.e. youtube) and then write a paper how the movements in that dance(s) write a story and share the expression of the dancer. I guess I could upload one/some of my dances but I don’t know how to do that.
So… raise your hand if you think this idea is far fetched (I’m raising mine). However, I’m really hoping you guys will throw some ideas my way and I can hopefully develop this idea thoroughly so it work out for a final project. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I will have another class that I can daydream in and possibly think of another final project. As of now, though, this is all I have… help, lol.
THIS IS NOT A PROPOSAL!
...at least, not yet.
I'm just trying to get my thoughts together.
I honestly cannot make up my mind as to what I should do as my final project. I am bouncing back and forth between a few ideas, but most of them are rediculous and would only be for my personal enjoyment......or just something to do to kill time.
After the miserable disaster of my midterm, I have been thinking about writting another Chose Your Own Adventure. However, I have also been thinking about taking these ideas and just writting normal books out of them, basically saying "screw alternative endings!" I have some ideas for this, which include:
1.) You are an FBI agent helping the NTSB to catch a sabotour who is re-creating train accidents (those that were the result of railroad neglect) in an effort to expose the crimes committed by the [insert fictional railroad name here]. I got this idea after watching some videos on YouTube as well as reading Parallel Lies by Ridley Pearson and watching the NUMB3RS episode "Sabotage."
2.) This next idea is roughly on the same lines as #1, but instead of trains, I was thinking about airplanes. The reason for this is because I've spent WAY too much time watching Air Crash Investigations and researching a number of other airplane accidents. I now have a long list of things that can go wrong on an airplane and it is scaring me!
Airplanes: one million parts, all made by the lowest bidder.
3.) Who has seen Dante's Peak? This next idea is something that has been at the back of my head for some time. I'm not really sure if I'm actually going to write ANYTHING about volcanoes, but it's an idea and I might as well share it.
The narrator of this story is a volcanologist working for the USGS. This story is supposed to take place a number of years in the future. It takes place in 2028, seven years after the eruption of Mount Rainier, which devastated the city of Tacoma and parts of Seattle. The narrator, named Eric, is still haunted by the eruption of Mount Rainer (he made a poor decision which resulted in the deaths of 2,000 people, including his friend Brandon). Eric is sent by the USGS to Puebla, Mexico to study unusual seismic activity around Popocatepetl*.
*Just a little more about myself, for about 7 years of my life I lived in the shadow of this volcano. I remember that several times volcanic activity picked up and caused quite a few scares. Popocatepetl is probably where my fascination with volcanoes began.
Still not sure if I actually want to put this idea down on paper.
4.) I am a big fan of the Alien franchise and for a while I've been thinking about possibly making a sort of fan-fiction based on the franchise. This is a very rough idea in that it is only a small thought in the back of my head. The only thing I am certain of is that the USS Sulaco will be involved (for those who have never seen any of the Alien movies, it's the ship from the second movie) as well as LV-426.
5.) Another thing I'm a big geek about is tornadoes. The narrator of this story is a genderless storm chaser working for NOAA's National Weather Service. A tornado outbreak in the summer of 2009 - similar to the "Super Outbreak" of 1974 - results in the meteorologists scrambling to intercept tornadoes in an effort to gather more information. This is on the same lines as the movie Twister and what real storm chasers continue to attempt every year when tornado season arrives in tornado alley.
Most of these ideas I'm acutally thinking about just making normal stories out of them (forget CYOA), but I'm still not sure. Numbers 3 and 5 will most likely by CYOAs, but the others are probably going to be just normal stories.
I CAN'T MAKE UP MY MIND!!!
The last idea I had was to completely redo my midterm project, but that is probably going to be a pain.
As it is started so far I think I am in pretty good shape. At first it seemed really easy as I expected it to be because for me (and most programmers I know) I just steal code that I had previously written and modify it. Unfortunately that is becoming a very bad habbit because it took me forever to remember some of the simple concepts behind the code I copied. Anyways now getting into the detailed part of the programming is becoming very complicated, but it is something I enjoy doing so I feel that I will get it done (or at least far enough along that the entire concept will make sense).
Lastly I think that you had told us when the projects should be handed in by, but I must have wrote it down on my syllabus which I have lost. So if anyone knows the date the projects are due I think it would be helpful for me to know. Also if there is anything else you would like to add go for it, but I think I'm on my own now.
Anyway, I'm at a loss as per things to do for my final project. My initial disposition was to try to recreate the Five and a Half Minute Hallway, as I am a film major after all (which oddly enough wasn't one of the "nerdy" degrees according to Lance, so I guess I get the last laugh). Then I realized that I don't really have the money to go through the trouble of building a set, even if it is just 10 feet of hallway. Building is hard, too. So that one's out. Mine would have been better than that...thing Charlie found on Youtube, anyway.
My next idea was to rehash good old Choose Your Own Horrible Demise from the midterm project. Make it all full of new death and adventures. But I decided that I probably wouldn't get a very good grade o that, because it's not really a new project. You (usually) can't just turn in your midterm essay for your final essay and call it a day. So that's out, too.
That brings me to right now. I'm absolutely floundering to come up with some sort of project to do, and I've written enough papers this week to make me want to forget English, so I think my only option is to fall back on the idea I had before I decided to go the choose-your-own-adventure route.
My idea is a pretty even blend of narration and technology. I'd like to pen a little story (which is somehow different than writing a paper), and put it on the web. But it wouldn't just be a block of words on a webpage. It'd be broken up into pages, except you don't get to choose the way the story goes, only I do.
I'd like to throw in a bunch of neat little tidbits like maybe having hyperlinks on some of the relevant words that bring up a related picture (created by me). So for example, if you're reading my story and someone got a speeding ticket, you might click on the words "speeding ticket" and a new window opens with a photo of the ticket with the appropriate (in relation to the story) details on it. I could also make jumps off from there. Say a character in the story finds a book. Click on the word book and you get an excerpt from the book. Click on something from there, and it takes you to another section in the book. Like House of Leaves, the way you read it or the amount of work you do is up to you.
There's also the large amount of formatting and music I could use on the web that would make things cooler. I don't really have anything planned for that right at this moment, but I'll probably get some help there when my good friend Jack Daniels comes over later on in the week to visit and help me write. Think colors. Words in random places. Words in shapes. Words that disappear. All kinds of fancy stuff.
I think it should be (I hope it should be) pretty clear how my idea connects with the class. The narration, in its base form, is ultimately the same as in a printed medium, but with the use of technology, it allows the reader (should he or she choose to do such) to access the material in a wholly different manner than they are accustomed to. Footnotes? At the bottom of the page or in the back of the book. My idea? Opens in a new window right next to where you need it to!
One of the websites I was looking to for inspiration was the site for the film Donnie Darko. Yes, I know, Donnie Darko is a cliche film to bring up in college (but it's okay for me to talk about it, because I saw it before you'd ever heard of it, and no, it isn't as deep as your crackpot theories make it seem), but the website is fucking awesome. It won't make any sense if you haven't seen the film (nor will it really change anything if you have), but it's an awesome little bit of web design, and creepy as hell at night, to boot.
Check it out, http://www.donniedarkofilm.com.
One other thing: I'm sure we have some folk (Doctor Johns I'm looking at you, as you used to be a programmer) who know HTML around these parts. Anyone gonna be available for my incompetent ass to bounce questions off of? I know nothing about it.
In a nod to Zork (which I never played) and that whole MUD gaming genre, I'm going to try to write a narrative that has to do with my character's experience in the MUD I've been playing, Threshold. It's a roleplay-mandatory game, so the storyline is quite a bit more involved than with other MUDs, at least that's what I can assume.
The point of my final project would be to cut out the assuming. I'll research early MUD history and how involved the games have become or whether or not they've gone downhill since the creation of games with awesome graphics. I found a couple articles on the psychology of MUDding and whatnot. The point of the narrative would be to follow the story and to explain the technical, psychological and... other... stuff that's involved in playing this particular MUD. There would be a set of footnotes that would be technical, historical stuff (some stuff I'd probably make up, too) and then another set that would be me, as the player, commenting on the things that happen (like my character "going to visit her father" for a month because someone had pissed me off out of character).
This is another shot at proving that something is interactive narration. I would probably even include some things from the actual logs (yeah, I save the logs, shut up, Lance was right when he said we're geeky) and blah blah blah.
The idea fits together a lot better in my head.
Questions? Concerns? Ideas?
For anyone who is a fan of any sort of novel, anime, cartoon, TV series, etc. who wants a place to post (and copyright) their pieces of fanfiction/meta-fiction and receive reviews on their work, I'd highly suggest that you visit FanFiction.com.
Anyone who wants a place to post ORIGINAL fiction, and receive reviews on your work, I would suggest the website FictionPress.com
Finally, if someone is interested in forum based role-playing games, I would suggest inputting "
If someone might be interested in being part of the meta-fiction project that I'll be doing with Nik and wishes to join in or just find a place to write in a universe based on their favorite anime/tv series/movies and wants some extra help/direction, IM me at SoccerRenegade20 on AIM.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I have zwei Idee (two ideas) for my final.... heeerrreeee gooooessss:
As many of you probably do not know at all, Nik and I enjoy all forms of fanfiction and such... which Adam and Nik will call "Meta-fiction" to look cooler. In any case, Nik and I have both created characters in an X-Men universe themed RPG board (yes, we are nerds, but if you're a programmer, pharmacist, engineer, or business major and laughing.... well, I mean, look at your majors! HA HA HA) and I thought it would be cool to produce a short story through the interaction of these two characters. In which case, Nik and I would both be contributing and writing a story by constantly switching the point of view of our characters....
The point is that fanfiction/roleplaying is a viable source of literature.... merely in a collaborative form. I know I did swear off collaborating again with anyone, but given that I could contribute a ridiculous amount of wordage to this idea and I have past experience in it (and Nik is doing an independent study on it...) I think we could probably put together something substantial. Besides the character bios that we've written (which are, at the very least, probably 2,000+ words each), Nik and I would have the short story, which between the two of us could be an effective 20-30 pager. The goal would be to produce an original work of fiction that is based loosely off of a set literary universe. Thus, proving my point that meta-fiction is just as much a source of literature as a solely written novel.
Plentious are the chapters in House of Leaves. Poe made a mediocre album that is supposed to be played along with the book. My proposition is that I believe I can find tracks that would more appropriately fit the mold of each chapter. After coming up with a soundtrack for the book (and crediting all bands/musicians I use) I would write an essay where I would list each track and then underneath it devote a pragraph or two explaining why the song choice and how it corresponds with the story in each chapter. Straightforward, but it's a lot more writing than it sounds, and requires quite a bit of research into the realm of music as well as a reread of most of the book.
Something in class today lead me to this brilliant idea which isn't that brilliant and is definitely something that I will most likely not be able to accomplish. Anyways, here is the idea I came up with:
So, earlier in the reading of House of Leaves, Adam mentioned the album ("Haunted" - Poe) produced by Danielewski's sister which can be considered a counterpart to the novel. I was thinking that maybe I could do a continuation of my original project (the awful CYOA) by somehow creating a soundtrack to the story. For each different page of the story, I would have a track that somehow enhanced or furthered the mood or idea of that page.
The only problem is that my musical background consists of two years of cello and three or four years of trumpet. I can play all of NOTHING on the cello. As for the trumpet, I think I could produce something close to a normal scale. I guess I wouldn't have to know how to play the instrument I used, as long as whatever I played went along with the story in some way.
If I chose to do this, I would further screw myself by figuring out what instrument to use, and how to get it from the instrument, to my computer and on to a CD. It seems like this idea pretty much isn't going to work.
However, if I were somehow able to figure that all out, I would also write some sort of an essay to explain why I chose to do this and what the soundtrack does for the original story. The only problem with that is that I don't see much more than a two or three page essay coming out of that, and I'm not quite sure that is what Adam is looking for.
Anyways, that is my idea. I would greatly appreciate it if anyone was able to offer any suggestions or ideas as to how I could get it started. Thanks guys.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Here's what I'm looking for from you for the rest of the semester.
1) This week (by Friday) I want to see some kind of project proposal, hopefully one containing either a thesis (and a bibliography) or a clear statement of your artistic goals, as well as an attempt to explain how your project connects with the class as a whole. Mike's post below this one works. Everybody must do this this week (as an ungraded blog entry), or have your class participation grade grotesquely mangled (don't ask for details).
2) Next week (by Friday) I want to see a rough draft, posted on the blog (as a link, if you think that's preferable). I hope to see 4+ pages for most of you. This will count as a graded blog entry (your last one).
3) Everybody _must_ offer a detailed set of comments on someone's draft, or have their final project grade penalized by 5 points.
4) If you've got questions, blog about them (best), ask about them in class (also fine), or email them to me (fine too, but if the questions might be relevant to others, please ask them where others can see/hear the answers.
Friday, November 23, 2007
"House of Leaves uses technology in unusual ways to create a feeling of fear/intrigue. Can the same be done using a computer? Can people use computer games to invoke a primal, strong feeling like fear? Can they draw us in, making a digital page-turner?"
I don't know if I want to write it as if I'm playing a game, or if I'm the main character. The former will let me jump out of character and comment on how the game is making me feel. The latter will make that harder, but I can still do it with comments like "This house is really creepy." The former would be more to-the-point, but the latter would be more fun to write (and read).
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I even lost my FRANK GRAPHICS DAMN YOUUUUUU.
So, now I'm going to make a quick bulletin list of some of the things I may have said-- for I surely do not recall half of what I wrote half as much as I should due to an all-nighter and 3 Expresso and Cream double shots courtesy of Starbucks. I'm also listening to Beethoven's 9th Symphony and Mozart's 4th in a vague stab at keeping my sanity. We on the same page?
The Frank Book relates to House of Leaves in that TFB is a surrealistic piece of work in the artistic sense whereas I believe HOL to be a surreal piece in the written narrative sense. I'd say just about every drawing in TFB is up to interpretation. Why? Well besides the fact that nothing in the book concretely resembles anything we know (Manhog is a mix between a guy and a... hog. Frank is an anthropormorphic beaver cat, etc) there is virtually no written words. Everything is pantomimed. It sort of reminds me of this Finnish band (whose name eludes me at the moment) that sings in a made-up language and whose CD case has a packet where all the songs are blank lines... you fill in whatever you think the lyrics should be. I like to think this somehow relates to HOL because the House's dark caverns really are nothing but representations of the internal strife within the individuals within its halls. For example, Holloway goes batshit because his fear is that he won't gain any recognition from finding just a bunch of rooms underneath the house. He has to find SOMETHING... and so the house gives him the impression that a beast is lurking about. Gandalf fears the Balrog in the Mines of Moria and ends up battling with the other Maiar until he dies and is sent back by Illuvatar to fulfill his job on Middle Earth. Lord of the Rings really does have its parallels with HOL in that, the characters in both stories are fighting the darkness within themselves. The only difference between HOL and LotR is that LotR's fears inside the main characters manifest in the shape of ephemeral ghouls of past kings and a giant Red Eye. HOL has a pissed off house.
From Hell is ridiculous in general and no one should read it. That being said, I find an interesting contrast between HOL and From Hell in that, whenever Jack the Ripper gets inside somebody (and not in the cool way) he has delusions where light is escaping from these bedraggled prostitutes. This is entirely contrary to the bowels of the house-- an entity that makes us believe that there is only darkness within each and every one of us. Perhaps whereas the house focuses on the internal strife within our minds, Jack's snickersnack treatment of the prostitutes focuses on the departure of the soul. I also think that while HOL is defined much like a labrynth in ancient Greek mythology... it somehow resembles at least some layer of Hell to me. I'm a little rusty on my ancient Italian philosphers, but if I can recall correctly the most agonizing punishment of being in Hell is one's lack of connection with G-d. In From Hell we really see no development of true friendship throughout the book... people may help one another but most of it has an ulterior motive attached. The same goes with The Frank Book. In HOL, when Jed, Wax, and Holloway descend into the house's bowels there is a distinct lack of comraderie. Though Tom is only down the hallway from the entrance, he feels completely isolated and alone.
And that's all I got. Timmy's cell phone is playing "MakeDamnSure" so that means I gotta go. Maybe I'll post more when I've had more time to collect my thoughts!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I don't know anything about the writer's strike other than that there is one, and because of it they might be cutting the second season of "Heroes" in half. Unacceptable.
My friend Luke, a criminal justice major who is too late in his college career to change his major to what he really wants to do (which is write) asked me if they might hire "writing scabs" to fill in while the writers are on strike. I'm not sure how I feel about this concept.
Luke is from Kentucky. He explained that these writers are people who are getting paid to do what he only wishes he could do, and if they can't appreciate what they've got then of course he should be able to come in and take their places. He also emphasized that in Kentucky when the coal mining union went on strike and scabs were brought in, those scabs didn't have anything against the union. They were scabs because they needed to survive.
My argument is that writing is a lot different from coal mining. I'm not saying that just anyone can mine for coal. But in the case of being a writing scab, you're coming into an already established piece of work and riffing off of it for pay. That's someone else's intellectual property and you're coming in at the middle of the game and almost… stealing it. It's not for survival, it's not so you can feed your children who are starving. For Luke, at least, he feels like as a writing scab, (hypothetically) it might throw him into the writing career that he always dreamed of but could never have. But would you really want to make the start of your creative career using someone else's work?
This also kind of ties into a question that I had meant to raise with my mid-term project but never really got around to. The project involved online roleplaying forums that were based in an already established universe (X-men specifically). Is using already-created characters and concepts equivalent to plagiarism if you're only using them as a basis for your own creative outlet? I think in a forum-based roleplay community, no. If you're getting paid for it, though? It's still not plagiarism per say, but still not something I'd respect.
I dunno. It's almost like… as a writing scab, you'd be cheapening the profession as a whole. It'd be saying "writers come a dime a dozen and I'm going to prove it by replacing you for less pay and less appreciation," which I think is the real issue. It kind of reminds me, in a roundabout way, of that episode of Friends where Joey is on Days of Our Lives and says in an interview that he writes most of his lines (which was untrue). As payback for being underappreciated, the writers kill him off the show. Instead of just killing off a character, though, it looks like these writers are killing off the actual show with their strike. Which, again, is unacceptable to me, since I'm a creature of addiction and "Heroes" is on my (long, long) list of entertainment-related obsessions.
As someone who means to eventually make money off my writing (maybe), I think if I was writing for a television show, I'd be pissed at anyone who scabbed if I decided to strike because I was underappreciated.
Am I wrong? What do you think? And does this, in fact, have anything to do with narrative or technology?
Friday, November 16, 2007
So I didn't make it to class today because I was invited to attend a luncheon to meet with BioE Dean's from other colleges. Thus, I was wondering if anyone would be nice enough and tell me what we discussed in class today.
I'll give you a gold star... or a cookie if you prefer :)
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This passage talks about the future and how readers will take different views about newspapers and magazines than they do right now. It talks about this because the readers will no longer be able to tell the difference between real pictures with one that has been changed in some way. Then it goes on to say even if editors refuse to go along with the temptations of manipulating the photographs, that their integrity will still be less valuable than before.
My interpretation of this is that you can replace the word photograph with the word book. So my understanding is that readers will have different ways to view the book than they did before because the new technology allows for things that couldn’t be done before. That is exactly how I feel about this book. Danielewski is changing the way things are done to make something that is not real, seem real. And it actually does. This book can almost be passed off as a true story.
One way this book has been modified is that he uses false footnotes. They seem real enough, but very few, if any of them are actually sources. They were created to make the readers believe something that isn’t true. That is just like the passage that talks about creating pictures to make the viewers believe something that never happened.
Another way the book is different than a normal book is its form. The way paragraphs go all over the place and how it goes back and forth between Johnny and Zampano. It was also manipulated to make you think it is real, but as the passage on 141 says, even though things will seem more real, people won’t view them in that way because of the new technology which allows for the reader to be deceived.
So I believe this passage will help you understand the book better by not trying to figure out what is really going on. Just go with what the story is trying to show you and enjoy it rather than to look hard into it. Even though it will not seem real as it once did, you may be able to understand it better now.
Although I do feel sorry for Tom in a way, I mostly just find his life funny. He smokes pot, makes corny Sunday School jokes, eats himself senseless, does disgusting thing like “shit in the monster’s corner” and all the while keep a certain humor about himself. Then all of a sudden he gives us the “parable” about the rich man trying to do something good. Who is he to teach us a lession?
All the characters in this book are longing for some sense of fulfillment. Traunt presently gets satisfaction for putting Zampano’s “lost” book in order. Karen drivers herself sick with worry about Navidson, and distracts herself with fung-seu and childrearing. Will participates in this absurd journey, and Tom tries to fit himself into his brothers life by assuming the position of the child in the relationship between Karen and Will. Though these objectives are strange and seemingly unconnected, I think that the deeper meaning is that they want to do “something good” with maybe themselves, society, or whatever and whomever they think they might owe something to.
This rich man comes off the an ass hole because his way of “doo-gooding” is senseless, and ultimately leads to the demise of this poor man, who until he messed with him was surviving reasonably fine. Maybe this connection can be mad with all these characters trying to make sense of their complication, and ultimately will only result in their demise, or unhappiness. As Karen threatened to do, when she said that she was leaving and taking the kids with her. These characters are trying to change the direction or eliminate their misfortunes and are just ultimately making their lives worse.
Another example of this is Johnny’s encounter with the big tit, too much eye liner, alleged porn star at the Opium Den. When they arrived at his house, he took pitty on her, and didn’t ask her to come him. It was my assumption that despite what he said about something being “wrong” about her, he felt like he was doing her a favor by not treating her cheaply. As we later see, she drives off and throws the poor dog out of the car window. Who is to know the fortune of that poor dog, if he had just asked her to come in, and had sex with her, as was the pattern of his life. If these people all have underlining motives of their own, wouldn’t it be considered selfish of them to think that they deserve more than the hell that they all live in, and shouldn’t they be punished for their______( I can’t think of the word..but hopefully you understand what I am trying to say) Tom is currently the only who brings this concept to light. He know people try to do good but he also recognizes the bad that can come of it. ( very funny to me)
Anyway, this passage to me is foreshadowing the fate of the characters. It says that they will all ultimately be doomed, because they are trying too hard to escape life.
Throughout House of Leaves, Danielewski consistently transforms paragraphs and/or sentences into different shapes to represent the story. Making the paragraph convert into different silhouettes allows the reader to be more captivated into the story. This particular representation of the nature of these paragraphs and sentences can be seen through Chapter X.
Danielewski starts off Chapter X with a quote about the architectural design of a house as a path. As the chapter begins, there is only one paragraph per a page that can be found either at the top or bottom of the page. This set up allows for the reader to navigate through the book simultaneously as Navidson and Reston navigate through the labyrinth of the house; thus, displaying an interaction for the reader.
Moreover, in one instance, Danielewski uses one word per a page to represent the story. Starting on page 216, Navidson and Reston hear doors slamming. As the slamming of the doors continue, so does the one word per a page. When reading this, I actually heard and saw the doors slamming as I turned the page. Each page to me, represented a door which was then about to be slammed ‘behind’ me.
Furthermore, Danielewski also uses another form of sentence construction to symbolize the current events of the story. As bullets are being fire towards Navidson and Reston, the words of the sentence take the form of the bullet themselves. For example, on page 233, the round of bullets are said to only splinter the panel of the door. While reading this sentence, we can also see that each word represents a bullet hitting the door (page) since they are scattered throughout the page.
Therefore, in a round about way, I feel Danielewski is allowing the reader to interact with the book. Even though Danielewski chooses our adventure for us, the way he presents the text allows the reader to be a part of the adventure and suspense that happens throughout the book. The reader must navigate through the labyrinth of the house, and listen/watch doors slam behind them in order to experience the full effects of the book.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
On page 87, there's a quote in German that ends up leading Johnny on this whole big tangent about Kyrie and this awesome car and this great sex that ends in Kyrie crying:
"aber da, an diesem schwarzen Felle/ wird dein starkstes Schauen aufgelost."
Eventually the Editors give us the English translation:
"But here within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze will be absorbed and utterly disappear."
This is part of the poem by Rainer Marie Rilke called "Black Cat."
A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:
just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.
She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them. But all at once
as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.
It is my humble (and most likely crazy) opinion that this poem combined with the various animal references are a summary of the book. It's interesting that it begins with ghosts. This is sort of a ghost story, if only in the way that the guy who wrote half of it was found dead at the beginning of the book. Zampano's "ghost" is telling half of the story, but we know that we're only getting the parts of the story Zampano wrote through Johnny. Johnny's narrative is an echo to Zampano's, because in spite of whatever randomness it reads like, he's saying almost the exact same things that Zampano is saying, only… crazy…er. Maybe that's a stretch. But wait, there's more! There always is.
The difference between Zampano's exploration of the house through Navidson and Johnny's exploration of the house through Zampano is that they both had filters by which to experience the house. Sure, it made them nuts, but that's nothing compared to what Navidson is experiencing, which is this thick black pelt, in which "[his] strongest gaze [is] absorbed." Navidson is that strongest gaze. He is a photojournalist and huge parts of the book emphasize how every shot he takes is perfection. He can make anything look good, but that's just the thing. There's nothing in the house, he can't take a picture of it, can't make a video of it, there's nothing. This black cat is the house.
That being said…
It's ironic that there's a chapter about how animals aren't affected by the house. The simple explanation then, is that the house itself is an animal. Chapter Six (pg. 74) explains that animals are simply themselves, bereft of thought or wonder or anything. Everything they do is instinctual. Becker says they don't fear death, and then Norberg-Schulz talks about man's necessity for "orientation" in order to act. Man needs direction, animals don't. Another reason, perhaps, that the house is directionless. There is no north. If the house was a man, then of course there would be a north.
Once Chapter Six brought up the concept of animals, I began to notice a ton of animal imagery to describe the darkness inside the house. The sounds Navidson registers as growls may just be the house shifting, "the darkness instantly slaughters every smile and glance" (82), "the darkness just swallowed the flares right up" (85). Men are referred to as monsters as opposed to animals. Johnny must refer to every guy he meets except for Lude as a monster, even himself. Raymond, especially, is given claws and teeth wet with meet and a musky scent.
The Minotaur theory, the key, is that the monster at the center of the labyrinth is us. I said that in class already, but in the context of special relations. I guess the thing that ties this all together for me is that Rilke is referenced a lot earlier in the book. On page 28, the first question raised about the house is Wer? That's "who" in German. That word is referenced to footnote number 34, where Johnny said he found the translation of the word in a poem called "Orpheus, Eurydice, Hermes*," by Rilke. It can't be random that the question of "Who?" would be answered by Rilke, who wrote the Black Cat, which I believe is a metaphor for the entire book.
*Orpheus travels to the Underworld to gather his wife Eurydice to died on their wedding. The deal he strikes with Hades is that Orpheus will lead his wife out of the Underworld, but only if he does not look behind him. If he does so before reaching topside, he'll lose her forever. In the poem, when Orpheus looks back too soon (idiot) and Eurydice is immediately back in the Underworld, Hermes tries to explain what happened to her. He says (and I'm summarizing here) "Orpheus came to free you." Her response: "Who?" The darkness of the Underworld takes away your memory. In the house, things that go forgotten actually disappear. Shoelaces.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Melodramatic bullshit only makes me angry. I take no solace in depressed music, or "deep" writing. That aside, I'd like to talk about Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan and Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves (HOL). Despite the difference in their form and content (melodramatic comic vs non-conventional fictional novel), I can’t help but notice (like every one else has) the striking similarity between the two lie in their complex usage of the conceptualization of Time.
The use of Time in Jimmy Corrigan reminds me of an MMO I used to play. The world was massive but small at the same time because you could move from one area to the next seamlessly. Characters, events, battles all occurred simultaneously in a sort of collective conscious, placed only into context by individual conceptualizations of the occurrences. This concept of seamless movement applies directly to Jimmy Corrigan. In Lance’s blog, he argues that Jimmy Corrigan is not one story, claiming it involves the cyclicization of Time around the Corrigan family’s experience; Jimmy, his father, grandfather, and great Grandfather are a sort of collective protagonist. I agree with the idea of the collective protagonist, but I think Jimmy Corrigan IS one story and the use of Time seamlessly links the experiences of Jimmy and the other members of his family tree to tell the story of the collective protagonist. The transition from each members story to the next is placed into historical context by Ware’s juxtaposition of significant historical moments [Chicago exposition, Battle of Shiloh, The Fair (Hey Jimmy lets go Snipe hunt…LOL)] but the stream of consciousness that pervades the narrative makes it difficult to pinpoint and distinguish any of the Corrigan’s at a place in time. The classic moment when Jimmy is with his father, his grandfather, and Amy (a product of his great grandfather) is analogous to multiple sine waves intersecting and represents one of those rare moments where Time almost seems to exist as one moment.
The notion of Time, as presented in Jimmy Corrigan, can be linked to George Herriman’s famous comic series Krazy Kat. It is no surprise then that Chris Ware has the oldest, pristine collection of these comics, but Krazy Kats influence extends beyond Chris Ware’s fanaticism; Krazy Kats tradition also extends to “The Simpson’s” more violent integrated TV series “Itchy and Scratchy”. If you’ll recall the specific issue of Krazy Kat we looked at in class where at the center there was the unframed image of the clock; the clock represented the pervasive seamless concept of Time. Here in lies the link between Jimmy Corrigan and HOL.
On page xxi Johnny says “[…] the kind who makes Itchy and Scratchy look like Calvin and Hobbes.” I might have over complicated the link between Jimmy Corrigan and HOL but consider it an aphorism to my premise. HoL is a multi-layered (Editors --> Johnny Truant --> Zampano --> The Navidson Record) cluster-fuck of a narrative, encapsulating the non-existent film The Navidson Record. Truant’s experiences in discovering Zapano’s “reams and reams” of work are relayed to us in a sort of stream of consciousness similar to moments in Jimmy Corrigan, so as we are discovering things about Johnny Truant we are also discovering what is going on when Zampano was producing his blind(lol) documentary. This intermixing and overlapping of each individual experience produces the seamless notion of Time and its convergence. The German passage Lance refers to where Johnny’s experience with the text seams to overlap/converge with Zapano’s and Heidigger’s experience is analogous to the analogy in the second paragraph about the sine waves intersecting; the multiple realities converge.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Ok, so I don't know what the initials stand for, but it's a pretty cool comic. It's perfect for this class because, as the title states, it's a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language. Here's how it relates to Jimmy Corrigan:
1) The repetitive elements of the strip. In Jimmy Corrigan, certain themes would show up again and again. The crutch, the bird, the red hats. Chris Ware used this to tie previous things to the current events. xkcd uses the recurring "My hobby" jokes, hilarious in themselves, to keep up an idea of the characters' personalities. Hobby Photoshops Effect an Effect Iambic Pentameter Curse Levels That's what SHE said. Chris Ware ties one scene to another in this way, and so does xkcd.
2) Time. Both stories deal with time. Jimmy Corrigan covers two parallel lives and switches back and forth between them liberally. xkcd frequently has the main character travelling through time. Read all of the the Choices series, for example. There are plenty more but this is the most direct example. Why does Chris Ware do this? Well, for one, it lets the reader draw on themes instead of specific events. It also allows Ware to show how he thinks the experiences of childhood shape the adult (Surgery? heh). He probably intended both and many more. xkcd does it to show the interesting points of math and reality, but mostly just to write funny comics. Hey, it's his job and a man's gotta eat.
3) Artistic scenes. Sometimes Ware does architectural drawings for the aesthetics of it, to set a scene, or both. xkcd does sort of the same thing. It's less frequent now than it was in the past. Trees and the next two are good examples. I have no idea why xkcd does this, other than to show off his talent (or boredom?).
4) Imaginative scenes. Jimmy Corrigan holds many instances where an idea or event is imagined but shown as literally happening. One example is when Jimmy goes to his father's apartment. He imagined being stabbed in the throat/face by his father. Naturally we don't assume this happens in the story, knowing its imagined. xkcd plays around with this idea of imagination in real life. Reference
5) Both artists make use of the classic box-by-box comics style to parody. Jimmy Corrigan has the opening chart and periodic updates showing different story lines "pulled out" of the central picture. Here's an example of xkcd using the classic frame to be funny. Fall Apart
6) Real life remarks. Jimmy Corrigan references common life events...birth, death, crying, joy, lonliness. His "death of a hero" idea in Superman's suicide is a feeling we've all felt once before. Most of us have had Santa Claus 'disappear' from our list of people to look up to when we found out he wasn't real. Ware hits this idea in a real way. xkcd takes this from a comic angle. He lists things we all do at some point, in some form, that are funny to consider. Paths Velociraptors Balloon Turn Signals.
As for Chris Ware's unnatural and irregular style of comics-writing, xkcd says this: Garfield
Try as I might, I have nothing to say about the superiority/inferiority of the the internet as a medium. It's like commenting on air being a medium for heat. It's sort of irrelevant what you think of it, and there's not much to say anyway. The only argument that I can make is that comic artists take their work seriously. They comment on the things we all know and love. There's humor/pain out there in our lives, surrounding us (refer to point 6 if you don't understand this yet), and the best comics are the ones that fish it out of the cacophony of it all, and present it to you in bite-size portions. Ware and xkcd are excellent examples of artists with this gift.
Just some funny ones for kicks: Snakes on a Plane MC Hammer Baring my Heart
So, YouTube and I are best friends. Seriously. I spend most of my time watching music videos or other funny shit that pops up. Last night I was on there and I wanted to see if anyone had ever tried their hand at creating a version of the Navidson Record. A few key strokes later, I came upon this piece of shit (by searching "The Five and a Half Minute Hallway").
I also found some other random things:
Like this, which I don't really understand why it was created.
I also found this, which is a movie trailer if HoL was ever turned into a film.
Lastly I found this video which is a slide show with one of Danielewski's sisters' songs.
Although Jimmy Corrigan is a comic book, it is done in an obscure manner. First off, the actual dimensions of the book itself are different than most comic books. It is wider than it is tall, but in a few places throughout the book you have to turn the book to read or understand what is going on. One example of that is in the very beginning on the first three or four pages. It is kind of like Ware is introducing you to how the form will keep your attention throughout the rest of the book.
Another aspect of Jimmy Corrigan’s form that plays a big role is the sizing of the panels. There are some panels that are so small it can be hard to see what the picture is about, while there are others that take up entire pages. I think that the large panels that take up an entire page were meant to show that it is important, but at the same time I think that some of the small panels have scenes that are just as important to the story if not more important.
Trying to figure out what is going on because of the way Ware sets up the pages is very difficult. His form was a big turn off to me. I don’t like to read as it is, and when I have to work to understand what is going on I will usually give up. A good example of something that I didn’t even bother with is five pages before the epilogue. It is a two-page scene which is trying to depict that Jimmy and Amy are related in some way. The only reason I know that is because you told us in class. I looked at it for a minute or so then realized I had no idea what it was trying to say so I just moved on without it.
The form of House of Leaves seems fairly normal so far in what I have read, but flipping through the pages I see it is going to be difficult to read. I noticed some sideways and upside down passages as well as some pages that only have a few words. I’m guessing that it will play into the plot later, but as of now I don’t know what it is all about. Although, I did notice two things so far that I thought were kind of different. First off is the use of footnotes. There seems to be at least one footnote per page. And some of the footnotes extend for pages. There is a footnote that starts on page twelve and goes to page sixteen, but the book continues along in some of the same pages as the footnote. This was kind of distracting because I went back and forth instead of reading the footnote first then going back and reading the story like I’m guessing I should have done.
One other little thing I noticed in House of Leaves is how the word house is always in blue. I don’t know that this would be called form, but this too is very distracting and hard on my eyes. I have a hard enough time distinguishing colors of things that are large; so reading this fairly small font with different colors was a real strain on my eyes. I know only one word in every few paragraphs or so is colored, but it would mess up all the words around it for me.
I think that the form of a book plays a big role in how it will be read. If the form makes it flow and is appeasing to look at the book will be easy to read and very enjoyable. Unfortunately this is not the case in either one of these books. They both have difficult forms which make both of them hard to read. And I assume if it is difficult, most people will not want to continue to read.
I use the phrase continuous framing a lot in this blog entry and this is what I mean by continuous framing- the use of repetitious frames that are slightly altered to tell the story in a comic or graphic novel
When considering the difficulties of the comic industry in the late 1980s, Scott McCloud wrote, “The more innovative work – a traditional predictor of future health – had always comprised a small slice of the industry pie – but as the pie shrank, so did the slice and many creators could no longer make a living.” The main question I intend to discuss: is McCloud’s work shrinking the size of the pie?
McCloud wrote the previous line in order to criticize the cliché cartoonists and the overall lack of innovative comics during the 80s. It is clear from McCloud’s works (Understanding Comics, Making Comics, and Reinventing Comics) that he considers himself an industry expert who can relate the message of comics to the standard prose reader. His form, particularly in The Right Number, fails to be as innovative as Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan. McCloud’s “innovative” style in this work abandons the continuity of frames almost completely and forces McCloud to revert to cliché comic stereotypes, while Ware’s creative manipulation of continuous frames creates true innovation.
McCloud’s The Right Number features single sketches that the reader travels through like a “tunnel” (if I may use ### apt terminology). This journey is supported by Flash Media and does not allow the reader to view all of the frames together. Perhaps for this reason, McCloud jumps from one scene to the next, almost franticly, telling the story of the narrator. Unlike standard comics, the frames do not transition within the same or similar background. Instead, the form throws the reader quickly through the story without any form of continuity between the images. This total absence of continuity forces McCloud
to use a first person narrative, reminiscient of the first super-hero comic books (Spiderman, etc.) Without images that sufficiently tell the story, the narrator must tell the reader everything. There is no room for interpretation as the form propels the reader like the engine of train through a dark tunnel, the train only following the track laid down for it.
Although McCloud rarely uses continuous framing [the sequences that he does, like the final five frames of Pt. 1, are his best], Ware innovates within the restrictions of continuous framing within Jimmy Corrigan. One of the best examples of this manipulation is found a few pages prior to the death of Jimmy’s great-great grandmother. James, Jimmy’s grandfather, is sitting under a bridge in the rain and the following fifteen frames on the two pages build on the first illustration. The frames are narrated in a slow, steady third person narrative, which is atypical of most comics. This narrative allows James to see his future self talking to his father in a reasonable manner and the comic book style, first person narration of the protagonist is absent. If James would have narrated this scene, it would have been wrought with the emotion of a child and lost some of its sensibility. Ware is able to communicate a serious, yet rational message because of his manipulation of continuous framing. With this form of manipulated continuous framing, Ware is able to deliver a serious message in a medium that is often not respected as an art. McCloud’s form forces his protagonist to revert to the cliche, cheapening the message of his frames.
The lack of continuous framing also forces McCloud to forgo a standard of comics that I highly respect: the use of hidden symbols. The details in many of McCloud’s frames in The Right Numbers are frankly boring. Without continuous framing, McCloud cannot subtly alter the background of his frames since all the frames are so different. McCloud is relying on the narrative, not the illustrations, to be the driving force of the story. Ware, on the other hand, uses symbols to add to the power of his form. In the same sequence as mentioned before, where James is under the bridge, a horse appears behind James’ future self. The horse is a symbol of hope and joy for James, just as the sight of his future self inspires him to believe that things may get better. Ware uses complex imagery throughout Jimmy Corrigan as a necessary complement to his writing, whereas McCloud uses them only to supplement his words.
Overall, I believe that the web as a medium does not allow McCloud to rely on the best part of comics, the use of continuous framing. Ware, on the other hand, manipulates continuous framing in an innovative style, using it as a building block that makes his stories more complex, and often harder to read. McCloud’s rejection of the standard framing ironically forces him into the cliché emotional first person narrative that is common in early comics, while Ware’s development allows him to explore a form with a different style of narration. McCloud’s rejection of paper medium has given him the ability to jump from frame to frame as he wills, but this unfortunately hurts his storytelling ability. On the other hand, Ware’s use of the normal “ink and pad” method have allowed him to innovate and create perhaps the last slice of “fresh” comic pie we’ll ever taste.
Jimmy Corriganis not one story. The plot revolves around Jimmy's family, not necessarily Jimmy himself. If a Family Tree can be a protagonist, the Corrigan Tree is the protagonist of that work. Chris Ware likes to play around with cutting apart Jimmy's story and his grandfather (great grandfather's) story. I believe that though these sometimes abrupt transitions between stories is meant to keep some of the reader's suspense over what is happening in either story, the transition is actually meant to show us the similarities in stories. Even moreso we see the similarities in the men in Jimmy's family. Ware also uses this device to fill in how Jimmy would feel as a boy who was abandoned by his father by telling the story of his grandfather and how he was abandoned by his father. Ware never really gives us a clear cut image of how Jimmy's life was like when he was a child. However, Ware provides us with Jimmy's grandfather, who is strikingly similar in just about every aspect, and how the grandfather deals with his life in school and growing up. Though the times are different, the reader can stipulate how Jimmy's childhood progressed by looking at how Jimmy's grandfather progressed. Grandfather Corrigan's experiences with his Italian friend and how the Grandfather connected more with his friend's father than his own (who was distant enough to have emotionally abandoned him at this point) points to experiences that Jimmy probably went through as he aged. This is somewhat parallel when we get a glimpse of the first and only scene of Jimmy's childhood and his experiences with the quasi-fatherly figure of Superman.
This does tie in with HoL because it is clearly two established stories already. We are given the literary written work of Zampano and the personal addendums of Johnny Truant, its "editor." Whereas Zampano is giving the reader a direct, evidenced (or, claimed to be evidence) account of the haunting of the house and life of Will Navidson, Johnny Truant is implicitly showing us his improvisational traits and conductivity to madness that gives him similar characteristics to Zampano. It is as if Johnny Truant is compatible with Zampano and as the story progresses and Truant immerses himself into this false documentary, Truant becomes even more like Zampano. We see a huge cut in the published work by Zampano for a short-short story by Truant where he goes on a tangent about how he invented a plausible sounding story on the spot (pps 12 - 17). Zampano, as explained earlier with his falsely cited sources and subject matter, is doing much the same.
Another matter which I will note quickly (because half the time with these books I don't know what the hell I'm reading, much less what I'm saying when I explain them) is the concept of time. In Corrigan and HoL the concept of when things are and aren't happening is confused and disjointed. I'd cite a page in Jimmy Corrigan but then I may as well just say read any spread of 10 pages and you'll find an instance of the expansion and constriction of time and space. It is interesting to note that Zambano (and Truant) is fascinated by how people conceive the idea of space. The issue is talked about for a moment aroundpages 4-7. I have a feeling that the issue will be raised again later on in the book. The idea that I get from Ware and Danielewski is that they believe time is cyclical (Ware seems to support this) or happening all at once in several realities, which I believe Danielewski would support. What occurs in Corrigan is a repitition of similar events. Jimmy and his grandfather acted the same way, and therefore, reaped similar outcomes. In HoL we read a certain German passage and immediately Johnny Truant chimes in saying that the moment he read that something had changed for him. Something that had occured when Zambano copied the text or when Heidigger actually wrote the text occured the moment that Truant read the text. This indicates to me that Danielewski is having several realities occur at the same time.
Now that I'm thoroughly confused, another form of writing that Danielewski and Ware seem to enjoy, I will end this blog. Also, this is confusing like the maze section in Zork.
I had to make a Zork reference for Nik's sake.
Monday, November 5, 2007
"The future ended in 1962 at the Seattle World's Fair. This was everything we should have inherited: the whole man on the moon within the decade-- asbestos is our miracle friend -- nuclear-powered and fossil-fueled world of the Space Age where you could go up to visit the Jetsons' flying saucer apartment building and then ride the monorail downtown for fun pillbox-hat fashions at the Bon Marché."
-Chuck Palahniuk (Invisible Monsters)
-Chuck Palahniuk (Invisible Monsters)
Disregarding the fact that there was a complete lack of any Palahniuk reference in my last entry you should all know by now that I am obsessed with Chuck Palahniuk. Furthermore, it may or may not be known that my favorite book of is Invisible Monsters. Anyways, I was reading about the book online after having read it for the umpteenth time. I was browsing the ‘main’ Chuck Palahniuk fansite, and I came across an IM graphic novel. I went to read it, but after looking over the first couple of pages, I turned away. It didn’t have the same effect as the book. Something just didn’t seem right. Now I’m in college and I have found a legitimate reason to force myself to read the graphic novel which I was so opposed to in my younger years. So, here we are…
After having read both Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and the Invisible Monsters graphic novel I have come to one major conclusion: comics aren’t for everyone. The readers’ satisfaction with the text depends on a multitude of factors. For me, JC was one of the most humorous things I have come across in the last few months. Honestly, I found myself laughing out loud more times while reading this than I have laughed since I’ve been back at school. Simply put, the story of Jimmy is tragic, but it is relatable. However, this was not the case with IM. I enjoyed it, yes; but only because I enjoy the original story. Beyond that, I have little to say. In reading the book, I was able to relate in at least the smallest way to one or more characters, but it was completely lost in the transformation into a graphic novel. This may not be true for others, it is simply what I got out of my reading of the two texts.
As with any text, everything is relative to the reader in a comic. If the reader is able to connect with the characters, there will be a sense of understanding. JC deals with the struggles of one man (but he could be any man). IM is about a particular story, that few (if any) can sympathize with. This is where I think Ware had the upper hand; his story was about life whereas Palahniuk’s story was about one particular life.
I believe I have reiterated myself enough and exhausted the idea of ones ability to relate to a story and I feel it is time to me to move on to the techniques of the two stories. On my desk I have a sheet of paper that says “Similarities” at the top, and about halfway down the page it says “Differences.” This was my way of comparing the two texts. Although they are both categorized as comics or graphic novels, the two could not be any more dissimilar. The only similarity that I could find was that neither story is chronological. Both jump back and forth between the past and the present; in IM you get a better sense of this by reading the book but the concept of jumping through time is still present.
The main difference that I noticed, that which makes a huge impact on the overall understanding of the story, is that Ware had a general audience whereas Palahniuk had a specific audience. With JC, anyone can pick up the book and read it from beginning to end with little difficulty. This, however, is not true for IM; unless you have read the book, you will find yourself confused and altogether frustrated. While this technique makes JC more understandable (as I have said) the way Palahniuk does it goes along with the tone of his original story and enhances the storyline.
Beyond that, there are two structural difference that I noticed between the texts that both help to set the tone of the story. The first deals with the color scheme. If JC was considered to be in technicolor, IM would be said to be in sepia tone. IM is a very dark story and I feel that the use of minimal color was another way for the artist to portray the tone. In Corrigan color was not used in such an extreme. Although most colors were dim, the artist used a full range of colors to depict a potentially real life situation in a realistic way. The second difference is that of the images themselves. The images of JC are clean and uniform whereas those in IM vary greatly; some were computer generated, some are very put together and others were mere scribbles. While the images in JC are straightforward and understandable, the images in IM are deconstructed and cause a sense of confusion in the reader.
At this point I am unable to say whether one of the texts was more successful than the other. I definitely enjoyed Jimmy Corrigan more than I did Invisible Monsters, but the way that Invisible Monsters was created somewhat furthered ones understanding of the story.
The comic in question can be found here.
Postscript: Maybe it’s just me (and I probably should not admit to this) but, I sometimes space off in class, periodically going in and out of the class discussions. I always seem to go off on some tangent in my head that is strangely related to Invisible Monsters. Generally how it happens is I see something or someone says something vaguely related to something from IM and it reminds me of a quote from the book. Today Adam gave us the Peanuts comic strips and I was reading the one in the middle of page 133, with the boy who comes over to Charlie Brown and starts talking about how he doesn’t feel well. Which reminded me of the line: "The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend." I don’t even know if there is any point to me talking about this aside from proving that my relationship with IM is not just a casual reader-book relationship. It’s more like an obsession. Or a stalkership. Yeah, I made up a word. Deal.
Post-postscript: I'm sorry for how long this post ended up being. I didn't intend for it to be this long, it just sort of happened. Weird.
Option #2) Discuss some element of the _form_ of Jimmy Corrigan in relationship to some element of the _form_ of House of Leaves. You should discover at least a tentative argument, and refer to a specific passage/panel/page from each book.
Corrigan uses many different ways of showing power in on a page. When I say power, I speak to the direction and intended perception of the reader. ¬¬¬Chris Ware, as we discussed in class is obsessed with control. To accurately ingest the entire meaning of Jimmy Corrigan, I believe that it must be read at least twice and with a very knowledgeable guide. The author making the reader turn the page, in Corrigan, is an obvious attempt by ¬¬¬Ware to show the extent of his control. In contrast ¬¬McCloud uses the social context, or assumed biases or the reader to make subtle points. For example, the context of Zen Dating is about a first date. The title is the author’s first move, and the title lets the reader know who is in control of the strip. Although “control” is not as distinct in Zen Dating it is also obvious that McCloud is aware of the power he has when stringing together boxes and words, consequently the strip is filled just as Corrigan, with clues as to the point of the author.
Before I continued to read the strip, I already had in my mind the point of the strip, thanks to the deliberate title. Similarly in Corrigan, after being lead through the book one is already aware that this journey is not being guided solely by their imagination or interpretations and expectations, rather it is guided by Ware’s expectations and insights, in my opinion this makes the comic more interesting. Both authors are present in there works, and as awkwardly as I expressed, this is the similarity that I find interesting enough to explore through this response.
Looking physically at the two strips I don’t see too many physical similarities, in fact I find the format of McCloud’s work to be better. I use the word better, referring to my ability to follow the strips, my entertainment with the strip, my understanding of the strip and so on and so forth. Ware’s approach I think is best suited for the comic veteran, who understands the goal and creativeness a strip has, for a more abstract mind I guess. In McCloud’s work, there is only one square that shares an image with another, strangely in Corrigan this happens much more. I think that this style choice is appropriate in more lengthy comics, thus I find the lack of this in McCloud’s work an indication of his sense of what his comic has the ability to be, I applaud him for not being too abstract.
I guess I have not formally made my argument, so here it goes. I find McCloud’s work to be less abstract, and complex, and more capable of being interpreted and understood by any person who knows how to read. Corrigan, is a comic thick with details that he average reader may ignore, and thus to me becomes more of a chore to read. Both authors use power and presence in their strips, and this is a similarity that I applaud in both. However if I had to choose which I would rather read, it would be McCloud, and so, simplicity is better when it comes to comic strips.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
We're going on a field trip, to a place called arguments. Most people find themselves at this particular location accidentally, so a formal trip might come in handy. Before we leave, you'll need a few things:
Some things that you may want to bring, but should not include:
Now that we're prepared, let's embark on our short trip...but seriously. Why is it that people fail at arguments so often? Arguments have a negative connotation because most people are so inept that they don't understand the point of an argument. Arguments solve problems, pure and simply. An argument which does not solve a problem is useless, and should be avoided. I'll list a step-by-step process by which you can avert unnecessary arguments.
Step one is entering the argument. This is usually the result of a problem, or an imagined problem on the part of one party. Once someone presents their problem, it is the decision of the other party to argue, or to give in. I'm not saying that giving in is always bad, because sometimes someone will present you with a problem that is indeed your fault. Now, 90% of the time, this is not the case. Whether you did something and got caught for it, or the other person is sadly mistaken, the argument has already been incited.
Step two is providing insight as to why this problem may have arisen. For example, the trash has not been taken out, and it was your responsibility. Your reply should be the truth, of course. Did you forget, or did you simply think that the other person would become so tired of staring at a full trash can that they would take it out themselves? As I mentioned earlier, lies should be avoided.
Step three is unlike steps one and two because it is only taken by the instigator of the argument. You must decide whether or not this argument is worth pursuing. Can something positive arise from deliberating further? If yes, then by all means continue the argument. A particularly good time to do this is if you know for a fact the other person has told a lie. I should mention that assuming they are not telling the truth is not the same thing as knowing that they are lying. For example, if you saw them pass by the trash can, grimace, and then return to their quarters. If you simply THINK that the other person is lying, ask them to provide support.
Step four is the deliberation phase. Both sides provide points and counterpoints, arriving at a resolution. Now, that sounds easy, but as you may know it's quite difficult. Things that hinder arguments include obscenities, name-calling, repetition, circular reasoning, quoting the bible, bringing up unrelated information (yeah, well you date ugly girls!), etc. These things should be avoided at all costs. While they may give you a temporary satisfaction, it will be short-lived when they retaliate. During this step, some people feel the need to raise their voice. I'm not going to say that raising your voice is bad 100% of the time, but 80% is probably pretty accurate. Raising your voice should only be used to add credibility, and when used improperly it ends up diminishing any credibility that you already had. If you have a really substantial point to make, one that could possibly become lost in the sea of words, feel free to raise your voice. Just keep in mind that you could start a shouting match and lose all chance of having a successful argument if your point was actually moot. In general, you will find that the people that win arguments time and time again remain calm and collected, while their opponent is red in the face shouting vulgarities.
Step five is the cool-down stage. Both parties have expressed their views, and possibly come to some sort of compromise. If no compromise has been drawn, both parties have
accepted that the other simply views things differently on a fundamental level. Most religious debates end this way. Unfortunately, most arguments never reach step five. I consider an argument to be a success at this point.
Step six is the optional resolution step. If a resolution can be drawn, draw it here and move on. In a successful argument, both people involved are unoffended and possibly in a better mood than when the argument began. Keep this in mind, please.
Now that I've covered the steps to a successful argument, I will offer tips to avoid detrimental tangents that can cause your argument to run astray.
Crying. No one likes to see other people cry, so if a girl starts crying while you're arguing with her, either revert immediately to a calmer, soothing tone or end the argument there. No progress will be made if you continue to argue. If it's a guy crying, and you're his girlfriend, just dump him and call me at (813) 401-0722. We could go out or something.
Progressively escalated yelling. Otherwise known as a shouting match, this situation is often responsible for an unsuccessful argument. If you start to hear the other person raise his or her voice, simply lower yours, and if it becomes a real problem inquire as to why they're yelling. If you still haven't made any progress, use the fact that they're yelling against them. "If you're so right, why am I still so calm while you're yelling at the top of your lungs?"
Interruptions. Someone comes in the room, your phone rings, etc. The number one piece of advice I can offer in this situation is not to let your argument carry over outside of the people involved. If someone comes in the room, either politely ask if you could have a minute, or drop the argument and resume it at the next possible chance.
Name-calling. So they've decided that a good tactic might be to call you a poopy-pants liar. Well, in this situation, rather than succumb to the pressure of retaliating, simply ignore their schoolyard mentality. If it becomes a real problem, simply ask them what the current situation has to do with you being a no good double poopy-pants booger-eater.
Threats. This is a big one, especially in arguments between two guys. My advice for this situation might be a bit unorthodox, but it has worked for me more times than I can count. If someone threatens you physically, beat the piss out of them emotionally. If you don't possess the wit for this, just lay down and take it, chances are it's how nature intended. A good example that comes to mind is Shia Labeouf in Transformers. The dumb jock guy asks what he's doing, and Shia tells the jock that he's getting information for his new book, and then tells the jock that he'd like it since it has pictures that you can color in and all kinds of great stuff like that. Back to the point at hand. As soon as you are physically threatened, you have to mentally question their credibility. Will they really hit you? 90% of the time the answer to that question is a resounding 'no'. Use this to your advantage. Is that really all they've got, empty threats? Yawn, throw it in their face that obviously they can't go more than 10 minutes without resorting to violence to make up for the fact that they're wrong and incapable of admitting it.
Emotional appeals. "If you loved me, you'd take out the trash for me." This is the point where you re-evaluate your relationship. Everyone does things that they might not like for the ones they love, but it is NOT an obligation and by no means required. You do these things because you love them, not the other way around. If someone uses this to their advantage they are cowardly and wrong. Don't stand for it, throw it in their face.
My last piece of advice for arguments is as follows: Don't argue about things that you know nothing about. This includes arguing on behalf of someone else. If you're not a primary source for the information at hand, don't bother arguing about it or things will be lost in translation. This also goes for religious debates! Both sides! Don't just say all the same stuff everyone else says, make your own decisions. Stop using Pascals wager, stop quoting Kent Hovind. Stop saying that the Bible is riddled with contradictions, and stop quoting those same 3 verses from Laviticus. "Oh well I was talking to my friend about it and he seemed to know what he was talking about," is not an excuse.
Best of luck in your endeavours, whoever read this whole thing.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Also, Alex is a valiant soul, and it looks like he's setting himself up for some bonus points. I will also, however, give bonus points to anyone (Tim?) who can produce the robot carousel (or whatever you want to call it) from early in the book.
To be honest, I didn’t know there were comics specifically made fore the internet. While searching through the link that Dr. Johns provided, I found that internet comics had a wide range of variety to them (apparently, so do pen and paper comics). Even though there were quite a few that I still laugh at when I ‘read’ them (Robots Love to Dance, Flap those Flagella Like you Mean It – both found in the morning improve), one that stood out was Meadow of the Damned (http://www.scottmccloud.com/comics/mi/mi-07/mi-07.html). This comic strip is actually 3 separate comics that are a continuum of one another. As I was reading it, I found the comic to not only be funny, but very easy to read since the comic itself was very close to the formula of a typical comic – you read from left to right and all the text boxes are relatively the same size (excluding part three). The internet allows the comic to actually be a comic ‘strip’ – you just keep scrolling around the screen, never having to go to the second line because the paper isn’t long enough. I also find it interesting that you can’t see what happens next. Instead you must scroll till the end of the part your reading and then click a link that will take you to the next part. If all three parts are on one page, and say only showing five boxes per a line, the reader would easily be able to jump down to the ending and see what happens next and/or in the end. The third part has a particular uniqueness to the comic. The internet allows for the inclusion of special background effects as well as animation. Once I opened up the page, the background not only set the mood for the final part but also captivated me to the screen. This can sometimes be seen in Jimmy Corrigan, (ie the background of the theater setting (something like pg 54)), but not to the same degree since pen and paper cannot show quick time movement animation (unless you are looking at a flip book, but that’s a different subject).