“Mixing Words and Pictures”

This week we have been considering Tan Lin’s “The Patio and the Index,” an online narrative prose piece–he calls it a “sampled novel”–that draws on a variety of images to accompany the text.

I want to call your attention to a recent interview with Art Spiegelman, a man “who helped elevate comics into an art form.”  Comics are, of course, a familiar form which often mixes text and images to interesting effect.  Here are some excerpts from the interview:

I think of comics as a kind of amazing distillation. One’s allowed only a few words, and relatively few marks to make the picture compared to oil paintings or something that’s more overtly visual. You’re forced to strip it down just by the nature of what it is as a medium. One of the attributes that I like in comics is how things can be distilled to their furthest point, and then re-expand once they hit your brains through your eye. So the process is one of distillation, and it’s usually seeing how efficiently one can make something incredibly inefficient and complex, like an emotion and a thought, happen.

I’m fine with the word “comics” even though it’s a total misnomer, but it’s the misnomer that got there first. I’ve been spelling it “co-mix”…Comix with an X was what the underground comics were called because they were X-rated very often. And if you mispronounce it “co-mix,” then you get to mix together the words and the pictures and you have something that’s actually sort of accurate and belonging to its roots. But I’m not pitching for another marketing term…. Whether I like it or not [the term “graphic novel”] is useful, because it communicates to people the notion of an ambitious work that stirs words and pictures together. Me, I just call myself a cartoonist, and I’m making co-mix.

In the video clip below, there is an exercise by cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, which may help us think about narrative in relation to images:

Sept. 25 8:00pm, Rutgers Student Center – Writers at Rutgers Reading Series: Geoff Dyer

dyer

Writers at Rutgers Reading Series presents Geoff Dyer. Please join us – the event is free and open to the public. Reception to follow. Geoff Dyer is a novelist, essayist, and also the author of five genre-defying titles: But Beautiful, The Missing of the Somme, Out of Sheer Rage, Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It, and The Ongoing Moment. Among other awards, including GQ Writer of the Year, a selection of his essays entitled Otherwise Known as the Human Condition won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.

Date: September 25, 2013
Time: 8:00 P.M.
Location: Rutgers Student Center, Multipurpose Room
Email Contact: anna.maron@rutgers.edu

Tan Lin’s “The Patio and the Index”

Snap 2013-09-16 at 08.18.10

During next week’s class (on Sept 23) we’ll be talking about Tan Lin’s e-novella “The Patio and the Index.”  I want you to write a brief comment (approximately 150 words) to this post as a way of preparing for our class discussion; please do this by 5pm on Sept 22nd.  Here are some questions that you might want to answer in your comments: What is the relationship between image and text in this piece?  In what ways does Lin’s composition draw on both print and digital sources?  What do you make of this piece’s layout?  How does Lin present “Asianness,” “Chineseness,” and/or “Americanness”?  How does Lin treat memory?  How does the index work?  What is the tone of this piece of writing?  How would you categorize it in terms of literary genre?  How do you make sense of the title in relation to the subtitles? Feel free to pose your own questions in your comment–and you’re encouraged, of course, to respond to the comments of your peers.