Tag Archives: story

Visible: Cornell

22 Apr

Visibility, in terms of Cornell and the composition of a blox, in my mind centers around the imagination and the mind’s role in filling in the gaps of this story.  For me, the process of gathering images or icons to include in the blox for the quality of visible is simply a reflection upon what I have thought about in the process of reading The Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree is visible because of the careful craftsmanship with which Silverstein composes this story. I like to think that this story is visible through a kaleidoscope- it becomes a mixture of wonderful colors, even in its black and white illustrations, and is a constantly moving story, like that of a kaleidoscope. Also included in my blox for visibility will be a magnifying glass. Not only is a magnifying glass used to see things more closely and clearly, but I have personal memories involving magnifying glasses that relate to my childhood. I was always fascinated with them and often played with them outside trying to capture the sun and use it to further illuminate whatever was around. A picture of an eye is also appropriate. Not only for obvious reasons, but I am including it in the sense that it represents the mind’s eye- the eye with which we are allowed to see what the imagination fabricates for us. I am a visual learner and also have tendencies toward a photographic memory. Therefore, everything I see I can remember very well, and things that I do not see, I create mental images that help me to remember them. In that sense, my mind is also a sketch pad because it creates what it does not see explicitly.

All of these things come together to make a blox that is colorful and filled with things that represent images that are visible and that represent the ability to see them- visibility.

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Visible: Adaptation

22 Apr

An adaptation of The Giving Tree in terms of visibility will be easy to achieve. Although there is not much to be seen on the pages of the book in terms of text or extremely detailed images, the imagination works to fill in these gaps. Seger’s recommendation is to keep the story simple when adapting, and this book is no challenge in terms of simplicity. The movement of the story arcs and specific dialogue of the characters allow for a great sense of visibility in the mind of the reader. In an adaptation, however, more background information will need to be filled in as an explicit demonstration of the beginnings of the boy and tree’s relationship. Because a book allows for the mind of the reader to wander, there is no explanation needed. However, in terms of a blox or short film, a visual foundation is required for the audience to understand the significance of their interaction.

According to Seger, the stories that are the most realistic are those that are most easily adaptable- or in this case easily visible. Because we can relate to the boy and his playful actions as a child, his experiences as a teenager, and his desires for a house and a family, we not only can relate, but can visualize the way these paths of his life would go over the course of a film. We can envision the conversations, the dates he goes on, the construction of his house and the development of his family, all because we relate as human beings. For these reasons, an adaptation would not be much of a challenge in the way of story development, it would just be a matter of translating the ideas of whoever is directing, to match and be approved by those who may also be working on this project of adaptation.

Quick: Experience

22 Apr

Not only is The Giving Tree light and exact, but it represents the quality of being quick very well. There is no delay or hesitation to the story, no drawn out sequences of action that keep the reader from experiencing the true movement of the story in reasonable time. The book is  a concise, exact and quick read. This is another quality in which synchronicity is demonstrated. Although there are only a short 25 pages, most with only one line, the story spans the entire life of the boy in close to three minutes- if read leisurely. The reader is seemingly deprived of details of the in-between times of the boy’s life, however, I choose to see the gaps in story or the brevity of the content as an opportunity for the imagination. The mind must act quickly if it is to fill in the gaps between pages, as each sheet represents a number of years passing between one’s fingers.

This is the kind of book that is over quickly and that one wants to read again, but the feelings caused by reading this story remain for such a period that the soul and emotional palette need a time for recovery and to process what just happened in such a short amount of time. My personal experience with The Giving Tree in terms of quickness is such that it has forced me to think about the speed with which life passes us by. In so many ways, our lives are long and take thousands of days to pass us by. However, all those of older age express to the younger generations the speed with which time flies and the way one wakes up one day and realizes the majority of their life is behind them. In reading this story, it can be understood that the boy’s life seems to pass him by a great deal faster than does that of the trees. The tree endures a life of waiting for her friend to return and enjoy her happiness which in turn provides the tree with happiness. It does not require a great deal of time to understand that this is the basis for their relationship, and this brevity or quickness is a huge contributing factor to the success of this story- such power and emotion evoked with the definition of conciseness.

Quick: Adaptation

22 Apr

My adaptation of The Giving Tree in terms of being quick is centered around the brevity of the story. Because of the few number of pages and the quick read, an adaptation into a film would require that it be a short film. Although the meanings of this story run much deeper than what is on the surface and could allow for a greater expansion, the emotional impact and theme of the story has the chance of being spread too thin and therefore losing its value if extended too long.

In terms of Seger and her tips for adaptation, there is one character in The Giving Tree that embodies the main essence of the story and that is the tree. She is the central focus and is in every scene or on every page of the book. Although she is the dominant character, she is not the narrator. This story requires a narrator that is removed from the story. That person is omniscient- they know all of the story, the feelings of both the characters and the whys of these feelings. This narrator is also a reason for the story’s brevity. They waste no time in getting to the main points of action in the story- even if that means bypassing  a number of years. In this way, the narrator is almost an unseen character. Their presence is known because of the boy and tree’s mentionings in third person, but no unnecessary attention is drawn to the narrator. If the story was too long, the purpose of the narrator would become less obvious because the story could at that point explain itself. The more brief the story, the greater need for a narrator, and in this case the length is just right for the maximum emotional impact and the narrator is just enough involved to convey the true thoughts and feelings while not distracting from the essence of the themes.

Multiple: Experience

21 Apr

Calvino describes multiplicity as a quality that involves explaining until something cannot be explained any more- until a new topic is reached by the over explanation of an original topic. However, The Giving Tree, in its 25 pages, is not an example of this. It demonstrates a different kind of multiplicity, and that is the repetition of certain elements of the story.

I found this experience of repetition or multiplication to be endearing, especially since at its core, The Giving Tree is a children’s book. This is not only easy for the children to understand, but from an adult perspective provides a sense of enforced meaning and a deeper emphasis on the message of unconditional love and understanding. The fact that the tree continues to give and support the boy is a true testament to her love, and therefore the aspect of the story that is multiplied simply enhances this attribution.

Exact: Adaptation

21 Apr

If adapted, The Giving Tree would make for an easy set and script. Although filler material would be required, it would be an expansion of what is already available, and simply an execution of what is imagined.

In terms of being exact and using the elements of adaptation from Seger, The Giving Tree has a great deal of direction and dimensionality- two elements she says are essential for making a story dramatic. If it were not for the exact nature of this storyline the sense of drama would be significantly less because of the tensions that is provided. Tension is an essential element to drama, at least in my mind, and the fact that sentences are left open, unanswered on one page until the next is read, it provides for the opportunity to expand on what exactly is happening in an adaptation, or in the case of reading the book first hand, an imaginative experience.

Also evident as a result of this story being exact is its division into three parts: when the boy is young, when he is an adolescent/young adult, and when he becomes a man in his older age. The presentation of his life in these exact stages as well as obvious transitions offer further support for the ability of this story to be adapted to another work of art, such as film. Without exactitude, a film has no definition and makes no sense to the audience.

Finally, The Giving Tree could not be more exact in its theme. Although its title is an obvious implication of what is to be read in the book, one who just reads the cover does not know to what extent or in what way the tree is a giver. With the tree’s explicit allowance and provision encouraged personally by the tree, the audience cannot help but understand that this tree really is a giver in both a physical and unconditional sense. Without exactness, this would not be understood, and this story not as cherished.

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.