After pondering for a while, I think I have settled on the babbling brook as my emblem for quickness. With a babbling brook, there is movement, always movement. The current is rushing forward and anything caught in the current will be rushed forward, as well. To try to fight it and go the other way, results in slow, if any, movement at all. Therefore, the babbling brook is somewhat like the E-lit piece. If you just follow the letters and let them take you forward, you will move with them. But if you stop to think too much about them, if you get caught up trying to analyze them, you will get stuck. Quickness is about letting go and allowing yourself to get hypnotized by a beat, by a rhythm. Like Dorothy gets carried forward by the current of the yellow brick road, and we get carried away by the letters in the E-lit piece, life is about motion – about trusting the motion and letting it move us somewhere. However, it is also about change – allowing ourselves to change our thoughts. Life is quick, so we must be quick with it.
An analogy of quickness can be found in The Wizard of Oz, the book and the movie. Here we are presented with a journey – of this idea that Dorothy is moving somewhere, namely on the yellow brick road. However, she is not standing still. The book is paced rather quickly, and each chapter seems like another episode, helping with the speed and adding a sort of rhythm to the narrative. The idea of quickness is also illustrated in how quick it is for an image or façade to burst. When Dorothy and her companions find out that The Wizard is nothing but an old humbug, and that Oz is not really green, they quickly change their perspective. Therefore, there is the idea of physical quickness – moving throughout Oz towards the Emerald City, and ultimately towards “home.” However, there is also the idea that thought moves fast – Dorothy and her companions must change the way in which they think. They must realize that what they lack is obtainable and that sometimes things aren’t what they seem. When Dorothy finally returns home, the reader is left with the feeling that while much happened in Oz, the journey, itself was fast-paced and quick.
Like in the E-lit, where you can’t get too caught up in trying to keep up with the letters, in The Wizard of Oz, you can’t get too caught up in the facade. You must move quickly through the Emerald City to escape its “greenness,” much like you must move quickly through the E-lit in order to keep up with the story.
With regards to the Graphic Design book, this E-lit illustrates the idea of rhythm: “Rhythm is a strong, regular, repeated pattern” (29). In the E-lit, we can hear the sound of the type writer cranking out each letter. It creates a sort of beat or driving force behind the narrative. The rhythm seems to propel the words forward, creating this sense of quickness, or urgency. The beat also seems to breathe life into the work – give it a sort of pulse.
Lupton writes about how “balance and rhythm work together to create works of design that pulse with life, achieving both stability and surprise” (29). In this E-lit, we are provided with a sense of stability in knowing the next letter will come, but since they are flashing at us so fast, there is still this element of surprise as to which letter might come next. The sound of the typewriter creates a pace, but the ping at the end of each line is still a surprise even though we know it is coming.We rely on this sense of stability where we know the story will continue, but we also feel surprised, because it jolts us forward at such a quick pace.
I tried to capture an image of the letters flashing across the screen, but, ironically, they were too quick to even take a photo of. So, instead, i am just including a photo of the opening screen of the E-lit piece. It is the only image that sticks around long enough to capture.
The E-lit I chose to illustrate the idea of quickness is “Star Wars, one letter at a time” by Brian Kim Stefans. If we are thinking of letters as the vehicles of transportation in literature, then letters produced at a quick pace, imply a sort of quickness. In this piece, we are literally being shown individual letters at a rapid pace. However, there is this interesting twist to the idea of quickness that is being presented – the idea that sometimes our thoughts cannot keep up with the words on a page. The letters are fired at us much like bullets, and if you blink or turn away for a second, you miss the letter, which messes up the word, which changes the whole meaning of the sentence. There is this idea that the thoughts are so swift, they almost have a mind of their own. They drive themselves, in a way.
This E-lit piece also lends to the idea that creating a word or a sentence can be done in a heartbeat, but the creation of an entire piece of literature takes time. By showing us only one letter at a time, our reading is sped up, but our understanding is somewhat slowed down. It is ironic and paradoxical – this idea of quickness and digression existing simultaneously. But that is what fascinates me here – the idea that words can be formed quickly, but meaning needs to marinate. There is the idea of physical movement, the words literally moving on the page, versus mental movement, the mind catching up with the content.
When I think of quickness, it exhilarates me and it scares me. The idea that there is movement, motion forward, going somewhere different than where I currently am – that is exciting. However, this speed, this moving, it can also be scary, especially when it feels like you hardly have a chance to breathe or form a thought. Speed, though, helps to chop out the unnecessary detail, especially when it comes to literature. It gives the illusion of movement, of plot, of a plot that is gripping. It gives this idea that you better pay attention and soak in the words, because soon, so soon, the words will move on, and you will either move on with them or be left behind.
In his book, Calvino talks about the idea of a straight line. I think this is a great way to think about quickness. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. When it comes to speed, taking the scenic route, while nice, slows down the movement. There is a sort of digression. Calvino writes at one point: “If a straight line is a shortest distance between two fated and inevitable points, digressions will lengthen it” (47). Digression represents the details – the dirty details that we step into and find ourselves sometimes having trouble getting out of.
With regards to quickness, Calvino also mentions that “a swift piece of reasoning is not necessarily better than a long-pondered one. Far from it. But it communicates something special that is derived simply from its very swiftness” (45). Long-pondered information has much value, but there is something about a new and emerging thought – something fresh and young and alive. This sense of life is what we get from Calvino’s idea of quickness, this idea of always being on our toes.
A recent book I read that I think illustrates the idea of quickness is The Hunger Games. In this novel, we literally have a story about fighting to live, fighting against the very opposite of quickness or movement, death. Therefore, the characters are propelled forward to counter their deaths, they have to move quickly in order to survive. When they first enter the Hunger Games, a reality show in this novel where kids fight against each other to survive and win fame and fortune, they literally have to be the fastest competitor to escape into safety and acquire the best provisions. Speed is important in this novel. It is told in a swift manner, where suspense is highly present, but the actions the characters take, themselves, are also quick. Instead, it is us as readers who have to fight to keep up with all these intense ideas – the idea that children are dying, a notion that is very heavy. If we stop to think too much about it, to get caught up in how uncomfortable it makes us feel, we will miss out on the story. Therefore, we must be quick with the characters. We must starve with them, run with them, fight with them, or else we will be the ones left behind.