Joseph Cornell did not simply create these boxes; the collages of feelings. Every piece of art was a part of a complex process. He would create dossiers, or archives, of items relating to his inspiration. He collected things over immense periods of time to create something that could receive only a passing glance. He didn’t even finish a lot of his work.
“When we turn to Cornell’s public art, there is a great body of works that can be classified as existing somewhere between the dossier and the box construction, revealing that not everything reached a single, final, fixed form. His approach meant that it was very difficult to stop things flooding in once the process had been set in motion. Everything was fluent, fluid and contingent—part of the process” (Blair 29).
Cornell’s process is quick in that once his idea is sparked, he continuously adds to his collections. Yet, it can drag in that some of his work has no closure. We may never know his purpose behind many of his projects. Time has no beginning or end with Cornell.
For my blox, the background is a yinyang image constructed out of the planet earth. Kenya is not a peaceful place yet Njoroge sees the possibilities for it. Imposed on top of it is the evolution of man reversed on top of itself. I wanted to show how time is not static within a novel. It can go by slowly or skip years at a time. Weep Not, Child covers Njoroge’s adolescence. My copy is only 136 pages long yet it covers multiple years as he grows into a man, like the stereotypical evolution of man image. He does not reach a peak of knowledge with the end of the story, however. Instead, the last three pages describe his attempt at suicide directly before his mother stops him; leaving him to identify himself as a coward. Is his boyish innocence worse than the misery of his informed life? Regardless of life’s path, each person can be either a hero or a coward. Also significant is man’s restrictions on other races. I wanted to show the interchangeability of the labels we give others with what we see ourselves to be.
A novel does not have to move quickly to be interesting yet a film does. Seger says that time movement is fluid. “It moves back and forth among past, present, and future” (Seger 23). It is easy for the narrator to take a paragraph or so to tell us the back story on certain characters. For example, we know that Njoroge’s older brother died in a European war. This is a source of conflict within the novel since his other brother, Boro, leads the Mau Mau uprising in retaliation of his death. The Mau Mau uprising causes the deaths of so many people Njoroge knows and loves, etc…
Adapting this can be complicated, however. How do you represent the past on film? Either a character talks about it or there is a flashback. How do you represent it in a blox? This is the mission I had to accomplish. I wanted to show how time is not static within the novel which I did through the evolution of man reversed upon itself. Is Njoroge gaining wisdom or losing faith in the world? The answer is both. We don’t necessarily have to grow in a progressive direction. Sometimes things go in circles and sometimes they go in reverse.
“Weep Not, Child” is a novel that tells the story of a boy as he transforms into a man; done effectively in 136 pages. I believe that this is the embodiment of Calvino’s quality of quickness. To go into even more detail, no single event or situation in the novel lasts longer than a few pages. It is too the point then suddenly skips a year to get to the next significant moment in Njoroge’s life that relates to the Mau Mau uprising.
“Speed and conciseness of style please us because they present the mind with a rush of ideas that are simultaneous or that follow each other so quickly they seem simultaneous, and set the mind afloat on such an abundance of thoughts or images or spiritual feelings that either it cannot embrace them all, each one fully, or it has no time to be idle and empty of feelings” (Calvino 42).
As a result of Calvino’s description, “Weep Not, Child” is a quick read. Not only is it short, but it follows an exciting path. Every chapter has something either interesting or appalling or both.