The First Viewing

Wow. Very intense. The words "put the beer case in her trunk" - or something similar were the first things that appeared, and they looked all blurry - like I was seeing things through the eyes of a drunk. The introduction to this piece was very different than reading "...and by islands, I mean paragraphs." When I started that piece, I felt immediately adrift, lost, overwhelmed by the white space. Starting this piece, spurred me into survival mode instantly. Maybe it was the intensity of the drum beats and the music, maybe it was the blurry letters demanding me to focus, but where I felt lost in the Islands piece, I felt very present in Dakota.

The music was familiar from powwows I've attended growing up and also at the University of North Dakota where I went to college, but the intensity added to the mood of reading this.

The words came at me so fast, I couldn't process it all - also making me feel like I was under the influence of something and synapses were not firing or connecting like they were supposed to. I felt a little uneasy about missing out, but I just kept up the best I could. I realized they were drinking, talking about dying young, talking about relationships, something about a gun...lots of comments about Elvis, some about Marilyn Monroe - others comments about people and things I don't know about... stuff I couldn't read fast enough.
The discussion of their lives echoed what I've read from Native American writers - addictions, depressions, broken relationships, sexual imagery, disillusion, violence, hopelessness, ambiguous identities... It made me think especially of Sherman Alexie's work, and specifically his latest novella, Flight.

Some words and phrases are big and slow, while others zip by before I can even take them in. It's like trying to look out a car window while driving fast, all the sights whip past and disappear - leaving you with just impressions or suggestions about what you might have actually seen.

I noticed all the O's (I think) were written with the crossed out line through them. No _ allowed. I'm not sure what to make of that.

When the singers started singing, it jolted me out of my focused attention. I lost sight of the words for a minute and had to readjust.

Second Viewing

The countdown - ramps up the suspense.
A group of people are heading out on a ride in a car - warm sun, beer in the trunk, to a seems to be deserted and depressed reservation. "a place that Cindy would have hated." We've been introduced to Cindy - because we know the group is in her brother's car, but we wonder... what happened to Cindy? They pull into parking spaces and drink their beer and eat sandwiches and talk trash and lament their label of the lost youth - dying young - getting old fast - Then they get to the pain of losing a friend, another member of the gang and some girl, both shot. The pain leads him drink more, break the beer bottles, cry and vomit...the emotions are raw... he starts to say crude things about his boss and his boss's wife - and then Elvis shows up like some sort of savior, singing some song. Then he seems to be crying now - about someone named Elie who was killed. Same person he was talking about before? They brought him back to Cindy's all beat up, but it was too late. He died. But this guy didn't go to his funeral. He begins talking to Elie - but I think Elie is the one who died, so it's probably just a vision
unless I missed something
totally possible
it's all moving so quickly. Elie blames them for not helping, not caring, not even remembering him at his funeral... criticizes them for wallowing in self-pity when he's the one who died young. The guy's mom shows up, but then goes away, and Elvis shows up again, and this time, he gives advice to the guy. Then mom comes back... by the end, I am confused because it seems to be in Korea, commenting on the lives of Korean business men...

Discoveries

What is Buhaina? And Who is Art Blakey? - - Okay - Buhaina is the album title of Jazz musician Art Blakey. The album came out in 1973 - a date mentioned in the story. Donald Byrd? - Jazz trumpeter. Ray Bryant? - A Jazz pianist.
What is BN/4005/v.2? -- The answer to this led me to an interesting find. A |chapter in a book called the Thresholds of Listening. In chapter 11 (partially produced for free on Google), the author analyzes Dakota. The chapter was dense, and I didn't get it all, but here were my main take-aways.
  1. I guess this piece is actually a remake of Homer's The Odyssey which was remade by Ezra Pound in Cantos. The author shows an interesting construction of the the parallels. I wish I had found this sooner because the text for Dakota is replicated, and it would have made my second viewing experience easier.
  2. The piece can be categorized as performance poetry - and the author compares it to listening to jazz music. This makes sense of the jazz references. The author compares reading Dakota to listening.

Reflections
I agree with the author, |Kiene Wurth, that reading this piece was more like listening. Not just because of the music in the background, but because of the lack of control I had on when or how I read the text. When it happened fast, I had to read fast, when it was slow, I had to read slow. When it was repeated, it was like a rhythm... when it faded into the background, it got quieter, when it was big on the screen, it got louder. The voice in my mind responded to these conventions of pacing, volume, rhythm...

Some questions to consider in the (required) notes

*My role as a reader for this text was silent audience with no control. As a reader, I am able to react (when big, bold print F-word comes across the screen), recoil when sexually explicit text is on the screen, lean in when the words fade and shrink beyond what my vision is capable of seeing... to sum up. I am not in control, but I am invited to engage. Almost forced to. As a reader, I came away with the feeling that I had to watch it again.
*As the general public, I think it's expected that the reader will be comfortable enough with literature to not be intimidated by the fact that you're not going to get it all the first time - or maybe even after several viewings/readings. Some of the words just go by too quickly. You are expected to pay attention - I'd say close attention, but not so much as a way to track the plot from beginning to end, but as a way of collecting bits and pieces and finding some connections as you go.
*The use of technology was interesting in this case. The beginning replicates old cinema with the countdown and the fading black to gray screens before the text appears. The unpredictable pacing of the text, the constant fluctuations of font size and words per screen, the drums and singing in the background is all designed for us, but we as users of the technology are just asked to passively sit and take it in. The mind is engaged, but there's no technological interaction.
It also makes me think of Krug - issues pertaining to usability, navigation, conventions. I didn't have to navigate this text because I was just a passenger, but I still had to understand the conventions being used, and it forced me to think.
*This text was like poetry, prose, music, fiction, memoir, film. For such a short and unique piece, I was surprised at how much of a visual it created in my head. I don't have a really strong sense of the storyline, especially towards the end, but I do have very vivid pictures in my mind of the characters in the convertible, spilling out their guts in the parking lot

* It definitely made me think. And it made me use the tools I had to help me. I watched it on the ipad. So, the second time around, I tried to go back, pause, re-read, pause... especially during the rapid sequences of text. I had to look things up on Google to figure out who the names belonged to.
The way it made me think was to think at a pace I wasn't able to keep up with. It forced me. It was an adrenaline rush - like a fight to survive.

There are no comments on this page.
Valid XHTML :: Valid CSS: :: Powered by WikkaWiki