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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Calvino states that Multiplicity is the quality of “the novel as an encyclopedia, method of knowledge, and a method of connections.” I interpret this to mean that the novel functions as an encyclopedia of allusions to our world. While this is an easy case to make with literary fiction that takes place in the present-day world we are all familiar with, it’s not always as easy with a genre like science fiction.

However, I think Card goes one step further. Instead of making allusions to our world, he creates allusions to his. This is something that George Lucas also did. It’s the act of making passing references to proper nouns that are never fully explained in the work and yet don’t actually exist in our world. Here is one passage on page 244: “They took a helicopter to the I.F. passage at Stumpy Point. It was officially named for a dead Hegemon, but everybody called it Stumpy Point…” The premise of fictional allusion allows the author to submerge the reader in his world, as opposed to the world the reader is used to–I believe this is an alternate form of multiplicity.

The question then becomes, how are we going to turn allusion into a design emblem? I think the best number to apply to multiplicity would be the number eight. Eight represents infinity, and with multiplicity, often there is an infinite number of references and allusions to things, as each can reference a thousand other things. Multiplicity is exponential. Also, Hindu gods have eight arms, since they can do an infinite number of things at once as they influence the world.

The emblem should probably symbolize the stretching ability of allusions and references. Macnab states that spiders are nature’s designers, and while the emblem doesn’t necessarily need a spider or a web, just the concept of a web will suffice. It could be analogous to something that works like a web does, linking many things from one original source.

kevinbaconsixdegrees

I chose this image because it is a logo for a charity organization called Six Degrees. The story behind this came from a university study that found that any two people were separated by no more than six people, hence six degrees of separation. This theory turned into a cult game where someone would name an actor, and the other person would have to link that actor through the actors of related movies until they reached Kevin Bacon. The logo on his shirt is a collage of films that all trace back to him, and the charity is designed to utilize social links in the same fashion to raise money.

While the number six clearly clashes with the number eight, eight is more significant as an abstract concept in the larger picture as the symbol for infinity. Since the infinity symbol loops back on itself, the Kevin Bacon analogy can as well, as the link can go through other actors and eventually trace back to him in a different film. This doesn’t necessarily make him the center of the universe, but it is an example of how social links, in the same way as allusions, can traverse so many links until they arrive at where they departed. Macnab would probably argue the infinite linking of allusions is demonstrated by the number 8.

earth

As I alluded to earlier, Multiplicity can be represented by the symbolic linking of objects, events, or people across the entire planet in a near-infinite chain. As with the Kevin Bacon example, any one person can be linked back to a thousand others and sometimes back to himself. In this emblem, I have taken the planet Earth and placed a spide web over it, symbolizing the web-like quality of allusion.

Specifically, I chose Earth as a link to Ender’s Game in that children were sampled from all over the world to compete in Battle School. Ender looking down at Earth from the space station could imagine something like this, where he came from and where his friends came from. Of course, this web is only one. Every single web would likely cover the entire planet many times over with the sheer size of the cumulative network.

Continue to the final brand emblem here.

Calvino describes Visibility by saying “a story is the union of a spontaneous logic of images and a plan carried out on the basis of rational intention.” In other words, a story is carried out based on the ideas created by the imagination. Clavino mentions that he always starts a story with a meaningful image and creates it from there.

Orson Scott Card mentions in his introduction that the idea for Ender’s Game came from an idea he created as a teen about what a military school for brilliant children would be like. He created an image in his mind about what it would be like to fight in zero-gravity and zero-inertia, where there is no real up or down, only point of reference. So he created Battle School, a space station where the genius children of the future could strategize within the parameters of zero-gravity laser tag as they train to defeat a hostile alien race.

I thought the very concept of this was astounding and original. Imagine children that haven’t even hit puberty, who talk and act like adults, and that are forced to make tactical decisions that result in the deaths of men decades older than them. It’s uncanny, and yet believable in the sense that we can believe the military could do something so horrible, and we also sympathize for these poor children who will nevre have normal lives. Card created a powerful visibility in his novel of a diegesis where overburdened brilliant children save the world at the bidding of the allied military.

I think the best number/quality to signify Visibility and the spark of imagination is the number five. Macnab states that 5 represents “free-form life.” It is symbolic of man, health, love, and magic. Five symbolizes generation and regeneration, much in the same way that the creative process operates. It also symbolizes unification of the five natural elements: air, fire, water, earth, and ether.

The Visibility emblem should not only have five represented somewhere in the image, but it should be indicative of the generative process that is creativity and imagination. Good creativity doesn’t just come from a single inspiration, it comes from multiple sources, feeding into one idea. I think Macnab would agree that five is the defining trait for the flux of ideas that constitute creativity in the same way that a flux of life and cells can create more life.

magic_the_gathering-card_back

I chose this logo for the card game Magic: the Gathering because it has a clear symbolism in its logo of the interlocking relationship between five elements. While its elements aren’t identical to the five Greek elements, they are markedly similar and were probably inspired by them. The elements in the card game are Life (white), Death (black), Water (blue), Fire (red), and Earth (green).

Each of these elements are a part of everyday life in the fictionalized world and the story that accompanies the card game. They each have their own philosophies but all of them are required to keep life in balance. In the fifteen years the card game has run, the number of elements has always been and will always be exactly five. Macnab would agree on this necessity, as it is crucial for maintaing elemental balance in life.

There is also an important strategy element to the card game which very much relates to the strategy in Ender’s Game. The game is traditionally played duel style, and a player creates a deck using one or more colors. However, it should be noted that using more colors becomes progressively more difficult, but that is one limit to the strategy of the game. Gameplay focuses on each player trying to defeat the other using a variety of tactics, like being aggressive, defensive, reactive, or proactive–the same way Ender took on his opponents.

visiblestar1

For this emblem, I took my concept of five elements as being the basis of life, and I put a man-made device in the center as their combined creation. That particular device is a starfighter (taken from the cover of the novel), symbolically placed inside a star, the thing it traverses. My reasoning was that life is created from nothing, and life then creates technology from nothing, beginning a cycle of generations of creation.

In the image, each of the five elements contributes to the center of the picture, creating the components for the starfighter. The starfighter was chosen as the device because it is ultimately the one that conclues the story, as the formics are destroyed by the human starfighter fleet. This theme of generations of creation is continued in the sequels to the novel as well, as artifical intelligence comes into play as children of humanity.

Continue to E. Multiple.

Calvino defines Exactitude as accomplishing three things:

1. a well-defined and calculated plan for the work
2. evocation of clear, incisive, memorable images
3. a language as precise as possible in choice of words and expression of subtleties

I think Ender’s Game easily satisfies the first two conditions of Exactitude. The book is acclaimed for its last appeal. It represents the triumph of a single boy over his own military, his classmates, and an alien race. Card created a great tale about strategy and tactics that kept the reader cheering for Ender, because the reader was able to identify with Ender’s problems. I think any story where the protagonist can triumph against all odds will excite the reader and leave a lasting impression.

It satisfies the second condition as well, because it created a lot of original ideas. Card prophetically guesses that the world will be consumed by global politics in the near future, and that war is really the only thing that brings these powers together as one. Furthermore, his concept of Battle School, and recruiting children into the military is a very original concept. Ender is six or seven years old when the story begins, and by the end he’s barely in his teens and saving the human race. The lasting effect of the Battle School idea was the creation of the game Laser Tag, which was a popular game in arcades during the 90’s.

Lastly, I think Card had a very precise style in his writing. He conveyed characters’ thoughts and emotions extremely well so the reader could always sympthize with their plight. He successfully immersed audiences in the thoughts of those tasked with saving humanity.

So then, what would be the best way to convey the Exactitude of Card’s writing and the legacy he left with his book? Well, we have our first hint right there: precision and leaving a lasting mark. Card’s writing influenced many writers after him to write in a way that would create memorable characters in very possible futures.

I think Macnab would describe Exactitude as being embodied by the number four. The number four, Macanab states, is the first number to indicate depth (as the first 3 points are planar). This fourth point creates the tetrahedron. Depth in Ender’s Game, I think, is shown by the lasting impression it has had on people after they read it. One emblem of precision, the crosshairs, are represented as 4 lines emerging from a center point.