Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Significance of Font Variation in the Graphic Novel Adaptation of City of Glass

The graphic novel adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli illustrates each significance voice with a distinct font. The typewriter font is used for the narrator to indicate the final draft of the narrative as the typewriter is an instrument that once marks the page, cannot be erased. If one makes a mistake, the entire page is to be re-typed which communicates the quality of professionalism and officially of the narrator’s words. The typewriter font is used to convey the authenticity of the narrative and the authority the narrator has in the novel.

Peter Stillman Sr.’s words are embellished with a capital letter of a calligraphy style as he is a member of the upper class and well educated. The ornamental letter describes his profession as a former professor who is wealthy and was respected. The capital letter that begins his speech bubbles are written in this style as his words are carefully chosen as his is a professor concerned with languages, specifically the language of God. As a professor, Peter Stillman Sr.’s words are intellectual with a higher understanding od the words that he uses, in comparison with the layman and the capital letter indicates his knowledge.

Peter Stillman Jr.’s speech bubbles originate from within to represent that his thoughts and words are different from the other characters. There are lowercase letters in his speech as a result of the abuse and neglect that he had experienced as a child. The trauma from his father’s experiments has changed his speech patterns as the different font indicated that his language skills originate from an abnormal processing method.

Virginia Stillman’s voice on the phone is captioned with un-bolded and several lowercase letters. The lines of the words are also not straight as the telephone distorts the words of the speaker and do not truly reflect the voice of the caller. The lowercase letters indicate uncertainty of the legitimacy of her concern and the ability of the investigator that she is calling. The lower case letters and wavy composition of the works from her voice through the telephone communicates the process of sound waves converting to pressure in the air. The different frequencies of each sound are also depicted by the fluctuating appearance of Mrs. Stillman’s words.

A different font is used to signify the diverse characteristics of each character in the graphic novel adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass for metaphorical and atheistic purposes.



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Poetry After Auschwitz

The gruesome legacy of Nazism is unavoidable in any discussion of Western (and especially German) culture. Theodor Adorno was one of many figures to address this bloody imprint, in his maxim that ‘to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric’. The specific meaning of this statement is much-debated, but its relevance is unquestionable.

The Dadaists, following the First World War, formed their movement based on the credo that mankind didn’t deserve art for their complicity in that maelstrom of carnage. The result was an upsurge in ‘anti-art’, which was labelled degenerate upon the rise of Nazism. While this intent was not echoed directly after the Second World War, it is easy to see Adorno’s credo as an invocation of the same sentiment – the perpetration of these evils, by humanity at large or by the Germans specifically, is so great that those responsible, for the fact that this was allowed to happen, do not deserve the catharsis found in art.

The critical slant of the statement is the fact that art can be used for catharsis, and can relieve pain and anxiety; most chillingly, it can do this by glorifying actions that cause this pain and anxiety through the brutality of their perpetration. The banality of evil and the subtle contributions of an entire people to the crime make everyone complicit to an extent, and make it to easy to brush aside an evil that makes such gradual demands. To remember and learn from the horror of Nazism is to see inhumanity in its more pleasant and unassuming guises, and so to never forget the ultimate conclusion of the power that, a decade prior to its fall, had a sufficient portion of the popular vote and outspoken praise, even by some of those outside its borders. To take solace in poetry, that which can nullify the horror of participation, however insidiously in this brutality, is a greater offense than drowning it in liquor or offering tear-stained prayers for forgiveness, because it allows a conscious denial of responsibility where such is plainly an affront to sanity.

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An Analysis of the Narrator as the Voice of the City in Toni Morrison’s Jazz

The narrator seeks to be the voice of the city and follows the characters of Toni Morrison’s Jazz, to document their lives. In an attempt to provide the reader with an accurate account of their actions and characteristics, the narrator dismisses the possibility of being tainted lens. As each voice is created to further an agenda, this narrator is unable to provide an unbiased version of the story.

The narrator wishes to be the voice of the city by speaking and listening on behalf of it. As the city, the narrator is to address the city’s culture and roots. However, the city cannot be described by a single narrator as the city is experienced differently by each individual. The story that the city tells to each person is unique and as it stimulates its residents, each perception of the city created is significantly different. The voice of the city may be one that is the most generic version of the most common perception but the narrator is unable to speak in this voice. The ambiguity of the city resembles in the undefined narrator. By not identifying the narrator’s gender, race or age, one is free to determine the details of the narrator’s character. This opens the possibility for the reader to insert them into the novel. The narrator’s claim to be the voice of the city is a statement that limits the imagination of the readers as the setting is created as a character. Yet it also opens the possibility of an opportunity for the reader to create the city as the narrator.

The city itself would be the ideal narrator as an unbiased and all knowing character. One who could speak on behalf of every character and provide an accurate background of each character or location. The narrator as the voice of the city creates depth within the novel. The illusion of the city’s free spirit is created through the flow caused by the lack of punctuation and describes each street as composed of a symphony of sounds. As the narrator describes the city, it comes to life as a character but when s/he attempts to become the city, s/he fails to embrace its true essence. As the narrator is to convey the messages that the characters cannot verbally share, s/he inserts their opinion of the characters and actions. The narrator’s investment in the defense of the characters takes away from the effect of being the voice of the city. By becoming the city, the narrator hopes to tell the secrets of the characters but is unable to do so without their personal bias affecting their stories.

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The Message in the Medium: An Analysis of Graffiti with the Lens of John Berger

Historically, one’s possessions were depicted in oil paintings to display one’s riches as the paintings would entice potential spouses. Oil paints are used for they have the ability to create texture and communicate wealth. The medium of graffiti signifies rebellion as it began as a medium to make a statement against those in power. By defying laws and defacing properties of the wealthy messages are sent through the medium as well as the statement sprayed on the walls.

Graffiti or street artists? One label implies an illegal activity and the other legitimizes their work.
Graffiti artists deface public or private property with a tag, a practice that originates from teenagers without parental authority and with an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. Tags that are carelessly thrown onto walls are often used by gangs to show their presence in the community and to define their territory. Is graffiti an illegal activity due to the oppressors in society censoring speech or is it because it is disrespecting property? Perhaps the disobedience to the law by spraying a message on the wall creates the negative connotation that is associated with it. As tags are used to promote gangs and further illegal activity, it may be the reason for the ban of them.

Street artists are often fed up with the system and are done waiting for approval of art critics create their own gallery through street art. There are two motives behind street art, one is to achieve individual fame and the other is to make a political statement. Either way, the images are of significance and depend on the audience’s interpretation. Street art is meant to create a dialogue between the artist, those who enjoy or despise the art and then there are others artists who respond. As walls are tagged, the artist is marking their territories and begin a conversation. Whether a symbol or a word is thrown onto the wall, another artist will respond with their own statement. As the original image provokes responses, the responses begin to provoke responses. Some may pass by without declaring their input in ink but those who do build an even more complex message. The bystander who admires the work may take a picture and distribute the image to others in honor of the artist. Those who do not enjoy the piece whether it be for legality issues or is irked by the image itself is included in the dialogue nonetheless.

The element of anonymity in graffiti or street art allows the artists to take on other personas. The potential risk of being arrested when doing what they love drives up the artists’ levels of endorphins. The satisfaction of seeing other’s appreciation for the piece for itself and not due to the artist’s brand would be an experience like no other. There is also an element of pride as one’s work is genuinely created for oneself and does not seek the approval of the critics or gallery executives. Street art is a means to make an anti-authoritarian statement and to gain personal satisfaction from bringing one’s art to the public without the politics that are associated with it.

As there are multiple ways to view art, Berger encourages one to look beneath the surface and images to study the material and connotations. Oil paintings indicate the hierarchy in a society of those who can afford the paint and the time of the artists. Graffiti paint is a medium that the oppressed choose to send a message as the cans of paint can be bought with mere pocket change. As there are multiple techniques required to spray an image, it is relatively quicker and easier in comparison to the textured portraits done with oil paint. The mediums themselves represent the class of where the messages originate.

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An Analysis of Alex Heilner’s Photographs in “The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot” by Stephanie Strickland

Alex Heilner is one of the artists whose photos illustrate several stanzas of “The Ba. His photographs are of microbes that represent the internal and external environments that are common to the everyday norm. An analysis of Heilner’s photographs through the lens of a novel photographer will be completed in this blog.

The photograph titled “Transmission Helix” is the only one in its series that does not have the word “microbes” in its title. It is also an abnormality for the microbes are to be viewed as a whole, the microbes are assembled together to build a “Transmission Helix”. The other photographs are of microbes that individually look like other objects. However, the “Transmission Helix” neither mimics a 3-dimensional shape that spirals nor portrays communication. The subjects do appear to be two people dancing, both with their arms raised above their head and their feet are tapping together at the bottom of the photograph . The subject on the left’s side profile is portrayed and on the right, the subject is facing forwards. The microbes that construct this image resemble bones and muscle tissue. The microbes with black circles would be the bones and the other ones with a gradient tone would represent the muscles. In the stanza that accompanies “Transmission Helix”, speaks to Harry’s moods, specifically his violent ones. Harry’s moods are represented by the act of dance, the line “Harry has structure” is represented by the figure on the right’s straight lines. This photograph encompasses Sand on the left and Harry on the right. Sand is described as mimicking sand itself, as tiny particles, similar to the microbes.

The photograph “Manhattan Microbes” do resemble the New York Island but they also appear to be snakeheads. The black dot in the center of the head represents the pupil and the white ring would be the iris. The thinner end of the snake’s head could be its tongue. The snake illustrates the actions of both characters in this stanza as when Sand moves quickly and Harry as he watches those in Times Square. Sand is moving in a manner that mimics the snake as she is appearing to disappear as she Zaum Zoom in and Zoon Tzm out. Harry is the snake amongst the tall grass, which are represented by the skyscrapers in New York City.

“Airplane Microbes” suits the stanza that it is paired with as it describes Sand painting on the duck of an aircraft. The microbes photographs do resemble jets in the sky as they are contrasted by varying shades of blue. The microbes also appear to be syringes as the pointed end of the microbes would be the tip of the needle. The syringes would illustrate the virus that Harry mentions in this stanza. As viruses are mobile, the aircraft accurately represent them also due to them both symbolizing the potential of technological advances or discoveries. Accompanied by the potential for destruction of lives can be both improved and destroyed by either an aircraft or syringe.

The photograph of microbes with an orange contrast is titled “Helicopter Microbes” and illustrates the Sand who is described as “an infinite receiver and deceiver”. The microbes in this photograph do portray helicopters but they also have an “infinitely flexible” potential for interpretation. The helicopters represent the means of traveling to any location are they are not restricted by the necessity of a landing strip. The microbes can also be interoperated as lobsters with the thinner end would be the tail and the little appendages would be its legs. The microbes could also portray the long-necked herbivore, the Sauropod. There are a number of possibilities for this photograph to be interpreted which represents Sand’s ability to deceive.

The four photographs by Heliner are named in a manner that clearly states a shallow interpretation of the microbes in relation to Strickland’s stanzas. However, upon further analysis, they are deeply complex as many interpretations arise from these photographs.

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