An analogy of exactitude can be seen in the book Ella Enchanted, as well as the movie based off of the book. In this story, Ella is cursed to be obedient. She must do whatever she is ordered. However, in many ways, you could say she was cursed to be exact. She must do exactly what others tell her to do, whether this is to repeat a phrase, steal some jewels, clean the house. This is taking the idea of exactitude to a twisted level. Her ability to partake in exactitude, literally eliminates her ability to have ultimate freedom of choice. Her exactitude is confining. It is precise, but also constricting.
An excerpt from the book (pages 74-45):
“Sing more softly, Ella. They can hear you in Ayortha.”
I became inaudible.
“Not so soft. The rest of us would like to hear your sweet tones.”
I sang too loud again, although not so much as before. Music Mistress had to spend a quarter hour inching me along to the desire volume.
“Life your feet, young ladies. This is a spirited gavotte.”
And so on. It was a tiresome game, but I had to play it or feel a complete puppet.”
In this scene, it becomes clear how literally, and exactly, Ella responds to what people tell her to do. Because she responds in such an exact fashion, the people who tell her to do certain things, must be just as exact in their speech, to get her to follow suit. When the teacher tells the girls to lift their feet, Ella’s literally lifts up high. She does what she is asked, but in a fashion more exact than the mistress desired. Like the E-lit piece uses imagery to show exactly what they want the word to convey, people use orders to get Ella to act in the exact manner they desire.
This scene also hints at the idea that exactitude can take time to acquire. As Calvino mentioned, it is a well-planned out idea. It takes time to be that precise and know exactly what to say. The notion that it takes the teacher a quarter hour to inch Ella to the desired volume, implies a process that can be lengthy if you want ultimate precision, or exactitude.
Another analogy of exactitude is seen in crisis line couseling. I volunteer as a phone counselor at a crisis center. I work on crisis lines, suicide hotlines. In training, they teach us how to do emotional paraphrasing, or in order words, being able to pinpoint an exact emotion someone is feeling and verbalize it back to them. We must be precise in our perceptions of these emotions and precise is recounting them back to our clients. However, this sort of exactitude does not just mean parroting back what has been said – it is about understanding the emotion enough, to word it differently, but still capture the essence of how that person is feeling.
For example, let’s say someone says the following:
I just can’t take it anymore! They drive me crazy. Everything is happening so fast and I feel like no one gets it!
An exact way to respond to this could be the following:
Life is just spiraling out of control and you feel so alone.
These are not the same exact words that the client uttered, but, they capture the same idea. They illustrate a sort of exactitude. They enable rapport between client and volunteer. If the client feels understood, like the volunteer is on the same page as them, effective communication has been achieved.