Lightness in E-Lit

2 03 2011

An image of wotclock in action

The electronic literature of wotclock certainly manifests the qualities of lightness(from my understanding of it).  Wotclock is a “transit cyber text poem” that operates like a clock.  The lightness of the work comes into play with the simple and free portrayal of itself.  The words in the middle of the clock alternate based on a algorithm but both the background and the foreground present a very light and palpable medium.  Images of skylines and public spaces focus lightly on the world as opposed to the gritty and weighty details of the people, places, or things visible.  The clock doesn’t dwell on anything, it merely is.  Likewise the words of the poem are completely free of restrictions due to their random appearance and disappearance.  Truly the work represent a complete departure from the confinements of the “worldly weight”.

Calvino’s Lightness

2 03 2011

Willy Wonka's fizzy lifting drinks remove the weight of the world

The literary value of lightness is defined by its conflict with its counterpart weight.  “My working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of weight.” To achieve lightness weight must be shed, eliminated, or accounted for within the “structure of stories and from language.”  In order to explain the aspect of lightness Calvino employs a wide variety of its applications across not only different types of literature but even across science.  The purpose of this is explain by Calvino himself who claims “it is hard for a novelist to give examples of his idea of lightness from the events of everyday life”.  As such images such Ovid’s “fragil” Medusa, DNA, computer software, but the image that stuck to me was that of Milan Kundera’s in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Milan Kundera discusses the “Ineluctable Weight of Living” which pervades the human condition in general.  The “weight of living consists chiefly in constriction, in the dense net of public and private constrictions the enfolds us more and more closely”.

Analogy for lightness

1 03 2011

My Analogy to Calvino’s quality of lightness is the act of surfing.  The connection, as I see it, is that when people surf they project the illusion that they are weightless on top of the water.  Obviously the individuals still posses weight, but the fact that they are literally gliding on top of watter brings to mind an escape from that heaviness.  The thought harks back to Calvino’s mention of Kundera’s concept of the “weight of living” and the “constriction” of reality, but it also shows both the attempts to escape it and also the thrill of that escape from our earthly and weighty restrictions.  The lightness of body becomes a craving for many.

The analogy links up with the “wotclock” E-lit example based on this principle of restriction.  Just as the wotclok free itself from a lot of the conventions of the weighty world a surfer seeks to free him or herself from the normal restrictions of their own weight.  The video below demonstrates the lightness of surfing perfectly.