““The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” -Alice Walker
“The Marilyn Monroe Effect” was created with the intent to put a different perspective on what people believe to be beautiful, sexual and power. I wanted to use the idea of chaos to display my message while also trying to make it as relevant as to today as I possibly could. Technology is still advancing and it is continuing to become more and more chaotic. For this reason, I used five different songs and remixed them together to show just how much more anxious the use of media has become. Instead of Jazz music, I used House music because that is the music that is most commonly played at parties and clubs today. I also used the song “Fashonista” by Jimmy James to start the video and then I used to weather warning signal and vhs disturbance to finish the video. I wanted to create a clear line of how the ideas of beauty can still be pulled back to Marilyn Monroe and the warning of how her life was irrevocably destroyed by the media. The main video clip I used was of Kendall Jenner’s Love campaign in which she models while doing voice-over of Marilyn’s voice and music to indicate the level of fiction that stems behind this obsession with icons. I also overlapped different advertisements and digital art to re-emphasize how these types of messages influence society. There is a subtle loop in the video where I repeated one of the Marilyn lines Kendall says to portray how these messages are fed to us over and over again, as well as a couple images of clocks to create the timeless feel to this ongoing problem. All of the images used to overlap the videos are pulled from social media sites such as Pinterest and different magazine advertisements. My overall intention of my work is to use the same form of media that is constantly put in front of us, but with a different filter to attempt to pull out an awareness that is very much needed now.
There is no way that can we change the pressure of gender stereotypes, advertisements and women’s objectification when it comes to sexuality over night. Just like anything else in life if you believe something to be real, then it becomes real in your mind. Create your own awareness and remember that society ideals are not exterior forces out of our control. We are society.
For the full corresponding paper you can click on the link below to read it in more detail on my blog.
By definition, an icon varies depending if it is depicted from a person or a thing. However, they are very similar in nature. According to the Cambridge dictionary, an icon is “a small picture or symbol on a computer screen that you point to and click on with a mouse to give the computer an instruction.” An icon has also become socially known as a famous person who is believed to represent an idealistic way of life or values. Norma Geane, born June 1, 1926 is the most well known icon of beauty that the world has ever known. Through the work of the media and societal pressures of gender stereotypes, Marilyn Monroe’s beauty became the standard that is still unparalleled years later. The image of Marilyn Monroe surpassed her own life and death. Her image is still plastered all over advertising and merchandise. One thing seldom discussed is that Marilyn Monroe was a creation by the media. Her name, her body, and her voice were ficticous elements molded to continue the age-old problem of gender stereotypes. Today, when people present themselves as progressive, it is interesting that the majority of advertising is still based on gender stereotypes and the idea of what beauty is and the weight of power it continues to hold. Stereotypical media images of women are part of our daily landscape. Are these images a reflection of our societal values or are they misinterpreted distortions constantly thrown at us?
My project serves as an argument that it is both the consumer and the advertiser who are at fault for the continuous cycle of gender stereotypes. Through a clear feedback loop of women sold to society as icons and in return people taking these images as reflections of power and spitting it back out, one can see the endless cycle of an idea of what beauty is. In my project I use an icon of today, Kendall Jenner who recently did a voice over of Marilyn Monroe to portray how a media icon lives beyond a person and how the immortality impacts society in a negative and destructive way.
In 1876 Charles Reade, a famous English novelist, wrote about a woman that was seen from a far in his story “Art: A Dramatic Tale”. There is a part specifically in which the character Alexander falls in love with the theatre, but then his affection becomes specified to a woman.
So now Alexander Oldworthy lived for the stage; and as the pearl is a disease of the oyster, so this siren became Alexander’s disease. The enthusiast lost his hold of real life. Real life became to him an interlude, and soon that followed which was to be expected the poor novice who had begun by adoring the artists, ended by loving the woman, and he loved her like a novice and a poet; he looked into his own heart confounded it with her hers, and clothed her with every heroic quality. He believed her as great in mind, and as good in heart, as she was lovely in person, and we would have given poem to be permitted to kiss her dress, or lay his neck for a moment under her foot. Burning to attract her attention, yet to humble and timid to make an open attempt, he had at last recourse to his own art. Every day he wrote verses upon her, and sent them to her house. Every night after the play he watched at the stage door for a glimpse of her as she came of theatre to her carriage… (Reade120)
Charles Reade describes an issue that has become timeless. He believed her to be real so she became real. When looking at beauty icons such as Marilyn Monroe who came almost one hundred years later the similarities are still striking. There are public videos that show men literally falling at Marilyn’s feet and worshiping her for being so beautiful. However, there are a few important details that are rarely discussed. Marilyn Monroe is a factious creation produced and sold by the media. Marilyn Monroe was born as Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926. In 1946 the actress became to be known as Marilyn, but she didn’t legally change her name until 1956. There is said to be several different claims on who named Marilyn, but the most common and (most likely true) according to various biographies of the actress, her name was changed by Fox Talent scout Ben Lyon, who got Marilyn her first movie gig.
Marilyn Monroe was also one of the first actresses in Hollywood to openly go under the knife for plastic surgery becoming the blonde bombshell that society has come to know. There is a lot that wasn’t said when It came to Marilyn’s transformation, but it has become stated over time that her male representatives wanted her to change her nose, her chin, and hair so that she could fit the image of beauty that they were trying to portray. Marilyn herself was often speculated to have been very shy, self conscious, and continuously dealt with depression. However, on camera she became known for her beauty, her sexuality, and her zest for life. Similarly to Rede’s character Alexander, society believed Marilyn to be real, so she became real. Marilyn’s career was fairly short lived. Marilyn was often cast in the role of the “dumb blonde” based off her physical attributes. Marilyn Monroe died when she was 36 years old. Despite the obvious tragedy surrounding losing a woman at such a young age her sexuality is still branded, sold, and packaged as an ideal of beauty today.
The Documentary Film Miss Representation, filmed in 2011, discusses some of the main issues of having such a pressurized idea of female sexuality and how it deeply affects women of all ages in society. “The media is shaping our society. They are shaping our politics, natural discourse and child’s brains and emotions.” With all of the technological advancements over the last decade there is really no point in trying to say that the media is bad or distorted. The distortions created through advertisement are relatively obvious. Women have been objectified throughout history. The problem did not begin with the creation of media. The important thing is to just have a deep understanding and an education of what specific advertisements are aiming to do. It might be believed that society’s power is based solely off of looks and not power, but it’s statements like that, that disallow room for change. People constantly say “society” like it’s this exterior thing that we have no control over, but we are society. This is where the feedback loop comes into play. This is how the problems of gender stereotyping and sexuality become timeless issues. “American Teenagers spend 31 hours a week watching TV, 17 hours listening to music, 3 hours watching movies, 4 hours reading magazines, 10 hours online. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption a day.” (MissRepresentation)
In the film Miss Representation the documentary begins with a quote from Alice Walker. It says, “the most common way people give up their power, is by thinking that they don’t have any.” With all of the outlets of the media now there is no way to control the speed and the type of information thrown at us. There are thousands upon thousands advertisements shown to us in one day telling the way to behave and the way to look. Advertisements cost a lot of money. They continue to recycle when people go out and buy what they are selling. Advertisements set out to make people feel insecure. There is a consistent pressure for both men and women to fit the roles of predetermined gender stereotypes. “The average facelift costs $11,429.” When this film was created in 2011 that was enough to pay 5 years at a community college, 2 years at a state university and 1 year at the university of California. Tuition prices have gone up since the creation of the Miss Representation documentary. During the time of Marilyn Monroe, pictures were airbrushed to smooth out obvious imperfections. Today, computers are used to make models look inhumanly perfect. These images are then sent out into the world and sold as attainable with the purchase of certain products or ideas.
In order for me to try to really understand how advertisement is able to shape the identities of young girls all the way into adulthood, I first began my research at a magazine stand. I grabbed ‘Vogue’ a women’s magazine, ‘Seventeen’ a teenage magazine, and “Girl’s Life” a magazine for girls. As objective as possible, I read each magazine cover to cover and wrote down observations in verbatim in which they were written. I would say 85% of the Vogue magazine was a picture of advertisements with very few words to describe them. Most, if not all, of these advertisements were primarily focused on the sexuality of a woman and not of a product. The magazine Seventeen had less pictures, but I would say every three pictures there was some sort of sexual objectification to sell a product. Most of the magazine consisted of clothes, beauty tips and how to decipher young men. The Girl’s Life magazine had the clearest direction of the three magazines. On the cover in bold letters there are phrases written like, “Shy girl to boss babe”, “Things EVERY Confident Girl Knows and you should too!” and “Make Over Your Life” slapped across the cover. Every article in the magazine is directed with some sort of command whether it be “must try”, “you should”, or “rules you truly need.” The editor of the magazine is in her thirties, but begins this month’s note to the reader by saying, “Hi, my name is Karen, and I am a control freak.” The last page of the magazine is a quiz to find out if you are a control freak and how you can change. The ages demographic for this magazine are ages 8-15. I think the biggest concern here is for the young girls who are in search of their own identities and are being told how to have one. This is just one media outlet. There are many through multiple technological devices that are set to do the same thing.
In this last month the media has been cycling through what is being called the “Kendall Jenner Effect”. Kendall Jenner is a part of the Kardashian clan who are very similar to Marilyn Monroe in the way that they sell a specific idea of beauty and sexuality to the media to be famous. The Kendall Jenner effect is the exploration of how social media is beginning to define the modeling world. According to the latest issue of vogue magazine, several models are no longer being booked for high profile gigs if their follower account on instagram dips lower than 10,000 people. Kendall Jenner is now the face of the global ambassador for, cosmetics pioneer, Estee Lauder. Estee Lauder brand president, Jane Hertzmark, was quoted saying “[Kendall] is the ultimate Instagirl, and we are excited to leverage her image, voice, energy, and extraordinary social media power to introduce Estée Lauder to millions of young women around the world.” By putting such a heavy emphasis on social media icons, we are once again being shaped not only by their clothes and their faces, but also by their lifestyles. Similarly to Marilyn Monroe, the ideas of these lives are not real or attainable, but they are continued to be branded and packaged as if they were.
Throughout time, within many aspects, women were thought to be different from men. Feminist theory states that women have wrongly been objectified, discriminated against and thought of to be softer and more emotional than men. Women often found themselves living within a patriarchal society, which privileged men to inherently assume power, generally leaving women to assume marital and motherhood roles. Part of feminist conception disputes that women should not inherent marital and motherhood roles on the sole reason of being female, but rather women should be free and equal to assimilate to any role assumed by the male gender. According to Linda Alcoff, professor of philosophy at Hunter College, “for many contemporary feminist theorists, the concept of women is a problem.” Oxford Dictionaries defines feminism as the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. During a time when the media begins to shift even more to an idea of beauty rather than a reality, the Digital Media can be continued to be used a platform to create awareness on what is happening. For example, Mary Shelly’s Patchwork girl uses hypertext in order to accurately display how a woman’s body is split into pieces and not seen as a whole. There is an acute measurement of Marilyn Monroe’s entire body shown for the public eye. It is only one example of a patchwork girl, but it is a good foundation to understanding how women are depicted apart. In Patchwork Girl, Shelly Jackson uses hypertext to converse the issues of feminism allowing the readers to come to their own conclusions in a nonlinear way. It is interesting to present a discussion this way because the Internet combats ideas of beauty in a very similar way.
The two generations of E-Lit Separate works like Patchwork Girl with works like Dakota by Oung-hae Chang Heavy Industries, flashing fiction. The first generation uses hypertext and the second-generation uses multimedia and flash images. Both project similar overall messages, but just use different platforms to get across to the reader. Patchwork Girl, although the navigation of it can be frustrating, is not meant to stimulate as much anxiety as work like Dakota that uses flashing to stimulate an idea or an action. Dakota still uses words to reflect an image, but the words flash quickly across the screen with a disarmament of loud music to create distractions and make it harder to read. It has been stated that Dakota is meant to reference a poem by Ezra Pound, but I don’t think that similarities of how the media has become chaotic over the last two decades and the chaos of this work of art can be ignored as simple coincidence. The music used in Dakota itself, jazz, is known for being chaotic and Avant-garde, to have no reason whom rhythm behind it. Trying to read text on top of it can symbolize the way that people have sort through the media on a day-to-day basis in order to understand what is really being said.
Dakota heavily inspired my own project, “The Marilyn Monroe Effect”. Dakota was created in 2002, so I did want to use the idea of chaos to display my message while also trying to make it as relevant as to today as I possibly could. Technology is still advancing and it is continuing to become more and more chaotic. For this reason, I used five different songs and remixed them together to show just how much more anxious the use of media has become. Instead of Jazz music, I used House music because that is the music that is most commonly played at parties and clubs today. I also used the song “Fashonista” by Jimmy James to start the video and then I used to weather warning signal and vhs disturbance to finish the video. I wanted to create a clear line of how the ideas of beauty can still be pulled back to Marilyn Monroe and the warning of how her life was irrevocably destroyed by the media. The main video clip I used was of Kendall Jenner’s Love campaign in which she models while doing voice-over of Marilyn’s voice and music to indicate the level of fiction that stems behind this obsession with icons. I also overlapped different advertisements and digital art to re-emphasize how these types of messages influence society. There is a subtle loop in the video where I repeated one of the Marilyn lines Kendall says to portray how these messages are fed to us over and over again, as well as a couple images of clocks to create the timeless feel to this ongoing problem. All of the images used to overlap the videos are pulled from social media sites such as Pinterest and different magazine advertisements. My overall intention of my work is to use the same form of media that is constantly put in front of us, but with a different filter to attempt to pull out an awareness that is very much needed now.
DAKOTA. Oung-hae Chang Heavy Industries, 2011. Web. 07 May 2017.
Jackson, Shelley. Patchwork Girl. Watertown, Ma.: Eastgate Systems, 2001. Print.
“Miss Representation.” The Representation Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.
Morgan, Michelle. Marilyn Monroe: Private and Confidential. New York: Skyhorse Pub., 2012. Print.
Muller, Marissa G. “The Kendall Jenner Effect: How Social Media Is Changing Modeling.” MTV News. N.p., 11 May 2015. Web. 07 May 2017.
Reade, Charles. The Complete Works of Charles Reade. New York: Kelmscott Society, n.d. Print.
Spoto, Donald. Marilyn Monroe: The Biography. New York: Cooper Square, 2001. Print.
Eight and half hours. Eight and half hours. That’s how long it took from the pain to start finish. I know, because I counted down twenty minutes at a time, praying to God that I wouldn’t be throwing up and laying on the floor of a public bathroom, or dying in the front seat of a car on the way to the ER, or passed out on the emergency room floor laying on God knows what, surrounded by people, or laying on a gurney in the hallway behind the receptionist booth waiting to get some fucking pain killers. For Eight and a half hours the pain didn’t stop, it didn’t progress or lessen in any way. Eight and a half hours I felt like a knife had been struck into the upper right quadrant of my stomach and the knife was being carved around the inside of my organs similarly to how you might carve a pumpkin for Halloween.
Needless to say I regretted that tantalizing glass of Merlot. I felt in the time I waited that it was the Reaper come to flirt at my door one last time. Of course, I didn’t have this thought until after I was heavily medicated. I was completely out of my mind during those eight hours. Honestly, the only thing I could really do was torture myself by keeping track of time–also not a thing to do that I would recommend to anyone else. I suppose if I had any thought during the episode it was just a biological response. I wanted the pain to stop.
It was a bit stupid of me really. I had finally broken down I took a drink to ease the pain. The drink in return gave me even more pain, reminding me, again that it can get worse and I deeply regretted every moment following that first drink of wine.
I drank the wine because I was angry. I wanted to tell the world to fuck off. I wanted to tell everyone to fuck off. I think it’s easy to refer to someone as an inspiration or a martyr of sorts when you only know what they’ve faced and that they survived. I doubt I am half of the hero they believe me to be in their heads. There are some days I get up, tell myself that I can’t predict the future and I remain optimistic. However, when life throws you down in the dirt and then continuously walks over you while you’re down there it’s a little hard to always be a beacon of hope.
Truth is, I’ve never been good at accepting that I have limitations. The last two years have been challenging because for the first time I have truly been restricted by my circumstances and it pisses me off.
It was good wine…if that makes a difference. My ‘fuck-off-glass’ was every bit satisfying as I imagined it to be. Or at least it was, until I was throwing up and laying on the floor in a public bathroom. (Can cross that one off my bucket list.)
Seriously though, it was the wrong choice. I am only admitting my dirty deed on here because I want to send a message. I know I’m not the only person who has ever wanted to tell it all to fuck off, but next time I’m going to do it in a way that doesn’t hurt me. If you want to be a survivor, then you have to survive. You can’t cut yourself from the picture or make yourself weaker because you feel like you’ll never see the light again. All I did was turn a mountain into a volcano.
Right now, i’m not okay. Nothing that’s going on in my life is okay. But It is okay, not to be okay. I have to believe that right now to get me to the next steps of this recovery. If anyone wants to be inspired by me, I hope that they will be inspired by that.
We do not exist in a world that is fully bad. There are times when the glass is far below half empty, but there is always something else out there to reach onto. If you’re drowning, start reaching. If you don’t reach out then you will drown.
I’ve been sort of aimlessly swimming/drowning on and off for the last few years and fuck, it is not easy to reach for help when your being metaphorically crushed under life’s cruel circumstances, but I do. Like I said if you don’t reach, you’ll drown. Not to say that there aren’t times when it takes a long time for someone or something to reach back…sometimes you have to keep swimming even when your legs are raw and you don’t feel like your getting anywhere. Any amount of effort is better than just drowning.
I’ve been called an inspiration a few times, but I don’t think of myself as someone who does little else than the bare minimum. The only remarkable thing about it, is that I haven’t drowned.
A lot of factors go into my ongoing survival, but the best way to put it are words I borrowed from a friend, “Don’t be a victim. Be a survivor” because that’s what I am, a survivor. And despite life’s best shot of tearing me down I want to survive.
Perhaps the most difficult part of growing up is letting go of the person who we thought we were and were going to be. For me, anyways, that has been the hardest. I may have picked up some very valuable lessons from many hardships and transitions, but I can’t deny that I did like the person I was a year ago. I was in school, I was happy in love and careless, and to my knowledge I was healthy. Being sick has weighed so heavy on me that I hardly recognize who I once was in the mirror. I think that’s the part about growing up that makes things hard. Sometimes life throws this huge curveball at you and the only thing you can do after being pushed down is to let go.
I’m still getting pushed down. I’m still trying to let go.
Chapter 1 “Waiting for Eternity”
He told me I died.
That I was buried underneath the watery debris of the fallen dam I had been walking on moments before, causing my lungs to burst…and I died. It’s amazing how quick a life can be taken away. In one moment you’re there, and the next you’re just gone.
I was still working past the initial shock. What came after death wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. There was no bright light, no silver lining, no out of body experience.
In movies I had seen they always show the person crossing over to embrace a deceased loved one. I had been half-expecting Grandma Marie to be waiting for me and holding a pile of cookies. I wasn’t expecting a sullen skinny man named Gilbert.
The room I was currently in—well if I can even call it that—was white, just an endless chain of sanitary nothing.
“Where am I?” I asked.
“You died” he had said, plain and simple. As if there was nothing complicated about it. I knew that voice he used, my father had used it often. ‘It is what it is, and there’s nothing you can do about it now’. It was how he had reasoned with everything. My father and I were so different. I saw things with meaning and affection and, well, he didn’t.
“My name is Gilbert. I’ve been assigned to be your guide through this decision process. Tell me Alexandria, do you remember how you got here?”
I could hardly forget it. I was still coughing up water, could still feel my throat burning and my fear of not being able to breathe—drowning was a very unpleasant feeling.
He continued to stare at me through cold stony eyes. He looked human. He had sandy blonde hair and blue eyes, but there was no depth to him. He had no lines showing that he had ever fallen in love, been disappointed, or ever been afraid. He was just empty.
“The difference between you and I is that you still have your humanity. This is the place where you are cleansed before taken up to what is beyond.” He said coolly. “Your death was very unexpected so you have a choice to stay here or to go back to earth and continue a human life for one more year. There you will be permitted to deal with any unfinished business you may have.”
My thoughts seemed to get lost from the time Gilbert talked to me to the point where I had been ushered away like cattle to another room. Although the things he had told me were slowly starting to seep back into my consciences I was far to absorbed in the idea of getting the chance to go home to really listen to them.
Of course with any offer that was usually too good to be true there were some repercussions. He said as long as I had my humanity I would be easily perceptible to demons and seduction. If seduced I myself would become a demon and would carry out the job to seduce other potential crossovers. However I had already made up my mind on a impulse long before he could tell me about how dangerous it was.
He had me stand in one of two lines with a bunch of offhanded people in my soaked squashy shoes and dripping wet hair. As far as I could tell all of the people who had died suddenly were in my line and the others who died old or with a long term illness, who had prepared themselves for death, were in the other.
The white sanitary (well, whatever this place was) was filled with people, all dressed in a wide variety of outfits—whatever you were wearing when you died, that was what you were stuck with until you made the cross over. So if you died naked in a bath tub, that was it, stark naked for everyone to see. Everyone was very calm though, very still—not at all what you would expect a large crowd to look like.
Even I felt the strange sereneness from this place. I only had my thoughts to keep me company.
There were several pillars spread out through the wide room, but they blended in well with the rest of the white placements. There were four desks at the top of the lines where people who were as voided of their humanity as Gilbert were waiting. The marble floor looked ancient and new at the same time. Like it was made out of something you would see in Greek mythology, but it was so polished that it didn’t look aged.
I thought about how I ran away from home. I wasn’t sure how long ago it was now. Based on the medieval outfits and wide circus tent dresses I got the feeling that time wasn’t linear here. It had been pouring buckets of rain, but in my stubborn state I couldn’t see the danger in that scenario. My mother was yelling at me and I was yelling for reasons I can’t even remember…I knew my father would just take her side so I packed my backpack and snuck out my window. I thought I could just drop out of school and join a band or something awesome like that.
There was a dam that separated my house from the town, from my escape, and I tried to climb over it. Half way there the flood swallowed the sticks and pulled me down with it. I wondered if my family even knew I was gone. Would they care? Would it even make a difference?
“Alexandria Watson” a woman spoke softly motioning with her long stiff neck for me to take a seat in the chair across from her desk.
The lady sitting across from me—Petunia Plattwood, she said was her name—was oblivious to my inner struggle. She just sat there behind her desk, patiently as if nothing affected her. This seemed to be a pattern here. I suppose I couldn’t expect to see a friendly face when everyone had been drained of humanity.
I exhaled deeply and plopped down. She already had my file in front of her. I wondered if it was like a longer version of Santa’s Nice and Naughty list. I got the feeling that I would never know.
“Are you sure that this is what you want?” she asked slowly, turning through the pages of my file. There was a certain aristocracy in her high-pitched voice, as if there was more than just a glass desk standing between us. She was dressed in a polished pink jacket and a matching pin skirt and tiny top hat. It was almost comical that even in death people cared what they looked like. Her manicured hands clasped in front of her on the desk as she waited patiently for my answer.
I slumped back in my chair, but after a pointed look from her I straightened myself and nodded.
“I am,” I said, grinding my teeth together. This was another thing that I thought would pass after I had died. I had ground my teeth down so much that I had been forced to wear a retainer at night for protection. I couldn’t say I was going to miss that thing.
I knew what she probably thought of me. Soggy converse shoes, skinny jeans and a large oversized Guns N’ Roses t-shirt. I hadn’t fit in much in life so why would I expect any different in death? I had inherited my mother’s face—her blue eyes, plump lips and ebony hair, but that was about as far as anyone would go in calling me beautiful. I despised my lean form and my dainty little feet. To top it off I was stuck at 17.
More than anything else that defined the received condescending look from her eyes. I was a teenager, therefore I knew absolutely nothing.
My parents were always giving me this look—and that’s why I did it, ran off I mean…to show them that I could take care of myself. Perhaps if I had listened to them I wouldn’t be in this position at all. I would be home, warm and tucked under my blankets while my mom made me dinner. If I was less stubborn it would be easier to acknowledge, but I didn’t want to feel guilty. My own selfishness was the only thing that kept me from falling apart at the news of my own demise.
“This decision should not be taken lightly Alexandria” Petunia said calmly. “Going back to earth is dangerous no matter what the circumstances are. You haven’t been fully cleansed of your humanity so you are an easy target of seduction.”
I smiled slightly, but thought it would be inappropriate to laugh.
“Look when I got here—my guide, Gilly”
“Gilbert” she corrected.
“Gilbert, he already gave me the whole run down on everything”
I could recall all of the ominous warnings he had given me. I’m sure he meant to sound intimidating, but I was too excited as such a prospect to care.
Gilbert had told me the basics…everyone had a guide when they died, to explain things and to let it sink in before sending you on your way to deal with people like Petunia. Death was a very complicated process.
He explained how the choice was able to make now had been made after the incident with the fallen angels. He said that they now wanted to take precautions to make sure the ones who went to heaven were going to stay there.
“When a soul is put back on earth they are up for grabs for both sides. It’s up to you to prove your worth and to stay out of harm’s way. Manipulation on your new vulnerability is one of the key components that the demons use to turn you. It’s a very dangerous game.” He told me.
Petunia straightened and then paused briefly.
“Alexandria, you are still very much tormented with humanity, and you died very young so you will be a more perceptible target. Demons are not what you would expect them to be. They look like ordinary people, the mailman, a cute boy in your math class, a librarian…. And they will say or do anything to possess your soul.”
“I understand” I said, “I do, really”
She took a deep breath and then nodded once.
“As you wish, you will be given one human year to get it together and then you will be taken up here to get cleansed, assuming that in that year a demon doesn’t conquer you first, which in that case I am afraid there isn’t anything we can do. Rules; one, no one from your previous life will be able to see you, so in order to keep a low profile you must make sure that the other mortals do not realize this. Two, you are no longer human even if you do have a presence on earth so you will not ever be hungry or tired…but all of your human instincts will be heightened. It’s important that you try to stay away from emotions of anger or jealousy or greed which will draw you out to a demon.”
She opened a clear box and pressed a big button that made the chair I was sitting in sink into the ground. It all passed in a flash. I could feel my hair go up into the air and my hands clenched down on the seat I was sitting on for fear of falling off of it, but in an instant it was over. The chair was gone, as was the white room and Petunia. I was at my hometown sitting in a pew of a church. I should’ve known I’d end up here. It felt strange to feel the smooth russet wood under my white fingertips. I had never been to this church before, but something about it made me feel at ease. There were worn bibles along the back of the pew in front of me and the carpet was emerald green. The sun shone through the stainless glass windows and broke out in a rainbow of colors. It was refreshing to see color that wasn’t white.
I got up, my legs shaky and I moved out to the aisle. At the front of the aisle a priest stood. He looked ancient. He had wrinkled turtle skin, white ashy hair and glasses. He was reading out of the bible marking passages with a pen. When he heard me get up his head lifted to mine. He winked when he saw me and I gulped surprised that he knew who I was.
“Alexandria?” he said. I nodded and walked over to him. “I was expecting you. You’ll find what you need in that box over there.” He continued, pointing to a box at the end of the room. He continued to mark passages not phased by me.
I walked over to the wooden box. It reminded me of one those things they use in sermons that you pull bread out of. There was a simple cross engraved on the top and a small latch to open in the front. I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to touch it. In all of the movies I had seen, when a dead person tried to touch something there hand would shoot right through it. I placed my hand on it carefully, and at the feel of smooth wood I opened it and grimaced. There were clothes—very preppy, expensive looking clothes, an I.D.—on it was a picture of me, and a changed last name…Alexandria Watson had now become Alexandria Angel. I rolled my eyes at the irony.
I had absolutely no idea where to start or what exactly I was supposed to learn from all of this. Part of me was still hoping that it would all turn out to be a bad dream. All I cared about was getting my life back. The rest would follow.
Little did I know the smell of my arrival had already struck a loud chord through the damned. The taloned hand of the devil scraped through the earth, pointing in my direction…letting the demonic wasteland know that another injured bird had landed. The hand had already started to close…like a fly trap, waiting for the inevitable.
I should’ve stayed home.
Reading has drastically changed with the advancement of technology. Doors to new possibilities have opened and books are no longer acknowledged as single purpose objects. Through digital mediums stories can now be told in experimental and non-traditional fashions. One experimental writing form is hypertext. According to Ted Nelson, hypertext is defined as “a software system that links topics on the screen to related information and graphics, which are typically accessed by a point-and-click method.” Hypertext breaks traditional form and adds several interactive features allowing participants to explore the message or theme at an exceptionally profound level. Nelson believes hypertext was the catalyst for the new era in written word. This new era was drastically different than traditional methods of reading and writing, but was readily accepted by those who utilized digital literary mediums.
“Patchwork girl”, a hypertext story written by Shelly Jackson, uses hypertext to present a feminist message. Jackson tells the story by using drawings of female body parts stitched together through text and illustration. The story and the images utilized to create Patchwork Girl uses this breakage from traditional writing and parallels it with the voice and perspective of a female narrative. Patchwork Girl is written in Hypertext style to give writer Shelly Jackson an experimental voice to mold and shape as her own without being transfixed to a still page. Patchwork girl correlates with an expression of feminism because it moves away from the indoctrinate style of writing with its nonlinear form, its deconstructive body of the monster and its lexias, and the random selection of its text.
As seen through lecture, hypertext has three central defining functions. It has multiple pathways to continue the reading, chunked text, and a navigation system of links. The form of hypertext is revolutionary because it breaks apart linear writing styles and puts it into something completely new. By making the writing nonlinear the author is essentially no longer in control of the flow of the story. Instead, the reader has control and can navigate the story as she or he wishes. The reader chooses the pathway and she or he autonomously concludes the ending.
While some authors of Hypertext stories may etch a constant fixed destination, other Hypertext stories reveal alternate conclusions depending on the reader, at least the reader can choose the road. The reader is not bound by a narrow pathway, but instead she or he has liberty to choose. The journey to the destination matters and choice, freedom, and independence is what Hypertext offers. Equality reverberates in the very foundation of Hypertext.
In Patchwork Girl, Jackson has more of a conversation with the reader about feminism and allows the reader to come to the same conclusion through the nonlinear usage of hypertext. The message of feminism is all about equality and by using hypertext this message is not only in the writing, but it also in the construct. Patchwork Girl has apparent ploys to convey a feminist message, but the hypertext medium itself expresses feminism because it breaks away from tradition. The writer and the reader become equal participants in pushing the story forward. Just like in feminism, both parties are equally important in carrying out to the finished goal. Robert Coover wrote that “the traditional narrative time line vanishes into a geographical landscape or exitless maze, with beginnings, middles and ends being no longer part of the immediate display. Instead: branching options, menus, link markers and mapped networks. There are no hierarchies in these topless (and bottomless) networks, as paragraphs, chapters and other conventional text divisions are replaced by evenly empowered and equally ephemeral window-sized blocks of text and graphics — soon to be supplemented with sound, animation and film” (Coover 707). He continues by rhetorically asking if hypertexts are “to be linked to the chain of existence and events, (he answers) yes, but bound by it? No. I forge my own links, I am building my own monstrous chain, and as time goes on, perhaps it will begin to resemble, rather, a web.” Coover’s quote repeated by the monster in Patchwork Girl, not only shows the power of feminism underlined, but also relates directly back to usage of hypertext. Hypertext is completely different from the traditional hierarchal form of writing and just like the monster wishes to be something equal and autonomous, hypertext does so simultaneously.
The first image that is seen when entering the story of Patchwork Girl is the deconstructed monster. The body metaphorically represents the body of text that is the story and the body that must be sewn together in order to unfold itself into its story. This monster parallels greatly with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and is also equally as important to understand and travel through to comprehend the message of feminism behind the story. The female monster correlates Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein’s monster and offers a parallel to the words of Mary Shelly’s monster. What the monster in Frankenstein yearned for the most was a female companion to be his equal counterpart so he did not have to live in solitude, dominating over another sex. The wish was denied in Frankenstein, however this power of equality is granted in Patchwork Girl as the author stitches the patchwork of the story and creates the female monster. Frankenstein thinks better of creating the female counterpart in Mary Shelly’s book and destroys the monster and in Patchwork girl the female monster is given a voice to parallel as the reader patches it together. The reader essentially gives the monster life and the female monster interrupts the voice of Mary Shelly and remarks “I told her to abort me, raze me from her book; I did not want what he wanted. I laughed when my parts lay scattered on the floor, scattered as the bodies from which I had sprung discontinuous as myself rejoice to be.” The body is reassembled by reading about all of the different body parts and the story cannot continue without first reassembling the body parts of the monster and thus giving it the voice and option to speak its story. (PatchworkGirl)
Hypertext relents the author from taking dominance by allowing the reader to make the choice of which text box to click on and continue the story. The link between written and stitch not only portrays the metaphor written in the following body paragraph, but also shows the equal importance of the reader and the writer. The reader must stitch the story together and the writer is responsible for the text on the screen. Both links to sewn and writing parallel each other to convey this importance. There are five paths for the reader to take; “the graveyard, the journal, the quilt, the story, and the broken accents.” The reader chooses where to begin by constructing the story together. The reader in a sense is responsible for constructing the monster by which text box they decide to click on. All text boxes lead to several more text boxes in which the reader again gets to choose randomly of how to progress this story. The reader is essentially the parallel of Frankenstein and is responsible to giving life to the female counterpart of the monster. Shelley Jackson uses the voice of the monster to remark on how the original Frankenstein story structure and control of the author kept the monster back. “I alone remember the real Mary. Her curious mix of resonance and passion. The part that twisted under me with a dark satisfaction and the part that wiped her hands afterward and twitch the curtains open with punitive haste. You can see it in her book. How she embeds her tale in a thickness of letters and second hand account as if precaution were needed to secure the monster behind those locks and screens.” The usage of hypertext gives the monster more dominance vs in Mary Shelly’s story where the still pages in them self held the monster back and kept it constrained. It is only through the random selections of story that allows the female monster it’s free voice to speak openly and lively with the reader. The author seems to have little power to what the monster will say next because it is not controlling the voice.
Patchwork girl is an expression of feminism because it moves away from the indoctrinate style of writing with its nonlinear form, its deconstructive body of the monster and its lexias, and the random selection of its text. Hypertext diverges from the hegemonic style of writing and provides freedom for writers and readers. Not only does hypertext writing reflect the feminist theory, but the theme within Patchwork Girl explicitly reflects the medium through which the story is written. Without the shared control, the work perhaps could not be close read and defined as something equal. Nor would it be able to parallel with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so deeply to its very core and would lose its ability to critique the author through structure. Hypertext is one of many experimental forms of the digital that opens the door to convey new messages. It is important to understand how hypertext can be used so a deeper point can come across to the reader.
It’s simple things;
The way you fuss about your hair
The way you get kind of annoyed, but you secretly love
when I run my fingers through it in the car.
It’s the little things;
When you pick up my plate
The way you’ll lay with me
When I know you want to be active and out of bed.
The way you tuck me in when I’m grumpy
It’s the big things
The sacrifices you make for me
When i’m sad, when i’m scared, when i’m sick
You are always there.
You take care of me; financially and emotionally.
You support me in every way possible.
You take me places to help me fulfill my dreams.
It’s the things you don’t even notice you do.
The way your love has changed who I am.
The way your arms feel around me when you are asleep.
The way you look at me sometimes when you think I can’t see.
You make me laugh when I want to be mad.
You just understand me like no one ever has
You calm me down, gently, and so lovingly whenever i’m sad.
You are the best medicine I will ever have.
I promise I won’t take it for granted.
Whatever happens; my heart will always be you
Never forgotten after we say forever “I dos”
What it means;
That I get to love you.
In times when life touches us with chaos and things that are completely out of our control, I find that gratitude is the best weapon against this natural force from consuming our emotions and our mind.
If you have something to be grateful for it can stand against the weight of any misfortune or circumstance.
I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for my siblings. I am grateful for my nephews. I am grateful for my parents. I am grateful for my family to be. I am grateful for my fiancé; my compass, my love, my best friend and my hero. I am grateful for our two cats, who bring life and joy into the apartment. I am grateful for my true friends who have stood by me for better or for worse and the friends who were temporary, but who made me smile while they were still present in my life. I am grateful to all of the professors and teachers who have supported me inside the classroom and outside. I am grateful for the gifts of talent I have been given; my singing voice, my writing skills and my imagination. I am grateful for my own appreciation and for my love of the things that I am good at. I am grateful for the education I have had and for the ability to have an intelligent mind that will allow me to continue in the future if I permit it. I am grateful for the strength and understanding God has bestowed upon me to help me get through things that I do not understand. I am grateful to live in a country where my health is taken care of. I am grateful that as a woman and as a disabled I do, at least in comparison to other places, have it pretty well and have opportunities that others may not have. I am grateful to be able to write and voice whatever I please without fear of consequence to my safety. I am grateful for the past I have lived and the mistakes and misfortunes I have grown from. I am grateful for my present, for the enormous support from a great list of different people (they know who they are). I am grateful for the future that I may still have, without expectations because I realize that there are things out of my control, just acceptance…and of course gratitude, for the ability to have gone through so much and to be able to handle it with acceptance and grace for that of which I have no control over.
I believe full heartedly that when handled with a list of things we are grateful for we can rise up stronger for the beautiful chaos in the thing that we call life.
When you make the serious decision of spending the rest of your life with someone you also have to be prepared for the things that come with it. Your lives are being sewn together. Down the road you share more than just a mortgage, a bed and bills. You are sewing together a family.
When my sister Sara brought my brother-in-law Brian into our lives in this way, he became so much more to me than just the father of my sister’s kids and the man she chose to spend her life with. I have known for some time that he is truly apart of my family and even if (heaven forbid) they go their seperate way later in life, I would always think of him as my brother. Similarly, even though my parents are split I know they don’t think of our cousins and aunts and uncles as people who are no longer apart of the family. Once that bond is formed and the family is intertwined like that, it can’t be undone. Family is Family and that’s the end of it.
I’m starting experience this myself first hand with Alberto’s family. I’m started to learn the different dynamics of my future nieces and nephews and am becoming more and more comfortable with people who I now think of as my sister and brothers. There is very little I would not do for this new family, just as there is very little I would do for the family I have had my whole life. Gloria, George, Jose, Rudy and the families that they have are becoming a bigger part of myself. I love my family and am thankful to Alberto for allowing me to be apart of their lives.
As in any family I can see there faults and their attributes and have my share of frustration with them at times, but I still see nothing negative in this expansion. Gaining more people to love and to be loved by is a blessing. When I marry Alberto I will take his last name and we will one day start a family of our own creation when we are ready for kids. I think it’s a very beautiful part of humanity to join forces in this way. I am so thankful and grateful for all of my family members. My heart has merely expanded to make room for more people.
I wanted to write this post because I am very sincere about the love have for his family and not just his blood relatives either, but the family he has that isn’t related to him also feel like they apart of my life now too.