With the sea mast-high in a winter’s storm,
And the boson scared as a wet newborn?
Haul hard, haul hard.
Well written works have the capacity to evoke memory. I remember Sunday mornings, light streaming through church windows, a hymn book thick and open in my hands. Hymns were always the best part of Sunday service, when there were no questions about faith but rather a call to share.
Hymn and Shanty is a work of interactive, electronic literature that can be completed in under ten minutes. Users are invited to compile hymns and shanties. To pick these continuing songs, the user must select between two options. For example, choosing between “Lord of the hammer” and “Lord of the evening.” After you select your section, the story will create a passage based off of that idea.
In his afterword, Philip Green discusses how humanity utilizes the capacity of hymns to console our basest insecurities, and shanties abilities to laugh at the raging ocean (I picture Lieutenant Dan shouting epithets at the ocean in Forest Gump).You can create a shanty to express insecurity and fear, a hymn for the lost and forgotten.
The concept of Hymn and Shanty is interesting, but it doesn’t hold attention past an initial play through. In many ways, it functions more as a tool rather than a work of electronic literature, and that might be the artists intention. It points out the parallels between two very old types of song, the hymn and the shanty, and utilizes the users familiarity with them to aid in their creation. While this is initially effective, the difference between hymns is fairly minor in real life, let alone in an electronically created work.
You can play Hymn and Shanty at the Varytale website.