The poet, reading the work that gives title to his new collection, repeats the first line and then another, a few lines later. I assume he’s written it that way; it’s such a simple thing to do and the effect so striking. Later I read it myself off the page and find there is only one of each line and it is still beautiful but not stunning without the repetition. Also I realize he rendered it a particular way in print, and then an entirely other way aloud. Which way was the way he meant it? Why not repeat the lines on the page, as when he read it aloud? I was dying to know, and basked in this secret power which repetition had hidden from me. Repetition is dull, I would have told you. Lazy and boring and unnecessary.
Except, of course, when it’s not, which I suppose I should have known from song.
I’m working my way through all of Dan Roam’s books about how simple drawings, alongside a few words, can bring ideas to life. I’ve finished The Back of the Napkin and Blah Blah Blah, and now I’m reading Unfolding the Napkin.
Dan points out that in school we are trained to communicate almost exclusively in words – drawing is relegated to art or free time. Yet pictures are much closer relatives to experience than words, and as young children are attempting to make sense of and assimilate what’s happening and what they’re being told, their first impulse is often to draw. We’ll grant them that, but not for long before we want them to focus their attention on reading and writing, shoving the drawing to the periphery (at best). I’ve been wondering what would happen if we let them draw as much as and for as long as they are compelled to. How would it influence their development? What effect would it have on how they communicate? Would some processes speed up and some slow down?
It’s been interesting, in the course of my exploration of Dan’s visual thinking work, for me to try to train myself to expand the way I think about communicating, to try to incorporate images into the way I share something I’m trying to say. It feels very difficult, but also as though if I figure it out, it’ll be a relief not to be quite so dependent on one mode.