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On Shelley Jackson’s Lecture March 4, 2009

Posted by yakshi in cyborgs.
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I am intrigued by the idea of death and monsters in Shelley Jackson’s work and writing process. During her lecture, Jackson explained that a dictionary is a cemetery of words. The image is haunting, dead and extinct words that writers must exhume. After Jackson described her technique to break the habitual use of the same words and phrases to describe certain emotions, I have a visual of her returning to the word cemetery to unearth new words. Every writer does it in every piece of work, she explained, Patchwork Girl just makes the stitches between these words more obvious. For Jackson, fiction is friction. In Patchwork Girl she borrows not only words but entire excerpts from other works. She also re-imagines the lives of actual people, taking on Mary Shelley as Patchwork Girl’s creator.
Because Jackson came across as enamored with the writing process, I wonder if Patchwork Girl is intended to be Mary’s physical creation or just a hallucination. In the journal portion, it came across to me that Patchwork Girl is a character that Mary is working on, even falling in love with. The scene where they are lying in bed together, for instance, is written like a figment of Mary’s imagination. It is not clear whether she is challenging Patchwork Girl’s physical boundaries by lying next to her and touching her skin, or if she is attempting to better know her invented character in her head. Either way, Mary’s maternal responsibility and ownership over Patchwork Girl is evident. Mary is acquainting herself with the monstrous other as a writer.
With Jackson’s other project Skin, she embraces the direct correlation between language and the body. By imprinting one word on each participant, 2,095 in total, she is allowing human beings to literally embody her work. The photographs of each tattoo, most of them taken in the tattoo parlor while still bleeding, immortalize her work for as long as the participants live. The fact that Jackson recognizes and addresses the eventual death of her participants demonstrates the impermanence of both the body and language.

Shelly Jackson March 4, 2009

Posted by smike97k in cyborgs.
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Seeing Shelly Jackson speak this last week really helped me to “sew” the pieces of her Patchwork Girl together. I haven’t seen many authors speak about one of their pieces that I have not studied some myself. I really enjoyed hearing her voice reading it because it almost gave more life to the characters. She also helped me to understand how to navigate the hyper text better so that I could get as much of the story as possible. I realized how little of the story that I had gone through, and even though it turns out I read very little of the story, unintentionally, I still feel like I got a lot of information of the story line, which shows how advanced and intricate this piece really is. Jackson said that the “text is shaped by choices” of the readers, and it is the reader, like Mary Shelly, who helps to bring Patchwork Girl to life, in different ways depending on who is reading it from what angle and perspective.

There were a couple of points that Jackson made that really stood out to me concerning the topics of time and the life of words. She said that “all looking is looking into the past.” Even though I was aware that when an image enters the eye it takes a split second to reach the brain, meaning that we comprehend that image in the past, technically speaking, I didn’t fully comprehend this scientific fact in terms of the concepts of past and present. If this transfer of image takes place with a time laps, no matter how small, is there such a thing as the present, or does only the past exist? I know this is being very technical but it is an interesting question to think about. Jackson also talked about the life of words. She said that with words “we recycle voices of the dead.” I thought that this was a fascinating idea. All words have been spoken. Therefore each time anyone speaks, they are speaking words that have had previous lives. Giving life to words is an interesting concept to me. Words, whether written, signed, or spoken, depend on our lives to live, therefore do we depend on their lives to live? Confusing and maybe a little too philosophical, but interesting.

I really liked her new project “My Skin.” I like how she combined the concepts of words and bodies to create a story. She made the point that “context alters the simplest words.” This was interesting to see as she showed us the slideshow of tattoos on participant’s skin. Not all were clear in context but some of the words were extremely influenced by the body part they were on. These words were given a different life that those spoken or on paper, as they were directly connected to the body. This was just another way she portrayed the life of words.

Patchwork girl: reality or hallucination? February 26, 2009

Posted by jr4024 in humanity, monstrosity.
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 An interesting point that my group talked about in class was questioning whether Patchwork girl herself was this real human being or was she simply a creature that defies reality? I personally feel that she is both, if that makes any sense. She obviously is real in the sense that she is put together by pieces of human body parts, but the thought of her as a creation and/or connotation of being a goddess is interesting to think about. Shelley Jackson creates an intimate relationship with Patchwork Girl which leads us to believe that there is a maternal or sexual bond. However, it also is believable that Patchwork Girl could be this concept representing society perhaps with its different pieces of identity forming a whole, or even a representation of Mary Shelley in her non-linear yet sewn together imagination of her personality.  Therefore, I consider Patchwork Girl, character and medium, as an intricate and personal experience that does not have one sole meaning or signification.

Patching up the patchwork February 20, 2009

Posted by andiroo in cyborgs.
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I’ll be quite honest – trying to read Patchwork Girl on my own was… difficult.  Now I am not sure if it was my computer or if it was my inability to follow the .pdf guidelines, but surely something was working against me.  I would click here, and something would pop-up there – a jumbled mess, in my opinion, with no direction or any conceivable end results.  However, at the lecture I was enlightened by the truth of her work, and I was astonished at how well it was written – how well it made me connect, and how it made me feel the words she wrote, more than just listening to them.

Her whole approach to writing, reading, and everything in between baffled me at first, but I think that’s just because she hit the nail on the head.  I sensed right off the bat that she knew what she was talking about, instead of talking about something she knew – her dedication to literature, and to animation is ever-clear and her ideas were equally as amazing.  She really gave me an insight into the fabrication that writing truly is – a piece by piece construction of our own entity – be it a monster, or be it something else, and this I really enjoyed.

Too bad I still can’t figure out how to read it on my computer 😦

Patchy-work Girl February 18, 2009

Posted by dunemethane in narrative, structure, visual culture, writing.
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At first I was really intrigued by the idea of reading a story that if I clicked on any word would take me to another page like those old-school choose your own adventure books. I started to read and clicked on words and kept going until I realized that I just kept going in circles eventhough I clicked on different words everytime. WTF? I tried this for about a half hour when I eventualy just gave up and accepted that this hypertext business is not as cool as I thought it would be. But I guess it makes sense since it starts with talking about embryo’s and ends talking about the same exact thing (literally).