nickm.com > classes > experimental writing, spring 2014

Autobiography 13

by Ariella Yosafat

An experience in using (mostly) numbers to specify how I examine and document my life.

My final project for 21W.750, Experimental Writing, is an experiment in documentation. In this project, I have documented my brief 20 years of life in relative numbers: location, dates, schedule, and social media figures. Instead of exploring the topic of autobiography without a constraint, or constraint without a subject, I decided to use the numbers specified by my life in order to construct "poetry". Each line following a number contains words only of the same word length as the respective number. An example is shown below in Chapter 1: Location. When appropriate, letters were used in combination with numbers; these lines only have words that begin with that particular letter. Another example is shown below as part of the schedule chapter. Aside from just using the numbers and letters to specify word length and beginning letter, the subject matter following the number describes its place in my life, hence the autobiography theme.

The Location Chapter

Above is an example of the documentation. I used zip codes from the various places that I lived in order to specify the word length in each line. For example, 650-8570 is the area code for Kobe, Japan (in Kansai), where I was born.

6: Kansai: parent stints

5: Japan earth start shake

0: (Lines with zero have no words and are used as spaces. Dashes are also ignored.)

8: Homeless lodgings

5: Youth buddy among Ariko,

7: Playful chicken ailment toddler

0:

The Schedule Chapter

In lines specified by a combination of letters and numbers, the numbers follow the word length rule, while letters specify alliteration.