Before taking a dive into High Muck a Muck, I took a brief minute to go over the statement of the piece, which gave me insight into what I needed to expect. At first I was deciding on just jumping in, but in my experiences with artists talks at galleries, it helps to look at the intention of the artist so that I might think of their choices as I read and come up with my own. I wanted my opinions to coincide along with the author’s intention to help unify my thoughts better.
Upon entering, I was greeted with a small poem (which I didn’t get to read fully as I was distracted for a second), but I chose not to reset because I took it along with my own experience. I clicked on a character which illuminated the page, and after a few seconds it took me to a map. It made me wonder if all the passages work out this way. Do they all lead to the same map or are each link associated with an entirely different geographical location? Several more links had me faced with a video of an elderly man looking at me, zooming in with each passing moment. I stopped to think about what his eyes say to me. They invoke a sense of kindness, gentle in its gaze. Those eyes must have seen a lot in their years, and I can’t help wonder what those memories were. I could assume, but would that be the whole story, or my own opinions superimposed into my need to find a narrative? When the video transitioned into the pupil of an infant, part of me wanted to say it was a message on life and age. I thought back into the statement, and I wondered if the author wanted to imply this with a sort of sentiment expressed during the struggles of Chinese immigrants. Is this the way I’m supposed to think about it? How similar or different can I say of my experiences in life with this man and child? While this might be the intention (I’m highly assuming), I didn’t think of that in my mind. What I saw were eyes of two living beings.
I glanced at the corner of the screen and saw the same tablet from earlier, and I clicked on something called ‘Pacific’. It was exactly as I imagined, I was presented with an illustration of a body of water. Hovering my mouse over, I found some points of interest but chose the boats (as I love naval aesthetic). Another video. I’m happy knowing there aren’t a lot of words to interact with, it lets me come up with my own ideas without being guided too much. Static noise of some sort, it made me feel off, like an outsider looking in, but at the same time it was calming. More words appeared, but I couldn’t make out the words. I didn’t bother trying to decode them, I was more entranced with their ‘flowing’ motion and what those can mean. It reminds me of word poetry. I saw a boat sail by and I wondered of where it might be going, but I knew I would never find out. The music transitioned into a collage of sounds and music, and it made me think of a scenario of people travelling to a new nation, but having their culture intersect with the new one, with the latter overcoming the former and thus, a complete takeover. What happened to the music I heard earlier? It made me think of my culture and where it stands with the American traditions I grew up with. I felt uneasy, hoping that I never shed the heritage that my parents brought over. Is this what the author wanted me to feel?
Another link took me to Victoria, and I was faced with a few drawings of a place and people. The music brought me back to comfort, and I glanced around to choose my next destination. I didn’t yet. I chose to sit back down and reflect on what happened so far, and what it means for me having ‘read’ it. The music droned on and it created a sense of anticipation. I wanted to choose the man with a camera to relate it with my own background of photography, but I was more captivated with person sitting all alone in the back. It made me feel sad, but I honestly related to that person and it made me reflect on memories of sitting alone as a child. Part of me wants to think of them as bad experiences that stemmed from isolation and fear, but was it really bad if I appreciate the tranquility of quiet as an adult? Why am I thinking of sad memories as calming? I clicked on.
“Shanzai lingers on our pillow / while we sigh for foolish things / don’t they remind you of you” I had to Google Shanzai. Is it even allowed for a reader to branch out into the internet while reading electronic literature? It felt like cheating. It means stone fortress. But wait, now that word means imitation. Thinking again, I assumed it was about an ‘imitation’ of culture from Asian immigrants living in America, but if their feelings and passion for their country were there, are they really imitations? The location is different but the traditions weren’t. Aren’t they valid? I could be overlooking this, but a part of me couldn’t help think this way.
Why am I even thinking of my own life experiences? This isn’t about what I think, it’s about the struggles of Chinese immigrants. But isn’t it natural to think this way when I haven’t lived their lives? Again, I’m an outsider looking in so perhaps I’m thinking this way to make the feelings and connections with the emotions in this literary piece feel more organic and impactful. I want to feel what the author is feeling, I really want to learn more.
Author? Authors? I took a quick look at the main page and found there were eleven writers. Reading Fred Wah’s life with the mixing of two cultures reminded me of the way I lived. I glanced over the other contributors but always found myself going back to Wah’s, his story felt the most similar to mine. That’s not to disvalue the others, but reading this made me think back to my experiences and created a bridge from my world into this one.
I’m going to continue reading on in my own pace and mind, this piece struck a huge chord with me and it felt sentimental as it did informative. It made me think of an entire generation of people and their struggles, and my own life as a whole.