“Window” by Katharine Norman
“Ask Me for the Moon” by John Zuern
As I began this assignment with great curiosity, I couldn’t help but notice from the Editorial Statements on each how vital the code and programming were to the presentation of the pieces. “Window,” by Katharine Norman showcased how it appeared that the user could manipulate rain drops on the window that invited more words, phrases and ideas to take flight on the screen. The interface for “Ask Me…,” had me feeling very much like a tourist, coming and going through the author’s mind.
The other idea from the Editorial Statements on each that caught my idea was the use of ambient sound. I am deaf in one ear. If I’m not focusing, background or ambient noise can be my worst nightmare. However, the flip side to it is that ambient noise really helps me relax and hide within my brain. I was really excited to see how both authors were going to treat that and each did not disappoint.
Norman used the phrase, “Traffic as a form of silence.” I grew up in New York. My grandparent’s home was right near the Long Island railroad crossings for our town. The sound of that train is what put us all to sleep. When we would all go on vacation as a family, no one could sleep because the hotel was just too quiet. We needed the traffic and the train as a form of silence. Norman had sounds from a near-by airport. I can relate to that one. She also had the sounds of early morning birds. The train scares the birds off the lines. When the train leaves, the birds all sing and cry out for their new spot on the lines.
Zuern had some heavy breathing sounds in his presentation that activated using the interface. However, while sound was not present in its audio form, sound was decisively present in the language Zuern used. Onomatopoeia is an amazingly effective rhetorical element to interject sound into writing. This is evident when the author uses the written idea of leaving and revisiting. We all know what that sounds like. Norman takes onomatopoeia a step further when she is describing the making of bread; with all of the slapping and pounding going on.
Poetry has always been something I have found difficult to teach. Poetry is such and open world of language. In college many years ago, I had a professor who encouraged us to interpret poetry freely, yet on exams we had better feel exactly as he did, or it would cost us our grade. Unfortunately, that was the case for me. The only D I ever received because I failed to see things one way personally and forced to feel another for academic reward. My morals aren’t for sale.
So I have always stressed about poetry. Zuern had a line from Ask me that went, “…deployment of images and metaphors.” I used some pretty powerful images and metaphors two years ago, and I’m still fighting in court just how powerful those images and metaphors were.
The other lines from Zuern that I really liked was his lines about “castles in the sand,” and “spent muscle.” While I fear teaching poetry, I do have a soft spot for it. I have the word INVICTUS tattooed on my back. The words from that poem outline my life. Henley wrote INVICTUS to inspire – to give hope. Zuern’s poem gives that same hope by exposing the truth that real castles are built on solid foundations. Not the glitz and glamour of the hotels and skyscrapers that line the Hawaiian beach. I have seen those who make their castle out of sand – it never works out. I have shared years of spent muscle making that evident.
Norman has some pretty great lines that impacted me. The entire writing process has to be about can the author get the reader to relate to the words on the page. “Spoon against the bowl,” to me that speaks about how empty your soul can be and the desire to want to fill it. “Taking the long way around.” I understand a desire to do that to. No man or woman can escape the inevitable. However, every man, woman and child can take their time getting there.
Norman’s other thought about a, “window between here and there.” I would like to know, whose “here” are we speaking of. I would also be inclined to wonder whose “there” are we glimpsing into. My belief is that Norman wants the reader to reflect upon that very notion. Is it a window, or a mirror? That would be the question I would ask of both pieces. Zuern has me reflecting on my perceptions as a tourist while Norman has me reflecting introspectively – to which many feel like a tourist. I think that sums it up: We are all tourists amongst each other and within ourselves. We can either ask for the moon or peek in a window. It’s all in the experience one looks for.