Grinding It Out

And Then One Day #9: Page 25 (Elephant Eater): Panel 1: I’m really enjoying Ryan’s willingness to shift the POV around to Dr. Polkinhorn for what feels like an extended period. It also nicely mirrors what we’ve already seen, which was Ryan’s POV as he crafted an email and how he came at it. That’s now juxtaposed with Polkinhorn doing the same thing. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the way the two men come at this task is the opposite of what you’d expect. Ryan is still in student mode, coming at this task as an autobiographer reaching for an expanded knowledge of his academic understanding. On the other hand, Polkinhorn is the professor, capable of slinging all kinds of academic knowledge, but instead is coming at this from a far more personal standpoint by discussing the intimacy of his own dream. The text here is sly. I feel like Polkinhorn is bordering on adding a third point on Ryan’s continuum of truth and fiction, and that is “dream being” or “dream truth” for lack of better terminology. Dreams aren’t fiction because they’re not intentionally fabricated, yet they’re also not purely truth because of how easily they can be distorted from reality. They’re a weird mix of both. Subconscious and involuntary speculation based in part on an individual’s experiences and psychological make-up. Man, I never thought I’d be digressing into dream interpretation. Anyway, lastly I’ll say that I like the small figure scale Ryan works with in this panel because it makes me feel like there is a much larger world of meaning occurring, that we are but small travelers in the cosmos struggling to find a slice of that meaning.

Panel 2: Polkinhorn further taps into the primal nature of the dream world. He’s touching on an idea that the duo discussed much earlier in this issue, which is that a narrator, knowingly or not, influences “truth” or otherwise factual events by the manner in which they tell the information. It’s subject to their vocabulary, their interpretation, their memory, their perception, their mode of telling (written, spoken, pictures, etc.) and the general style in which they convey the information. In other words, when someone tells you what happened, they’re not really telling you what happened. They’re telling you their perception of what happened. Visually, for some reason my eye is drawn to the right side of the panel, to the shading behind Polkinhorn’s monitor. Maybe it’s just that it’s darker, or more dense, but it feels like the panel is weighted in that direction and my eye keeps wanting to go right, rather than linger in the middle, to the left, or on the words above. That’s just a stray observation.

Panel 3: I like the idea of “the art requiring a form,” but I’m not sure why. I’ve sat here turning it over in my brain, but I’m struggling to come up with anything meaningful beyond it being neat that ideas are just ideas until they have a “container” or a medium to express them in. It’s all about that expression of an idea that we were discussing above; that it (in this case, Polkinhorn's dream) will always be subject to interpretation and conveyance. For example, I can imagine a beautiful sunset. But no matter if I write a song about it, scribble a facsimile hastily on paper, or compose a grand oil painting depicting it, it will always be an approximation of what I originally imagined in my mind's eye. This is random, but computers (and a screen shot specifically) are a tricky thing to capture on paper. If you do them by hand, as Ryan does, the edges look a little too soft and bulbous. The boxes aren’t as crisp, the lettering imperfect. Yet, if you simply drop in a PhotoShopped image or rely too heavily on picture reference, then it looks too stiff and fake. It’s a no-win proposition either way.

Panel 4: For all my complaining above, this is a really good shot of the computer screen and tail end of Polkinhorn’s sentence. I like the way that the transition from Polkinhorn almost mentally narrating the ideas as he types, to them appearing on the screen is totally seamless. We could have easily been reading the whole time, or Polkinhorn could have been mentally dictating. It’s such a smooth transition that we’re not overtly aware of which mode we’re in until I just called it out for you. And that’s that… one more story page to go!


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