Okay, now to talk about how to make the visible MORE visible. But, also, how to translate the verbal elements, since this is a book, into s0mething completely visual. Here is where I turned back to the theme of this novel. Seger writes about how there is a certain amount of description needed to get images across in a book. These are chosen carefully to construct an overall image, or theme. This is often done by repeating the same image or idea, by adding details to the original image, or also by using contrasting images. I tried to implement these techniques when it came to my adaptation. I focused on the ideas of silence versus noise – of the implications of both, and how it can affect the overall image of a household. Seger talks about how movement is fluid in a novel. The narrator moves through the book in a way that helps readers understand the connection between details, ideas, and information that may appear again in different chapters. The author connects the past, present, and future. An interesting aspect of My Sister’s Keeper, is that the novel jumps around in time. The mother is often reflecting on the past, and many times whole chapters are flashbacks. This helps connect the imagery and themes of the novel, though. It illustrates how the past inevitably affects the present, which will also impact the future. These images are closely intertwined.
When considering my adaptation, I tried to fixate on repeated words, and the resultant images they formed. It was also interesting to note that sometimes the same words prompted totally different results, or images. Because of the ways in which the characters changed, the words took on new meanings, and formed completely different images. This contributed to the confusing mood of the novel and the inability of characters and readers to get a firm grasp on what is right and wrong. The words create images, however, which help form a general mood and theme for the book.
What I really wanted to capture in my visual adaptation, was the interconnectedness between verbal word and the formation of images. Whether these images are created by the character or the reader, they are a reaction to something said or not said. Image and word are tied together. And even though the relationship bonds in this novel are tested and torn and pulled to a stretching point, the bond between written word and visual image, remains constant. The words might change, the images might change, but the coexistence of the two, does not.
As I was thinking about visibility, I remembered flipping through my New Yorker magazine earlier this morning. At the back of the magazine, they present the reader with a cartoon and then urge the readers to think of the best caption for this picture. They call it the “Cartoon Caption Contest.” This is interesting, because in this case, there is the assumption that visual image came first. However, there is also this idea that the picture was created with a set phrase of words in mind, and the closest the entries come to this, influences their chances of winning. Or, maybe it is about creating words that, afterwards, when looked it, make a whole lot of sense in relation to the picture. The words you choose require a heightened sense and understanding of visibility to truly capture the image. Word choice further emphasizes an idea, an image. Words can make something more visual.
Another analogy of the idea of visibility can be seen in the movie Stranger than Fiction. This movie is about an author writing a story, and how the character comes to life, and starts to take on a life of his own. There is this question of whether author is creating words that the character follows or if the character is an image that takes on his own life and influences the words the writer creates. As an audience watching this movie, we are presented with somewhat simultaneous cues of author writing and the image of character acting. We can hear the author narrating, and at the same time, we see the character partaking in related behaviors. Much like in the E-lit piece, the audience has to decide which to follow first – verbal cues, or visual ones? They must also decide which is more salient and how the two interact.
This idea of meta-fiction present in Stranger than Fiction, I think, applies to the idea of visibility. When an author is aware that he or she is writing to an audience, and the audience is aware of this awareness, then the idea of word meaning and image construction becomes a focus of attention. As an author writes, he or she will focus on whether to start with the word or the image, and the reader becomes aware that the author is sculpting the text and will also focus on whether to cling onto word or image. Another interesting spin on this is illustrated in the movie mentioned above – the idea that a character is aware of the author. For my Advanced Senior Seminar in Fiction Writing, we had to do a quick free write in class where we illustrate this idea of meta-fiction. I think this illustrates the relationship between author and character. It also hints at how the audience views the character based off of what the author writes and how these words create visual images. It illustrates how imagery may be formed or crafted, and how the text itself is highly manipulated. Here is what I wrote:
It is always about control – gaining it, obtaining it, losing it, spotting it, leaning towards it, reaching for it, grasping it, losing it again.
There is a way in which you should live your life. And I decide it. There is something to be said in just doing and being and saying. But, unfortunately, I don’t give you this chance. My words cannot be trusted, but, at the same time, since they are quite literally all you have, they must be trusted.
I look at you and I want to tell you everything that is wrong with your appearance. Your shoes are too dirty, your hair sticking out along the sides. Your teeth are a bit too yellow and you have this funny gap between two of them that your tongue occasionally slithers in and out of. I notice the coffee stain by the pocket on your shorts and the sweat stains gathered beneath your arm pits. Instead, though, I lie. I tell others that you are a good person with a good heart and even though you may do something wrong here or there, you will, ultimately, make the right choice. Otherwise, I would have to kill you. Because that is the way of things.
I decide when you will eat, what you will eat, if you will get sick, if you will love. Will the guy be a good guy, the right guy, does such a guy even exist? You have no say in your outcome. I control you. Isn’t that sad?
I feel like it is only fair, though, to provide you with a couple basic definitions, for I will soon throw you into a world in which your future is dark and unclear. You will not even know the color of your socks until you have them on your feet. One is going to be blue and the other green and pink with stripes. The least I can do is describe to you some of the laws. These of course, you have no say over. Maybe I am attempting to prepare you for a world in which you have no control. Or maybe I am just doing this to justify myself.
If you are going to lie, do it honestly. Admit to the fact you are lying and don’t let the lie deceive you as the liar. To be a liar, however, is all too common. It is to be a part of the trend. You look in a store window and you see lies all over the place. It might be a blue lie, or a green lie, or a lie that has a cute bow tied around the neckline. This lie could take many forms, but at its core, beneath all the color and glamour, it is, simply a lie. There is nothing original about it, nothing unique, nothing to be valued. You see a liar, run far away. And fast. Liars stink, like mildew under a sink or mold on a chunk of cheddar cheese.
Honesty is nonexistent in today’s world. If you meet an honest person, hold on to them, because they are really worth something special. Honest people are rare, like clean bathrooms and unwrinkled paper. Honest people might as well be labeled antiques.
You are, without a doubt, a hypocrite, if you think you are not one.
On a Final Message:
Don’t trust me. I am unreliable and though I pretend to like you, at times you disgust me and make me cry and throw up and want to smash books out windows. Other times I laugh at you, mock you, and think you are so incredibly stupid. Sometimes, though these times are less common, I admire you and think you are a fine person, indeed. And the worst times – those are when I start to wonder if maybe you are really me.