Short Blog Post

Short Blog #8

DIGITAL LITERATURE: Combing through YouTube, Vimeo, and the Sea of Viral Videos

Digital poetry stands as a vehicle through which we are able to reach a more dynamic learning—it is a means for us to associate the words of works with images and sounds—that is depicted through another artist’s eyes, ears, and mind. In watching online videos of poets and artists, there are so many clips that we skip over because we don’t find them appealing from our subjective standpoint. When our subjective taste aligns with that of another artist, we are introduced to an entirely new means of thinking, as we are taught through digital poetics to align the words as a means to think in images.

I began research for this project by looking at the University of Buffalo’s E-poetry page to seek out featured artists that could most likely be found on other pages of the web. Occurring next month, the International Digital Language, Media, & Arts Festival is an artistic gathering within artists from around the world can share their most recent project concerning literature, media, and the arts. In looking at the featured artists that will be present at this year’s conference, I have chosen the following to share because they’re each unique in expressionism, yet, each can be categorized as educational in some way, shape, or form. Creativity within the digital space is omnipresent and stretches across continental boundaries, proving that technology is an outlet of expressionism that the future will certainly gain from. The following artists, each of different backgrounds, have participated in recent digital poetry conferences and their works will be presented in Buffalo this coming May:

Jhave, or David Jhave, is a is a polyartist/web-poet from Montreal that creates graphic designs and multimedia videos that depict the different uses of the  word and how it interacts with the digital form. His videos border on surreal as they feature both organic and inorganic materials through which poetry can be expressed on the digital palette. His site stands as a virtual portfolio of projects ranging from puns on popular culture to experimental forms of photography and video mutations of nature and humans, allowing for the imagination to take hold and witness what lies beneath a simple still image. I would argue that Jhave’s work has immeasurable cultural significance, as it re-situates what we regard as “normalcy” and demands that we look at the alternate ways of reading a text/image. Not only do we gain a better understanding of our place in global culture, but learn something new and are essentially inspired to take art one step further. His work truly proves that art is everywhere around us, and that art really can be composed of about anything.  Jhave is featured on Teletaxi, an international site responsive media art exhibition featured in Montreal taxicabs; you can find the video here, and, though it has no verbal narration, features how digital art can be viewed everywhere, even while functioning in the streets of reality.

Joan La Barbara is a conceptual artist, composer/performer/sound-artist who explores the human voice as a multi-faceted instrument expanding traditional boundaries, creating works for multiple voices, chamber ensembles, music theater, orchestra and interactive technology, developing a unique vocabulary of experimental and extended vocal techniques. La Barbara can be seen in live performances of traditional literature such as a recent show of Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, where she is accompanied by a symphonic orchestra whose sound is catered to her own.  Her work, like Jhave’s, toys breaks down the way in which we define sounds, causing us to think of how they are built from beginning to end note in a conceptual manner. Below you can find her work on a video that you probably watched at a young age– something that at the time of viewing, we never thought was considered to be “digital poetics”. I would argue that her work with phonetic sounds such as those within the below alphabet video could be categorized within digital poetics, as the phonetic sounds of the letters have an asymmetrical rhythm to them. Her video presentation is a spin-off of our traditional alphabet “song”, thus causing us to question our personal understanding of letters (both visually and audibly).

La Barbara’s work is extremely similar to musician Imogen Heap, as she uses a similar recording technique to play back the sounds she recorded just seconds prior. With technology, performing music no longer require extensive equipment and a massive entourage– one can record, play back, and record again, to create the utmost unbelievable sounds.

Judd Morrissey is a writer and code artist of works such as “The Precession,” “The Jew’s Daughter,” and “My Name is Captain, Captain.” He is a founding member of the Goat Island collective and artists in residence at the Hyde Park Center in Chicago. Morrissey’s work includes electronic literature, data poetics, and performances and installation, presenting to viewers a new medium through which the written word can be read interactively. In his work “The Jew’s Daughter” readers are given a puzzle through which a text can be read one page at a time, challenging them to rethink the way that a traditional book is formatted. In his current project “The Precession”, Morrissey plays with familiar images from internet pop-culture, as his ‘about’ page states the following quite eloquently: “I hope that you will pardon me for this unusual posture of sitting down during the presentation of what I have to say, but it makes it easier for me not to have to carry about 10 pounds of steel around the bottom of my legs... The Precession (2009 -) is a data-poetical new work-in-progress that mixes original writing, real-time twitter feed interruptions, and algorithmic composition in an evolving ecology.” The fascinating part to The Precession is the fact that he uses real-time feed interruptions, thus stating that his encoding has hacked into the present and allows for our everyday conversation to become a part of his art installation. The below video is a preview of The Precession in action.

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Alan Sondheim is a poet, critic, musician, video-maker, and theorist of cyberspace. His work The Internet Text is a continuous philosophical and artistic meditation on cyberspace, posted online since 1995. His critical work includes Being Online: Net Subjectivity and his most recent work of poetry is Deep Language. Sondheim’s page, when opened, looks like an outdated READ.ME file that when opened will spill open pages upon pages of HTML codex. However, this is not the case. Upon clicking each link, one sees poetry, a precursor message, an extremely digitally-structured video of contorted bodies moving at unbelievably quick rates in grotesque positions, or digitally contrived photos that your ordinary person would instantly associate with the Internet being part of outer-space and cyberspace. In reading the poetry that is hidden in this labyrinth, one has to understand what each file is by knowing the format in which photos (.jpeg), text (.docx or .txt) and videos (mp4) are saved. If one is unfamiliar with technological terminology such as this, their  blind navigation through the site will most likely teach them to read this, however, we can assume that Sondheim expects his readers to be current on such linguistics. When searching YouTube for Sondheim, one can see that he is highly involved in “Second Life”, a virtual video game; one can assume that much of his inspiration for artwork is derived from Second Life graphics, as his art closely follow that of the game.

In commencing  this project, I initially started at the Poetry Foundation’s YouTube profile page and found the channel of the Canadian small press, Poetry Is Dead Magazine. Though this page is relatively small, I thought the findings were interesting enough to share. Poetry Is Dead follows the Poetry Foundation Channel on YouTube, is friends with the Poetry Foundation on Facebook (PiD alone has 1,000 followers), and has a fan base of almost 2,000 followers on Twitter. On their Facebook, the profile states the following: “Poetry Is Dead Magazine is a semi-annual publication devoted to poetry and the lack thereof. We publish any form of poem that is intriguing, hilarious, ridiculous, inspiring, timely, unfortunate or provocative.” Simply put.

On PiD’s YouTube channel I found a series of interesting Bill Bissett interviews as well as a two-part documentary on the Canadian experimental poet that PiD had uploaded from a user by the name of Centralianwings who appears to be a large Bissett fan. Prior to this research, I was unfamiliar with Bissett’s work and after watching him speak, feel as if his poetry is that much more realistic. The film depicts his poetic style through visual shots of Bissett in the city, as well as a verbal soliloquy, of the poet himself, discussing existentialism and his role as a poet amongst the beatniks. One could argue that the videos display the zeitgeist surrounding Bissett’s work and life, as he was educated and lived in downtown Vancouver after moving from his homeland of Nova Scotia. Effective videos of digital poetry, such as this, allow the reader or viewer to engage in the subject’s life and get that much closer to understanding how the poet worked in their surroundings.

Short Blog #7

I began this project with hopes of trailing slightly away from researching only within Facebook and, thus, started searching profiles through Twitter. Upon Twitter, longtime followers and advocates can be traced more easily than within Facebook communities, as people post, reply, or retweet statements, publications, features, and networks within their short and concise, 140 character tweets. Through hashtags (#helpful), which allow people to follow certain topics that are currently trending, we are able to follow specifically what we want. Twitter gives us a full display of each profile’s tweets, including an archive of past tweets, thus offering the “what you see is what you get” mentality of a no hidden attachment sign-up. On Facebook, it’s often irritating to “like” something or befriend a page  that, once you sign up, you are sent an eyesore of event invites to places that you’d never go to, let alone never heard of. This said, even though Twitter is a bit harder to maneuver and lacks the visual appeal of seeing familiar faces upon Facebook, I feel that it offers just as much as the notorious Book, as news becomes plainly stated…or is this a counterargument to my previous post, and is Twitter part of why humans are becoming less “literary”?

To further explore Twitter’s networked connections I began by looking at the Poetry Foundation’s Twitter, which currently has 13,078 followers. The Poetry Foundation is a highly extensive site that offers information about the poetry culture in primarily the Western World. The site offers articles, news, book reviews (offering lists of the top five best sellers in categories such as contemporary, anthology, children’s literature, and small press titles), and links to poetry resources, national programs (including Poetry Out Loud), and a blog (Harriet the Blog) that features articles concerning the literary world of poetics. Founded in 2003, the Poetry Foundation website came out of the Modern Poetry Association (founded in 1941), and was able to expand due to what they state on their “About” page as being a “large gift” (what I assume to be a donation) from a woman by the name of Ruth Lily, and states that they stand as a 501c3 foundation that accepts donations in order to progress the literary and poetic culture, everywhere. They further that they wish to shift the view of poetry from being a marginal view in today’s culture, stating, “the Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry”. The masthead of the site consists of over fifteen individuals, and invites writers from everywhere to contribute (in perusing I found CU’s own Julie Carr as a contributor). The Poetry Foundation is planning on entering the “real world” with the advent of a new building in downtown Chicago which plans to open in June of this year. As for their involvement in the digital community, the Poetry Foundation is highly active on Twitter (tweeting 20 times only yesterday), and has a fan base of 21,360 people on Facebook. The most recent tweets include promotion of the site itself, and are links to recently published articles in so that it’s followers are currently up to date.

The Poetry Foundation follows Writing Women, which spotlights roles of women in the literary world, past and present. Writing Women’s Twitter page has a following of 2,926 individuals (the large majority of them most likely being women), all of which the profile actively engages with in consistent tweets (tweeting 8 times yesterday). Most recent tweets include “Where do your Good Will donations really go?”, with an attached article and slide show concerning the beneficiaries of our donations, and a second tweet regards an article entitled, “Deliver Me From Filmmaking”, a memoir featured on talkingwriting.com. With a mission statement of “good writing requires much more than physical strength” upon the top of their profile, Writing Women unfortunately does not have a link to a personal website (and they’re unsearchable on Google); instead, they offer a link to Writing in Public’s website which they state that they are affiliated with. Though the authors remain anonymous, it appears that the genre of Writing Women’s tweets include topics surrounding women in any form of the finer arts, and spotlight the work that women writers have done in the past. Their profile photo is a painting of Virginia Woolf, thus sending the message that their inspiration comes from women, like Woolf, who write for truth and of “moments of being”.

Writing Women is followed by Poetry Out Loud, which is a national organization that is partners with the National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Foundation, and State Arts Agencies. Within Twitter, Poetry Out Loud has 2,075 followers, and a following of 1,683 fans upon Facebook. Poetry Out Loud appears to be very closely aligned with the Poetry Foundation, and one can understand the mission of both, when viewing Poetry Out Loud’s website, as both are striving to place poetry and writing on a level of  greater understanding and appreciation amongst the masses by promoting it through younger generations. When searching “Poetry Out Loud” upon YouTube, one can see the growing numbers of participants and views, as the program has finally dug its heels in. Starting with pilot programs in Washington DC and Chicago, Poetry Out Loud was begun in 2006 with tens of thousands of high school students participating. Finals occur every April, just in time for the school year to wrap up, giving students a chance to work on recitation for the year’s length.

From Poetry Out Loud, I found the New York Observer, who also follows the Poetry Foundation and subsequently follows many similar interests of mine concerning design schools on the East Coast. I constantly look at the Observer’s profile because it offers information about schools such as Pratt, Parsons, FIT, and RISD, and the upcoming seminars, projects, and courses being offered. After first following the Observer, however, I found that the actual website reads similarly to the New York Times, offering a myriad articles and topics from Media, to Culture, to Politics, to Technology. The page offers editorial articles from a staff of authorial specialists in each category, inviting the reader to return to the page each day for consistent news of the topic of their liking.

Writing in Public, which is followed by, and follows, the Poetry Foundation, is also followed by McSweeney’s as well as Poetry Out Loud. Their website states the following:The mission of Writing in Public is to promote the art of the essay across boundaries and borders, showcasing a diversity of innovative and thoughtful essays in English (or in translation) from independent, online journals around the world.” One can see where Writing Women, who appears to worship Virginia Woolf, queen of the essay, would be associated with Writing in Public, as many essays and research pieces by women today are in dire need of publication in the densely saturated world of publication. The page states that it supports creative ideas outside of mainstream media, which, plainly put, translates to mean that they think outside of the box. They have a submissions application, as well as a contact through which one can request to list their own journal, thus knitting a closer web of online publications and getting them all into the same tide-pool.

McSweeney’s is Dave Eggers’ publishing house. With almost 91 thousand followers, McSweeneys has made itself a cult-following for those who, like myself, are curious and perhaps obsessed with the creative outlets through which McSweeney’s promotes itself. Based out of San Francisco, McSweeney’s fan-base appears to be one that loves creative popular culture, as the profile is tweeting about once every five hours about topics of just that. Their most recent tweets include, “If the Beach Boys Had Lived In Great Britain” and “Mission Street Food”. Though many of the tweets of McSweeney’s appear to be far less literary than those of The Poetry Foundation or Margaret Atwood, the page’s following, which trails back to  a worship of Dave Eggers, himself, states that “literary” perhaps concerns more than what the traditional meaning originally strove for.

And, finally, is Margaret Atwood. Though she does not follow McSweeney’s (something which I find admirable), she does follow the Poetry Foundation, and is followed by ABOUTAWORD, Writing in Public, and the Poetry Foundation. Atwood has a following of 153,948 followers, and appears to actively engage with those who tweet to her, as at the current moment it appears that she is responding to them, one by one. Though she’s not in conversation with all of them, one can see the kind-heartedness of her engagement with the digital world, which makes me appreciate her presence upon Twitter that much more than pop icons who have publicists handling social media for them. Her page offers a link to her most recent book, Year of the Flood, which gives a breakdown of Atwood’s works, as well as her involvement elsewhere in the literary space. When looking at her Twitter profile, Atwood has mutual follow-ee’s to myself, as she also follows the grotesque writer Neil Gaiman. Her involvement within the literary community extends far past only highbrow literature, as her work also takes shelter in lesser-known presses such as Gigantic Sequins, or Writing Women’s archives.

Short Blog #6: FB Networks, Literature, and Art

In the following assessment, each of the presented blogs have Social Media outlets of Facebook, Twitter, or linked connections to blogs within their area of presented information. Whether it be photography, interior design, fashion design, music, online literary publications, or restaurant reviews, each site has accurately accessed outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to hone in on a particular demographic for proper advertising and expansion. Such networking allows each blog to publicize itself in a manner that reaches out to a desired demographic. Each site includes RSS feeds, a “follow on Twitter” link, as well a method of RSS subscription; each of these I suppose is now included as a widget on even the simplest blog templates with the currently exponentially rising technology of the “web”.

1. Trend Robot: Trend Robot is a music blog out of Denver that is run by a very ambitious individual who is highly involved in the Denver music scene. The site claims to use “First Amendment rights as a basis for reviewing and streaming music” (if you don’t remember this amendment you’d better go back to social studies…). The site’s mission is to promote artists, both local and further away from the Metro Area, who are up and coming and don’t have the budget to forgo the investment/expenses of marketing themselves, or are new enough that they are just coming onto the music scene. As the blog states, “All posts include links to respective iTunes store pages, Myspace pages, official artist pages and other sources of support.  Please support the artists that we review and critique…” one can tell that the forefront of the site’s mission is to get people listening to new, great music that this site feels is reputable enough to promote in such a forthright manner. Noting their mission, however, the staff at TrendRobot stands at a completely respectable and democratic stance in stating that “Any requests to remove music from the site will be respected immediately and without hesitation.” Not only does this statement place the staff in a position of absolute moral respect, however, proves that they DO listen to their readers, as many of us assume that the blogger will not, as it is a means for them to express their personal opinion and solely that. The blog is updated, at the very least, bi-weekly, and the posts are consistently professional, yet varying in content and not repetitive with an “insert artist here” format.  Each post offers a sample track of the band that is spotlighted, and TR’s author’s taste truly comes through in the style and genre of each song. TrendRobot’s Twitter is updated regularly, offering information on new album releases, upcoming show dates and venues, and selected playlist tracks. One of TR’s most recent tweets is a statement about starting a newsletter with promo downloads, MP3’s, and upcoming shows.  Further, TrendRobot’s Feed offers direct downloads of music files, so, if you subscribe, you can instantly access the link to download music if you don’t have the time to read. This blog is chalk-full of personality and a classy, yet simple, visual appeal; along with the site, TR’s Twitter is consistent with the blog’s tone, as one can see that quite a bit of thought has been put into both constructing the site, as well as properly marketing it.

2. Witness-This: I fell upon Witness-This when a familiar and local face was featured on their site and a friend posted the article on her Facebook. I clicked on the link and immediately fell in love with the site logo/title, as the graphics effect a powerful sense of ambition by the staff that read somewhere along the lines of change, progress, and current artistic endeavors in our culture; along with the title, the icon emphasizes something of the cosmos. Something empyreal. The site has a simple approach: along the left, a column with eight pages stands beneath the site logo. The eight pages include: Home, Art, Motion, Still, Style, Sound, The Streets, Genius, and Contact. Along the left, the feed of most recent posts scrolls to reveal Witness-This’s most recent literature. Like Trend Robot, Witness-This includes music coverage; however, the music coverage here stands on a much larger level as it covers albums outside of Denver and upcoming shows such as SXSW. Under each categorized page, as you can infer, the topics vary from fashion to photography, and the “Genius” category spotlights undeniably talented artists. Again, like TrendRobot, lesser-known but up and coming artists are spotlighted for their creativity and skill. Though Witness-This does not have a Twitter, they do have a Facebook page which one can “like” as well as share with their Facebook friends. The diversity of this page definitely makes it a note-worthy page, as the included art doesn’t follow your typical hipster’s graphic design.

3. The Fox Is Black: The Fox Is Black is the new project of Kitsune Noir’s Bobby Solomon. On  Twitter you can follow Solomon and his latest endeavors with The Fox Is Black, including new graphics features and websites– cool things for techy people. Solomon states in his bio that he started TFIB in 2007 as a means of sharing products and concepts that he came across. I thought this was such a great site when I discovered it as Kitsune Noir, for it shares art that people have done graphically– the sharing aspect of this field is so important, as it leads to inspired creativity amongst people everywhere. TFIB has five contributors, all living in different areas of the globe from Ireland to Australia to Mississippi, which really promotes the concept that Social Media is a unifying force of communication and sharing. The site includes a “Featured Projects” panel that offers the latest projects of Bobby and other artists. These projects include modern renditions of classic novel covers like Lord of the Flies or The Great Gatsby, a desktop wallpaper project that is unbelievably cool (you can download the wallpapers for free to support the artist of the one you like!), as well as mixtapes, film reviews, and most recently, a “countdown to Radiohead” wallpaper link in honor of their most recent album “The King of Limbs”. TFIB is associated closely with Notcot as both offer designs of artists near and far, accurately promoting their love for the fine arts; both can be found on Twitter and/or Facebook, offering many forms of connection.

4. McSweeney’s Quarterly: McSweeney’s ‘Concerns’ page opens with the following statement: “McSweeney’s began in 1998 as a literary journal that published only works rejected by other magazines.” Now publishing famous authors including Joyce Carol Oates, the site is set up similar to John Michael Rivera’s Shadowbox Magazine of which we saw in class, offering an archive of previous issues. Founded by Dave Eggers, the McSweeney’s Quarterly is an American independent publishing house out of San Francisco, CA and is set up in a fashion that I would argue is similar to that of The New Yorker with inclusions of unique issue cover artwork and featured writers/artists. Though not as incredible online and encouraged to see in real life for each article’s unique formatting, McSweeney’s is a grandiose publication, for it challenges the staff, writers, and readers boundaries of what they consider literature to be. Through this, the blog resituates the concept of the readerly-writerly relationship.  “Each issue of the quarterly is completely redesigned. There have been hardcovers and paperbacks, an issue with two spines, an issue with a magnetic binding, an issue that looked like a bundle of junk mail, and an issue that looked like a sweaty human head,” furthers the site’s Concerns page, and really, the level of artistic ability that they are reaching is absolutely stunning. Above, you can see the most recent issue’s formatting. You can follow McSweeney’s Quarterly on  Twitter and get updates on national education, artwork, current events, artwork, sales, and economics. The site also has a Facebook page that is “likable” and currently has 15,729 fans; along with all of these literary outlets that one can follow, McSweeney’s posts links about other literary outlets throughout the community (though posting and favored by many, the site’s page is not posting daily which I’m sure each fan would love if they did).

5. The Scout: I would argue that The Scout competes on a Junior Varsity level in comparison with the scholarship level ability of such blogs as the New York Times or the Huffington Post. What makes me laugh, though, is the fact that this site, along with Public School, have visual capabilities far beyond what the Huffington Post or Times sections are offering. What the latter two have to offer in terms of content, the former two sites, which most of you probably have never heard of, are wielding weapons of the highest skill in tricks of Javascript, CS5, and coding secrets. The Scout is a site full of a myriad departments of design categories such as art, media, technology, and crafts, and items of leisure in everyday life. The site’s content reminds me of a modernized Arts and Crafts movement that parallels back to the tactile designs from the late nineteenth century movement of art in the United States and parts of Western Europe. The site’s presence ties its digital demographic in a tight knit–creating a community of literary artists and modern expressionists of the digital medium. I started visiting this site out of curiosity of architectural design, and the site offers both current and historical trends of design functions in all sorts of design fields. What sets The Scout apart from your typical hipster art blog is the additional pages of Retail, Dining/Bars, Tours, Features, Videos, and Events in New York. The site offers links to RSS feed and subscriptions, as well as links to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

In looking at each of these sites, its interesting to try to hegemonically rank them in terms of the best or most efficient and effective. I would argue that of all of the above, McSweeney’s hits the closest home, for it appeals to me most from a literary standpoint. Yet, there are then the art blogs; if we read the art as literature in itself we can see that there is a great reservoir of depth to each of these, and within, say, the photos of the moonboards on the homepage of Witness-This, there exists an anthropological goldmine of revelation that humbles us as individuals; we reach a level where we all can relate to each photo–we all lust for summer rainstorms and the blistering rays of the sun right here and now, as we’re living on the dawn of springtime; we all look at the photo of the Japanese leisure-lovers sitting beneath a dock in sun-chairs that are three inches submerged in water and think of the Tsunami that tore all of that apart.

Something humane exists in every corner of the internet, as though we may be speaking different dialects of art or photo-speak, we all still endure the human experience alike, and are searching for the next thing to tickle our fancy in the infinity of outlets out there that may, or may not, be similar to our patterns of thought. As Jeremy Sarachan states in his chapter “Profile Picture, Right Here, Right Now” of D. E. Wittkower’s book Facebook and Philosophy, the punctum of a photograph, or, in this case, I stand to argue a blog’s visual appeal. Punctum, Wittkower states, is our “immediate focus: what strikes [us] about the photo at first glance, what emotional impact it makes, or what “sticks” with you” (Wittkower 52). As we experience a rush of emotions upon first viewing a site, we each experience individualized emotions, however, as stated above, these emotions are all connecting of the human experience, as our ethos, pathos, and logos come into play.

Also Noteworthy:

Smoke, Don’t Smoke: Another music blog similar to TrendRobot with the intention of sharing and exposing people to new, good, and amazing music.

Fecal Face: Fecal Face is awesome. Follow them on Twitter; you won’t be disappointed. The most absolute compilation of current art from grotesque to neo-post-modernist works, Fecal Face does it right from left to right, and top to bottom.

Public School: This site is not what you think. Believe it or not, it’s a blog based on fine arts, not the public school system in Austin, TX. The blog has a Twitter account that you can follow, as well as a Facebook page to share with friends.

Short Blog #5: Feed Them to the Wolves

Short Blog #5: Woolf, Wolf, and more Feminism

1. Blogging Woolf:  Virginia Woolf may have stolen my heart in a lesbian-continuum sort of way. She is the modern Sappho, and her diaphanous language is unrelentingly inspiring. A fellow WordPress site, Blogging Woolf is a wonderful blog that unites Woolf fanatics from the UK to the USA. The headline reads, “Focusing on Virginia Woolf and her circle, past and present” and is quoted as “mixing laughter and tears”. I fully understand that this suggestion is relatively nerdy, yet, with all of you who listed Mrs. Dalloway as a “must read”, you know why this site exists. There is so much that could go into a cult solely centered upon Virginia Woolf. The site features current Woolf projects, references throughout the online community, as well as events in the real-life world concerning modernist literature.

2. The Huffington Post and Naomi Wolf:  Naomi Wolf is both a feminist and political theorist who recently published the a book entitled The End of America. She is allegedly categorized as a third-wave feminist, as she stands as a progressive liberal concerned with the current status of American nationalism. I recently read this book and found it hauntingly supported by facts of reality…it really makes you think. Within her blog, Wolf discusses current events (not only politics but facts that any literary individual would find interesting) such as Sundance, the status of editorial journalism, banking, and issues concerning women in media. Her writing is concise yet brilliantly contrived, informing her readers on global issues without sounding pretentious. Below is a video of her discussing the theory within The End of America.

3: Feministing: I came across this blog when doing research for a paper in a Feminist course and thought, though at times comical, that each artical held excellent points referencing the woman’s place in society today that relate to any-aged woman from teens to post-menopause. Not concerned with bra-burning as you male readers may conclusively jump, writers of Feministing get down to the realistic details of everyday life and how sexism is still present in 2011. As quoted by takepart.com, “Feministing provides a platform for us to comment, analyze and influence.”

Short Blog #4: The Literary Blog Analysis

After hours of searching for a discussion-worthy blog, I can’t say that I’ve hit the spot of my hunger. Today, of all days, is Valentine’s Day; everyone, even the finest literary mogul, is posting either the stinkiest of gruyere-filled  quotes or hate mail to Saint Valentine himself. Sifting through this selection, as well as a myriad of DIY baking or craft blogs, I’ve noticed that not too many blogs actually contain insightful material worth reading that is comprehensible and formally constructed; I made it through about five blogs that actually had an introduction that made me read past the first two sentences without feeling that the reader was either pretentiously condescending or  had no idea what they were talking about. Where are you non-hipster literary blog with current events, fine arts, and scholarly material? Are you out there? I can’t find you! …And  so on goes the typical narcissistic, parasitic, and pointless blogger rant, however, navigating the internet is frustrating.  In her book Blog Theory, Jodi Dean relays an account of a blogger who states, “hardly a day goes by without some intellectual or journalist or other member of the only-our opinion-counts brigade writing something about how awful, stupid, dumb, rude, or otherwise unacceptable blogs are. My unwanted advice to such writers is that if blogs are really as uncaptivating as you keep saying, and are as rapidly on their way to oblivion as you keep breathlessley announcing, then stop writing about them” (37). And they’re right… why are all of us blogging, in rants of the highest verbosity, about such things that we find pointless? Perhaps the blog is dead to those who were on the blogger bandwagon back in 2005,  however, the majority of the population is just now joining the brigade and are just now experiencing this cyber world of over 70 million internet blogs, and have no idea where to navigate because many of the url’s are dead.

All of this makes me realize how much I’ve taken the internet for granted, because really, blogging is so difficult to do when attempting to post consistently well-composed notes of perceptive insight. It’s just way too easy to post simply a series of photos that mesh with their colors, or recipes that the pallet finds delectable when paired with a glass of red from Rioja. However, these are helpful, inspirational, appropriate in the right circumstance, but not really helpful when looking to critique. Is the blog not a safe neighborhood for the lit major? Do we become lost in the wordless format?

To engage viewers that are tuning-in late on the story, news channels or websites keep their story headlines to the point and brief, in order to keep the blog ordered and express a point. Consistency and well-labeled headlines are so helpful to readers, as the HTML coding and layouts of typical blogs are absolutely confusing to a new-comer, especially if the site is creatively contrived. A “blog-worthy” blog should be up-to-date, posting consistently (I would argue at the very least once a week. . . maybe once a month if the content is actually that worth reading), and full of discourse that offers a dialectic between photos and prose. In searching for sites within this assignment I was continually frustrated to open an incredible website to find it only a tease, as the author stopped posting in June 2008 (yet really, was that not when the concept of the blog peaked and died out?) or didn’t have anything to say as to why they loved their chosen photos labeled “I love these shoes”– because really, I love those Rachel Comey shoes too, yet readers want to know why you do and what else you like. Maybe though, that is what blogging has come to; seeing that the blogosphere is oversaturated with opinion-based blogs, maybe people that are still posting, our non-fair-weather bloggers, see no point in wasting time writing literature because there’s a slim chance that someone will find it outside of StumbleUpon. So if you’re reading this, I owe you quite a thank you for spending your time here. Below are a couple of literary-based blogs that I found interesting in my quest for Blogalot’s next monarch; hopefully you find insight in them as well.

The site that I felt most inclined to discuss is a collective of fashion critics Eric Wilson, Stuart Emmrich, Cathy Horyn, and Ruth La Ferla. Their blog, as mentioned on the Zeitgeist Message Board, is called ‘On the Runway’ . Though not as literary-focused as many authorial blogs that surround the literary world, I would argue that this editorial blog is something entirely competent in that realm, as the information that is presented can be regarded as a current event and is written by literary scholars. Standing as part of the New York Times ‘Style’ section online, this blog is absolutely applaudable for its chic and simplistic appearance that has minimal distractions of cluttered advertisements or superfluous photos. Your attention is drawn, after the right-column advertisement, directly to the text headlines, as the text takes up at least 75% of the page. Through the use of exquisitely minimalistic visual aide, accurate web links, historical accounts of fashion productions in years passed, designer interviews, and a most professional (yet not condescending) discourse, the journalists of On The Runway have created a truly monolithic work that accurately chronicles Fashion Week for attendees and those who missed the show. With a journalistic staff comprised of both men and women, there exists no biases in published content towards menswear or womens wear, as both sexes of writers cover both sexes of  designers and their collections. The language is not elevated to levels incomprehensible to your average reader; the dialogue is sophisticated and engages in sartorial history both synchronically and diachronically; the authors draw threads between designers and seasonal trends, as well as social trends, internationally; and finally, the images offered within each article are straight from a fashion photographer on-staff and on-site at each of the fashion shows/events. Thus, all of the news being reported is entirely first-hand.

Another note-worthy blog is that of Mark Sarvas entitled The Elegant Variation. An interesting guy. Directly above the blog title, there are reviews of Sarvas’ prose, both good and bad. NPR is quoted stating, “really brave. . . or really stupid”, which to me really sums up this entire media outlet. Upon opening the site today, the first post’s headline reads (in all caps, mind you, HE IS SHOUTING THIS!) “Dale Peck is the worst critic of his generation.” Pesonally I do not know Dale Peck, however, if I were Dale Peck, I’d be highly offended, as a generation typically spans more than ten years making this quite an insult. So, as NPR states, this is a very brave move on Sarvas’ part, yet at the same time it could come back and bite him in the ass. I suppose looking at Chelsea Handler though, her brutal honesty has created quite a reputation. In terms of visual appeal, Sarvas’ blog is mildly weak. The title, “The Elegant Variation” is wildly creative, teeming with an authoritative, professional, and curious aesthetic; yet the background color comes off bland and doesn’t help the images, thus turning your mind to think that the writing had better be really good. His chosen colors, an olive green background with white typeface and mustardy/butternut-colored links is less than refreshing– when looking at it, it seems outdated, or appears the way a lilikoi does when being cut open after hours of rotting on the side of the road in the humidity of summertime. Though visually lacking and slightly offensive, Sarvas DOES cover a more literary topic than the NYTimes blog: book reviews, critiques, and sneek peaks. His blogroll, consisting of publishing houses and and presses is an abundant offering to visitors of the site, and his book reviews are honest and engaging and one can see why his blog has placed him atop Forbe’s Magazine’s top 10 blogs lists. Though literary, parts of his blog do digress to the happenings in his home and everyday life, something I believe that many bloggers ought to avoid, unless their blog surrounds what they do in their home or personal lives. Perhaps though, that comes with the territory of the blog, making the blog a window to their personality, as it is a forging of the Appoline and Dionysian, order and chaos, or the organic of classic literature and the word with the inorganic of cyberspace.

Short Blog #3: Five Authors You Should Read and Why

I feel that the titles we each list as “must-read” books are quite depictive of who we are as people in terms of taste and preference of style and genre within their subjectivity. I feel as if one asserts themselves within such an assignment by presenting what they find to be the “greatest works of fiction. . .ever created.” Yet, I want foremost to argue that no text can be regarded as “the greatest”, for, with any book, there exist a myriad of reasons as to why it is a profound work and imperative to the modernist canon; one cannot forget that an answer to such a question of such “greatness” is subjectively derived. Since modernism in itself is arguably subjective, one must choose a path at the road’s sunny fork, otherwise,  floundering beneath the two sides arrives at nothing but sunburn and countless comparisons of “greatness”. So, how does one choose? I couldn’t tell you. Here is a list of a few works that came to mind most immediately, and if I think of better suited or more fitting authors I’ll certainly add them.

Jonathan Safran Foer: “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly”.  I first read this short story in the New Yorker while riding the Bart home from Berkeley last summer. It’s absolutely brilliant and made the ride a lot less monotonous that day. Foer has an incredibly endearing quality to his writing that appears all too realistic while you’re reading it. The New Yorker included Foer as one of their chosen 20 authors under the age of 40, describing his piece as “Short story, told in non-sequiturs, about a love affair, marriage, and parenthood” however I feel that this description gives you no insight as to how deeply relatable this story is in terms of a painful love for another. His other popular works, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close are also something to dabble in, as Foer’s descriptions are vast and brightly curious, awakening within the reader an excitement that feels as if his descriptions are dancing out as the pages are turned.

Thomas Pynchon: Zak Smith illustrated each of the pages of Gravity’s Rainbow. Here is the site for Smith’s index. something that each and every one of you should take a peek at. Pynchon, like Foer, has beautifully engaging descriptions within his writing– something that Smith’s illustrations are based off of. Smith took the most resilient line from each page of Pynchon’s book and illustrated, to the best of his ability, what he thought each page would visually be represented as. Gravity’s Rainbow is considered a post-modernist novel as it addresses aspects of warfare, as well as breaking down norms of Western culture. The construction of the novel, though starkly different, reminds me of the creative endeavor of working against the grain of literary structure within Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves and/or David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. (Wallace is another author worth noting, as his book Brief Interviews With Hideous Men is absolutely hilarious.) Within Pynchon’s text, there exists a series of mathematical levels as well as a lot of superstitious mythology.

Machado de Assis: Dom Casmurro. I read this text in a modern fiction course last semester and fell head over heels in love with it. Within the text there exists a familiar heartbreak and fleeting yet returning beauty of memory of a lost love. One can only feel the sincerity in his memoirs, a hope to want to trust his writing as unadulterated honesty. After reading you think, “This is candid; luminous.” Originally written in Portuguese, the book has recently reappeared after being out of print and one could argue it a blessing. Assis writes of protagonist Bentinho who narrates the book in first person. Within Bentinho’s narrative, he questions the guilt of a lost lover and whether or not she was faithful to him. The book has incredible illusions to canonical works, historical events, and minor details such as an opera being like the colletive work of God and Satan. If you have time and enjoy love stories, read this along with Foer.

James Joyce’s: Ulysses. The staccato of discourse and oscillation of consciousness within Joyce’s text, and his stylistic rendition of The Odyssey as alluding to the corporeal self is an absolutely creative success. If you can, read this with Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and look for the striking parallels between the two modernist works. Both beautifully contrived from setting to the sartorial, Joyce effectively hearkens back to the human experience of truth and consciousness (something that Woolf does valiantly embody) that renders Ulysses a masterpiece for more reasons than simply constructing an eight-hundred page epic. Within the text, Joyce structures his text after Homer’s The Odyssey, a text that all of us know or are familiar with. This book is arguably comparable to Dom Casmurro, as each of these texts stress the anxiety of time upon the artist and individual, the importance of coherency of both a state conscious and subconscious thought, the role of the individual within a community, and the modernist ideal of looking at the past through the present to the future. Joyce regards the fragmentation of the consciousness and how the emergence of modernist thought affected society and culture at the time. The text swims against the grain of basic traditional values, constructing, as Freud did, that the unconscious works as a language in itself that, at times, converges with the conscious and can create both moments of extreme epiphany and despair.

Gertrude Stein: Three Lives. Gertrude Stein is an author that everyone should read just to understand the modernist movement of art and literature. Associated closely with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Stein embodies modernism down to the marrow of the bone with her conception of no man being ahead of his time but merely “of the times”.

Flannery O’Connor: Grotesquely creative.

Joyce Carol Oates: “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Oates is a goddess of rhetoric. Not only is this story dedicated and allusive to the lyrics of Bob Dylan, it has an incredibly interwoven structure that stands upon a foundation of a particular classical allusion within the title in reference to ancient feminism that even a misogynist would argue to be brilliant.

Octavio Paz: ” The Blue Bouquet” (1949).

Short Blog #2: Analysis of a Prose-Based Blog

Foremost, I want to pose a question as to what categorizes a prose-based blog from a photo-journal. As with the post-modernist ideal of art, can we not claim that many visual artists are essentially creating prose within their visual projects? Can we not argue that Scott Schuman’s http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/ is a site full of prose-based sartorial criticism? Though short-winded in verbosity, I stand to argue that The Sartorialist is a website of vast depth and critique that analyzes a universal characteristic of mankind: personal expression through garment presentation. Schuman accompanies exquisite photos of ordinary international citizens with beautiful anecdotes of the way we, as humans, dress and express ourselves within our surroundings. Fashion design and presentation is considered a visual and tacit art which, by definition, aligns itself within the umbrella term of “Fine Arts” that is also inclusitory of poetry, prose, photography, painting, digital media, etc. If we are to look at these photos in a chronicalized order, do we not take something with us? A better understanding of self-representation and self-awareness over time or within the past five years of style? Though relatively recent in terms of origin, The Sartorialist, if continued over time, could visually teach us the evolution of stylistic trends as rooted from social and political happenings within our global culture. For example, how did we get from punk to grunge? What is the significance of veiling in the East (pre and post Reza Shah)  and how has that evolved through modernism, here in the West?

A friend recently showed me this absolutely amazing and wonderful website called cardboardgods.net. The writer of this blog, Josh Wilker, has a goldmine of baseball knowledge that is arguably competitive with the years and years of first-hand game viewing that your grandpa spent along the third-base line of Giants, Athletics, Rockies, Mets,or Yankees games. You get the point. Wilker chronicles his site by team name and those players who played for each team…like Ted Simmons . . . you have to love Ted Simmons and his unyeilding love for antique furniture. Not only did he have a batting average of .332 and catch for the Cardinals but in an interview after a tedious game that followed an 11th inning win, all he wanted to discuss was furniture and decor. (read this: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1093723/index.htm) Wilker accurately depicts each and every player in a way that ESPN can’t: his included anecdotes of everyday life, breaks down typical baseball discourse, and shows even a sports-resistant citizen that baseball is something that is part of the American spirit.

Finally, I want to spotlight a couple of music blogs that are similar to the structure of The Sartorialist but include more dialogue. I’m sure you’ve all heard of Pitchfork Media (http://pitchfork.com/), a music blog that your average hipster goes ga-ga over and tailors their entire iTunes library to their “Best New Tracks” list. Though a little trendy, Pitchfork has great commentary, comparisons to other artists and albums, and a surprisingly accurate grading scale of new releases. Similar to Pitchfork, yet really, its not, Funky16Corners (http://funky16corners.wordpress.com/) is a blog-based music compilation of soul and funk artists from vault of bygone eras. Started in June 2006, the blog offers playlists of hard-to-find artists whose records sound exquisite on vinyl.

I took a course on Grotesque fiction last year and some of the short stories that we read were absolutely amazing! Check out our collective prose-based blog to read story analysis and art critiques here: http://summergrotesque.wordpress.com/.

Some more literary-based and authorial blogs also worth checking out:

Margaret Atwood: http://marg09.wordpress.com/ (Such a goddess)

Jenny Boully: http://jennyboully.blogspot.com/ (Upcoming innovation)

Mark Frutkin: http://markfrutkin.blogspot.com/ (Canadian)

Neil Gaiman: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/ (Grotesque writer)

Short Blog: Digital Poet Caterina Davinio

In researching digital poetics for this assignment, I found some interesting work by Italian poet Caterina Davinio that shows the different approaches to digital poetry and media. Though Davinio’s style of art isn’t exactly my taste, the first video shows the multitude of layers that a piece of work can embody. Assuming that digital poetry is really a type of fiction (my apologies if that sounds ignorant but I’m still semi-unfamiliar with the medium!), one could compare her work (for example, the first video i’ve listed) to something like that of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; each art piece contains a layering of perspective that starts with the artist (Davinio and Conrad) and trickles down to the viewer, and the middle portion between artist/author and viewer/reader is retold by either Marlow or Davinio’s avatar cyber character. The second video I’ve listed appears more along the lines of what I would categorize digital poetry to be. We see mixed mediums, symbols in the place of language, a myriad sounds that conflict or align, etc. etc. If you further research Davinio, a lot of her work is dedicated to luxury cars like Ferrari and Jaguar. Though these videos are in Italian, the language barrier actually helped me understand the many aspects to the poem, as words became noise and I was able to better identify all of her included sounds without getting lost in a poem of familiar language. If that makes sense?

Below are two other videos that I found rather innovative to the world of experimental film. The first is from theberrics.com and is a narrative of a skateboarder’s passion for his sport; though the narrative is rather consuming of the video as a whole, I thought that the way in which the editor includes the flames was pretty cool. As for the second video, Lily Donaldson’s father created a video of the model and her hair. Yes, it sounds absolutely absurd, however, his editing is brilliant as it is slowed down to a humanly impossible speed and each lock is separated in a really surreal way. Each video is interesting in that it takes something simple from daily life and magnifies the movement or friction from it in a really unique way. That’s all, hope you enjoy!

The Berrics: http://theberrics.com/dailyopspost.php?postid=2134 (there’s an ad at the beginning so hold out for the video!)

Lily Donaldson:

Short Blog #1: Interacting With the Digital Community: An Internet Nihilist’s Nightmare

As much as I hate to admit it, I am a creature of extreme habituality and fear change like the apocalypse. I know that the Internet is a signifier of modernity and synonymous with “the future”; I know that smart-phones are our future, and that they predict that we will all carry some sort of hand-held hard-drive that can make/take calls and translate Dutch to Mandarin within the next fifty years of our lives. But, for some reason, I cannot cope with the concept of cyberspace and I think that it has something to do with the intangibility of it all. My day is an eternal return of routine and the thought of checking forms of Internet communication on top of ritual sounds horrifically distracting yet so tempting all at once. I can’t help but think of all of the fascinating people out there that are interested in the same things I am. Perhaps I am one of those material-modernists that Virginia Woolf complained of in A Sketch of the Past. Yet, today, is that not an oxymoron, as today’s “modern” is so closely aligned with sustainability or finding stability without consumption of materials? Perhaps I am merely a wistful romantic. I still check books out from the library because I like the way they smell, and the thought of all of the people who have had them on their nightstand, travel bag, on the bus/subway, or read them to children or lovers. I love hand-writing letters, cards, or notes to friends in the same city—what is more exciting than to receive something in the mail? I subscribe to the New Yorker and still get the NYTimes Sunday edition in the mail because there is something endearing about combing through five hundred pages of random articles every week. I’m sorry, trees, but I love the smell of newsprint.

This morning I woke up with 27 emails from Twitter on my beloved Blackberry that now feels tainted with commercial spam. All I could think upon opening them was,  “Well, that was smart. Pandora’s Box has been unearthed. Might as well get back on that god-for-saken Gilt website that sent you 12 emails a day about sales that nobody can afford. I’ve now given in to the concept of the “blog”. I now have a Twitter account, a Facebook account, and a Google reader. I now have two email accounts am getting an unnerving number of updates because I don’t exactly know how to turn them off and am too lazy to do so, because how often will I really be checking all of these? Who are you @thefashionwitch and @AltsoundsFeed1? Why are you following me? I’ve only “Tweeted” five times… about nothing at that. Are you a spy? Are you going to come to my house? Oh my god my phone line is probably tapped right now, can you see me right now?”

I always avoided digital communication because verbal discourse has always held a place in my heart. I’ve always preferred calling friends over texting, and detested email communication. For some reason it just didn’t feel real. I had a Facebook in high school but had deactivated it up until the first of this year, as friends wanted photos from the adventures of the year passed. Upon deleting it I instantly remembered why I didn’t have it in the first place–that unspoken competition and ability to make anyone feel insecure in the world of Facebook has an addicting quality, and who REALLY knows all of their 700 friends? I figured why not talk to those most important to you in person?

I guess my main apprehension with Internet communication is that it seems intangible and places a strong threat of extinction upon the old trades of tactile communication. Upon a recent vacation to the tropics, for every ten readers that I encountered, at least a good half of them were reading on either an iPad, iphone, or Kindle. Of the remaining five, two were reading John Grisham novels, two were reading magazines, and only 1/10 of the entire lot was reading classic, mind you, not commercial, fiction. I think I saw one book, out of two weeks amongst strangers, that could be considered pertinent to the literary canon.

Further, my fear rests upon the safety of the disclosure of information online– does such cyberspace involvement mean all of our privacy has been stripped, or is such involvement merely a means to survival in today’s post-modern (or are we post-post-modern?) society of internet lives? Because really, what private information is exposed, when everyone is offering up the same thing and your common web-surfer can’t trace an IP address to save his life.

Though digital communication is relatively intimidating, it has so many advantages of mixing media to create new art forms (ex. Digital poetry), co-branding communication, etc. Large sites like Cyanatrendland or style.com all have the ability to bring together different forms of the fine arts and open doors to combining them to bring ideas together. Pre-internet, the global population was uneducated in terms of cultural trends and political happenings in other countries. For example, the Japanese can learn about Spanish trends, the French about the Argentine, and Indians about Russians. There is so much to explore in this alternative world of communication and once we wade through the muck of getting started, it really is a brilliant way to unite individuals who are thousands of miles apart.