Category: Exactitude


Exactitude: Analogy

My analogy for exactitude is screen printing.

When screen printing on T-shirts you must be precise. I have had made many mistakes while screen printing T-shirts. First, while making the screen you have to make sure your image is clearly defined. If the image is fuzzy the screen will not burn correctly and the image will not come out right. Once you have your clear and concise image correctly burned on the screen, you can get out the ink. When screen printing on fabric with ink you have to make sure not to use too much ink. If you use too much ink, then it will bleed through the screen and part of your image will come out goopy.

Screen printing is an analogy for exactitude because both require that you use “a well defined and well-calculated plan for the work”. You cannot come into screen printing with a poor design. And when writing with exactitude you must know where you are heading as well. Calvino’s second point that you must “have a clear, incisive memorable visual image” could not fit any more perfectly with screen printing. As I said, a fuzzy image will not burn onto the screen correctly.

In The Cape, Carpenter uses clear, concise images to set the scene and tell a story. In fact, most of the visual images Carpenter uses could easily be used to screen print. The maps and diagrams are all in black and white and have clear dark lines.

Exactitude: Emblem

My emblem for exactitude is a compass.

Growing up, I used the compass a lot as a Girl Scout. One of the first badges I earned was about finding your way in the outdoors. We learned to look for the North Star. But, more importantly we learned to use a compass. We had challenges where we would have to follow written directions and use a compass to find our way to a treasure. The compass would always lead us to the exact spot.

A compass is precise in the direction it gives you. It tells you exactly where North is and from there you can figure out the direction you need to go.

The compass is also a source of information. It gives you the direction.

As I mentioned before, Carpenter uses directional signals in The Cape. These directional cues add to the aesthetic and design of the E-lit piece.

A diagram is a graphic representation of a structure, situation, or process.

Carpenter utilizes the diagram well in his E-literature. Every slide has a picture of a geographical map.

There is a strong focus on the location in this piece. Carpenter even named the work after it, The Cape. The cape is so important to the story that it becomes an active character. The diagrams bring attention to the role of the cape.

The diagram not only gives the viewer a better sense of where the characters are geographically, but it also adds information to the story. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Carpenter usually speaks with short, factual statements. The diagram complement his factual tone with their own factual information. The diagram to the left shows wave directions in Cape Cod.

Carpenter also places directional and other map symbols throughout the work.

Diagrams help authors to be more exact. By showing a picture and labeling the picture, authors can show viewers exactly what they wish to prove. Instead of having to describe it.

The Cape consists of factual statements and details.

The author, J.R. Carpenter, tells the story of when she used to visit her Grandparents in Cape Cod. The story is not linear. It includes many maps and diagrams of the cape. It is written in a straight forward manner. Carpenter writes things such as “I don’t have a photograph of my grandmother Carpenter. If I did, I would insert it here.”

These matter of fact statements exhibit exactitude. They do not add erroneous language or try to use analogies to make a point. The picture below states that her Grandmother lived in a Cape Cod house while her uncle did not. It shows a picture of a Cape Cod house and a map of Cape Cod. There are very few ways to interpret the statements.

Just as in A Land Remembered,  The Cape uses descriptive words to evoke a certain time and place. At one point the author writes “The events happened so long ago that this whole story is in black and white”. This very descriptive statement actually leaves space for ambiguity.

Calvino talks about this in his memo. By being descriptive and exact you can also be ambiguous. Of course, the story in the cape didn’t really happen in black and white. This descriptive world of black and white becomes less exact. Instead, the sentence conjures an image of the olden days in the person’s head. However, their image of “the olden days” is dependent on that persons experience.

Exactitude: Calvino

For Calvino exactitude means three things:

(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 thoughts and imagination.

Calvino stresses the importance of exactitude because we live in a world inundated with words. Instead of creating meaning these words merely skim the surface of thought. They actually say nothing

Calvino asks for exactitude. He asks for meaning.

Calvino’s emblem for exactitude is the crystal. Because the crystal has “precise faceting and [an] ability to refract light”. Not only is the crystal precise, but it spreads information, or light.

One of my favorite books is A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith. Smith writes about a family moving to Florida from Georgia in 1858. They are hoping to find a better life.

Tobias MacIvey kicked the dry dirt with his worn brogan shoe. His black-bearded face showed sweat beneath the protection of a wide-brimmed felt hat, and his slim six-foot frame was dressed in a pair of badly faded overalls.

Smith uses as many adjectives as he can. This is important in a historical novel. Smith is retelling history. If he just used ambiguous language he would not recreate the setting very well. Every individual reader would fill in the details for themselves. By writing with exactitude, Smith is giving the reader a vivid picture of the past.