txt books

Apparently, melancholic love stories written by Japanese girls on their cellphones are all the rage. According to the NYTimes, five out of ten 2007 best-selling fiction books in Japan were cellphone novels.

What’s interesting is that the phenomenon didn’t happen as a result of an intense need to appropriate technology into a creative outlet, but instead, the technology was what sparked the itch to  write.

From NYT: “It’s not that they had a desire to write and that the cellphone happened to be there,” said Chiaki Ishihara, an expert in Japanese literature at Waseda University who has studied cellphone novels. “Instead, in the course of exchanging e-mail, this tool called the cellphone instilled in them a desire to write.”

Structurally, the novels are written in short sentences that form tight paragraphs, which nicely fit on phone screens. There’s also a lot of dialogue with spaces in between the lines, which are used to communicate that the characters are deep in thought.  

Here’s an excerpt from the wildly popular “To Love You Again,” written by 22-year old Satomi Nakamura (who busted a blood vessel in her pinky finger from hardcore texting):

Kin Kon Kan Kon (sound of school bell ringing)
(space)
The school bell rang
(space)
“Sigh. We’re missing class”
(space)
She said with an annoyed expression.

….BRILLIANT! (space)…….

flarf ado about nothing

My poet husband (shameless promotional plugs here and here) went to a reading at the Bowery Poetry Club this Saturday and came back bearing gifts in form of cultgear blogging material. Flarf is an avant-garde poetry movement in which poets mine the internet for random words and phrases which are pieced together into poems. Some technically savvy poets created their own Google poem generators. For example, at this site I typed in “why” and clicked on “generate poem.” Here’s what came back:

“why”

Google Poem generated on Wed Apr 30, 2008


do one
all in the
tutorial

 

still for

Don
why

example

space
I
the
in

get
disagree determine
….. the the

If we get that far, I can find out if we agree on why it’s good.

Hmmm, conceptually Flarf is an interesting reflection on the internet as our collective database for words and ideas. But artistic randomness, in my opinion, works well when the intent is controlled. Whereas in this case, both control and intent are missing…

Performances from last year’s Flarf Festival:

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