STORYTELLING

THOUGHTS ON JING ZHAO’S “HOUSE MEMORY”

House Memory

I thought this was a really nice piece, really nicely done. Even though I had seen a few of these photos before, having the houses pixelated created a strong effect, and produced a much stronger empathetic connection/resonance to the homeowners.

I only have two comments to possibly strengthen the piece. The first regards the visuals; I’d like to see a clear divider between the objects that are unpixelated and the pixelated houses, so maybe using a smaller pixelated size would help create stronger edges. The second would be that the introduction needs to be clearer, to explain to the reader exactly what is happening in this piece.

 

Places & Objects

Look here…

blood, cartridge belt, commander, do, have, immediately, it, life, seen, sentry, shots, spider, teeth, together, you…

Don’t you already have a clear idea what it’s about? 

– If on a winter’s night a traveler, Calvino

I was inspired by the above sentiment, and tried to see if I could glean stories about places by their nouns. I have thirteen years of journal writings, six of which are on the computer and total almost 120,000 words, and thought I would try to see if I could use natural language processing to figure out nouns/objects associated with places I’ve lived or had interesting emotional experiences in. I’m not sure how successful it was, but the results were at least interesting.

 

 

Here are all of the nouns of each place (Rhode Island, Ghana, France, New York, Peru, Germany respectively):

riKeywords Wordlist:

joe, tomorrow, way, thunderstorm, miles, night, fun, twelve, people, house, spanish, books, year, face, saturday, stitches, end, darkness, space, lots, vacation, state, future, hookah, text, place, jesse, guns, dad, poker, zack, leg, problems, plane, fall, baby, luis, weekend, gen, spence, case, kids, sender, title, cover, days, salimo, person, mattie, figures,
**************************************************
ghanaKeywords Wordlist:

scott, way, time, stuff, people, place, nonsense, work, person, apartment, day, house, emotions, point, life, tonight, middle, jesse, trait, focus, dose, happiness, toilets, aaron, dreams, marco, mania, facebook, projects, cool, desire, post-conversation, fields, loneliness, mattie, starvation, wellbutrin, claudia, everyone, energy, paragraphs, plays, memories, ‘good, peggy, drums, faith, kids, months, experience, dinner, afternoon, fences-, wall, pop, texts, city, story, “i, system, fight, vehicle, man”, today, head, bus, hurt, pretense, room, bill, stories, mr, aid, sophie, exhibit, cleaner, woman, malerone, sense, reynolds, craze, barnes, self, babies, genocide, beach, development, yesterday, reflect, plane, sinead, date, journals, thoughts, dream,
**************************************************
franceKeywords Wordlist:

way, spot, boyfriend, work, salim, life, someone, home, story, space, pathway, rica, head, murder, linear, blanket, plane, weekend, present, case, school, montage, days, birthday, stories,
**************************************************
nyKeywords Wordlist:

city, days, years, home, story, tomorrow, time, new, day, night, , note, art, people, obligations, train, others, jerkface, juice, flexibility, today, scott, sentences, girlfriend, ways, scares, issues, subject, apartment, christ, space, stretch, self, ideas, strangers, excuses, freak-out, way, memory, maze, beach, store, relief, case, life, theatrics, closest, lice, phone, heat, part, lives, joe, ikea, jesus, friends, “one, boy, grocery, stuff, hour, lies, work, motion, person, afternoon, friend, facebook, stragglers, amanda, order,
**************************************************
peruKeywords Wordlist:

embassy, day, place, time, summer, everyone, neighborhood, version, people, japanese, miraflores, tonight, scott, “but, tomorrow, relationships, ‘anger, canto, aaron, stuck, sunday, book, memory, green, war, ungood, life, blocks, hostage, period, hours, jack, reaction, –, alex, patterns, sometime, afternoon, truth, situation, eighties, fact,
**************************************************
germanyKeywords Wordlist:

severin, peace, candles, time, year, equals, night, wine,

 

 

 

These are the words that are unique to each place:

riKeywords Wordlist:

thunderstorm, miles, fun, twelve, text, books, spanish, face, saturday, stitches, end, darkness, title, lots, vacation, state, future, hookah, guns, dad, poker, zack, leg, problems, fall, baby, luis, gen, spence, sender, cover, salimo, figures,
**************************************************
ghanaKeywords Wordlist:

nonsense, point, middle, trait, emotions, exhibit, claudia, months, fences-, drums, wall, energy, sense, focus, pop, dose, marco, malerone, paragraphs, reynolds, happiness, toilets, plays, system, “i, memories, ‘good, fight, dreams, babies, vehicle, thoughts, cleaner, man”, development, woman, pretense, faith, bus, mr, yesterday, reflect, peggy, mania, sinead, date, hurt, journals, projects, cool, desire, craze, post-conversation, room, texts, fields, loneliness, bill, experience, dinner, genocide, barnes, aid, sophie, starvation, dream, wellbutrin,
**************************************************
franceKeywords Wordlist:

spot, boyfriend, school, murder, linear, salim, montage, blanket, someone, birthday, rica, pathway, present,
**************************************************
nyKeywords Wordlist:

years, new, , art, obligations, train, others, lice, juice, flexibility, sentences, girlfriend, scares, issues, subject, note, christ, stretch, ideas, strangers, excuses, theatrics, store, relief, closest, jerkface, phone, heat, part, lives, maze, ikea, jesus, friends, “one, boy, grocery, hour, lies, motion, ways, freak-out, friend, stragglers, amanda, order,
**************************************************
peruKeywords Wordlist:

embassy, summer, neighborhood, japanese, miraflores, “but, relationships, ‘anger, canto, stuck, sunday, version, war, ungood, blocks, hostage, period, hours, jack, reaction, –, alex, patterns, sometime, green, truth, situation, eighties, book, fact,
**************************************************
germanyKeywords Wordlist:

peace, severin, wine, equals, candles,

 

 

Thoughts on visiting the City Reliquary Museum

I expected the City Reliquary Museum — which had been described as hosting items from the community — to be a lot more “collective” in the sense that a larger group of people would be contributing one or two things each. Instead, the museum was more curated than expected, which I ultimately liked. From what I understood, the museum appoints non-museum people to be curators, with exhibits showcasing objects of a specific community (i.e. firefighters’ items) or the collection of one person from the community (i.e. Amanda Friedman’s collection of unicorns).

I ended up viewing the exhibits in one of three categories — cultural, historical, or personal. The more permanent exhibits (and the ones that I would deem ‘cultural’ — things that define the city) include themes that are very New York-based — the “Seltzer Bottles of Brooklyn” and a little section on the “Croton Bug” (i.e. cockroach) being two notable examples.

photo (19)

photo (21)

The rotating exhibit when I went was “Greetings From The City of New York” — a collection of postcards sent from visitors/tourists describing their experience with the city, framed in the historical context of the era when the law on postcards changed (from mandating that postcard inscriptions be only on the image side, to allowing inscriptions on the non-address side of the back).

photo (20)

“This is a great town, but too big to live in I think.”

photo (22)
The last thing to see in the corner of the back room was this bit of sidewalk, which I thought was a nice personal item and good way to wrap up the experience:

photo (23)

Audio Story

https://soundcloud.com/hannahedavis/descriptions-part-2-mp3

https://soundcloud.com/hannahedavis/stories-part-2-mp3

Thoughts on Ann Chen’s Hint Story

http://itp.nyu.edu/~hhc285/blog/2013/02/06/collective-narrative-very-short-stories/

This one felt different from other few-word stories — I think because it seemed to have a strong voice/personality for only 13 words. You can easily imagine the scenario, or hear the (imagined man) yelling out at a town meeting or something other public forum.

The only thing I’d say is that I think hint stories have little room to use words on unfamiliar aspects — the reader is already guessing what the context and situation is, that to use two words on a name (Cheap John) that also has no context was a further thing to try and guess at.

I think the hardest part of building these short stories is building up a strong situation as well as a strong resolution. This one definitely did the former, and I’d love to see what either adding a few more or replacing the last few could do to resolve it — even if the next sentence was a response from someone else, maybe?

Thoughts on Zhenzhen Qi’s 55 (25) Word Story

http://zhenzhenqi.tumblr.com/post/42341550850

For such a short piece, there’s a lot of emotion here. My instinct was that it started out right after a fight — but then the third person (“she”) is introduced, and the context shifted in my mind to something more serious, like an illness or something — then back again to a fight (“I hurt you”) and then to a strange two sentences to end it: “You cannot hear me.” “Stop overthinking.” I can’t help but feel there are two voices throughout, if only for some contradictory sentences, but I can’t really find where one would start and the other end.

There’s a lot in here, but it leaves me wanting to know more of the specifics of the story and the characters, and some hints of references to the situation at hand. The vague air seems more stylistic than purposeful, but I think in a short story, the more specifics, the better.

With the format (the picture), it also seems more of a visual piece, with the four words highlighted — “fine”, “will”, “will”, “stop.” Is that a hint or something arbitrary?

24 Hour Comic

2/1/13

6 Word Story

Best birthday ever, except for snakes.

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