In “Old School”, the narrator’s simple language gives the story the quality of lightness. Calvino says that lightness can be defined as the narration of a train of thought or psychological process. The entire novel is told through the narration of the boy. As I was looking through Seger to find instruction, I stumbled across the section titled “The Reflective Voice”. In this section, Seger discusses the importance of a character revealing his or her character traits. They can do this simply by speaking and allowing the reader to listen to the dialect and language the character uses. The narrator does not reveal his name, but aside from that, the reader can figure almost everything else about the narrator. Just by revealing his thoughts on each event, the narrator reveals his personal traits. The language of the narrator is not only the essence of lightness according to Calvino, but also serves as the building block for Cornell’s reflective voice.
Tag Archives: lightness
When looking at “AH” I am drawn to the analogy of the famous movie outline of the main character looking for their own meaning of life, leaving their home and traveling for answers. The character then realizes that the meaning of life is to live life and one can not find the meaning of life by searching. You can find this in movies like “Alexander” or “Troy” where men spend their whole lives searching for their purpose of living and finding that the act of living is all that is important. This shows lightness similar to “AH” because the characters are forced to look at life from a different perspective. They are forced to “fly” above the ideas of the dense minded world and see their lives for what they are really worth. Like the narrator of “AH”, the idea of lightness can only come when one can rise above the dense world.
When evaluating “AH” by K Michel and Dirk Vis, I find the most intriguing part to be the time and motion of the piece. The author takes an idea and finds a way to better display it so that the viewer is able to see each word for its own value, separate of the sentence. This is another aspect of lightness for the piece. The author is able to break down the sentence into individual words that make up an idea. This takes the weight of the sentence off, allowing the lightness of each word to shine.
Italo Calvino explains lightness as the extraction of “weight” from a piece of literature. He believes that there are three senses of lightness and explains them all through Guido Cavalcanti, a character from Boccaccio’s “Decameron”. His first sense is lightness of language, described as ” meaning is conveyed through a verbal texture that seems weightless, until the meaning itself takes on the same rarefied consistency”. The second sense referenced is the narration of a train of thought or psychological process. The last sense that Calvino describes is the sense of “a visual image of lightness that acquires emblematic value…”. He is referencing the lightness of an image; his example here is the emblem he selected to represent lightness, Cavalcanti leaping over a tombstone to avoid his antagonists. This emblem shows that Cavalcanti has embraced lightness by leaping over death.
Cavalcanti is not the only example that Calvino uses. His first example given in the memo is the mythological story of Perseus and Medusa. Perseus was only able to defeat Medusa’s death stare by reflecting her own image back onto herself. Once he was able to behead the beast, he found that the head of Medusa could protect him, using it against other monsters. The head, also, when laid upon sea tress turns them to coral. Perseus was able to step back and see his reality from a higher viewpoint. The story references Perseus’ ability to fly with his winged shoes, a literal translation of him flying to a high point, but the way he was able to accept something that was so evil as good with the right use shows his true lightness in character. Calvino believes that our current world has trouble seeing lightness because our view of the world is too dense. He believes we will only be able to see true lightness if we are able to “fly away” like Perseus and see the world from a different perspective.
When referencing my own knowledge of lightness, I am drawn to the idea of comics. A simple comic strip can bring about a sense of humor with very little meaning or weight. A famous comic that comes to mind that exemplifies lightness is “The Far Side” by Gary Larson. He uses simple images and short captions to appeal to one’s humor about an everyday idea.
The E-Lit work I selected to best describe lightness is a work done by K Micheal and Dirk Vis and is called “AH”. The authors have an inconsistent message flow across the screen. The message discusses a simple, yet life changing idea that the author realizes while singing in the shower. The work exemplifies lightness because the author uses a simple action to describe an idea that, to the author, describes the lightness of the world. The message discusses a new perspective on life, similar to that of Perseus. The work is able to discuss an idea that although is important, has very little weight. The author discusses the lack of time and how everything in the world is connected and similar in some way. He does this by simply using an awkward jumble of words flowing across the screen with the word Ah breaking up the sentence. The world Ah usually correlates with the feeling of satisfaction. The author is able to capture this feeling of satisfaction by becoming light enough to “fly away” to a new perspective on life. The sentence that flows across the screen also discusses the idea that Einstein uses for this thought process about the world and tells of how he studied for years and yet the author realized this by simply singing in the shower.