At the Aquarium

As I was filtering through various additions of The Masses, my eyes were drawn to a poem entitled "The Aquarium" by Max Eastman. It's funny that in the midst of a page of 20 thumbnails, the layout of this particular page caught my attention. The poem is paired with another poem in two identically sized columns at the bottom of the page. The poems are framed by an art deco mural, under the title "LYRICS." The page is quite beautiful.

The themes of the poem have an interesting relationship as well. The other poem is entitled "The Poetry of the Earth." It describes a woman from, as the title suggests, the perspective of the earth (nature). On the other hand, "At the Aquarium" is a man reflecting upon nature (the fish). Those ideas complement each other nicely.

It's really interesting how the entire page can be studied as a single unit and at the same time be studied as the combination of multipe elements. I would never have thought of considering the mural's relationship with the text outside of the concept of bibliographic coding.

Le Petit Journal des Refusees

Le Petit Journal des Refusées only published one issue in 1896. Published in an age of anxiety and discontent, Le Petit Journal presents a prototype of the modernist visual and literary art of the World War I era, which would start less than twenty years after the magazine's publicaton. The description of Le Petit Journal in the Modernist Journals archive describes the magazine as giving "hints of Dada and Surrealism before these modes of modernism actually developed" -- a similar sentiment ties Le Petit Journal and post-WWI movements, such as Dadaism, together. The publication, it seems, would appeal to a very niche group - as evidenced by the fact the magazine never published more than one issue.

Page sixteen of Le Petit Journal des Refusées displays an advertisement advertising the engraving services of Union Photo Eng. Co. in San Francisco. It is on a leftside page, across from The Ghost of A Flea. This doesn't seem to hold any significance in and of itself, however these are the last two pages of this particular copy of the magazine. Nowhere else in the magazine is there an advertisement, and the address of the company advertised is the same as the publication's. While this is clearly a modern publication, the existence and placement of this advertisement displays an obvious self-awareness which matches up with a post-modern ethos. The entire magazine seems to be self-aware, and clearly pokes at contemporary publications by including the name of the magazine by which each piece was refused. The ad, in that case, seems to poke fun at advertisements of the time.

Potential anachronism in The Little Review

The first installment of The Little Review was published in March 1914 and is filled with essays, poetry, and literary criticism from some of early 20th Century thinkers. Most of the content is quite lofty, and it’s clear that this was a magazine meant for an intelligent, well-educated audience. It is not only the essays and poems that demonstrate the magazine’s intention to be read by the intellectual elite, though. Even the advertisements are geared toward an educated audience. In fact, every single ad is for a book or a different magazine.

One ad that especially interested me is for The Egoist, another modernist magazine with close ties to The Little Review. The ad for The Egoist does not advertise its intellectual content, though. Instead, the main selling point is that The Egoist does not publish any content about “the war.” At first I assumed that this meant World War I, but then I looked at the date of publication. This issue of The Little Review was published in March 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, the event that led Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia, did not occur until July. Britain did not enter the war until August 4. In early 1914 in England, the only thing remotely resembling a war was some sporadic conflict between Irish nationalists and British loyalists over the issue of Irish independence. Beyond that (unless I’m missing something major), there was no war.         

One possible explanation for this seemingly anachronistic advertisement could be that war was still a major topic of discussion in Britain and England, even in times of peace. Perhaps people were tiring of the conversation, and The Egoist felt the need to advertise their difference from the mainstream discourse. Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated!



A Brigade in Scribner's Magazine

I decided to take a look at Scribner's Magazine. The directory notes that "many bound copies remain"--and I was curious as to why that would be the case. Why would especially many copies of a particular publication remain? Something must be unique about the construction, the presentation, or the way it was preserved. The entire thing hasn't been digitized (although the magazine ran from 1870-1939, only the editions from 1910-1922 have been digitally archived on Interesting that only the very latest twelve years have been converted into a digital format. The directory mentioned something about microfilm, so I looked into that, and apparently microfilm emerged as a method of document preservation in 1839 but didn't become widespread until after 1900. My guess is that magazines already imprinted on microfilm have proven easier to digitize, thus influencing the volumes we have access to in archives.

Scribner's contains a truly impressive amount of advertising. The information page about it on estimates the proportion of advertising to total pages to be about half, and I'd say that's correct. But the magazines are actually quite long--the first two I checked out were 150 pages and 230 pages. So, there was a solid 75-115 pages of solid content in each edition. Accompanying illustrations are of good quality and ubiquitous.

I found a ballad called "The Old Niagara" by Arthur Guiterman with drawings by John Walcott Adams on page 47 of the August 1912 (Volume 52, Issue 2) Scribner Magazine. The title refers to a fire engine. The way the illustrations are laid out around the metered text is fascinating. It's positioned between two other works that have a flavor of loss. That's intriguing, since Guiterman's ballad ends on a note of humor, and it's almost possessed by a kind of energy--the living spirit of a town rallying to fight a fire. I mean, there's loss in the ballad, but it's funny. The pieces in its area take wildly different perspectives on loss, forgetting, and destruction.

Music, Dismay, and the Blue Review

I explored the Blue Review, the short-lived successor to Rhythm. Each of its three issues followed a standard layout: contents, an imprint, an illustration, three or four short poems, several articles or essays, a visual art section in the middle, more essays, and, finally, advertisements on the back cover. The Blue Review seemed to appeal to a bibliophile audience and many of its ads relate to monographs, though one issue included a dressmaker’s ad and the same French ad was published in all three issues. This use of French, as well as appearances of other languages such as an article titled “Daibutsu” and sections regarding German and Italian books, also indicates an appeal to international audiences.

I picked an article in the middle issue - June 1913 - of the Blue Review called “A Fresh Start in Music,” which aims to balance two groups of composers: the academics and the modernists, in the article’s terms (volume 1, issue 2, page 97). The author toys with the mechanization and modernization of orchestras as well as the worth of preserving past theory and foundations for music. The page layout seems fairly simple: the pages are left-justified and one column; there is no visual art; the essay is situated toward the middle of the issue between an article called “Anger and Dismay” and another called “Epilogue: II.”  I find the juxtaposition with the “Fresh Start in Music” following the “Anger and Dismay” article, as music is often considered to be an antidote to anger and dismay, as well as a general soothing influence. The first issue of the Blue Review doesn’t have a dedicated music section, but the third and last issue concludes its articles with a survey of Beethoven, Elgar, and Debussy. This also indicates internationality on the part of the journal through its grouping of German, English, and French (respectively) musicians.

Preservation Through Photographs

In The Bookman: an Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Life Vol. 32 No. 3, on page 41 in the advertisement section, I found an ad for a picture of the destruction of Richmond during the Civil War. The main hook is that everyone that fought in the Civil War is dead and the only ‘witness’ that never dies is a photograph. There is a big image of the picture printed at the top and the bottom is split into another description and an order form.

It’s next to other advertisements, some for books and one for travelling. Since this is just an advertisement, the rest of the journal doesn’t specifically relate to this. This issue had a lot of advertisements, but this one stood out because the whole top half was a picture. The other thing that made this one stand out was that the bottom half was separated diagonally instead of rectangularly like most of the other ads.

Lost and Out-of-Place

Navigating my way through different aspects of the Stolen Time archive further inforced that my previous understanding of what archives were or could be was severely limited. The archive felt like a maze in which I was lost in; each turn I took only brought me more confusion and disorientation. Rather than feeling more connected with the past through the content I found I felt the feeling of separation and distinction from the past which Foucault descibed at the end of the section we read from The Statement and the Archive. "It establish[ed] that we are difference" by revealing how differently our society today reasons and argues about issues (Foucault, 131). Of course there are bridges that connect the present with the history of the past, but through the Stolen Time archive I mostly felt disassociation and disconnection because the content which I interacted with was very foreign to me. While it did serve to partially fill gaps in my historical knowledge it also reminded me of how different our world is today from the world of bygone generations.

Evolution in the Archive

As I navigated the Stolen Time archive, I was reminded of projects and websites my AP English Language teacher had us look at during my junior year in high school. In preparing us for college and higher education, my teacher promoted not only analysis of modern and post-modern works, but also that of non-academic works -- video games, comic books, TV commercials, blogs, et cetera. Both Platform Studies and the Stolen Time article similarly take the mundane and seemingly meaningless and bring them up into the light of academic analysis or, if not that, academic consideration at the least. And isn't that important? Where do we draw the line separating those worthy of remembrance and consideration, and those unworthy?

The Stolen Time archive is quite possibly the most comprehensive archive I have ever laid eyes on. The reader becomes a part of the archive as they are interacting with it. While it may not act as an efficient and easily navigable archive, Stolen Time embodies the idea of the archive itself. It takes in anything and everything pertaining to its topic - photos, copies of articles, original articles; and most interestingly the movements, actions, and stories of its readers. Foucault argues that the "archive" is forever evolving and never complete; a concept which is proven in Stolen Time as it evolves with every new reader. It, in some way, is swept up in the "archive fever" - a desire and drive to archive every single thing it can, whether or not anyone else considers those things to be relevant. That is the goal of the archive. An archive saves everything and takes note of everything, just in case someone should have the desire to access it.

Stolen Time

I was really confused and overwhelmed by The Stolen Time Archive. It seems to me that the only way a person can truly understand it and get everything out of it would be to spend hours sorting through its information and pictures. I did, however, come away from it with a better understanding of what archives can be and how they can fit in with the concept of postmodernism. The Stolen Time Archive was definitely a more postmodern look at archives. I got that feeling even before I "clocked in," when I was reading the poetry at the beginning of the project. At first, the project is difficult to navigate because you have no idea what's going on, which forces the user to be patient and meticulous. This was obviously done with intent. Minimum wage jobs do require patience, and they can seem pointless and grating at times. I feel like the very setup of the archive is emulating that in a way.

The archive is also very random. You make the decisions by clicking on whatever interests you. It is not a linear experience, but rather one built upon whatever you choose, which creates seemingly random results as well. The archive may require several playthroughs to really understand what the general message even is, which put me off a bit. I wonder if the experience would have been more rewarding if I'd had more time. It's also funny to me that the archive is named "Stolen Time," and that's basically what it does if you get too wrapped up in it. It almost seemed never-ending to me.

Steal This Archive

The Stolen Time Archive is just this really weird thing. But that's not bad. I like it. The most obvious way it matches up with our discussions is the way in which, as an archive, it rewards inquiry. You get out of it what you put into it. The designer and author notes on the website speak truly when they call its effect "emergent". Its peculiar style gives no obvious direction, even though the "clock in" and "clock out" buttons, as well as the tracing at the beginning, give the impression of there being an overarching mission with tasks to check off on it. It was also self-referential, and frighteningly self-aware--it was presented as though it knew it was being looked at. And call me crazy, but those android flyers draw attention to the issue of technology and how it relates to the human endeavor--or what we regard as a "human" endeavor--of exploring the world and organizing our knowledge.

I've mentioned in class that I can have serious issues with information overload if I'm not careful. (We've also referred to this as a sort of archive fever.) That was definitely happening to me in The Stolen Archive. I tried, therefore, to limit my search and pretend some sections didn't exist. I undoubtedly missed a great deal, so I look forward to hearing others' experiences with the archive. But this hyper-focus I used gave me an unexpected insight.

I titled this post the way I did because I believe this archive intends for us to focus in on whatever catches our interest within it and whatever we decide is our "mission". Everybody digs in and plunders it differently. Everybody hijacks The Stolen Archive and uses it for their own purposes. So if you look at the title and think, huh, why is it called that--The Stolen Archive? Who stole it?

Well, that's easy. You did.