[-empyre-] Introduction--Deena

Deena Larsen deenalarsen at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 17 14:23:31 EST 2012


For some reason, I have not gotten the empyre list today. So this is blind, and I apologize. I look forward to catching up.  THis is just a bit of background--I'll ask more provocative questions tomorrow...

Basically, I've spent my writing career exploiting the semantic possibilities inherent in the electronic media.  There are concepts you can convey online that you can not in print (and my original definition of electronic literature was anything you simply can not print out).  (Regardless of your politics, a friend just showed me a great example of this--http://www.romneytaxplan.com/ provides its point by a nifty little flash code...which you can't print out. )  My textbook, Fun da Mentals http://deenalarsen.net/fundamentals/ has better examples of how these electronic crevices can serve as rhetorical devices.

Before the net in 1987 - 1991, I wanted to show how connections, just the links themselves, conveyed meaning--including pain and suffering, pleasure and secrets.  I used Hypercard to develop links and navigation for Marble Springs (and I had to program the links--as these were not common objects at the time.)  I have now rendered Marble Springs as a wiki (http://marblesprings.wikidot.com/).  But it is in the links themselves, the footnotes, the "graphic oddments" that the real meaning of the work lurks. For example, the whole story of the pain of incest is contained in a footnote in Zandra Miller's story: http://marblesprings.wikidot.com/humans:zandra-miller ( Boil a double handful of leaf sage with one-half teaspoon of salt and 
sulphur in one quart water. Strain into a large bottle, add as much 
quinine as you can hold on a knife blade, five cents worth of bay rum, 
and ten cents worth of witch hazel. Apply to the scalp nightly with 
vigor.Asa Miller’s contribution to the Caller, August 24, 1884.)  and to the overt and covert links to Doc Nancy, who in turn has her own secret store of pain.   You can also trace Asa Miller's obsession/fetish with hair to three generations of his family and the Miller's obsession with other secrets to his wife, Abigail... and the web then becomes a complex reflection of life...

I wanted Marble Springs to be a place where people could explore and could tell their own secrets, and Robert Lavett Smith, a wonderful poet, traced some of the secret silent histories and added his own take to the misery in Chokecherry Winehttp://marblesprings.wikidot.com/meta:chokecherries. 

There is a voice in the wine,
as pervasive as sadness or sin.
It runs beneath the unpaved streets,
buried deep in the ancient
marble bones of the earth. . . .

Thus the work is a complex and subtle exploration of pain--and uses links, navigation, etc. to explore the unsaid and unsayable. In MS 3.0, I also used tags to show how pain and suffering can be connected.  But I tried to balance pain with light--as despair has as many entries as love--for life is not always pain and suffering, but encompasses a wide range of emotions. 

I've done similar things with all the other electronic literature I've written (see deenalarsen.net for a pretty comprehensive listing... I keep losing things to archaic computers and bad data disks, but ahhh well... that is yet another level of pain and suffering on the net!)

My current project, Chronic, actually is based on paper--as now I am finding that electronics are not enough to convey emotion.  Chronic is a work MaJe, my wife, helped me start. On her deathbed, she charged me with finishing it. (She also charged me with getting Marble Springs 3.0 done--the woman was a superb emotional blackmailer and an accomplished gogetter!)

Anyway, Chronic is about how I approach electronic literature, but it is also a memoir, detailing the pain in my life, from grappling with crippling pain since I was a baby, to  collapsing into a wheelchair, to meeting and losing the soul of my life. Chronic is hand written in a symbolic script and in English--where each letter also carries a semantic meaning ("l"s can be written to symbolize love or hate; "d"s can be written to show distance or nearness;"e"s show past, present , future, and time out of time, etc. )  

Julianne Chatelain is helping me edit this and get it from paper to people. We are now conducting a usability test for this work, as the next step is to determine the most appropriate app and the way to combine the reality of paper with the virtuality of the net or iphone or...

So, if you want to help with this (or just see what I am talking about, please send me your email and I'll get you that usability test). 

Deena Larsen

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