TALK: VidPo #3

Love Anne Frank. Love labor, mad-cow disease…
God: cancer, Anne Frank?…
God Love.

Haruki Murakami Rape-Bubbles.

Haruki Murakami: love god, war god?
Anne Frank!
Online education drones Miley Cyrus, giving editing.
Loooove money.
Anne Frank, Anne Frank! Running books love Anne Frank; our fields like.

I’ve put up another Video Poem: TALK. And, whereas the other two were pleasant if incomprehensible, this one’s annoying as well as incomprehensible.

Not in the mood to be annoyed? Here’s what it is:

I ran a Google search for “What we talk about when we talk about” and made a poem of the results words, in order; grouping of words, pronunciation, and, at times, meaning was changed from the item found in the search. Then I read it over a slow scroll of the 39 pages of results (no, the timing isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot better than I’d thought it would be) and added an “underdrone” track of me reading each search return: yes, I really did say, “What we talk about when we talk about love What we talk about when we talk about Anne Frank What we talk about when we talk about love What we talk about when we talk about labor What we talk about when we talk about mad-cow disease What we talk about when we talk about God What we talk about when we talk about cancer What we talk about when we talk about Anne Frank What we talk about when we talk about God What we talk about when we talk about Love What we talk about when we talk about Haruki Murakami What we talk about when we talk about rape What we talk about when we talk about bubbles….” for all 374 results, though not all in one sitting (and I used Audacity to speed it up and fit in the same time it took to read the poem made from the results words).

Yes, it’s annoying; it’s supposed to be. It’s even self-referential since one of the results is “lame headlines” pointing to an article complaining about how so many articles use this title, and you know neither the writers nor the readers have ever read the original Carver story.

Here’s where it came from: while ranting about TNY’s nondisclosure of the “tribute” nature of Chinelo Oparanta’s “Benji” in a post last November, I mentioned the proliferation of titular take-offs of Carver’s original story. To do that, I had to google around, seeing what was out there. I got interested.

This list isn’t final or definitive; I did another search a few weeks ago and found things that didn’t show up the first time. Part of that may be the “filter bubble,” one of the scariest things about technology today. Part of it’s just a matter of timing; at the time I did the original capture, the Paris Review blog hadn’t yet published their article, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Ill-Fitting Doll Suits.” I would’ve loved to have done another capture, but that would’ve meant starting all over again, and anyway, I would’ve had to give up “Melancholy God buying sex gypsies, Los Angeles.” Everything’s a trade-off.

It’s not pretty like my previous efforts, “A Forest From Some Trees” or “When MOOCs Collide” (neither of which are pretty, really, since they’re more or less PowerPoint presentations; I have little technical expertise, can’t draw, don’t have a decent video camera and won’t buy/learn fancy software so this is what I’ve got). But it was something I wanted to do, and now I’ve done it.

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4 responses to “TALK: VidPo #3

  1. What a fun idea and video. I am trying to get more videos up on my own YouTube at some point.

    I love the idea as a found poem. It is strange to think of the ways that Google is shaping, well, what we think about everything. (And if we even think about it at all.)

    I don’t know if you saw my own essay in which I had fun with Google: http://www.greatwriterssteal.com/2013/08/20/what-does-google-think-of-great-writers/

    I do wonder how writing will evolve now that we have as close to an all-knowing consciousness and comprehensive warehouse of knowledge as we’ve ever had.

    • It’s become Multivac… just make sure you don’t type in, “Can entropy be reversed?” (you aren’t the only Asimov admirer around here)

      Love your Google term-completion post! Feel sorry for Alice Munro, though that would’ve been before the Nobel, right?

      Also just saw your poet-on-Mars story in Press53 – nice! Sagan too, huh. We must be related.

      All these poetry videos were inspired by ModPo, the poetry MOOC I took last fall (warning: I’m going to be working on you to get you to try it next September). In the last week, Ken Goldsmith came in and I discovered uncreativity; it changed my life. So I suck at writing: he showed me a window.And yesterday the ModPo prof tweeted K. Silem Mohammad’s Sonnagrams across my feed… wow.

      Ohio State, huh. Excuse me, THE Ohio State. Took a couple of MOOCs there, too. My in-person education was pretty crappy, but I’ve been to some of the best schools on earth in the past year.

      • Even though most of my stuff has been “literary,” my first love was science fiction. I’ve been justifiably rejected by Asimov’s and Analog for, geez…more than a decade. Who knows if that’s how it will work out, but I really do hope I start getting more SF ideas and that I can write something good enough for those journals one day; I still read them.

        I have mixed feelings about MOOCs. I absolutely LOVE that you were inspired by one and I’ve never done one before, but wouldn’t be against trying it. The problem I have is that some colleges are trying to replace traditional classes with MOOCs. There’s honestly nothing more beautiful to me than when someone–anyone teaches and/or learns. It makes me deeply happy that anyone can take these kinds of classes and can foster their creative spark. I just don’t think that the traditional university or that higher education should be partially or wholly replaced in this manner. (Which is not what you’re saying at all. =) )

        And while I love Ohio State, I don’t get nuts if people omit the “the.” (Even though it is actually part of the school’s name.) My undergrad institutions were both good SUNY schools, but I had always wanted to go to a “name” school; I’m so grateful I had that experience.

      • One of the reasons I’m hoping to sell you on ModPo is that MOOCS have been getting horrible press lately. Thing is, each MOOC is different; some are “watch a bunch of lectures” (and some of these are terrific; I’m taking a Hamlet course like that now out of England and enjoying it a lot) and some are more active. ModPo is built on the cMOOC model, designed to create community: the class ended 2 months ago, and the forums are still going. I’m running the Pushcart poetry through there before posting. Kyle from the Corn Maze fiction/cnf debate is a ModPony. See, we have nicknames. And we have an insignia. An online poetry course, imagine. You may hate it, but the only way to find out is to try it.

        I have no connection to academia so I can only speak from my experience as a student. As one person put it, however, “MOOCs didn’t cause adjunctification.” What’s interesting is that I just read a post from a math person today, worried that math postdocs would find themselves replaced by calculus MOOCs. Where was she when half the English department was replaced by computer science? First they came for the Lit teachers… But this more of the let-the-little-people-fight-over-the-scraps ethos that’s running through society in this post-crisis world: why is education so poorly funded? Could it be to return education to those who can afford it? (Ok, I’m going to put away my tin foil hat now, I promise).

        As a student: I already have a degree (by the way, Kyle has a PhD, taught at UCLA until he was forced out due to, guess what, funding and tenure track limitations). I have no access to further higher ed due to issues of finance and health. This is why MOOCs have been such a big deal to me. Further, most of the people I’ve met have degrees (I’ve seen claims that 80% of one class had a Bachelor’s degree). Virtually all are adults, with a few high schoolers mixed in. I suppose, if you’re paying for college, why would you hang out with rifraff (the rifraff being… me). The numbers given for these things are misleading, too. Yes, 80,000 people may sign up, and 2,000 may finish. I always over-enroll, then drop based on gut feel for time/benefit ratio. 100 people make most of the posts in the forums after the first couple of weeks. The exception to this, interestingly, is ModPo, which is a bit overwhelming and requires some selectivity to navigate.

        I know I’ve heard some schools are using MOOCs as part of their in-person classes – the maththink MOOC I’m about to take for the second time is required this term, but their class goes beyond the MOOC material. He, and a The Ohio State calculus teacher, are also teachers who’ve just inspired me – and I’m horrible at math. Imagine: they’ve got me doing math, daily.

        I should shut up now, I get carried away.

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