In Middle English [cunt] could be used as a standard term for the female genitalia, in a manner that was quite matter-of-fact. The earliest instance of the word recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary is actually from the name of a 13th-century London street, Gropecuntelane. The name appears to have been quite literal, and there was at least one other red-light district of the same name, in Oxford. One of the next recorded uses of the word comes from a circa-1400 surgery manual and uses the word much like vagina might be used today: “In women the neck of the bladder is short, and is made fast to the cunt.” Others have noted that some people in the 13th and 14th centuries also had the word in their names, in a way that seems unlikely today: Some men and women at that time included Bele Wydecunthe, Robert Clevecunt, and Gunoka Cuntles. Indeed, as Geoffrey Hughes wrote in his book Swearing, there were many such colorful names, but “the days when the dandelion could be called thepissabed, a heron could be called a shitecrow and the windhover could be called the windfuckerhave passed away with the exuberant phallic advertisement of the codpiece.”
The word became more offensive over the next few centuries. While Chaucer used the variant ‘quaint’ in both the Miller’s Tale (“he caught her by the quaint”) and the Wife of Bath’s Tale (“you hall have quaint right enough at eve”), Shakespeare dared only to slyly allude to the word. In Hamlet, for example, when Ophelia tells Hamlet that, yes, he can lie on her lap, Hamlet puns in his response: “Do you think I meant country matters?” In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare finds a coded way to spell out the word, when Malvolio recognizes his lady’s “C’s, her U’s, ‘n’ her Ts.” (“Thus makes her great P’s,” he continues, in what amounts to an elaborate potty joke.)
The situated documentary allows us to examine the emerging transformation of the storytelling model of journalism from the analog to the digital age. In the traditional model of analog journalism, storytelling is dominated by a linear presentation of facts, typically from beginning to end. The audience experiences the story in a passive—almost voyeuristic—mode. Stories tend to have a single or sometimes dual modality of media forms (e.g. text, or text combined with photographs, infographics, audio, and video). A story is published and fixed in time. Corrections might be published later as an afterthought. Stories tend to be based on events, and as such, are episodic rather than contextual. The voice of a typical story is that of a third-person narrative, perhaps best characterized by legendary CBS Evening News Anchor Walter Cronkite’s signature sign-off, “And that’s the way it is.”
The new media storytelling model is nonlinear. The storyteller conceptualizes the audience member not as a consumer of the story engaged in a third-person narrative, but rather as a participant engaged in a first-person narrative. The storyteller invites the participant to explore the story in a variety of ways, perhaps beginning in the middle, moving across time or space, or by topic. Nonlinear storytelling may come as a bit of a shock to some traditional journalists, but it is possible to adapt to new technology without sacrificing quality or integrity.
~John V. Pavlik and Frank Bridges’ monograph, The Emergence of Augmented Reality (AR) as a Storytelling Medium in Journalism, published in Journalism and Communcitaion Monographs, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring 2013. (via virtual300)
FJP: This came across my Twitter radar a few days ago where Jill Falk was kind enough to share the quote. It’s an interesting concept and one that has roots beyond contemporary multimedia storytelling.
For example, my favorite books growing up were of the choose your own adventure variety. You read a chapter and were then told to proceed to chapter X, Y or Z depending on your plot desires. Later, as a teenager, I was fascinated by Julio Cortázar’s “Hopscotch”. The table of contents told you you could read the book traditionally, from Page 01 to the end. It also gave you an alternative reading. That is, read Chapter 01, then jump about nilly-willy, forward and back between chapters. The end result is a type of narrative driven more by “impressions” than linear storytelling.
William Burroughs did this as well. “Naked Lunch” can supposedly be read any which way. Front to back, back to front, jumping about the middle. It’s all good. Urban legend has it that Burroughs dropped the manuscript on the way to his publisher. Despite pages spilled on the ground there were no worries. Again, the book could be read any which way so he gathered the pages up, stuffed them in his binder and continued on his way.
Film plays with this too. Fans of Memento enjoy the front to back and back to front chronologies. Other films employ this technique as well. Back in the 1960s, Jean Luc Goddard famously remarked, “I agree that a film should have a beginning, a middle and an end but not necessarily in that order.”
So let’s go back to multimedia storytelling with the Internet as a primary distribution platform. The underappreciated hyperlink is our key to moving back and forth within a narrative. Our design and UX considerations help control where the story inquisitor might go. But despite our best intentions, that independent viewer is going to pick and choose his or her way through a narrative.
Check our Multimedia Tag for references here. These are stories that have beginning, middle and end. But they’re also stories where the viewer chooses what his or her beginning, middle and end actually is. Site visitors are independent operators. We can try to guide them with our design but they’ll go where interest guides them to go.
Which brings me in a roundabout way to the crux of the matter — multimedia storytelling or not — and that’s the atomic unit of online consumption.
This is a concept that’s been around for a while now. In my interpretation it means something like this: Whatever you do, whatever you post, whatever you research, whatever you pour your heart and soul into, the following will happen: your story will be sliced and diced and shared on social networks and otherwise refactored elsewhere. This could be the mere title. It could be a sentence buried deep within you article. It could be seconds 00:45 - 00:55 of a video. It could be an animated gif of that video. It could be metadata of the information that you produce. It could be an API mashup of all the above.
Simply, whatever story you produce, and whatever media you use to produce it in, your content will be broken down into its smallest parts and shared on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, blogs and the like.
This is not a bad thing. It’s an agnostic thing. This is remix culture.
Simply and unambiguously, we must deal with it. And from this side of the Internet, we deal with it pleasurably so. — Michael
Are writers happy they became writers? Until someone conducts a survey —- and I hope they will — it remains an open question. At the moment, it is at the heart of a quarrel between Elizabeth Gilbert and (indirectly) Philip Roth. It all started a few months ago, on the Paris Review Daily, when one Julian Tepper published a piece describing an encounter with Roth at an Upper West Side deli. Waiting on his hero’s table, Tepper tremulously presented Roth with “Balls,” his first novel. Roth warmly congratulated him, and then offered: “I would quit while you’re ahead. Really. It’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and you write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.” Soon after this exchange, Roth announced that he’d quit writing. Apparently, he’s never been happier…
…But what did he really mean by it? My guess is that he was joking. Which isn’t to say that he wasn’t serious. It was a serious joke. Roth’s cranky advice for the young writer is an old Jewish chestnut. The sages of the Talmud offered the same piece of advice to anyone who wanted to join the faith: don’t do it, it’s seriously not worth it, it’s just an objectively bad idea. The ancient rabbis suggest that you ask a potential convert, “Are you not aware that today the people of Israel are wretched, driven about, exiled and in constant suffering?” It’s a rhetorical question. But if the person replies that he or she indeed embraces wretchedness and constant suffering, you explain to him or her how taxing it is to practice the religion. You mention the gruesome punishments for breaking the Sabbath and other laws. You try very hard to dissuade any would-be applicants. You mess with them—and that is how you welcome them. Joining, in other words, happens through a process of opposition, irony, and dissent. If you’re going to join a messed-up club, you have to pass the messed-up entrance exam. You enter into the sect only when you push back, when you finally say, Listen, I don’t care what you tell me. I know it’s a bad idea, but I’m determined to do it, and I will do it.
That’s the kind of a person it takes to be a writer: someone who’s zealous and ready to argue, someone who has Philip Roth tell him, “It’s torture, don’t do it,” and replies, “You had me at ‘torture.’
A translator is a professional schizophrenic, continuously wandering on the edge, risking his sanity in the crashing zone of two languages and two cultures. He is operating in an elevated state of mind, as if in trance––indeed, it is a creative trance, a state of bipolarity, of being at two places simultaneously, moving parallel in two worlds. In this sense, he is an exotic stranger, an itinerant of the ever-growing literary world. Invisibly, condemned to solitude, he enters this atypical state of awareness, becomes a trance-later.