My chosen emblem for Calvino’s second memo, “quickness,” is unexpectedly a tortoise. Aesop’s fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” entails a race between a determined tortoise and an over-confident hare; the hare boasts about his speed (or quickness) in which the turtle responds by challenging the hare to a race. Frankly, he is tired of the Hare’s proverbial “crap” coming out his mouth. During the race, the tortoise presents a certain morale in his use of a steady speed and pacing throughout the entirety of the race. The hare, however, upon noticing the turtle’s ridiculously slow speed and underestimating his tenacity, indulges itself in a nap (i suppose a rabbit has better things to do than waiting). This nap turns out to be the hare’s inevitable destruction as the turtle progresses ahead of the supposedly tired hare.
Therefore, the turtle prevails as the winner of the race and, for probably the first time in history, this unprecedented turtle is able to boast about his own speed or quickness.
But if turtles/tortoises generally represent slow motion and a lack of distance traveled, then how can I assume a tortoise as an emblem for the term “quickness,” which evokes images of speed, charging, and momentum? The answer lies in how Calvino projects his own idealistic interpretation of quickness. As mentioned in an earlier post entitled “Calvino’s Quickness,” I cite Calvino’s interest in Andre Virel’s Histoire de notre image (1965) and the two sons of Jupiter, Mercury and Vulcan, who are each attributed with differing intuitions that represent the two extreme ends of quickness: Vulcan who exemplifies slowness and concentration (like the tortoise) and Mercury who is increasingly quick-minded and adventurous. In using this literary analogy, Calvino finds a balance between slowness (or lingering) and speediness where neither one outdoes the other, yet both aspects are necessary in order to provide idealistic structure and style. The such is seen in Kendall’s work of E-Lit Faith, as talked about in another earlier post: ideas and images flash forth and disappear hastily in an effort to induce speedy thinking while also pausing on four to five separate occasions between animation sequences, which causes a delay or digression in reaching the narrative’s conclusion. Together, both forms (or extremes) of quickness work together in balance to successfully establish and progress the literature toward its intended goal.
Similarly, the tortoise doesn’t dwell on either extreme end of quickness: for while he progresses in rather slowly pace, he likewise implements speediness in his cognitive ability of cunningly deceiving the hare — in fact so cunningly that this quickness of thought makes up for the loss in distance resulting from his sluggish pace. Together these two opposite aspects of quickness harmonize to produce a true winner — a true emblem.