Stockton Book Donation

This summer, I was down at Stockton to have lunch with Tom Kinsella. On my way in, I stopped at the library to donate some books I had read in classes while a student from 2001-2006. I thought it was a neat idea and Stockton's librarians were very interested. I would like to do the same at Monmouth someday too when I am back up in that area.

Here is a list of the books I donated:
The first Electronic Literature Organization collection CD
Kindred by Octavia Butler (African American Literature)
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean (From Books To Movies)
Sexing The Cherry by Jeanette Winterson (Senior Seminar: Postmodernism)
Acid Free Bits by Nick Montfort
The Aspern Papers by Henry James (Readers, Writers, and Books)
The Life Of Pi by Yan Martel (Readers, Writers, and Books)
City Of Glass by Paul Auster (Senior Seminar: Postmodernism)
The Nietzsche Anthology (Moral Theories)
The Iliad (Homer)
New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (Senior Seminiar: Postmodernism)
Beloved by Toni Morrison (African American Literature)
The Odyssey (Homer)
Another Country by James Baldwin (African American Literature)

stocktonbooks.jpg

Books Read In 2012

  1. Being A Green Mother by Piers Anthony
  2. The Tent by Margaret Atwood
  3. New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
  4. Racing The Beam: The Atari Video Computer System by Ian Bogost and Nick Montfort
  5. Amulet by Roberto Bolano
  6. Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  7. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
  8. The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares
  9. The Mind of Italo Calvino by Dan Cavallaro
  10. The Cambridge Companion to Kate Chopin
  11. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  12. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  13. Crossed by Ally Condie
  14. Noir by Robert Coover
  15. Down & Out In The Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
  16. The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow by Cory Doctorow
  17. The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities by Frank Donoghue
  18. Football The First Hundred Years The Untold Story by Adrian Harvey
  19. My Mother Was A Computer: Digital Subjects & Literary Texts by N. Katherine Hayles
  20. The Map & The Territory by Michel Houllebecq
  21. Quests: Design, Theory, and History in Games and Narratives by Jeff Howard
  22. Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
  23. Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James
  24. Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James
  25. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
  26. The Life & Morals of Jesus of Nazareth by Thomas Jefferson
  27. Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu
  28. Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
  29. The Lost Books of The Odyssey by Zachary Mason
  30. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How they Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
  31. Batman The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
  32. Batman Year One by Frank Miller
  33. Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World of ESPN by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales
  34. Paradise Lost by John Milton
  35. Batman-The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
  36. V For Vendetta by Alan Moore
  37. The Watchmen by Alan Moore
  38. Speak Memory by Vladimir Nabakov
  39. King Lear by William Shakespeare
  40. Authors In Context: Virginia Woolf by Michael Whitworth
  41. The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer
  42. The Quran (Sher Ali Holy translation)
  43. Sir Gawain & The Green Knight
  44. The Tel Quel Reader

My Digital Humanities Origin

In its original draft, this was part of the introduction to my MA thesis.  After some discussion, I ended up pulling this out to keep my thesis more focused on the matters at hand.  I really like what I wrote here so I decided to excerpt it on my domain for my readers.  I wrote this right around this time last year.

Everything I found in electronic literature upon discovery, the intellectual aesthetic and interplay with computers, which had been my cherished companion since childhood, I had been looking, searching, for in my literary studies.  As a child I had played some text adventures, known as interactive fiction, and certainly remember their printed cousins the Choose Your Own Adventure book. I loved how interactive those books were and the agency which readers were given to decide their own fate and reading path.  Growing up, I had a lot of problems with motor development and coordination.  This led to many other problems including very poor penmanship. A wise teacher, when I was in elementary school, suggested my parents buy me a computer. She claimed that I would end up ahead of the curve because personal computers were going to takeover classrooms before I left for college. Wisely, my parents took her advice and purchased an Apple II for me to do my school work on and, because I did not play well with other children, to have an outlet for play and creativity.

Long before I became an avid reader in my teens, my creativity came almost exclusively from computers. Game designer Jane McGonigal’s recent weblog post about her experience creating detailed narratives out of Apple II games that did not already have them like Summer Games brought back memories from my own childhood. I had a similar experience at almost the same time by creating forms in a word processing program with different countries and names. I created brief backgrounds for each character and had them compete against each other on screen. Scandal, same gender romance, athletic achievement, and other intrigues played out in this interpretation of my gaming experience. I would not call that literature, obviously, but I tell this story to show how my creativity was electronically nourished before I embraced print culture later in my teens.

I have been on the Internet since sometime in early 1995. Immediately I became involved with participatory online culture by writing fan fiction, posting to newsgroups and listservs, chatting on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and, on and off, creating journals which nowadays would be called a weblog. At the same time, I published print based punk rock fanzines periodically until 2005 when I began Signifying Nothing, a webzine, archive of my earlier fanzines, and podcast devoted to my endeavors in hardcore punk which continue to this day.

My interest in electronic literature came to fruition while taking a senior seminar on postmodernism with Scott Rettberg in the spring of 2004. While being turned onto writers like Italo Calvino, John Barth, Jorge Luis Borges, and theorists like George Landow, Roland Barthes, and Julia Kristeva I realized that not only were these fiction writers exactly what I had longed for all of my life from literature, but the bridge between literary theory I fell in love with from Kristeva and Barthes, which I had struggled with until this time, and computers which Landow and others like Rettberg himself bridged via their theories was a dream come true. The beginning years of my college career were filled with frustration, failure, and difficulty. The first step of my recovery came when I embraced electronic literature.

Reading hypertext fiction and the theories of Barthes and Kristeva in Rettberg’s seminar improved my readings of previously read authors like Faulkner, Woolf, and Wallace. I began researching electronic literature and exploring the links on Rettberg’s weblog. Through these links I was able to explore the work of other hypertext and New Media theorists like Nick Montfort, Angela Thomas, and Jill Walker. I experimented with and clicked through Rettberg’s hypertext novel, The Unknown, and began actively participating in the sticker novel he authored with Montfort. As the semester wound down, two classmates and myself began our own weblogs, inspired with Rettberg and Walker especially, and I moved mine to its own domain later that summer.

Since the rise of the novel the past few centuries have had some hypertextesque works of literature. Novels like Tristram Shandy, Infinite Jest, and Ulysses can seem to those familiar with the workings of electronic literature to have qualities which “stand out for the first time.” (Landow 1982) When I read Sterne’s novel in an undergraduate course on the history of the novel, I came in one morning and remarked to my professor that the novel had a lot of the qualities of hypertext fiction which I was learning about in Rettberg’s seminar on postmodernism the same semester. Without knowledge of electronic literature I would have never made the connection, which made my reading of Sterne’s novel much more pleasurable. Experimental works of literature like Pavic’s Dictinary Of The Khazars and Nabakov’s Pale Fire also exude qualities which are emphasized by an understanding and familiarity with hypertext and electronic literature.

As Janet Murray argues in Hamlet On The Holodeck: The Future Of Narrative In Cyberspace, “the impending dissolution of Yugoslavia,” in Dictinary Of The Khazars, “is preconfigured by the fragmentary account of a mythical lost tribe” of three separate, conflicting, dictionaries (Murray 37). The “multicursally” seen in Pale Fire has been seen as a branch between not only modernism and postmodernism but as a text that has hypertextesque qualities (Aarseth 8). Writers like Robert Coover, a longtime advocate of electronic literature, Borges, and other postmodernists from France and South America also write literature which embodies many aspects of hypertext fiction.

Weekly Reader

  • Joseph Tabbi on locating the literary in New Media.
  • Naomi Klein on demanding more from President Obama.
  • The Quarterly Conversation has all of the details for the new UK edition of Cosmicomics which includes seven previously unseen, but seemingly slowly trickling out in a number of periodicals, stories.
  • Forty seven new letters from Benjamin Franklin’s time in London have been found by an academic.
  • Henry Jenkins is interviewing Nick Montfort (who also has a new weblog) and Ian Bogost about their work on Platform Studies.
  • The Guilty Parties

    (inspiration)

    During the fall of 2004, the following are guilty as charged of offering inspiration for what you are reading.

    • Scott Rettberg’s hypertext fiction The Meddlesome Passenger.
    • Jorge Luis Borges’ collection Labyrinths, especially The Library Of Babel, The Immortal, and The Circular Ruins.
    • The literary weblog Conversational Reading, which, beyond generally getting me excited about literature, introduced me to the work of Gilbert Sorrentino, referenced in the penultimate lexia.
    • Jill/txt was a daily, still, source of inspiration.  A conversation with Jill in real life inspired a lexia.
    • Grand Text Auto in general.
    • Shelley Jackson’s My Body a Wunderkammer, which made me cry more than once and pushed me to be brave enough to write about sexuality issues.
    • Of course, The Unknown Collective’s The Unknown, which greatly influenced how I both read and write hypertext, and my aesthetic vision for hypertext fiction.
    • Derik Badman’s, who I met on a Buffy The Vampire Slayer listserv, writing about constraints at the time I was writing War Prayers inspired me to try to write three hundred word, exact, entries.
    • Although offline, Rettberg and Nick Montfort’s sticker novel Implementation was paradoxically what made me create a blog to document War Prayers.  I had to get my words onto a screen somewhere.  I even created a few summary stickers, one of which still is on a wall at The Richard Stockton College Of New Jersey underneath an Implementation sticker.

    Fall 2007 Annotated Symposium Notes

    I have created an annotated version of my presentation at Hypothesis?, the first ever Monmouth University English program symposium (which I organized with Toni Magyar). My presentation was titled Remixing The Canon: Electronic Literature & Distributed Narratives. After defining and offering examples of various forms of New Media and electronic literature I discussed the most recent evolutions in Barthes’ writerly text, including what Jill Walker-Rettberg has termed distributed narratives. I call for a look at “remixing” the canon to be more inclusive of electronic literature due to their often literary tone. The primaries examples I use comes from authors like Caitlin Fisher, Scott Rettberg, Nick Montfort, and Shelley Jackson. (PDF)

    Position Paper #8

    William P. Wend
    Position Paper #8
    Dr. Rettberg
    4/2/06

        Jesper Juul's, in his article Introduction To Game Time, begins by stating that there hasn't been much discussion of theory of time in games.  Juul argues that games “engage in a kind of pretense play” (Juul 131).  By this Juul means that the player is playing as two different persona: the gamer plays as themselves and as someone in the world the game being played resides in.  This is what Juul calls game time.  Game time can be described further as “a duality of play timei and event timeii” (131).  Play time and event time, Juul continues, have a different relationship in different kinds of games.  An action game like Contra takes place in real time.  Strategy games, like Axis & Allies, and Simulation games, like Sim City, often speed up time or allow the player to change the speed of time or stop it all together. In Final Fantasy Tactics a battle will continue to happen but wait until the player inputs commands for his soldiers to proceed. While waiting, rain will continue to fall, players will move in place, and time will not pass even though there is still action on the screen.

        The player, Juul argues, takes on the duel role he refers to when discussing pretense play.  Juul uses the example of Tomb Raider.  When playing Tomb Raider, the gamer is hitting X, square, and the other buttons on the Playstation controller but they are also moving Lara Croft across the screen while doing so.  This is, according to Juul, a much more direct interaction than how a reader would interact with a text or a viewer would watch a DVD. 

        Juul continues by discussing how game time can be used to examine the history of a game.  Adventures games allow the gamer to explore a world in a “coherent” time (132). An action game like Contra allows the gamer to move from levels, or worlds, that aren't connected to the next level in various ways. 

        In the next part of Juul's essay he explicates the differences between play time and event time. Play time “denotes the time span taken to play a game” (132). In a game like Tetris, Juul argues, time moves forward in a straight line.  Event time can be described as the duel role the game takes on while playing a game.  The gamer is “themself” and Lara Croft at the same time.  When the gamer hits X on their controller Ms. Croft reacts on the screen in another world taking place at the same time. 

        Not all games have only play time or event time.  Juul notes that Sim City has both play time and event time.  When I play Sim City on my Super Nintendo a series of commercial buildings are built instantly. Within minutes businesses move in, leave, and build bigger, more powerful, businesses.  While only a minute or two has passed in the gamer's world, in the city created for Sim City weeks or months, depending on the speed of time change the gamer has set, have passed. 

        Juul describes play and event time's relationship as “mapping” (134).  The gamer's input are projected into the world in which the game takes place.  When I push A on my Super Nintendo controller a commercial area is placed on the screen.  This happens in both the “now” which takes place in my world and the “now” that takes place in the world of my created city.  In Sim City, as noted before, I choose how play and event time relate to each other by picking how fast or slow time progresses.  I choose how quickly a game maps to event time. 

        Juul's theories about game time can also be applied to literature as well.  When discussing pretense play I have to disagree with Juul about the lack of direct interaction while reading a text.  While sitting on your bed reading Harry Potter isn't all that interactive, hypertext fiction and other forms of hypertext are.  When reading These Waves Of Girls the reading is directly interacting with the text in front of them. The reader reads a page, but then the story does not progress until they click on another link to move to more of the story.  In essence, this is much like the rain continuing to fall in Final Fantasy Tactics.  The story is paused until the reader, or gamer, decides what their next move, whether using a spell or clicking a link, is. 

        Literature can progress at the same elongated speed described from Sim City.  If the reader is reading Piers Anthony's For Love Of Evil, which takes place over about 800 years or so, time moves at the whim of the author.  However, time can also move quickly if the reader reads the entire book in one sitting, or slowly if over a bunch of sittings. The reader cannot, however, change the actual time within the book. 

        Mapping also takes place when reading.  When reading interactive fiction like Book & Volume the reader types in a command.  She inputs “walk north.” Her typing happens in real time alongside the action on the screen, where the user controlled character in the game walks south towards a Starbucks. 

        Games like Contra, which allow the gamer to move from level to level that are barely or not at all related, don't have a lot to do with anything literary. It could be argued, potentially, that Contra is much like a series of non-related short stories, like Jorge Luis Borges' Labyrinths.  Borges' short stories take place in starkly different and vast worlds much like Contra's nine levels are very different.  I'm not so sure how good this argument is however. When I played Contra last night it didn't feel, even in the vaguest terms, literary. 

    i Play time is described by Juul as “the time the player takes to play” (131). 

    ii Event time is described by Juul as “the time taken in the game world” (131).