Sunday, February 6, 2011

Journal 1: Writing Visual

Writing goes hand and hand with designing for me, since designing is so much about problem solving and finding solutions, writing is a way for me to organize rambles of thoughts into concrete ideas and themes. Writing Visual stresses the importance of sketching and utilizing free-writing and mind mapping tools to generate lateral thinking. This is what we as designers have to be fully adept at, at finding relationships between different disciplines and ideas, forming original ideas that are conceptually sturdy, not clique or accepting the obvious answers. This reading goes through several different writing techniques--mind maps, concept maps, free writing, brainwriting, and word lists--as ways to generate visual imagery. These tools are simple and stress the uninhibited recording of thoughts, as a way to make discoveries and connections not blatantly apparent. I did not realize how important this process was for me until reading Writing Visual, how important it is for my creative process to really conceptually think about my designs and whether they are working on an intellectual level. Mind maps and making several mind maps helped me organize and record all of my thoughts, concept maps helped me recognize the hierarchical relationships between certain themes, free writing helped me discover which themes were most important to me and the understanding of the book, and word lists helped me determine what visual imagery will help me in designing this book cover.

Free Write

Dandelion wine is about growing up, losing faith, and recognizing that a life without acceptance of death would not be a life worth living. It is the impermanence of our being, the nature of who we are as human beings, how terrible delicate our time in our world or reality is, that makes us want to, need to live our lives to the fullest. We will never be as young as we are today, never as naive, or as curious, or simply as unclouded in our judgements as we are today. Youth is this undeniably tender concept that few have spent enough time appreciating, it’s an ephemeral state that lasts too short. I chose Dandelion Wine because my friend told me that after reading this book, she wanted to harvest dandelions and make dandelion, and that is the feelings I have after reading this book. Nostalgia for a simpler time. A town like Green Town that exists only in our memories, a town where its inhabitants go to hillsides to set up red and white checkered picnic cloths, to eat ham and egg sandwiches, and enjoy the sweet taste of Eskimo pies and ripe, puckered cherries. It is the taste of lemonade, tart and sweet sliding down your throat when its unbearably hot outside, it’s about running through the night with only the dance of fireflies lighting your path, it’s about swatting gnats from slices of watermelon. This world that Bradbury is ten times more vibrant, more saturated with color, it’s a Rockwellian America where people don’t have to lock their doors, where neighbors walk each other home at night, where you can get a pint of ice cream freshly scooped from the pharmacy.

Time flies faster and sinks slower in this world. Days are lazily dragged on, you notice the sweet aroma of freshly cut grass, delight in what it means to be alive, to pick wild strawberries and fill pails with fox grapes. It’s about building relationships with your brother, getting into wrestling matches, playing Statues and Hide and Seek with friends. It’s about death. About appreciating how real and how alive you feel because you know that this, this summer, this life, is impermanent. That we are all easily taken. But death, though a scary idea to Douglas and Tom at first, it is just all part of growing up. It’s that transition from being a child and rejoicing in life, and becoming an adult, and rejoicing life even more because you understand how temporary it is. Like a beautiful summer spent bottling up dandelion wine for a cold winter night, but not having regrets or a sense of loss when the last bottle is empty. Because there will be another summer of harvest again, and though it might not be your harvest, you can teach your children and grandchildren of the harvest of ’28 and how to make dandelion wine as well.

The Essence of Summer. Bottling up dandelion wine, capturing June, July, August in liquid form. Each bottle signifying different moments in life, why was The Lonely One’s murders not darker, why was John Huff’s leaving not less vibrantly yellow? Life does not discriminate, each bottle is just a memory of the time that has passed. The good and bad cannot be distinguished. It should not be distinguished.

Rituals and Revelations. Doug and Tom record all the normal, everyday rituals of summer. The new tennis shoes, making dandelion wine, beating the living room rug, mowing grass, picking wild strawberries. But they also decide to record revelations, because they know, they feel it in their bones, that this summer is different. They feel it in their bones. This is the summer where they are no longer just going about the daily rituals of summer like a child just enjoying the free time away from school to play outside, they recognize the lessons to be learned. They teach each other the importance of far-telling, of memory, of people who pass away and die. It makes me wonder if I’m just obsessed with my rituals, of going to school, doing design work, working two jobs, rather than appreciating the fact that in this time, I am fully alive. Maybe I should be writing down my revelations.

The Happiness Machine. Leo Auffman sought to build this machine that would guarantee happiness, joy. It was a rolling picture machine that showed the romance of paris, of visiting these romantic lands of egypt and europe, it smelled of perfume and made gentle noises that whizzed and whined with the sounds comforting to the soul. But it brought no happiness because it was so forced, it was this man-made contraption that tried to calculate what people would find happy, what is stereotypically important--traveling, self revelations that is associated with traveling--not what is really happy. Happiness can be as ordinary as a going home to your family, watching the people that you love and care about the most make the most out of their day, it’s fresh bread in the oven, real butter on the table, your wife with flour in her hair and a smile on her face, your children setting the table, the crackling fireplace and the scent of vanilla and cinnamon, the warm lit of faces of the people that matter the most. It’s realizing that happiness does not have to be this glorified, overstated idea that shove down your throats, it nothing but simplicity. The ordinary, the everyday is happiness. It’s being content, not content like you are settling, but being fulling, incandescently content with who you are and what you have made for yourself. And that, is the greatest happiness of all. It is the machine that makes your life work, because it is simply just happiness.

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