It seems to be that time in the semester. Papers. Spent several days last week crawling into bed at 6 or 4 am. Supposedly the week before that was spring break but I’m not sure because I spent it combing databases for my capstone research project.
In between shots of caffeine, deep conversations with the object I evidently spend most of my life with (my computer), and hours long stints of aaaahhhomgwhydidItakeallthesewritingintesiveclassses???!!, I decided to do some Multimedia homework. In hindsight, not the best idea. Why? Because these “stories” (if you can call them that) are weird. They are especially weird when you haven’t spoken to a human being in over 12 hours and are functioning on 3 hours of sleep… from 2 days ago. I can appreciate that they challenge the conventions of how a story can be communicated, and some of them are excellent displays of how a medium can reinforce a message, but I really hate postmodernism. Call me a curmudgeon, but I prefer linear story line in novel format.
I’ll explain more later—right now it’s 2am and I’m at dire risk of waking up with keyboard marks on my forehead!
In the interest of specifics, the stories we experienced (because it’s not reading only, is it?) for class last week were:
Jennifer Egan’s “Great Rock and Roll Pauses“
Mohsin Hamid’s “The (Former) General”
Shelley Jackson’s “My Body”
Charles Cummings’ “The 21 Steps”
Martyn Bedford’s “The Virtual Disappearance of Miriam”
All of them do (as I posted earlier) challenge the conventions of how a story can be communicated. Success varies.
Jennifer Egan’s “Great Rock and Roll Pauses” was interesting. Its use of Smart Art to section the text reminded me of graphic novels. I usually love graphic novels; the stop-go form of reading they force you into is supplemented by graphics.
In Egan’s work there are no supplementary graphics, or at least they are very boring (‘cus its smart art).The result of this is that I noticed the interruptions more. I can appreciate that the intent in this might be to represent how the character Alison, or maybe Lincoln, thinks, but I don’t think that this couldn’t be achieved (perhaps even better) in a straight forward narrative. The way it stands I am given an impression of characters and the story rather than the real story. The result is I am left questioning why I should care and what are the implications of this? Perhaps these questions are answered in the rest of Egan’s book (of which this is only one chapter, and therefore unfair to judge too harshly) which follows a more traditional format.
Moshin Hamid’s “The (Former) General In his Labyrinth” is almost like a choose your own adventure story . Almost. The difference is there is no ending in Hamid’s piece. Instead the choices form a web which, fittingly to the title, loops endlessly. Simple and concise; the medium fits the message almost perfectly. But the piece is also boring. There is no ending or climax. Which is why it sets off my postmodernist radar; it has an air of pointlessness and a tendency to piss me off. It is also why I say the medium fits the message almost perfectly and not perfectly. The internet is a land of short attention spans. One click and you’re no longer stuck in this page’s Labyrinth. If I did not have to explore this piece for class I would never explore it past three clicks. It’s just that boring. In that sense, by being boring on the internet, the piece fails to capture you within its Labyrinth.