Reading Questions

Henderson_GalerieDeDifformite(Directions: Answer in order, or write #1-25 on paper slips and choose out of a hat.)

  1. What is this book about?
  2. How did you read this book?
  3. If you were to map this book, what would be your mapping strategy, including scale, key, and symbols?
  4. The online expansion of the Galerie de Difformité includes this gallery of deformations, labeled Exhibit A-Z, as well as a library of collaborative chapbooks that grow in and out of the published book (able to be inserted in pages 233-233). Why call these “Exhibits,” and why “A-Z”? Since the book includes much more material than the Exhibits, what alternatives for (de)classifications might organize the book, especially as it grows? (For instance, what form might its morphing “Index” take?)
  5. List 3 synonyms for “deforming” (verb), then 3 synonyms for “deformity” (noun). How do these nouns and verbs compare and contrast?
  6. Look for 2 deformations in the book or online, and swap their captions. Does your relationship with each representation change based on what it is called?
  7. Galerie de Difformité can be confusing. What confuses you? What happens when you meet something or someone you don’t understand? Do you meet it head-on or turn away? Does the way you meet confusion in the book reflect other situations in life, or not?
  8. Galerie de Difformité at times forces you to make choices and even break rules in order to navigate and continue your journey. Do you find this book “accessible” or “inaccessible”? How does our notion of access change in different circumstances? Where do you hear the word “accessible” used, and what does it mean?
  9. The book is analogized to a body. Find 5 ways that the book acts as a kind of body. Why do you think the Undertaker uses that metaphor?
  10. The Author calls herself “the Undertaker,” expanding on that word in the book (see page 216). Why “the Undertaker”? How does she undermine her authority in authoring this book, and why? What is the history of authorship?
  11. Why do you think the book is structured as a choose-your-own-adventure? What is the effect of that structure? What are other alternatives of form that might organize this content?
  12. What do you know about the history of the novel, as well as the history of books? Do you notice “quotations” of the history of the novel and the history of books, not only textually but also visually? What other genres do you recognize? How do we identify and delineate between fiction, poetry, nonfiction, criticism? What happens when these genres bleed into one another?
  13. Look for one of the black-and-white boxes printed in the book, otherwise known as a QR code (as example, turn to page 6 or page 219). Find a mobile device to scan and read the QR code. What information do you access? What are other ways that current books are expanding, augmenting, or reimagining books? How do you imagine the future of the book?
  14. Look at the copyright page. The author compares the book to a “baggy monster” (quoting Henry James’ definition of the genre of the novel). How do monsters function in the book? What is the monster?
  15. What is the meaning of the bone-with-the-heart-shaped-hole? Does it change?
  16. The book identifies itself as a “book” and a “novel,” but it doesn’t fit neatly in those categories. Make a list of features that identify who you are by labels and categories. Do these labels sum up who you are? What are the benefits and dangers of labels?
  17. Find 3 questions asked in the book, then answer them.
  18. The Undertaker invites participation through a portal called “The Destruction Room” (represented on pages 230-231). What is the origin of “The Destruction Room”? What are the implications of destruction? Is it easy to destroy something for its own sake, and is there something more than gratuitous desecration? What might that be?
  19. The project is registered under Creative Commons. What it that? What is “copyright” and “public domain”? How do we protect rights of makers while also recognizing some sort of public commons, acknowledging that no one creates in a vacuum?
  20. Write 3 questions that sprang from your reading, not written in the book. Write them down. Either answer them or invite someone else to answer them, and somehow incorporate the answers into your book or into your deformation.
  21. If you were to write the story of Gloria Heys or Bea or Gretchen Henderson or any of the other characters, where would you start? As an exercise, write your extension (or “Lost Chapter”) of the Galerie de Difformité and share it with the Undertaker, perhaps as a chapbook to add to this library.
  22. If you were to make “An Alternative Table of Contents” (see page 21 of the book), how would you organize and divide and title the sections?
  23. Go to “Exhibit E” online: where you won’t find the “end,” but rather allusion to John Cage’s performative piece, As Slow aS Possible. If you decide to make a deformation, will you (de)create something that can be summed up in a quick reading or rather something that has layers to unpeel through different “readings”: by viewers, listeners, other sensors?
  24. Think about your own work. What do you (un)make on a regular basis? What are you deforming, whether or not you use that word? Choose a verb or two that describes your regular practices, as a potential “intervention.”
  25. How will you participate in this collaborative project? Take a leap, engaging with the Galerie de Difformité‘s questions and engagements and practices, intermixed with your own. Consider this invitation as a quest of questions. Don’t worry if something hasn’t yet been represented: follow your own directions.

(Alternatively: Write a test on “Following Directions,” like this, but specifically geared toward the GdD.)

Published on April 1, 2013 at 11:51 pm  Comments Off on Reading Questions  
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