Perhaps Cornell’s ceaseless self-reflection is the best representation of multiplicity. We identify a central conflict or theme within the piece to be adapted. The surrealist movement focused on what the artist was thinking more than what the viewer should think. Therefore, Cornell became the central concentration of his work.
“He observed and described his dreams and his emotions, as well as cataloguing changes in his moods” (Blair 50).
This attention to detail within himself is similar to the focus on a central theme presented by Thiong’o.
The background image is land in Kenya which is meant to represent the lost land of the family and of the native Kenyans in general. The images on top are representing what is important to Njoroge, his brothers, his girlfriend, and other characters. Each image represents at least one concern of the people in the novel. Njoroge’s father spends his life working on land that used to belong to his ancestors because he believes that is will be returned to him someday. Kenya is in conflict due to the native resistance to colonization; an issue of ownership of land. Njoroge is putting so much faith into school and God because he believes that will lead him to a position in which he can help his family and country. All the other images in the blox are representations of the mixed story lines and concerns of characters. All of which leads to the issue of land. I have the images of the character’s concerns (a gun, a bag of money, books, love, and a cross) placed on top of pyrethrums. This type of daisy is grown by the white landowners in Kenya and Jacobo who is the only black man allowed to grown them. I have the same image repeated in four separate boxes because they are recurring desires within the novel. In other words, they are repeated multiple times.
In order to be adaptable, relating to multiplicity, the novel must focus on one story line even if there are many. Usually, it is best to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. As long as there is a clear path for the reader/ viewer to follow, the piece could be a successful adaptation. Even with multiple events, they relate to each other.
“The writer selects and arranges a series of these incidents so they build with increasing intensity or suspense toward an exciting or dramatic resolution. By the end of the story, the events need to ‘add up,’ ‘make sense,’ and give the audience a feeling that it has arrived somewhere and completed the story’s journey” (Seger 78).
In this way, “Weep Not, Child” is highly adaptable because it has a series of events that are all linked in some way or another. If it were chosen for adaption into film, it could easily go without cutting scenes since it is both short and everything is connected in a way that cutting could cause confusion. In the blox adaption I found it important to show the multiple desires of the characters and their relation to the earth. Also, I included the repetition of their occurrences within the novel.
“Whatever the starting point, the matter in hand spreads out and out, encompassing ever vaster horizons, and if it were permitted to go on further and further in every direction, it would end by embracing the entire universe” (Calvino 107).
Calvino describes multiplicity as the quality of many connections. It’s as if there is a giant knot representing the plot. While everything may seem completely jumbled and messy, in reality it can all be tied together; a piece of the same string. Many writers don’t know where to end their intricacies and therefore spit out an encyclopedia of their knowledge rather than a novel.
My experience with “Weep Not, Child” in relation to multiplicity is the realization of what is important to the various characters. Njoroge wants peace which he plans to find through education and faith, Mwihaki wants love and a relationship, Boro wants revenge, many men want power and money like Jacobo. There we see multiple goals. It is brought together in some way or another, however, through the land. Everyone believes that it is rightfully theirs so their goals ultimately reflect their chosen path to claiming ownership.
Cornell identified himself with Meaulnes as a ‘seeker of visions.’ Through his job as a traveling salesman by bike in Manhattan, he had the opportunity to see and observe. This was important to his work because it provided inspiration. He enjoyed it so much that even after his job ended, “his habit of wandering did not” (Blair 61). Everything artistic comes from some sort of inspiration we collect from the brain’s database of experiences. If it hasn’t been experienced, it is invisible.
My blox for the quality visible captures a boy as he walks down a Kenyan road. My intention with this was for it to represent the path Njoroge takes to school. The small child on the road is actually a white boy though. I chose this to show how the white Europeans were the only truly privileged. Although Njoroge makes it further than any other boy from his village and surrounding areas, he does not make it as far as Stephen Howlands, the white boy from his area. There is a partially transparent image of a crying boy layered over the rest. The focus is on his eyes. The transparency has him looking out at us or looking into the photo. The land is slightly distorted. What we see depends on the eyes we see them through. I chose a film reel as a border in relation to Seger’s novel on adaptation. I feel that visibility is Calvino’s most significant quality when it comes to adapting a novel to film.
Seger finds details and information to be an important aspect when adapting a piece. “Details in a novel build ideas, but they also give us information that is useful and often fascinating in itself” (Seger 21). Imagery translates well in adaptation because it applies to our senses. Seger gives an example from “Gone With the Wind” which describes a bloody scene of wounded soldiers during the Civil War. When described on paper, our minds automatically form the picture in our heads. We could have easily watched the same thing on film or looked at a picture depicting the scene.
Seger’s insights help me to focus my adaptation. There are so many scenes within the novel that could be translated into picture form. Instead, I chose some images that seemed to represent the novel in its entirety. The goal of the blox was to translate my perception of the novel to others. I did that not only through carefully chosen images but through the use of colors, saturation, and brightness.
Perhaps the reason I chose this novel for the learning screen is because I found it to be highly adaptable. I found it to be adaptable because I could see it in film form. Calvino’s quality, visibility, is embodied in “Weep Not, Child.”
“In the cinema the image we see on the screen has also passed through the stage of a written text, has then been ‘visualized’ in the mind of the director, then physically reconstructed on the set, and finally fixed in the frames of the film itself…This mental cinema is always at work in each one of us, and it always has been, even before the invention of the cinema. Nor does it ever stop projecting images before our mind’s eye” (Calvino 83).
Visibility is adaptation. In reading “Weep Not, Child” the mental cinema was in business. It’s funny how when you think back on a novel you’ve read; you don’t see the words on a page. You see what your mind imagined it to look like.
“There was only one road that ran right across the land. It was long and broad and shone with black tar, and when you travelled along it on hot days you saw little lakes ahead of you. But when you went near, the lakes vanished, to appear again a little farther ahead” (Thiong’o 5). The first chapter of the novel is uncharacteristically descriptive painting the picture of the land for the reader, maybe to emphasize the importance of what everyone is fighting over.
Joseph Cornell had the tendency to leave his works unnamed and undated, never wanting to commit to a finished product. He was, however, extremely detailed in his notes as part of his dossiers.
“In a significant entry in his dossier he includes a quotation from Jean Renoir: ‘I believe that during the past 50 yrs man has been losing contact with his physical senses and is becoming too intellectualized. The artist’s mission today, he noted elsewhere, is to recreate a direct contact between man and nature’, and Cornell goes on to discuss exact times and places where he experienced direct contact with nature” (Blair 48).
In order to draw upon his experiences, he needed to have exact notes. I like to think of the novel “Weep Not, Child” as my own dossier of exact evidence that I use to create these bloxes.
Calvino refers to the city as a complex emblem for exactitude. “A more complex symbol, which has given me greater possibilities of expressing the tension between geometric rationality and the entanglements of human lives, is that of the city” (Calvino 71). I decided to borrow this emblem from Calvino for the purpose that it expresses my feelings towards exactitude in Weep Not, Child. I chose London specifically because, for Njoroge, it is that far away promised land of education and opportunity. The colonists of Kenya are British so this would be a natural place for him to aspire to go. After all, they act as though they are better than him so he wants to learn from the best. In all the craziness of a bustling city, there is still an exactness about it. This is why if viewed closely, you can see a map of London over the picture of it. Every street corner is documented. That takes away some of the monstrosity of it. I also include a picture of Oxford, a British university with a cartoon finish. He’s never actually seen it, he only has an imagination of what it might be like. Lastly, I included some of the dialogue between Njoroge and Mwihaki. It shows how little he cares about the exactness of the city he travels to. All the land dominated by white people is the same to him. They speak English and are Christians. He models his life after this.