After engaging with Robert Kendall's poem Faith, I have looked beyond the surface and found literary meaning within the work.
To get a general overview of the content of the poem, take a look at my previous blog entry. It describes, in detail, the visual, audio, and textual aspects of the poem itself.
I have noticed through Kendall's use of color, sounds, and his creative writing ability, he has put together a literary hypertext that will in fact fall into the Aristotelian Concept of Plot. The poem has a beginning, a middle, and an end, thus creating not so much a plot, but a completely full work, one that flows in the natural order from start to finish. It begins with a thought, a single word, and ends with a fresh new idea. In fact, it ends with a "summary" more literally than you might think. Kendall's last slide reads, "just to sum up: Faith."
Because "Faith" has:
- a fixed sequence
- a definite beginning and ending
- a story's "certain definite magnitude" and
- the concetion of unity or wholeness
it lines up with Aristotle's view
, while much other hypertext does not. The University of the Yellow Wallpaper
and The Heist
both have links that take you off path. The reader can get lost, view the story out-of-order, or not even read the entire story depending on which links he/she choose to follow. This provides problems for the reader. Yet, "Faith" has one link at the ending of each animation which makes it linear and easier for the reader to follow the natural progression.
Looking closer into the text, I found that "Faith" indeed is a progression. A progression of life. It starts with the words logic falling and settles with "logic can't bend this." At the bottom of the page is where Kendall puts a link to the next movement with carefully chosen phrase such as, "So... (link)." This shows the progression that there is always more to discover and learn. There is never an ending. Kendall creatively gets this point across with the general set-up of the poem.
Another reason I feel the poem is a progression of life is how Kendall incorporates the audio aspect. As I said in my earlier blog, each movement includes a new instrument. The first movement is a high-pitched bell (perhaps signifying youth, or a child) which gives the reader the thought of new life, or a beginning. The sound is small and delicate much like a baby. The next movement is accompanied by a harp. A harp's pitch is a little lower giving the subconscious reader an adolscent-type tone. Still young, but older than the bell. The third movement is the synthetic instrument. As I said another time, it sounds like "beams" if you can imagine that. And the sounds are slow and individual. This may signifiy young adulthood. The tone is "older." The fourth movement begins to combine instruments. It starts with the synthetic "beam," both high-pitched and low, and combines the harp with it coinciding with the movement of the words. The sound gives the reader an "epiphany"-type feeling. Like Kendall is saying that it's all coming together. This is where the entire content of the poem is on the screen at the same time so, in a sense, it is a fullfillment, which is what the audio makes it sound like. In the final movement, all the words fall away and all that's left is the phrase I mentioned earlier, "just to sum up: Faith." This movement goes back to using the bells. As the words fall away, the bells make a wind-chime sound until one final bell is heard when the word Faith falls into place. This brings the poem full circle, back to new life. The music progressed with the stages of life, not so much the physical stages, but the psychological stages. From youth and inexperience to adulthood and wisdom, only to find that in the end, the answer to logic's questions are so simple a child could do it: Faith.
As the sounds progress the words of the poem progress. The first movement is the four-word slide that I discussed earlier. Kendall says that
"logic can't bend this. So..."
He's saying that no matter what proof an individual has, faith is always stronger than logic.
The next movement says
"I edge logic out. Can't the mind press on around the bend to consummate this vision of the deep 'or'?"
Kendall questions our mind's ability to understand life. He personifies the mind by using "presss on around the bend." This gives the reader the feeling that the mind is doing the action in this poem. He also investigates the deep "or" that haunts thinkers around the world. Philosphy is a way to think about these issues, but not an answer. He may be saying the logic isn't the answer. As the poem progresses the initial words from the previous movement are broken apart but never dissolved so that new words in a new color are added to the text. This also plays into the idea of progression.
In the fourth movement, perhaps the "epiphany" movement, the narrator of the poem talks about this edge, this chasm that he is forced to step toward. He wants to hold onto his logic, but can't. He must "press his foot firmly/into the black, all-but bottomless chasm beyond the brink." The narrator must step "off the rocker (yippee!)" in order to lose the bars cage that logic has trapped him into and embrace this feeling of faith (that the reader doesn't know yet). The movement ends with the
"deeper world's One True Word: Leap."
The word "Leap" stands alone at the bottom of the screen and the animation makes it grow to cover the entire screen. I think what Kendall does here is brilliant. The word "leap" is a lonely word. The action is often done out of desperation and solo, this is a scary thought. However, life is an action. Without taking that step, asking that girl out, trying something new, there is no life. Logic can only get someone so far. Without that leap the person is stuck in their own thoughts, he/she is trapped in their own thinking and nothing changes because there is no action. The universe's one true word is "leap."
The final movement is the answer to the poem; it is the progression that was being led up to.
"just to sum up: Faith"
The poem builds by means of audio, visual, and animation, to the final movement which gives the reader the answer. All these questions, and thoughts were necessary to reach the final conclusion: all that matters in life is Faith. There is no logic, and sometimes life doesn't make sense. But the individual can never get to that conclusion without going through life's logic and discovering their own faith for himself.