Tag Archives: characteristic

Exact: Experience

21 Apr

My experience with The Giving Tree in terms of being exact is that of an appreciation for the precision with which each picture is drawn and sentence is written. As more of  a poet than a writer of works at length, Shel Silverstein is a true wordsmith and master of conciseness while still managing to convey such power and depth. If it were not for his exact and deliberate choice of words, syntax and grammatical expression, The Giving Tree would be just another children’s story about a boy, his imagination and experiences with a tree as a friend.

Calvino expresses his definition of exactness or exactitude in terms of literature being an “evocation of clear, incisive, memorable visual images” (pg. 56) Silverstein achieves just that as he manages to imply so much more than there is to this story in actual words. Within the 25 pages  are what could possibly be at least three chapters of a story because of the richness each simple line incorporates. But it is not just the individual lines of text and context that allow for depth, but is the tension and pregnant pauses between each of the thoughts and lines that allow the reader to process and take in the experience. Not only are the words exact, but also are the placement of the words on the page in terms of spacing and indention. They become a part of the artwork and provide further support for the dramatic sense of the writing.

One of the most exact portions of the book that is also one of the greatest points of heightened emotion is on the page that reads,

“But time went by.

[next page] And the boy grew older.”

The break in lines between these pages and the realization of sadness by the tree, and therefore the reader, is the first point of conflict experienced by the reader and is most definitely deliberate by Silverstein.

It is all of these aspects combined, the exactitude of word choice, placement and precise but minimal drawings that allow for the imagination to fabricate the missing pieces of the story in terms of visual elements. These things, according to Calvino, define the characteristic of being exact and allow the reader an experience of empathy, sympathy and love for these characters.



25 Feb

The graphic element that I chose to represent Quickness is texture. I chose texture because of its unique ability to imply motion or movement- even Quickness. Texture is all around us in our every day lives. Everything has a texture, and for many things we encounter on a daily basis, texture is a defining characteristic. While many textures are stagnant, plenty of others do imply motion. For instance, if a pencil is taken and scribbled back and forth on a piece of paper so as to create a scratched look, Quickness is implied because of the sheer understanding that that type of motion and effect cannot be created successfully without speed and intensity. Textures do not have to be physically detectable. Texture can be implied, like the pencil scratching, with letters, dots, lines, and other graphic elements that can be combined in such a way that they imply motion, and many times, more specifically, speed or Quickness. Similar to the scratching of a pencil, so too does a group of dots or spots close together imply Quickness, provided there is some type of layering evident. While each spot could have conceivably been placed at a slow pace, one at a time, it is unlikely that is the case. It is more probable, especially if done by hand, that the artist performed a dotting action over and over again to achieve a swarmed and busy feel that suggests Quickness. In regards to the E-Lit piece Code Movie 1, essentially the all of the textures of letters and numbers create an effect. Some are rough, some are smooth, some are lined and others are flat types of textures and surfaces. I personally feel as though were those numbers and letters physically real, each plane or screen of bypassing characters would feel like sandpaper because of the sharp corners of the letters and the speed at which it moved and transformed on the screen. Therefore, the textures that this piece provide not just an explicit demonstration of Quickness, but imply a sensation of roughness due to the quick movement of texture.

Calvino’s Quickness

25 Feb

The second quality Calvino introduces is Quickness. Through an initial example of the story of Charlamagne, Calvino demonstrates that Quickness can be provided by a narrative link in order to move the tale along. In the story, the ring is the narrative link that provides the movement and determines the relationships among the characters surrounding it.

According to Calvino, Quickness is not a value in itself. Rather it is a singular characteristic that is used to convey a sense of narrative time that is akin to delayed, cyclic or motionless time. As such, the other examples Calvino draws on to demonstrate Quickness, or lack thereof, are a variety of time-keeping methods to prove a point that Quickness can be pertinent to good storytelling.

The emblem Calvino chooses to exemplify the quality of Quickness is the horse. He sees it as an emblem of speed- literally, figuratively and of the mind as well. He emphasizes that the horse runs through the course of literature’s history as representing power, strength and, of course, speed and makes the claim that the horse even heralds the problematics of our technological viewpoints.

I personally feel as though Quickness is an extremely important aspect of a piece of literature. Where as I, as a detail-oriented person, appreciate a great deal of details and information in a piece of work, I also appreciate the movement of a storyline so that engagement does not run stale because of an over abundance of unnecessary information. For me, this type of distraction is a turn-off when it comes to a story, and when a lack of quickness is the case I am discouraged from reading. Therefore I tend to lean toward a preference of Quickness rather than a motionless storyline.

An example of literature I feel demonstrates Quickness is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. While many children’s books can be characterized by the quality of Quickness, I feel as though this one especially captures it because of the concise and yet meaningful message. Each page has a very words, one or two sentences at most, but it does not lack for story. The argument can also be made that the story is successful with so few words because of the pictures, but I feel as though the pictures are merely a supplement and not a main contributing factor for the story. The relationship between the boy and the tree is quick in terms of words and lines, but the meaning is full and the message is timeless.