Several years ago I began asking questions about how literature will change as a response to digitalization, AR technology, people reading on the go, increased multilingualism due to immigration etc. My theory was that fiction (especially novels) would become shorter, written in sections so that readers “on the go” could easily read and pick up on successive passages in books on metros and buses etc., with less academic language, with more foreign language phrases and passages in order to mimic our new international society, and with more “cinematic” writing. I got no response. I then began writing books in that way: Three-Legged Waltz, Le Paradis, Tunnel at the End of Time, 2014, Entre Nous et Eux, and finally Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo. In each of these books I have used unusual writing techniques in attempts to create new literary experiences that are outside of standard and traditional rules of writing — all eventually building up to a virtual reality and real time experience where the Reader is an active participant in the literary process. I have been fortunate to have had publishers who have afforded me these creative freedoms.
Today, I was asked to take part in research about how authors experience digitalization in our industry. One of the questions asked is if authors think that future digitalized books will be written differently, eg. shorter etc.
Welcome late-comers! Researchers are always asking questions authors, artists and philosophers have already pondered and begun working on.
THE FUTURE OF LITERATURE.
The future of literature is neither paperbacks nor Kindle books. We have journeyed from writing on cave walls to papyrus to printed books to audio books to digital books … and the increased pace of literary development is evident in both rapidly changing styles of writing (i.e. towards that which is better suited to meet the demands of modern living) and in the amazing new technologies as regards communication advances. Tomorrow’s books will not be read with the eyes and mind alone, but rather experienced in 4D. Perhaps we will step inside of cubicles or spheres, or simply activate wall-less interactive zones whereby we can experience novels and other stories with all of our senses. Related technology is already being used today to provide experiences of heightened virtual reality. The modern libraries in Oslo and other cities look nothing like libraries most of us remember from our childhood – they are interactive, rely largely on digitalized and computerized information and literature etc.
The future of literature is interactive and directly experiential. It is therefore that I strive to make my poetry and prose cinematic. This is similar to my philosophy of art: to create paintings that enable the viewer to participate in the experience, to be able to “walk right into” the canvas and, together with the artist, recreate a new experience through recollection and creative thinking.
Over-descriptive and tedious long novels which require using a dictionary alongside the book are soon an old memory. The combinations of words and images, speed and rhythm etc. are more important in creating an interactive and cinematic literary experience.
The inclusion of foreign languages helps to duplicate the real life experience of hearing known and unknown words and sounds around us, thus adding to the richness of immersion through triggered associations, memories and thoughts within the Reader. It is not necessary to understand each and every word, as we do not have 100% comprehension in any Language (neither as Readers or in active Life). In my literature it is not only the meanings of words that is important, but also the way they are combined and work together at various velocities that creates triggers of pictures and memories in the Reader. I do not tell the «passive» Reader a story. I invite the Reader to co-create the experience in his/her own Mind through cinematic associations in real time virtual reality. I experiment with these elements all the time. It is a new way of writing.
Many of my novels are set in the future; this in order to bridge the fast-paced technological developments of the present with the possible/probable future. In this way they are studies of the adjustments and processes of today against a more stubborn constant: human behavioral adaptation, the search for politico-social freedom and individual expression, and dynamics of communication. This is the reason that many of my books are multilingual: it is both the reality today on the internet, the bus, the cellphone, the metro etc., as well as the communication of the future as presented in science fiction films set just a few decades from now. As time passes, languages also evolve … and that has always been the case.
Examples of my works that are multilingual include “Le Paradis”, “2014: the life and adventures of an incarnated angel”, “The tunnel at the end of time”, “Gaytude”, “Entre Nous et Eux”, “Three-legged Waltz” and “Jisei”. “2014” and “The tunnel at the end of time” even showcase a made-up language from another star system and the language of “angels”/star warriors. I have been very fortunate indeed that my primary publisher Cyberwit.net has had the foresight and courage to allow me to publish experimental books that present new styles of writing and to write “for and in” both the present and the future. Thank you Karunesh Kumar Agrawal!
REVIEW BY DR. ISAGANI R. CRUZ, THE PHILIPPINES:
The Tunnel at the End of Time is a masterful symphony of languages, religions, cultures, and literary techniques, all journeying to one inevitable destination: the individual wrestling with self. Covering our most human to our most divine urges and activities, the poetic, science fictional, experimental, even cinematic book leads us through words to what is beyond or behind words: the inscrutable mystery of our own being or, more precisely since the book revels in Emptiness, our non-being. In the process of stripping away the several skins that we use to protect our inner selves and to keep us from exercising our freedom to live a full life, the book also comments on writing itself, turning itself inside out, so to speak, so that we are forced as readers to become the writers themselves, merging our selves with theirs without meaning to and without remembering the meaning that we wanted to find, finding ourselves apparently in the future but actually in the present, or even more precisely, in the past, as time stops for us. In the end, the future humans, aliens, and angels turn out to be really us today, as we find ourselves aliens within ourselves, alienated not from the world as lesser writers would have put it, but from ourselves, as only the truly alive realize, perhaps as only angels really know. For those less inclined towards philosophy, the book offers gripping suspense, continuous action, and provocative scenes; the narrative scaffolding, however, is there only to lead readers to deeper levels of reading. I recommend this book to everyone honest enough to admit that we do not know ourselves or that we are not just nothing, but perhaps even Nothingness itself. Have fun, but be warned!
– Isagani R. Cruz, Professor Emeritus, De La Salle University, Manila
Celebrate Science Fiction: that very special place – where scientists and authors collaborate and inspire one another to new perspectives, possibilities and solutions. Yesterday’s sci-fi novel or film is often tomorrow’s reality. That is no coincidence.
— Adam Donaldson Powell
Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.
— Isaac Asimov
UNDER THE SHIRTTAILS OF ALBERT RUSSO — an alternative biography.
My latest “experiment” with new forms of writing for our contemporary age moved beyond language challenges (in both English, French and Spanish), structural challenges of combining prose and poetry, and more, to challenge the rather strict academic adherence to the “Boswellian biography” model, which I personally find outdated and cumbersome. In my own “alternative biography” I discarded all notions of writing a slavish detailed version of Albert Russo’s Wikipedia page and curriculum vitae, and I instead used the maximum 200-book pages at my disposition to redefine and modernize biographical approach. In my book I chose the most significant of Russo’s almost 100 published books (including novels, short story and poetry collections, essays, photography books and more) and the most pivotal life experiences in his almost eighty years of living and working on three continents on the planet to serve as the foundation of a journey inside of (and under the shirttails) Albert Russo. All the while I provide somewhat lengthy passages from some of his best books as illustrations of both his writing themes, techniques and styles, but also as the framework for interviews and questions to the author (often of a most intimate nature) which allow the Reader to personally know “what makes Albert Russo” tick as a personality and author/artist by sitting in the back seat on a ride through the countryside of Russo’s life memories. At times it is I who is driving, and at other times Russo himself seems to be behind the wheel with his opinions and rantings which I challenge only to gain more insight into the whats and whys of his meanings, but never (as one critic of the book has desired) to pass any judgment or opinion of my own. By the end of the book the Reader has an incredible knowledge of Russo and his work, as well as the most important events in his personal and professional life; i.e. according to Russo himself — and not to any academic or Wikipedia editor that insists on a year-by-year listing of all events and details from birth onwards. This book was an incredible feat with an unusal approach and writing techniques, including interviews, epistomology, reprints of Russo’s literary works etc.
No literary form should be sacred and rigid forever. In our fast-paced digital age we crave entertainment, knowledge, personal involvement, the ability to leave a book and return to the story easily whether we find reading time on a metro, a bus or lying in bed waiting to fall asleep … and we want a book that is easily read and to-the-point when necessary without literary masturbation or grandstanding by the author.
ENTRE NOUS ET EUX
Entre Nous et Eux is my LGBTQ multilingual “tour de force”, featuring stories, poems, a novella and a novel — primarily in English, but also with a good deal of French and Spanish. In this book I appeal to the internationality of LGBTQ issues and to the growing multilingualism in our globalised environment. It is my LGBTQ follow-up to the award-winning French-English “Gaytude”, co-written with Albert Russo.
Another book with an unusual literary format is Jisei. Here I link together daily prose poems about living with AIDS in order to give insight into the mental processes involved with facing the mundane qualities of Life and Death. These are written in journal format, and in several languages in order to emphasize the universality of the personal experience presented: life with HIV/AIDS.
ALTERNATIVE REALITY AND LITERATURE:
I know that a few of you are wondering where I am headed with my Mixed Reality future books ideas. Since my last post I have written to Dr. Jerald, VR-expert, and asked for some general reactions to my futuristic ideas. He wrote me back shortly afterwards. Here is my email to him:
Dear Dr. Jason Jerald,
I am an elderly author and artist in Oslo, Norway who is reading your book “The VR Book: Human-Centered Design for Virtual Reality” with great interest. If find it to be very inspirational and informative.
I know little about VR, AR or MR other than what I have been able to read on the internet, and now in your excellent book. I am trying to say that I am not a “techie”. I have, however, had an idea / a vision of another way of writing and experiencing literary prose which is more non-linear and more interactive with the reader, and which includes his/her own memories and experiences etc. I would love to write a full-scale MR novel; along the lines of theater plays with alternative endings or video games with multiple endings — this in order to more fully enable the reader to write stories together with me. I already do quite a bit towards that end in my books but my dream is to escape the physical book altogether and enable re-creation of stories with mixed reality/five dimensional technologies.
I do not have the technical language to explain this idea properly but please bear with me. This idea of moving literature off of paper and ebook formats into a Mixed Reality experience does not merely concern the quantity of descriptive and connecting words vs. the more sensual and cinematic experiences created by playing with their combinations and juxtapositions etc. In my thinking, mixed reality necessitates usage of and partial reliance upon symbols, tonalities, silences and coded triggers. These are all already in use in literature, art, music, etc., but their significance will be even more pronounced in mixed reality art and literature. Mixed reality gives us the possibility of personal transference of the author’s images into and then back again from the Reader’s own memory — based on real “perceived” recollections, dreams and fantasies. These may be in the forms of old photographs, bits of recordings, smells, a newspaper page, a paragraph from a textbook etc.
Many of these symbols are known archetypes, and others come perhaps even from other yet unidentified sources. They each have their own vibratory patterns, light and sound frequencies and collective-individual personal interpretations, associations and meanings. I use and create
archetypes, symbols, triggers, speeded up and slowed down sequences etc. often
in my literature and art, including some symbols from the Universal Language of Light: (see the
Universal Language of Light).
So, how will these Mixed Reality books of the future work? As I see it, there certainly will be many learning and entertainment system modules developed — ranging from the open room “Blade Runner” and “Matrix” ‘direct-brain’(?) communication types to the current glove, glasses or headset alternatives. The one that I envision for literary prose (novels, novellas etc.) entails a holographic cylinder in which the reader-actor is inside … dressed in a form-fitting lightweight skin with nerve-ending filaments sewn into it at strategic body points, and wearing contact lenses. The “story” is encoded into a computer with trigger points at which certain things occur, complete with sounds, smells, emotional and physical reactions etc. And then there is also another computer program which interfaces with the story — one which is a robotic encyclopedia of various generic associations, symbols, codes etc. as well as historical, collective and personal “memories” (various data, photographs etc.) which may be accessed. All of these elements work together to enable the “reader” to co-create the story — even choosing from alternative or multiple endings. These computer programs communicate with the holographic cylinder so that the individual inside is actually embedded inside of the “brain”. A long novel can thus be “read”/acted out in a fraction of the time needed today.
My question to you, Sir, is: is this at all feasible? I have this picture in my mind so clearly, and it has been something that I have been envisioning for decades. My own style of writing has also greatly changed to mimic the cinematic and dizzying qualities of such an experience.
Adam Donaldson Powell
And here is his gracious response:
Hi Adam. Thanks for reading the book and I’m happy to hear it is inspiring for you.
I agree completely that for MR symbols, tonalities, silences, etc can (and should!) be used to make experiences more engaging.
I like your holographic cylinder idea! That is probably a ways off, but like books a cool thing about VR is that you can make it all up and provide people with experiences that aren’t yet feasible. So while the feasibility of your ideas are probably quite a ways off, you could simulate all of it within VR. Then when the tech catches up then people would have a better idea of how it might actually work. Or you could argue you wouldn’t need to wait for the tech / physical interface to catch up since simulating it could be just as good.
Recent thoughts on virtual reality as literature of the future:
The concept of reality has mostly been rooted in the physical reality state of one moment — frozen in time and space. It is certainly not “real” and not the way we perceive ourselves or our environments. Therefore, multiple alternative realities are perhaps often easier to relate to.
All literature consists of stories and dramas — short or long-winded ones, and all rely upon words as abstractions which the mind converts into images, sounds, smells, touch etc. against a backdrop of the readers’ own personal life learnings and experiences. Cinematic and VR-writing changes up that process and frees the mind from most of the word abstractions. An otherwise long and wordy novel can now be fully digested using all our senses plus with the added benefit of interactive reading and co-creation of the story along with the author/designer. We already have alternative endings in plays and films. This requires authors and designers to break down the abstract ideas of the words into experiences which the reader can access or reject as s/he pleases. This is a new frontier and era. Read the Scientific American article about how the brain perceives words HERE!
The written texts will have to be reconstructed as images, sounds, smells, touch etc. with triggers. That is why I write prose as poetry — emphasizing color, intensity and speed of word combinations over lots of words etc. Most of the words get lost in reading so why not simplify the conversion to images?
I highly recommend this book. May it inspire several authors, artists, thinkers and scientists to work together in creating this fantastic new reality. But all advancements begin with visions and dreams by those courageous enough to persevere and demonstrate the creativity and ability to realize that which — to others — may be unimaginable. If you can imagine it then you can simulate it … and make your visions into reality.
Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo: an alternative biography, l’Aleph — Sweden, ISBN 978-91-7637-401-6, © Wisehouse 2017, Sweden.
Entre Nous et Eux: contes de fées pour adultes, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-93-85945-77-9, © 2017, India.
Jisei: death poems and daily reflections by a person with AIDS”, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-403-2, © 2013, India.
The tunnel at the end of time” (co-written with Rick Davis and Azsacra Zarathustra), Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-160-4, © 2010, India.
Malerier og fotokunst, a short 38-page retrospective overview of some of Adam Donaldson Powell’s best known oil paintings and photographic art works”. Published by Cyberwit.net as a special limited and numbered full-color, soft cover edition (55 copies only), ISBN 978- 81-8253-154-3, India, © 2009.
GAYTUDE: a poetic journey around the world, co-authored together with Albert Russo 1, bilingual (French and English), gay poetry, 334 pages, Xlibris, ISBN 978-1-4363-6395-2, 2009, USA 6 .
2014: the life and adventures of an incarnated angel, 135 pages, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-118-5, 2008, India.
Critical Essays, literary and photobook criticism by Adam Donaldson Powell and Dr. Santosh Kumar 2, 108 pages, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-110-9, 2008, India.
Le Paradis (Paradise), 80 pages, Cyberwit.net, ISBN 978-81-8253-103-1, 2008, India. Inkluderer bilag med symboler fra Universelle Lysspråket, som opplevd av Laila Holand.
Rapture: endings of space and time (86 pages), Cyberwit,net, ISBN 978-81-8253-083-6, 2007, India.
Three-legged Waltz, (80 pages), Cyberwit.net, ISBN 81-8253-058-X, 2006, India.
Collected Poems and Stories, (175 pages), Cyberwit.net, ISBN 81-8253-028-8, 2005, India.
Arcana and other archetypes, (special limited edition – hardback collection of poetry), AIM Chapbooks ANS, 2001, Norway (now out-of-print).
Notes of a Madman, (hardback collection of poetry), Winston-Derek Publishers, Inc., 1987, ISBN 1-55523-054-7, USA (now out-of-print).
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MY CYBERWIT.NET AUTHOR PAGE: HERE!