“Why don’t you write the way you talk?
Why don’t you read the way I write?”
These two sentences were written at the «begin»-page of Soliloquy and were something I kept in mind as I read my way through it. The sentences give depth to the piece, and adds another dimension on how to read it.
“Soliloquy” is written by Kenneth Goldsmith. It is a piece of electronic literature that gives the reader either a question or a sentence for each page and as one moves the pointer somewhere on the page, a response is shown – which changes depending on which part of the site one points to.
At first I tried reading all the possible responses in the order they were written – “why don’t you read the way I write?” But I soon realized that things would not make much more sense that way. “You don’t write the way you talk.”
Apparently the sentences at the «begin»-page not only are poetic or a hint towards how to read this piece of e-lit – but it is actually a way of human interpretation. I think most of us would not write exactly the same sentences if they were to be spoken out loud instead. And what we write can be interpreted in so many more different ways than what we intend them to be. This reminds me of when in class, we were told to think about what we write in our blog posts – because they are public and we never know who will read them (or how they will be interpreted).
“Soliloquy” gives the reader seven options, one for each day of the week. Each day of the week has several pages, each with a different opening and different bunch of replies. I think they are in chronological order, but the order in which they are read does not matter that much. I have seen the mention of the names John, David, Suzanne, Margo, Xenakis, Chavez, Bruce, Blair, Marjorie, Phillipa and Cheryl Donegan (another character’s wife, I think their spouse is called Munsy) but could not understand so much who they were. I have a feeling though that maybe we are reading the story from Munsy’s point of view? Partly because their wife, Cheryl, is the most mentioned person in the story from what I’ve read.
I found many nice quotes throughout the work. Here are some examples:
“So tell me” – “Well, I don’t know” (This happens a lot, right?)
“Hi.” – “You just bad mouthed me” (I thought this one was a bit funny)
“Hey, I can sit behind my computer and be real anti-social” – “Yeah”
“Nobody listens everybody talks at once” – “Mine nobody listens, nobody talks”
I liked this piece of electronic literature because it gives the reader the chance to interpret everything on its own, the work is just there and the way one reads it – and the path one chooses – is completely open. On the other side, this openness does bring a bit confusion as to what the meaning of the work is. I am given many conversations where each gives me information about something, which makes it difficult to find the story behind it all. It is like a jigsaw puzzle consisting of thousands of pieces where some pieces are missing, others don’t fit and some you might even have duplicates of.
I do wonder in which way it is supposed to be read – am I supposed to read all the replies in order and let them form a conversation? Or pick one of them? I found out that either way, a lot of it would not make sense. The replies make sense for a while, as if being a conversation between two people, but suddenly it will not make sense anymore. I think maybe each page contains several conversations? Perhaps even conversations between different people? I’m not sure, but that would be my best guess if I am to make sense of every single reply. My other guess is that by looking at what soliloquy means, that the work is a monologue and made up of a person’s thoughts – but honestly I can’t quite get that to make sense, either.
In the end, I allowed myself to read the description of “Soliloquy” – which I had not done beforehand in order to allow myself to interpret the work freely and without any knowledge about it. Apparently, this piece of e-lit consists of everything the author said for a whole week in April 1996. I cannot say though, that “Soliloquy” makes more sense to me now. To me it still is bits of pieces of conversations that give small pieces of information about people and their lives – which I guess is true either way.
Way earlier in this blog post, I wrote that “I think most of us would not write exactly the same sentences if they were to be spoken out loud instead.” And I guess this becomes even more relevant now that we know this work is transcribed from a recording consisting of everything a man said for a week. It also is a reason why the pages were difficult to understand, because they were meant to be spoken words heard by our ears, and not words in a literary piece to be read by our eyes.
I think my strategy for reading e-lit in the future will be the same as it was this time. I will continue to interpret the work of e-lit first, and then read about it later. That way I will be more open-minded when discovering the works. I think it will be an interesting journey.
And through these blog posts I am already starting to realise how much of myself shines through the analyse, and how they teach me to know myself better. When we were told in class that we would get to know ourselves better through this subject, yet I never thought it would be as literally as it seems right now.
(Hmm, is a poetic sign-off my way of ending blog posts? We’ll see.)
See you soon!
And thank you for reading.