Tuesday, May 4, 2010


For Calvino's concept of Multiplicity I chose a picture of the central nervous system. Others have described Multiplicity as a web, the way that everything is linked and connected. I decided to use the central nervous system for a similar reason, but also for a reason of my own.

The printing press was invented in 1436, which lead to the wide spread distribution of the bible. After this came other religious texts, after that we had a wide possibility to distribute literature though out the world. This to me is a similar idea to multiplicity, the way that our modern print system developed from a central source and we are constantly reminded of the luck we have from the invention of this product. Even E-literature, today, contains aspects of the original print workings from the printing press. How does this relate to the central nervous system? Well, let me explain. The nerves in our bodies are all connected to one part of our brain, which controls what we do, feel and don't feel. Everything we touch, see or taste, smell or hear. Without the brain, none of the other parts of our body can function on a normal level.

This is like Multiplicity within literature. Without something to start with, we have nothing to reference or grow off of. Without the original print, we can not bleed down into what we have today or even create the newest forms of literature. The printing press started literature, while it spread all over the world and allowed the ability for creation to happen, we have new literature available. As we grow and try new things, our central nervous system spans to touch, feel, taste and see new things in our lives.

A piece of literature that represents this to me is Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Within this trilogy, there is a mass amount of religious allegory. Gandourf, the white/grey wizard dies and comes back, in a similar way to Jesus and the Crucifixion. The fellowship of the ring is similar to the disciples that Jesus had throughout his ministry. This is actually perfect for my comparison of the printing press. Which widely distributed bibles, this book carries on the message of the lord though fictional characters and situations, however it can still be identified as such.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Calvino's concepts of visibility asked us the question of where images come from. He gives us the idea that we get the images that we think from images that other people have seen. It is all one large collection of images. He compares it to an iceberg, however, I thought an iceberg would be a rather cliche image to go with the photo and I also didn't really like the idea of an iceberg to represent this idea of collective images.

The image I chose, was also obviously a huge group of people. I also like the idea of all there hands touching, this to me represents the collection of and exchanging of all the ideas. There are also a group of many different ages. This to me represents the different images that can be exchanged among generations and groups of people.

This to me didn't really make me think of a book, as much as a movie. This made me think of Avatar. The way that they can read and see everything through the forest, how everything is connected and the way that they can communicate with one another and with nature. With a central source that they call "Eywa". This to me is like the iceberg, which is the central system of all the ideals and images. The connections in nature and to one another for me is like the sharing of ideals and images among humans, that Calvino speaks of.

Lightness revisited

Sam had asked me to find an image for lightness. I wanted to continue with the idea I had from the beginning, the idea that Calvino had with lifting the weight of the world off your shoulders. The idea that the weight of the world is settling on all of us and it makes us heavy writers, as well as making our life heavy. This is something I am experiencing currently, and so I find it a lot easier to write on, then I did before.

One of Calvino's missions in life was to put lightness into not only his writing, but into people, cities and obviously language itself. One of the way he suggested this happening, is by speaking about the weight we have all felt at sometime on our shoulders. When we feel this weight, it affects not only our personal lives, but our writing. The language that we use is also much heavier, we have a tendency to use words when stressed that wouldn't be used when we're in a comfortable and more relaxed state.

The reason I chose this image, was because not only of the light that is coming through the trees, but also the bird. Calvino uses the bird in the lecture speaking of direction. We talked about how the bird is light as a feather, but can also has a sense of direction and a purpose. How a feather, though it is light, doesn't have the direction that the bird has. This picture speaks to the bird aspect.

Also, the look on the woman's face in the photo. Though she looks upset, her body language also looks much more relaxed and is in an isolated area with only the bird.

When I think of lightness, I think of a book that I've read to the kids I babysit and also one I read as a child. The book Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown. When you read this book before you go to bed, a certain lightness comes over you. Saying Goodnight to all the things in your day and it makes you smile. I'm sure this isn't the kind of literature that Calvino was really thinking of, but it will always work for me.

Also, I like the innocence in the book, which to me is a reflection of lightnes. When you don't really have all the stress and worry of a grown up, your life is much lighter and much more free. You have the ability to imagine and create with no repercussions or adult hold backs. How many of us as a child haven't, at some point, said Goodnight to a stuffed animal or to something in our room? Or after Toy Story, wondered if our toys came to life when we were gone or after we fell asleep? This is the lightness reflected in almost all children's books.


Calvino as has been pointed out many times before, defines Exactitude in three fairly simple ways.

1) A well-defined and well-calculated plan for the work in question
2) An evocation of clear, incisive, memorable visual images.
3) A language as precise as possible both in choice of words and in expression of the subtleties of thought and imagination.(p.55-56)

This is why I chose the compass. Or in this case a compass rose. This matches all three of the definitions that are set out to us in Calvino's six memos. It gives us a direction of where it is we are going as well as being a well known image. It isn't bright or flashy, but it does always give us the mental recollection of maps and of having a direction. Also, it doesn't ever make us question exactly what it is we're looking for.

To expand on that, we see a compass and know that it will always point us North, South, East or West. Occasionally, it will point us Northwest, Southwest, North East or South East. However, we are all aware of this from a young age and many of us are taught at a young age in geography how to read maps and all those cool little tricks to remember which direction you're going.

When I decided upon a compass rose as my image, my mind immediately jumped to the book series by Phillip Pullman, also known as the His Dark Materials trilogy. The first book is called "The Golden Compass," where we discover a compass that is almost the exact opposite of Calvino's idea of exactitude. Only a few number of people can read and understand the compass, which is coded in many different symbols and is never clear as to exactly the situation that it is speaking of. It could be referring to a situation or a person.

Though this doesn't demonstrate Exactitude in the slightest, it shows us what NOT to do in our writing and how exactitude can be hard to comprehend. Lyra is lucky in the sense that she can understand the compass and read it, some people even call her blessed, however because of this fact, when the compass is attempted to be used by others, it is completely useless. Though this is useful in the story, it is NOT useful for us in understanding the concept and ideals of exactitude.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quick, Quick, Slow...

Calvino's idea of quickness to me sparked a rather well know image and story, The Tortoise and the Hare.

Now, nearly everyone knows this story, the hare challenges the tortoise to a race and the over confident bunny takes a nap while the Tortoise comes home for the win. You learn that slow and steady wins the race and that everyone can be beaten, no matter how good you think you are.

To me, the concept that shows us quickness is the idea of Slow and Steady wins the race. The fact that Calvino speaks to us about the fluidity and quickness that is needed to be a writer, however the biggest point that seems to be forgotten is he doesn't ever condemn the idea of slow and steady.He even says that there is a time and place for it.

Just as in the story, the tortoise may have been slow, but he was also hard working and didn't give up. While the Hare, caught up in his bragging, lost the race in the end do to over confidence. Calvino wasn't telling us not to be quick, but he was telling us there is a time and place for that quickness and that need to speed along.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Always Coca Cola

When we were discussing lightness, this was the first image that came to my head. The idea of all these people, from different cultures and life styles getting together in one place to simply enjoy life and enjoy a Coke. There is nothing in the world that seems to make these people upset or concerned, simply the idea of buying the world a coke. Teaching them how to sing and be together as a world culture.

This commercial, however, was put out in the 70's. A time where the tensions in Vietnam were high and the country was in the "lightest" and yet the "heaviest" of times. We had war and love and right after Woodstock, which was a time of peace and love. Just like the song promotes.

However, this commercial promises me this concept of lightness. The idea of no worries while you drink a coke and no worries if you keep up teaching the world to sing and to grow apple trees and turtle doves. It all seems so light and happy. This seems like the best thing in the world, especially during a time of chaos and political problems. The idea of lightness of the world, lightness off your shoulders and lightness of the creative mind.

Just like Calvino talks about in his lightness chapter.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

This is a test of the UNK Emergency Alert System...

When I firsst heard about the UNK Alert system, I was honestly pretty excited. It meant not having to check my email every day to make sure we didn't have a snow day or if there was an issue here in Kearney, I would be immediately informed of it.

That was until last night...

I was at work and got a phone call from a number that I didn't recognize, I ignored it and didn't admittedly check the message until this morning and should have checked it after work, I wasn't sure of the number and thought I could have been butt dialed by a friend who had been drinking that had changed numbers and didn't let me know.

Now, here is my point.

When I finally did get around to listening to the message, all I heard was "Five males, one black, hispanic, White..." Then something about near Foster Park and dark clothes. Then, a slight pause and "Press star to hear this message again."

Alright. Now, what good does this message do me? I didn't know what was going on and I wouldn't have at all if I hadn't gotten the call later about the guys getting caught. Then, I learned that they escaped from the Youth Center literally less then 3 miles from my apartment.

Doesn't that completely defeat the purpose of the alert system? I learned more from the secondary message telling me they had been caught then the one telling me to call 911 if I saw someone or something suspicious.

Aren't we at a point where we can time the phone call so that it starts when the call is answered or when it hears a human voice, not just when it starts ringing? Isn't that the beauty of the advancement of creativity? Not to mention, it would be just as easy to send a mass text message via Email? Isn't that the beauty of electronic literature?

Now, call me crazy, but isn't text messaging and such a new form of language and literature that is unique to this generation? In a generation of text messaging, email and facebook, you would think that UNK would be able to get someone to figure out just how to make an important message, like Juvenile escapees who could be in your neighborhood or on our campus that could possibly be dangerous.

Make a facebook page, then post a status explaining the situation. I know more people who would add that, get the updates on there phone and let others know. Or those who are obsessed with facebook who are on ALL THE TIME. The second they here something a new status is up, more people know, the text messages fly. Send a text message and no matter how simple, word WILL get around.

So, here is my suggestion to you UNK.

Make sure your students get the message... Don't just half-ass it and think that it's all going to be okay.