The most exact language for expressing an idea would be the initial thought. Humans do not always think in full sentences, leaving time where fragments shoot around in one’s head as random sparks of ideas. The narrator of “Old School” holds nothing back when talking about subjects in the story. Tobias Wolff used the venue of a young boy’s thoughts to convey the same sense of exactitude that Calvino discusses. Seger spends an entire section on the importance of the work of the narrator. Seger says that the narrator is a guide for the reader through the story. My ‘blox’ has the viewer looking the glasses of the boy at his own thoughts. This means that the narrator, the boy, is guiding us through the story with his own personal thoughts about each event. We can only see and feel what the narrator sees and feels.
“a language as precise as possible both in choice of words and in expression of the subtleties of thought and imagination.”
– Italo Calvino
The quote above is Calvino’s third and final meaning for exactitude. This is the meaning that I found applicable to my selection for the Learning Screen, “Old School” by Tobias Wolff. The story is told by a narrator who just happens to be the main character of the story. The only perspective you get is that of the boy. This means that some of the thoughts were not full sentences. Thoughts and ideas usually come to mind in the simplest form. This is where Tobias Wolff is able to inject exactitude into”Old School”. The way in which the narrator conveys each event is in the most exact form of language, thought. It is the most basic form of communication. If the story was narrated by a third-party, the story wouldn’t be able to convey exactitude in the same sense because the speech of the narrator would be in full sentence and most likely not exact langauge.
My ‘blox’ for exactitude consists of a view through the eyes of the narrator. This aspect of the story is what embodies the quality into the work. Through the view of the narrator, the viewer of the ‘blox’ sees specific thoughts that the boy had throughout the story. These thoughts and simple language are the traits of the book that convey exactitude as explained by Calvino.
“To my mind exactitude means three things above all:
1. a well-defined and well-calculated plan for the work in question;
2. an evocation of clear, incisive, memorable visual images; in Italian we have an adjective that doesn’t exist in English, “icastico,”…
3. a language as precise as possible both in choice of words and in expression of the subtleties of thought and imagination.”
– Italo Calvino
Calvino describes Exactitude in three ways. I believe that “Old School” falls in the category of the 3rd meaning; “a language as precise as possible both in choice of words and in expression of the subtleties of thought and imagination”.
‘Rhyme is bullshit. Rhyme says that everything works out in the end. All harmony and order. When I see a rhyme in a poem, I know I’m being lied to. Go ahead, laugh! It’s true – rhyme’s a completely bankrupt device. It’s just wishful thinking. Nostalgia.’
– narrator of “Old School”
This is a quote from “Old School” that I believe follows the criteria of Calvino’s 3rd meaning of exactitude. The boy expressed his personal thought on rhyme. He uses short, exact sentences as well as fragments. The author is able to use the fact that the narrator is speaking as if the reader is in his head and sometimes people do not think in sentence but rather fragment. Thought is the most exact language of all. It is the core of language. “Old School” is definitely a piece of work that Calvino would classify as exemplifying exactitude.