I’ve been brainstorming a bit about what kind of multi-media route I’d like to take for my final Digital Humanities project this term. During some late night web surfing I came across a magnificent little corner of Internet called the Museum of Endangered Sounds. The site is an audio gallery of sounds that anyone born in the early to mid eighties will find nostalgic, with sound loops that range from happy childhood memories (the sounds of a NES cartridge being blown into) to ones that used to make us crazy (the good old dial-up modem tones). The project is curated by a Brendan Chilcutt, who is a fictitious mascot created by three graduates of the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter (Marybeth Ledesma, Phil Hadad and Greg Elwood).
This is a video showcasing the cohort of students I’m lucky to be a part of at Marylhurst University’s English Literature & New Media program.
This is my second time through the novel, that great sprawling beast of literature that almost defies definition, Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Experimental would be the most base term to use to label it, while Post-Print fiction has recently been assigned, with always the Gothic and Satirical running through the mayhem of categorization. No matter how you view the novel, it is extremely effective. We can debate the story(s), which has its problems and holes, but the unified work achieves something greater than the sum of its parts, much like the titular house.
Considering that I’m majoring in English & Digital Humanities, it’s somewhat ironic that defining the field is such a chore. I could tell you about all of the advancements that are being made between text and networks, or how archival tools are being used to categorize and database literary information for easier access, but in truth these are not very small slivers of a greater whole.
Part of being a digital humanist means being a collaborator, and there are a plethora of facilitating platforms like GoogleDocs and Storify to link and co-author content. But sometimes deconstruction applies too, as Mark Sample proposes “what is broken and twisted is also beautiful, and a bearer of knowledge. The Deformed Humanities is an origami crane — a piece of paper contorted into an object of startling insight and beauty.” In this vein, here’s an Emily Dickinson poem that’s been deconstructed and rearranged, words linked by tangential pathways that make the poem malleable. You can read it however you choose, beginning wherever you want.
Comment below with the best phrases you find.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” is a peculiar addition to the lexicon of prose dealing with issues of faith. Here the typically center stage allegories and heavy-handed metaphors are buried in obscurity, and remain a conundrum to the reader long after finishing the story. Rather than spelling everything out for the reader, Marquez mirrors in his writing the kind of ambiguity prominent in most belief systems. The story portrays the paradoxes and fickleness of faith through its characters’ interactions with the Old Man, while forcing the reader to speculate on the dichotomy of cruelty and compassion.
Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” is an enigma of a poem at first read. It contains many nonsense words and phrases of Carroll’s own invention, and has been interpreted and debated in a variety of ways since its penning, originally part of Through the Looking Glass. Carroll himself made many notes and comments about the supposed meanings of most of the words, and Humpty Dumpty explains them as well within the novel to Alice (though at times his and Carroll’s definitions differ).