Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why Kickstart It?, Part II

Because it builds community. Because it's fun.  Because your name in lights!  Because the following people are now forever part of something a little larger than themselves (and this is why I have loved participating in other Kickstarter projects!):

Leigh Ann Roripaugh
Kevin Eagan
Kevin McKelvey
Shelley Wade
Nicole and Steve Klein (postcard participants!)
Martha W. Johnson
Michelle Sanford
Tim Parrish
John Pendergast and Pam Garvey (boosted the Project to 100%!)
Denise Clamors (future postcard participant!)
Beth Lehnerer Davis (postcard participant!)
Ashley Luster (postcard participant!)

Cyber Monday cyberpocalypse collaborative story particpants:
Robert Rohe (boosted to 75%)
Linda Markowitz and Mark Hedley
"Jeff" (no last name recorded)
Rachel Pease
Joel Hardman

Valerie Vogrin (boosted to 70%)
Kristine Hildebrandt
Bradley D. Hazelrigg
Gloria Jenkins

Black Friday Immortal Thanks participants:
Adam Smith (boosted past 60%)
Lessie G. Starr ( 1st postcard participant!)
Jason Braun
Abby Souza
Tom Spalding (boosted past 50%)
Bob and Georgia Zaiser
Sheila Squillante
James Goltz

Shane Holmes
Colleen Tully
Jason Davis
Sharon James McGee
Kathleen Finneran (will have a character named after her in the first narrative!)
Action Box Productions
June and Paul Schmidt (will have characters named after them in first narrative!)
Lainee Frizzo
Lisa Hartleib Spicer
Sequoia Nagamatsu (first!)

Because your name could be added to the top of that list.  Because it's fun.  Because you're part of something now, baby.  Because communities flare up in odd places in odd ways and who knows how they will sustain you, but they will.  Because when we reach out to something unusual, we become a little bit more human.  You're part of something now.

Geonarrative and Craft

One thing that interests me about Geonarrative (or should that be geonarrative, or GeoNarrative?  probably all lower-case, geonarrative) is the way it points directly towards the tension between form and content.  As I envision it -- because this is all still a little hypothetical -- not every story would make a good geonarrative.
What aesthetic challenges will I give myself as a writer?  To these things I will attend:

1.)  The story has to lend itself to fragmentation.  The first geonarrative I've written but not yet installed can be read in any order, because I wanted it to be more accessible (though accessibility is another blog-post), and I wanted it to be perhaps extendable -- if someone on the Kickstarter campaign (still running until December 20th, 2012) gets involved at a high enough level, I could conceivably be traveling to them and installing a piece of the story pretty far afield from the other pieces.

1A.)  On the other hand, a localized, ordered reading experience seems to me the more fulfilling one.  Something that more carefully orchestrates the progression of language through landscape.

2.)  Language through landscape.  And language *in* landscape.  One thing I've crafted for the first piece is a kind of visual rhyme -- that the story  fragment will somehow echo or resonate with the landscape that surrounds the reader as she reads for the first time.  Not every story can be installed as a geonarrative if every story piece needs the urgency of the geographical rhyme.

3.)  There is something about the form -- the way one needs to seek out what is hidden, the one one needs to physically journey to assemble the story -- that suggests certain thematics.  Perhaps too pointedly.  The challenge would be to find subtler correspondences between form and content, but to make sure that the narrative vibrates with those correspondences.

What other issues of craft or aesthetics do you think should be considered?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why Kickstart It?

Geonarrative Kickstarter Campaign

1.  One lovely thing about geocaching and by extension Geonarrative is the sense of community that's engendered.  When one finds a cache, one signs a log, takes a little treasure, leaves a little treasure for the next seeker. 

2.  When I was younger, I used to leave little notes --story scraps, messages to the future -- tucked into the pages of library books for the next reader to find.  Hello, unknown reader, I would scribble on an index card.  Don't you love page 47?   

3.  With a geonarrative, you have the chance to add to the reading experience, interact with other readers.  You can leave them a token, leave them a note.  This text has wide margins in which you can write, and you will know that many others will read your marginalia.

4.  Built into the Kickstarter campaign is the notion the impulse to build community -- to thread communities with stories, to lace together readers and writers and region.

5.  Also built into the Kickstarter campaign is the possibility for real author-reader interaction -- the names of participants built into narratives, sometimes narratives tailored to the participant, the line between character and reader smudged.  

6.  Geonarratives work to interrogate the gap between the space we inhabit and the story-space we explore.  This Kickstarter campaign allows for this to happen in perhaps a very direct manner.

7.  Because everything we write and read should be all or nothing, shouldn't it?  Let's go all in for each other just this once, okay?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why is Geonarrative?, Part One

1.)  It's fun.

2.)  A story read in a book or on a screen is like a long silk scarf pulled through a knothole.  A story read in Geonarrative is a dance of scarves.  A traditional text unfurls in time.  A Geonarrative unfurls in time AND space.

3.)  Degrees of active engagement.  A story read in a book asks you to translate marks on page/screen into words into language into image into story blooming in mind.  A Geonarrative asks you to locate those words (and translate them into language into image into story in bloom) and not only read them, but read them in context, read the surroundings, read the text and the surroundings together, and read your self in those surroundings reading those words.

4.)  A page/screen story is a single blossom.  A Geonarrative is a field of flowers.

5.)  Leaves of grass.

6.)  Stories on page/screen render technology invisible (to some degree, to the degree one enters a fictional dream, that is to say, how much language to image to story makes one forget the spine of the book the press that put letters on the page the pixels the waves the illumination (to the degree of realism, to the degree to which even experimental fictions do not resist the tidal pull of narrative)).  Geonarratives render your relationship with technology quite visible.

7.)  Geonarratives make landscape visible.

8.)  A page/screen story is to some degree patriarchal.  A Geonarrative wants to interrogate the patriarchy.

9.)  A Geonarrative (assuming caches with logs, with prizes, with something you take and something you leave) reminds you of a community of readers.

10.)  Your legs move.  Your heart pushes blood.  You take in air.  Your legs and heart and lungs are part of the reading of this Geonarrative.

11.)  Gotta catch'em all.

12.)  Geonarrative reminds us that there are hidden narratives all around us, in the faint scar of abandoned railroad tracks, in the cracked sidewalk, in the park and the neighborhood and forest and rock.  The narratives we impose upon ourselves, and the landscape, and each other.  Story fizzes and sparks about us.


14.)  It's kind of fun.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What is Geonarrative?

Geonarrative is a new way to put stories out into the world, an experiment in "publishing" that also pokes and tugs at form and the reading experience.  It combines the art of storytelling with geocaching technology.

Geocaching is a supercool high-tech treasure hunt.  Geocachers download a geocaching app to their electronic device, which gives them a longitude and a latitude for a hidden cache, plus clues to locate that cache.  Caches can be anything -- boxes, tubes, other weather-proofed containers that hold surprises and logs, so that searchers can record their discovery.  

I plan to write stories or essays that are broken apart and hidden and can be discovered by anyone who's interested in geocaching.  The first piece I plan to install will be a story in 7 self-contained fragments, so that they can be read in any order.  I'll install them in a walkable distance from each other around the LeClaire historic district in Edwardsville, IL.  Once all the fragments are read, a larger narrative will emerge.