Monday, October 28, 2013

Litspiration Challenge: An Abundance of Katherines
It is time for another litspiration challenge! This time, my project is on An Abundance of Katherines, which is by the legendary John Green. Check out the synopsis on Goodreads for some background :).

Analysis of visual
So. What the heck is this? For my litspiration challenge, I created a unique visual. I took a key setting from the novel, and illustrated it by using quotes that reflect the meaning of this setting (at least in my head).
         As Colin (the protagonist) and Lindsey (a main character) get to know each other more, they start to speculate over the idea of “mattering”. Colin struggles with this concept constantly throughout the book, but it is with Lindsey that the idea is truly explored.
         Lindsey often struggles internally, and so she discovered a cave where she goes whenever she wants to escape.

Chapter 14, Page 147:
"So what do you do here?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, it's too dark to read. I guess you could get a head lamp or something, but other than that-"
"No, I just sit here. When I was a nerd, I came here to be somewhere where no one would find me. And now-I dunno, I guess the same reason."

         Eventually, Lindsey shares this secret hideaway with Colin, and it is there that they really wonder about the idea of mattering. In my mind, this setting had a symbolic meaning: these thoughts were hidden and unsure how to show themselves, and so this is reflected by them being in a hidden cave. Invisible yet very much present. The concept of mattering can be seen so differently by different people, and by some it isn’t even seen. With this we have the rock face, hiding the cave, and being seen as a challenge to tackle, hiding the deep thoughts.

Chapter 14, Page 145:
"       They walked in silence for a long time through dense, flat brush with thin trees rising straight and high all around them. The trail became increasingly steep, zigzagging up the hill, until they finally came to a rocky outcropping perhaps fifteen feet high, and Lindsey Lee Wells said, "Now comes the rock climbing."
         Colin looked up at the craggy face of the stone. There are probably people who can successfully negotiate their way up that rock, he thought, but I am not one of them. "No way," he said. She turned back toward him, her cheeks flushed and glistening with sweat. "I'm kidding." She scampered up a wet, mossy boulder, and Colin followed. Immediately, he saw a narrow, chest-high crack covered over by a spiderweb. "See, I'm taking you here because you're the only guy I know who's skinny enough. Squeeze on through," she said.
     Colin pushed the spiderweb aside-sorry, Charlotte. He turned sideways, crouched down, and inched away from the fading light outside."

Analysis of choices within the visual
Within the visual, there are lots of discrete choices I made that actually have significant meaning.
  • ·      In the foreground, the brush is the only thing not made out of words. This was intentional! I decided that since the brush is not part of the symbolic idea of mattering, it should stand out. It is a gateway, leading up to the scene, but not an actual part of it.
  • ·      Rising up from the bottom of the page are tall, thin trees like those described in the book. To again reflect that they are not exactly part of the main idea, I used them to write out the part of the book that explains the setting, rather than quotes that relate to the idea I was exploring.
  • ·      At the very top of the image, there is about an inch of text that goes from blue to orange. Again, this section was narrative text rather than meaningful quotes, to separate it from the heart of the image. The colours were intended to portray a sunset, for two reasons. First of all, the first time they go into the cave is evening, and the second is after dark, so this shows the transition. Secondly, the idea of a sunset reflects the transitions Lindsey and Colin made in the cave setting, and it fits with the fact that in this place, they both changed.
  • ·      The rock face is made up of a ton of quotes, and they are all quotes that explore the idea of mattering (see below). If you were to think of the cave as the inner being, then the rock face is the mental struggles that provide the face to who and what the inner being is. Rather than just going top to bottom, I wrote each quote as a little chunk, to show the uneven-ness and in-predictable quality of these kinds of thoughts.
  • ·      If you look closely, you’ll see one quote running down the rock in black. “I figured something out. The future is unpredictable.” (J.G., pg. 213). This quote is purposely discrete yet prominent, as Colin’s realization is the same: hidden to the mind yet always there, and once discovered, greatly obvious.
  • ·      In the bottom right, there is the boulder that Lindsey and Colin use to reach the cave entrance. The quote that makes up this boulder was chosen very carefully. My hope was that it would share a meaning that was constructive, and something that lifts someone up and moves them forward, getting them over obstacles (mental or physical). In the book, this boulder allows them to reach the cave without having to complete the impossible feat of rock climbing. The quote is what allowed Colin to overcome the seemingly endless battle with the matter of mattering.
  • ·      Last but not least, the entrance to the cave itself. To make it stand out, I used a quote that was still meaningful, but less about mattering. Turned on its side, this final quote is intended to share a new idea: one that is hidden, confusing, and unanswerable.

Analysis of quotes (approximately top to bottom):
As I have already said, the idea that I was exploring with the quotes in my visual was the concept of mattering and leaving behind a trace on the world. So I’ll explain what each of the quotes means to me in regards to this concept!

·      "You matter as much as the things that matter to you do." (J.G., pg. 200)
o  The meaning that I extracted from this quote was that your external meaning to the world directly reflects your internal ideas of mattering and how you perceive the world and it’s mattering.

·      "I just want to do something that matters. Or be something that matters. I just want to matter. " (J.G., pg. 94)
o  What really moved me about this quote was the desperation. I can really relate to it: the unexplainable need to do something important and make a mark on the world.

·      "The future will erase everything- there's no level of fame or genius that allows you to transcend oblivion. The infinite future makes that kind of mattering impossible." (J.G., pg. 213)
o  To me, this quote states how there are limits. In terms of mattering, there are things that we have no control over, and we can only hope for so much. Time is the ultimate controller of “mattering”.

·      "I was thinking about this tonight, actually, that maybe I want strangers to think I'm cool since people who actually know me don't." (J.G., pg. 68)
o  This quote relates to me quite deeply, as I’m not exactly the most popular kid, and so I can really relate to that idea of wanting to star on the big scale, because the small scale isn’t turning out so well.

·      "What matters to you defines your mattering." (J.G., pg. 212)
o  I believe this quote can be interpreted in many different ways, and there is no right or wrong way. For me, it means that the things you care about and invest yourself into, are the things that determine how much the world will care about you and invest thought into you.

·      "And yes, again, that was it exactly. A retyper and not a writer. A prodigy and not a genius." (J.G., pg. 94)
o  The phrase “A retyper and not a writer” is very powerful in my mind, as it metaphorically summarizes the disappointment in simply thinking and writing and not actually creating and doing.

·      "I figured something out. The future is unpredictable." (J.G., pg. 213)
o  What I adore about this quote is how blunt it is. The message is so obvious, yet when Colin says it in the book, it’s a big step for him. More than a realization, it’s a phrase that signifies Colin letting go.

·      "You're not boring. You've got to stop saying that, or people will start believing you." (J.G., pg. 139)
o  In the prospect of mattering, what I pull away from this quote is that the key to how others view you is how you view yourself.

·      "Because personally I think that mattering is a ****-poor idea. I just want to fly under the radar, because when you start to make yourself into a big deal, that's when you get shot down. The bigger a deal you are, the worse your life is." (J.G., pg. 94)
o  Along with the thrill of this concept of “mattering”, there are of course drawbacks too. In the novel, Lindsey’s original view is this quote. Summed up in my mind, it’s saying that mattering means putting yourself up to risks.

·      "I will get forgotten, but the stories will last. And so we all matter- maybe less than a lot, but always more than none." (J.G., pg. 213)
o  I believe the message of this quote is that we can’t always actively decide our own mattering. A lot of it comes from our actions and the choices we make, rather than our intentional attempts at “mattering”.

·      "What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?" (J.G., pg. 33)
o  This quote is really personal for me, as I have this view on life. I feel like I owe something to the world, and that I must make use of this spot I was given on earth.

·      "How do you stop being terrified of getting left behind and ending up by yourself forever and not meaning anything to the world?" (J.G., pg. 132)
o  In relation to the previous quote, this one questions how anyone could let go and not feel the need to matter, which again is a question that I find myself asking.

·      "He found himself thinking that maybe stories don't just make us matter to each other- maybe they're the only way to the infinite mattering he'd been after for so long. And Colin thought: Because like say I tell someone about my feral hog hunt. Even if it's a dumb story, telling it changes other people just the slightest bit, just as living the story changes me. An infinitesimal change. And that infinitesimal change ripples outward- ever smaller but everlasting." (J.G., pg. 213)
o  The important quote on the boulder J. This quote sums up Colin’s journey trying to matter, or at least in figuring out how to matter. And, as I’ve said before, a lot of it is a matter of him letting go and letting fate happen.

Last but not least, there was one hidden idea that I was trying to share in the creation of my visual. By communicating through quotes, I was discretely hoping to share the fact that these thoughts are things that really can't be summarized in words. I wrote out tons of quotes on that page, but really, the meaning has to come from your own brain. You have to find it yourself. You have to be it.
I encourage you to check out my poetry anthology, (check out my previous post to learn all about it) which contains some poems, both found and written, many of which relate to the ideas explored in my litspiration challenge. Specifically, I suggest reading: Later Life 17 by Christina Rossetti, and Write Written Wrote by Julia C.

Hope you enjoyed :)

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness Julia! This is such a cool idea, and a very thoughtful analysis of the text. Thank you for sharing! I would love to read this novel!


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