Tag Archives: weight

Light: Adaptation

21 Apr

My visualization of The Giving Tree is such that it could be adapted to a short film with relatively few edits. When I reflect on the book as a whole in my mind, as one continuous storyline, my imagination fills in the gaps between each scene and the time lapses. I imagine what the characters of the tree and the boy are like outside of their roles and interactions with each other, and develop the characters into fully fleshed-out and primary characters of a rich storyline, to which they do belong.

An adaptation would require the filling in of such parts of the story, but not in a cumbersome way- it would still remain as a light story, for it is only the interactions of the boy and tree that weigh heavily on the audience. The filler components of the story I image as the boy at home with his family, eating dinner, getting ready for bed, cared for by his loving parents. As he gets older, he is coming to and from high school, going on his first date, then getting ready to go to college. His life continues as such in average, every day sequences of events until he goes back to the tree. His returned visits are part of what is fathomable as a “conflict” because of the strained relationship and sense of guilt on the part of the boy and a sense of desperation from the tree. The episodes of the boy returning to tree over time represent story arcs, as discussed by Seger (pg.92). Because they are broken up over time in the boy’s life, but not over many chapters, these story arcs are also one way that this story is light- it is not of great burden to the reader to progress through the passage of time, although the burden is felt as empathy for both the boy and the tree alike. In terms of character motives, this story presents a great deal of intentionality (pg.93). The boy, as he gets older, comes to the tree with specific intentions and desires. As is the tree’s nature, she continues to give and give until she has nothing left but to provide a final resting place for the boy as an old man.

All in all, an adaptation would also present the juxtaposition of lightness with weight because of the story’s capacity to allow for lightheartedness in the frivolity of the boy’s adolescence, while at the same time emphasizing the struggle that is the relationship between the boy and the tree over the years.


Light: Cornell

21 Apr

The composition of a blox based on the work and guidance of Cornell around The Giving Tree in terms of the quality of being light, I will draw upon things from my own childhood that give me memories of lightness that are also found in The Giving Tree. The first thing that comes to mind is leaves. Not only are leaves an epitome of the quality of being light, but they are a large aspect of the story- they are much of the tree as the picture on the pages, as well as a prop for the boy when he makes a crown and builds his house. Another item included in my blox for light’s quality will be a child’s blanket. This is for both personal reasons and because of the boy’s adolescence in the book. When I would young I had a blanket that I loved. It was the perfect weight- just light enough to be snuggly and comforting while at the same time providing the comfort of warmth when I was cold.  Part of my synthesis for the holes in the story is the boy at home with his family. I can imagine that he would also have some kind of a blanket, as many children do.

The concept of being light can also, in my mind, represent a state of happiness. Therefore, I will include a flower, more specifically a daisy, because flowers make me happy. This is something that I imagine being around as a wildflower in the forest where the tree grows and where the boy plays. As a child myself, I spent a great deal of time playing outside and enjoying the outdoors. As another component of lightness implied in The Giving Tree to which I also relate are clouds. As the boy is outside playing in the shade of the tree, one can imagine that the sky is filled with sunlight and big, pillowy clouds.

For all of these items, I have reflected on the aspects of the story to which I relate that represent lightness. I have relied on nostalgia as well as prior knowledge that has been acquired over my 22 years of living, along with my 17 years of education. Like Cornell, this reliance on both physical and mental notes and the collection of items surrounding specific emotions have allowed me to compile this blox as I have.


24 Feb

The graphic element I think best represents Lightness is that of transparency. In design, transparency is used to create veils and layers of color and texture. Typically something is transparent when it has a value between 0 and 100 so that it is opaque to some degree but also reveals the layer or object beneath it.

I feel as though transparency represents Lightness best because of the sense of weight, or lack thereof, that it implies. Naturally, we understand that by the principles of physics and gravity that when one object is underneath another object it bears the weight of the latter. With transparency, the simple fact that the top layer is “see-through” implies a sense of lightness, as opposed to if it were completely opaque, no matter the texture or object. Transparency almost gives a feeling of relief to the viewer because it allows for the understanding and visibility of the multiple elements that are being observed. Because humans are curious characters, we have natural inclinations to feel anxiety from what we cannot see, or what do not know is there. The value of transparency, both literally on a scale and figuratively, is important to the understanding of what is being observed in art, just as Calvino’s quality of Lightness is pertinent to the reader’s ability to feel a sense of calm and understanding without the weight of burdensome text or meaning.

Calvino’s Lightness

20 Feb

The first memo of Calvino’s Six Memos for the New Millennium is Lightness. Rather than explicitly or concretely defining the quality of Lightness in his own way, Calvino demonstrates Lightness employed through multiple examples of other literary works. He does, however, declare that he has come to consider Lightness a “value rather than a defect.” (pg. 3) He draws heavily on the character of Cavalcanti and the image presented by his escape from his enemies and, symbolically, death. Calvino states, in the context of Cavalcanti’s story that he is concerned with something when it maintains three characteristics:

1) when it is to the highest degree light

2) when it is in motion

3) when it is a vector of information

This image of Cavalcanti leaping over the tomb to escape is this emblem Calvino chooses for this quality. He says that the agile leap of the poet-philosopher over the grave, raising himself above the weight of the world, demonstrates that even with all of his gravity he has the secret of lightness. (pg. 12) Calvino expresses that his own discussion of Cavalcanti personally clarifies what he defines as Lightness, and that is that it goes along with precision and determination, not with vagueness or the haphazard. He supports his feelings by referencing Valery, who says that one should be light like a bird, not like a feather.

Calvino goes on th explain that Cavalcanti presents at least three senses of Lightness:

1) A lightening of language whereby meaning is conveyed through a verbal texture that seems weightless, until the meaning takes on the same consistency (pg. 16)

2) The narration of a train of thought or psychological process in which subtle and imperceptible elements are at work (pg. 17)

3) A visual image of lightness that acquires emblematic value, like Cavalcanti (pg. 17)

Calvino also emphasizes the polarity of the concept of lightness with weight and its tendency to proclaim itself throughout history. He speaks of the light end of the spectrum in reference to Cavalcanti. This tendency has tried to “make language into a weightless element that hovers above things like a cloud….” The other tendency, at the opposite end of the spectrum, is initiated by Dante in which he “tries to give language the weight, density and concreteness of things, bodies and sensations.” (pg.15)

An example of literature that I feel can capture the essence of Lightness is the poetry of Carl Sandburg. I feel a personal sense of connection to the works of Carl Sandburg because as a child I visited his home in North Carolina and have since enjoyed the simplicity and elegance of his poetry.

An example:

Between Two Hills

Between two hills

The old town stands.

And the roofs and trees

And the dusk and the dark,

The damp and the dew

Are there.

The prayers are said

And the people rest

For sleep is there

And the touch of dreams

Is over all.

Carl Sandburg

Although this is just one example of the work of Carl Sandburg, it captures the essence of all his works. His ability to lead the reader’s imagination to a place with details resembling a picture in the mind of the reader, yet retaining the feeling of weightlessness and sense of simplicity is, in my opinion, right in line with Calvino’s desire for his audience to be underwhelmed with weight or overwhelmed with lightness through the examples that he provides. There seems to be a certain sense of lifting off of each line in his poem and such strong imagery as though each line itself is its own picture that becomes part of a slowly moving movie reel or scrapbook of pictures that work together to create one cohesive collage.

I feel as though Calvino portrays Lightness through his examples of works in reference to both the literal lightness of the language and its structure, as well as the content and contextual meaning of his examples. This is why I feel that Sandburg’s work very well exemplify the quality of Lightness because of its lack of heavily weighted verbage. This has nothing to do with the length of some of his works because there are a number of lengthy poems, nor does it have to do with the subject matter because there are also a number of poems with heavier meaning . It does, however, have to do with the stylistic and syntactic elements to his works and the true genius that is common through every line of every poem.