Though I’ve enjoyed reading numerous e-lit pieces so far this semester, “Pentametron” was the first piece to really spur some excitement. It makes me giddy.
One thing that I’ve thought about a lot in regard to electronic literature is why exactly the electronic piece of it is so important. Although they’re formatted for the web, some of the stories feel as though they would read just fine in a more traditional format. One thing that I’ve found truly special about electronic literature, however, is that a piece can be ever-evolving. Yes, an author can add a forward to their book when they release a new edition and JK Rowling can publish a piece on what Harry Potter is up to long after the release of her original series, but the “first” pieces still exist in their original form on someone’s bookshelf. An author has to call the creative process quits and publish something eventually, and though they can always write another book or publish a New Yorker short story the thing that they originally published forever exists just as it did it was sent to print. Two years ago, the music world went wild when Kanye West began the long release process of his “The Life of Pablo” record. This hype was untraditional in the sense that the public wasn’t waiting for a set release date. They had many release dates, and they were waiting for the official one. Apparently Kanye couldn’t get it perfect, because he kept releasing the record and then deciding to change things — sometimes in the middle of a live performance. The record that was put out on listening platforms wasn’t the “official” record, and quite frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if he was still working on it. While this connects strongly to our class discussion involving the “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin” and if we’ll ever see an update, another part of the Kanye record release situation really fits with “Pentametron.” Part of the reason “TLOP” was so successful was that people were excited to be in on the process; they kept waiting to see what might come next. Pentametron is updated almost daily, so the fun never has to end. As times change new topics come up in the retweeted tweets, so the poem is always fresh — there’s no “sell by” date because it’s always evolving.
Part of the fun of pentametron is that it takes something traditional like iambic pentameter and juxtaposes it with tweets about Justin Timberlake and Frank Ocean. Shakespeare’s sonnets are a little outdated today, but as long as the bot is running “Pentametron” will never be.