Thursday, November 08, 2007

new writing modes derive from duress

Pretty much as soon as html had been perfected I was teaching it to my students - or, rather, making them go out and learn it. This was to enable them to create web projects based on the course materials and as an aid to discussion and disagreement. One of the students who resisted all this mightily was Amanda Hirsch. Now Amanda, DC-based, is a web consultant! She's one of those very creative people who went into tech. She blogs in order to help "inspir[e] creative living in DC" and indeed the blog is titled Creative DC. She read "Patchen, can't type, turns to picture-poems" and wrote her own blog entry: "Picture Poems, and How Learning HTML Under Duress Helped Me Lead a More Creative Life, or, Thank You, Al Filreis." I'm flattered by the compliments here, thrilled to have been Amanda's teacher, but most of all intrigued by the way she's brought together Patchen's physical duress, which drove him to a new form of writing, and her own real (though not physical, of course) "duress" in the seminar where I tossed the students in the cold dark web ocean, from which she emerged with a way of being creative in the then-newest mode. One move away from the mechanics of writing, another further into it, but both were or are fresh and both enable the visual. So: concrete. Here's Amanda's entry, and here's an excerpt:

Incidentally, Al is the reason I learned HTML, despite ardent protestations at the time. I was in his Literature of Community class, and our final assignment was to create a website reflecting our definition of community. "But we don't know HTML!," half of us protested. This was in '97. "Figure it out," he told us.