On “Taroko Gorge”

Taroko Gorge is a national park in Taiwan.


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“Taroko Gorge” is a piece of generative poetry written and programmed by Nick Montfort in 2009. It’s supposed to invoke the feeling of walking through a forest, offering it’s own strict movement and rhythm by which we must take it in. I get the gist, but I’d rather walk through a real forest where I can move at my own pace.

Traditionally, one who reads poetry has had to take it upon him or herself to slow down and read at a tempo that allows for true enjoyment and appreciation. As someone who like to read fast fast fast “Taroko Gorge” felt a little glacial. Then came Snowball, with a pace that stressed me out — I think I just like choosing when the next words appear to me no matter the situation.

In all honesty, I enjoyed the idea of the pieces more than the pieces themselves. It was fun to click through and see how far a re-creation could go and the titles/ideas behind them (Fred and George!!!). I even tried to think of some that hadn’t been done (I won’t share them — they haven’t been done for a reason and that reason is that they’re bad).

In class we talked about the idea of “remix” and if a remix is a form of creativity. This is something I’ve gone on about before, and will tackle again now: OF COURSE IT IS! I’m a strong believer that no story is truly “original.” As Nora Ephron famously said: “Everything is copy.” Copy as in imitation and copy as in a piece of writing; this works two ways.

Why is it we have the same general fairy tale plot in a bunch of different countries under a bunch of different names? “Clueless” and “Bridget Jones’ Diary” are both re-workings of Jane Austen. “10 Things I Hate About You” is Shakespeare and who knows where these writers got their ideas from in the first place. We could argue the ideas of remixing vs paying tribute vs stealing vs copying vs being inspired by forever, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with taking a set idea and expanding on it.

So often I’ll see something and enjoy it only to later realize it’s based off of something else. I probably would’ve enjoyed “Fred and George’ if I saw it first, but seeing it’s roots makes it even more fun and smart to me.

So yes, I think remix is a form of creativity. And I liked the remixes (or the idea behind them) better than the original.

The “discovery and invention stage” should be constant in all of our lives, right? I want it to be for me at least. In terms of my final project I’m set on my “Instagram Curator” idea and I’ve already started writing the text that will accompany it. Tools that I’ll use will include Instagram as main platform, a webpage that showcases my photos and the text in a way that appears like a normal instagram feed (I need to figure out the logistics behind this), and Google Calendar/email/photo editing apps. I’m having so much fun already, and can not wait to see how it all turns out!

Finally: I don’t think we dived into the idea of memes as e-lit enough last week. Let’s talk more about this everyone. Please?


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