And she lived happily ever after.

Joan: Despite not wanting to direct a reader too overtly, is there is an ideal method for reading The LiteraryMix? For example, do you feel there’s a better/worse platform such as smart phone vs. tablet, laptop vs. desktop? Are you interested in anyone with a text-to-speech app to enlist an audibility to enter the ‘mix’?

Seth: I don’t want to be prescriptive with how others read, discuss, or transform The LiteraryMix. I think the only thing that I’m not really interested in would be to transform it into something audible. I’ve had many discussions with lots of different people about this idea, and for me it’s the antithesis of what I wanted to do, and I think it would be a regressive step. I’m not adverse to people using text-to-speech if they are unable to read say, but listening to a voice and reading text are two very different experiences, and as The LiteraryMix was designed to be read not heard audibly I wouldn’t advise it.

Similarly, I would suggest that readers read and make decisions alone, and fully immerse themselves in the work, what they see, hear and imagine in their current surroundings. I can appreciate that these directions might appear instructive, and somewhat unpopular, yet through research I’ve found this is the most effective method for immersion.
For example, one can decide to read an excerpt from The LiteraryMix, such as this one from Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts, and follow it accordingly.

A few years ago I saw an interactive video work which at certain points the action would stop, and the audience would be invited to vote whether the protagonist of the video would do one of two different things. Whilst (seemingly) democratic what this meant was that a proportion of the audience didn’t get to see and hear what they wanted, which is not how each of us engage with things that interest us. Perception is not a democratic process. Similarly, when we are alone we become more receptive to our surroundings, and especially the details that fascinate us, that activate our individual memories and our imaginations. We also spend the time that is appropriate to each of us. Speech, audible sound doesn’t linger on a line, a phrase, an idea; if we look up, and around, or inside ourselves – it hurries on.

So with how the work might be performed or transformed, I suppose I’m interested in being surprised by something which embraces these ideas, that considers other senses or mixes of senses, or takes the idea and applies it elsewhere, in something new and experimental, something to get excited about. What exactly, I don’t know, and in some ways don’t want to know quite yet, it would spoil the surprise!

Joan: One last thing. Throughout this whole conversation, I’ve been pondering why writers allow for sounds to be an element in the two-dimensional space of text. As a reader, I am drawn towards the sonorous, I imagine the scene or the space or the internal action of the characters as clearly in sound as I do when an author talks about smell or the tactile sensations, visual, too, of course. But do you have any thoughts on why we readers hear so well, transforming an author’s words into sounds in their own minds as they read?

Seth: I think that (mostly) we read with our eyes, and what writers (and readers too) implicitly if not explicitly understand is that our eyes, our ears, all our senses, our feelings, our ideas are all informing, communicating and working with each other for us all of the time, so that when we engage with text, certain perceptual qualities leap out at us. Some writers incorporate sonorous qualities more than others. There are many reasons for including sound—as a narrative device to describe a passing of time, a duration perhaps which has some significance in the story or as a metaphor or a clue or foreshadowing future events.

Texts are complicated experiences which attempt to replicate our own complicated experience of life, our impressions and our questions, and it strikes me as unimaginable for the sonorous to be absent from texts.

JS: Thank goodness for the imagination, then.

The Literary Mix
In the Mix: An Assemblage of Ideas in The LiteraryMix
Seth Guy
Caroline Bergvall
Joan Schuman

(A) Generative Engine …

[… return to the beginning, a loop of infinite possibilities.]


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