March 9, 2006

Bly on Of Day Of Night

Bly on Of Day Of Night

Bill Bly, musician and author of We Descend, writes about Megan Heyward's of day, of night :

I really enjoyed my first reading of "of day, of night." It's certainly immersive: it took me a little over an hour to read, and I only got up once to refill my coffee cup.

I was captivated by the overall visual appeal of the piece, and found the reading apparatus welcoming and engaging. I always like to see if I can figure out how to move around inside a hypertext without resorting to the directions, and here that was easy as well as rewarding. Thoughtful wandering seemed to work best, and it was gratifying to find, when I finally did read the directions, that wandering was what the author recommended. The interface itself encouraged the best way to read.

The music is dreamy, all bottleneck & pedal steel guitar. The rest of the soundtrack consists of the natural sounds of objects and critters -- matches rattling inside a paper box, a rusty tin opening, pages being turned, a pencil scribbling in a notebook, treefrogs, birds, insects. Human sounds (except for the narration and a single line of dialogue in what may be Chinese) are of the same order: atural sound, like footsteps on different surfaces and in different (or no) shoes, breathing, laughter, sighing. To me, this was the most enchanting dimension of the piece.

I was especially delighted by Sophie's gambit, once traditional therapies had failed to "wake up" her ability to dream, of wandering around town picking up objects and imagining their stories. The sketchy fragment she writes to accompany -- not explain -- each artifact invites the reader to come up with more details, fill the fragment out.