Detail Dilation

I am always fascinated by the text that is what it is describing it to be. I rather like the description of Leonardo's practice in one of the lectures from Italo Calvino (Six Memos for the Next Millennium). One can picture in the mind's eye the columns as they are being described as being written.

Let us take the fable about fire, for example, Leonardo gives us a rapid summary: the fire, offended because the water in the pan is above him, although he is the "higher" element, shoots his flames up and up until the water boils, overflows, and puts him out. Leonardo then elaborates this in three successive drafts, all of them incomplete, written in three parallel columns. Each time he adds some details, describing how, from a little piece of charcoal, a flame bursts through the gaps in the wood, crackling and swelling. But he soon breaks off, as if becoming aware that there is no limit to the minuteness of detail with which one can tell even the simplest story. Even a tale of wood catching fire in the kitchen fireplace can grow from within until it becomes infinite.

No surprise that the lecture is called "Exactitude". Pleasant surprise that I found myself recalling a short story by Carol Shields in which the narrator, a professor of literary studies, is found asking "So where exactly do I stand, then on narrative enclosures? Or, to put it another way, how small can ficto-fragments get without actually disappearing? [...] And I'm not just talking minimalism here. I'm saying that fiction's clothes can be folded so small they'd fit inside a glass marble." (from "Ilk" collected in Dressing Up for the Carnival)

Exactly, small and precise. Folded.

And so for day 616