Deformations of the Deformed

Deformations of the Deformed
In my search of inspiration for creative writing projects I was sent to this Website by a professor. This was not just any Website it was THE Website for creative writers of any kind. From Andy Warhol to the boy next door their work is on this site and it?s quite different than what you find in any book at the local Borders. The site is ubu.com it?s dedicated to experimental writing with mixed media. The writers combine sound, images, and text to create works of literature that may change the face, or cover if you will, of any book ever made. The most unique aspect of this genre is that there can be very little actual writing. While yes, you can go on this site and see works you find in any book there are a vast number of projects that could never be in a book for various reasons most being sound. When I first came to this site I thought, wow how cool, I could look at this stuff forever. Then I read and read and listened and looked and read some more until suddenly I realized my eyes killed.
Not only that but I couldn?t really remember what the hell I just read. I had spent approximately three hours staring at my computer screen and could not grasp anything I took in. I also found the whole time I was reading I wanted to hold on to something; there was even a point when I grabbed the sides of my laptop to give the work a physical feeling. How awful! These were really good works of literature and I had just skimmed over them. No matter how hard I tried to read them in depth my mind would have nothing to do with it. Could this be an epidemic? Am I so conditioned to having books, physical entities I can smell, feel, and yes taste, that I cannot comprehend art on a screen? Or worse have I become one of those old people who refuse to adapt to new technology and cherish the way things used to be? I?m beginning to think so.

I tried to fix this problem quickly. I thought of printing everything off and reading it that way but I?m not rich. I cannot afford to spend fifty dollars on a new color cartridge for my printer every few weeks. That idea was out. I then decided to copy and paste everything into word and see how that worked. It was a little easier on the eyes with a different font but I still wanted to hold the page. Also, it took too long to download the whole page onto a word file so I was missing the pictures and that?s a big part of some of the works. It was becoming obvious that this was a pointless endeavor. This genre can only b read on the Internet, that?s why it?s there. Granted there are other things on the site you can print out or copy and paste and read but some of them are made to be read on the web, who?d a thunk it?

George Landow, that?s who. In his essay ?Twenty Minutes into the Future, or How Are We Moving Beyond the Book? Landow talks about how, as a society, we are abandoning the physical book and it?s not a bad thing. He brings up topics such as course packs used by students as an example of how we have moved beyond the book. He says:
??electronic text seems certain to displace certain kinds of printed matter, even that in books?Nonetheless, we must recognize the changes that take place, both because they remind us more fully what is included in the notions of ?book? (and moving beyond it), and because they suggest the extent to which people will increasingly turn to nonbooklike objects for their textual information (218).?

Thus, the UBU Website is a perfect example of what Landow is talking about. And I am one of his statistics along with millions of other Americans and non-Americans alike. I went to this Website because I was not being inspired by anything I could find in a book. Therefore, I do recognize the change to the electronic medium and I am accepting of it but what do I do about my eyes?

Landow points out that yes, the resolution is bad on most computer monitors, but that will change with time. What we have to think about is the text itself and how that has changed.

?all texts the reader and the writer encounter on a computer screen exist as a version created specifically for them while an electronic primary version resides in the computer?s memory?the reader always encounters a virtual image of the stored text and not the original version itself?unlike all previous forms of textuality, the digital word is virtual, not physical (219).?

Basically, what Landow is telling me is get over it. Hyper text is much easier to mass-produce than printed text. People and companies are saving thousands or millions of dollars by placing information on the web rather than making pamphlets and booklets to send out. Another thing, one does not necessarily need a publisher to be published anymore if you can make a Website and write your work can be seen by millions of people everyday on the Internet. People can go to websites such as UBU submit their writing and if it fits the format they get in. It is so much easier than running around with your writing in a portfolio taking it to publishers and trying to meet their fancy to get a book deal. This is the future I need to get over it.

But, I can?t. I prefer to have books, actual real books, in my hand. I like to make books my own by writing in them, dog-earing the pages, and throwing them on the ground. I can?t do that with the writing on UBU. If I can?t have it in my hand I seem to peck or just skim the text rather than submersing myself in it. James Sosnoski talks about this problem in his article ?Hyper-readers and their Reading Engines? he lays out the different types of reading, especially done on the internet due to it?s format. According to Sosnoski, reading in any of these formats is not necessarily a bad thing; sometimes it?s the only way the text can be read. There is filtering: a selective process in which the majority of details are forgotten leaving the reader content with plot summaries and certain themes of the text (404). Number two, skimming, which according to Sosnoski is an essential reading act. Skimming involves reading the pages very quickly so one would miss the details but grasp the basic structure of the work. The third hypertext reading type is pecking where coherence of the text is basically lost. A reader ?pecks? at words that look somewhat important (405). Websites like UBU are made with these types of reading and readers in mind. It turns out I was skimming or sometimes pecking at the text from the UBU Website and that wasn?t a bad thing. According to Sosnoski the nature of the Web is to be skimmed, pecked, and filtered by thousands of people everyday. This is just something I, and other tech un-savvy people, have to adapt to.

Eventually I?m sure every book will be available on the Internet for free, local libraries will be used only for archival research, and everything else will be available on your home computer. Can society change fast enough for the technology? That?s something we are just going to have to wait and see. We have done well so far but who knows what?s next to come, the virtual book is right around the corner. Until then I plan to visit sites like the UBU site for inspiration and reference if for nothing else than to prepare myself for the future.

Deformations of the Deformed 8.5 of 10 on the basis of 2009 Review.