February 24, 2013

Reader Response Today (and in This Room)

For the past 20 years or so, I've been a "reader response" guy. Not in any overly researched way -- my run-ins with any theory position tends to be dialog-and-a-few-articles deep... But that viewpoint that any text (or art work, or cultural moment, or personality) exists in the space where it is read (encountered, seen, consumed, experienced), and that that reader's experience is "the valid thing" -- that viewpoint has resonated with me for a long time.

Aside: it's probably why my life in content so seamlessly became a life in User Experience once upon a time (that and the fact that when you work with a bunch of talented-as-all-hell designers and all you got is a little Word Doc of your little words, moving into something called UX had its own secret agent-sounding caché).

Anyway, so what I'm thinking about now that I've been up a while and the sun is up finally...

In asymmetric writing -- where styles of text, types of language, genre, even things as simple as line length and sentence length are changing up (something I cotton to)... What is going on for the typical reader. What is going on for you?

We approach different types of texts in different ways -- you read a newspaper story differently than a novel differently than a short story differently than a haiku or a tweet or a Facebook post or listings in dinner menu. Different speed, different depths and styles of mental engagement, analysis, imagination.

So when a piece of writing changes things up -- how do you react? Do you switch modes? Do you find yourself reading that first bit of something like it was something else (who hasn't read a menu aloud in the American Poet Voice for comic effect before)? A first sentence of journalistic observation like it was lineated verse, perhaps. A few lines of verse like it was fiction.

I'd guess it is more pronounced when it happens "inline" per se, but maybe it happens when styles change from section to section. Think of how those last parts of Portrait of an Artist (Joyce), the Sea and Poison (Endo, or maybe it was his book Silence -- I read those back to back a long time ago!), The Life of Pi (I forget the author's name on that one, but we can all Google it in a moment) suddenly change... In all those cases you've read an entire novel in a more standard narrative mode and then the coda flips to something utterly different. I guess "changes at a noted break" work as powerfully as in-line breaks on reading style when you are that invested in the first mode (invested in sheer time, pages, words, if not mindset).

Aside 2: that reminds me of the "toast / what do you put in a toaster" joke, which has to be not only one of the best jokes of all time, but also most people's first recognition that something scary like mind control is out there somewhere.

So that's what I'm really wondering about for a moment... Do people shift at those moments of style-change to their own style-appropriate mode? What happens in that moment of shift? Sometimes the trigger is in the format, sometimes it is in the diction or the punctuation (or lack thereof).

How long is that transition from one to the next... And do they "start over" at the point of style-change once they realize they've headed into something new and are reading it a way that's not their usual?

I'm going to look out for that in my own reading, at least.

It's at least as interesting as the difference in my writing with my thumbs (phone) vs. my fingers (keyboard).

And yeah, this was all thumbs.

No Good Hour

It's been a while, try again

What I had in my head earlier and I should do more with later


You take an animal and make it human. You ask it questions. It answers or it doesn't.

You take an animal and make it human. You tell a story about its life.

You take an abstract concept and make it human. It meets other abstract concepts you've also made into humans. Things happen.

You take a human who is dead and you make him or her alive to meet other humans who are already alive. They have dinner and other things happen.


This is one of those moments where I wonder what writing things like this with my fingers rather than my thumbs will change

My thumbs fly now, but my fingers fly faster


I'm afraid this cold is catching up to me, and being awake at this hour / sleeping this little sure isn't helping


You take a disease and make it human. You have it talk to its living victims -- or you make its dead victims (if it's that kind if disease) alive again to talk to it. Or they beat it up. Things happen.

This is the third or fourth time this week that I had a strong recalling of what it felt like to be in my teens and 20s during the height of the AIDS epidemic in America.

I'm not saying that in an unfeeling way -- it is by no means gone, and it is certainly still a raging epidemic elsewhere.

I'm more talking about the me I was, the very different perspective I had back then and the very different world it was.


Yeah, this isn't how you write yourself back to sleep

Location:Charlotte St,Fredericksburg,United States

February 23, 2013

A More Than Bad Beginning...

Very Most Bad Films?
Surely this wasn't a good idea.

It started back with this:
"Tell a Story"

...and I'm sure there will be more of this madness to come.

February 16, 2013

More February

First fire eyes

Then bad jokes like Dia-rhi-rhi fly through my head

Days ago it was Rye Rye vs Rhi Rhi

Last night it was rye three ways, progressively simpler or you could call it honing if you thought we were getting somewhere

The controls were out so you re-routed

Sleep was out and you re-routed again

You can braid twine into rope

Or braids of twine if you are less studied

I've been thinking about intent a whole lot lately, but this here is about purpose

I'm looking for new skills to file under "breathing" and "silence" and "heartbeat"

But I'm not going to get there in the next couple days

I keep going

Location:Melvin Dr,Baltimore,United States

February 12, 2013

Tell a Story

On playback

On angles

On angels and a discussion of sweet things

On a break from managing your temper or tempering steel or going on and on about you

Things make you ill

Like balance and pause

Unkind after kind and that is that

Here comes morning

February 9, 2013

Safe and Warm

Beauty and the beats


I am a lot of things


There's this feeling

Location:Portland St,Baltimore,United States

February 7, 2013

February the Sixth and Seventh

See say sigh

Sign seashore signature

Sea horses sigh by signage

Salesforce by night

Tonnage if by sea

Mileage by the hour acre Anchorage

To your health
To your health
To your health

Put a light in the window and sleep on it

Earth coverage

Persistent connection

A light second and another

See me coming

Location:W Pratt St,Baltimore,United States

February 5, 2013

All I Could Not Stand Stood for Me

The back legs

They tremble before it launches

There is somebody's haunches before there is prey

There is dust, air, sunshine or nightscapes, segmentations we call niches, niches we call noontime, and assorted meridians

I'm reading a book

And that's that

Location:Melvin Dr,Baltimore,United States