Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tom Phillips: Explicating A Humument (Final Step)


The same basic premise applies for explicating a visual image as it does a poem, especially in your thesis. You are actually doing both in this essay. You are trying to explain how the artist creates meaning. Since there are words in the image, you must also analyze them. Use the same techniques you would for poetry.

On page_ _ _ of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips [active verb] that_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ by [technique and effect]_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.


Guidelines for Posting:
  • Due Monday, December 1st, 2008. 3:00 p.m.
  • You should have at least 3 pages worth of writing, Times New Roman, 12pt. font, double-spaced (with extra space between paragraphs) before you post.
  • The Title of your essay should be the page number of A Humument hyperlinked. Kevin Ta.. gave a mini-lesson on how to do this below.

21 comments:

Ashley A said...

page 203

On page 203 of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips suggest that one’s most valuable possessions can be instantly destroyed through unfortunate acts of mischief or through pure revenge and punishment, however, both events leave everyone involved with a sense of despair and emptiness. He conveys this idea through the use of select words that establish a point of anger and hatred, with the aid of flaming, smoky images that display the abruptness in which all of one’s life savings can be taken away.

Immediately, the viewers are made aware of the fact that a dangerous event has occurred because of the blazing and vivacious flames engulfing the page. The first indication of this catastrophic event appears at the top of the page, slightly above the words “A Human Document,” where there seems to be a black bird in flight. In this situation, this black bird could represent a crow and generally when crows are spotted, danger or even death is near. Seeing as how the bird is flying away, it exemplifies the idea that something dangerous has occurred in the community and it has forced people to evacuate. The most obvious element of this disaster is the image of a mounting accumulation of smoke. As the smoke is carried away to the right edge of the page, it appears to take on a darker color; adding to the intensity of the flames and the fact that this fire is severe. These thick and puffy clouds of smoke nearly consume the entire page, making it nearly impossible to read the majority of the page’s content. Phillips uses this prevalent distraction to place an importance on the mere twenty one clearly legible words, to quickly sum up the central message.

Phillip’s use of bold, mounting colors, forces the viewers to narrow in on certain aspects on the page. He also captures this effect through the use of circles and a rectangle around specific words in the text, pushing the minor words into the background. The first group of words highlighted reads “…whose hands glistened with rings,… and his nose, suggested finance and Israel…” and just by reading those words for the first time, one may assume that this man is finically wealthy. However, after reading all of the words, one may then conclude that this man has acquired these gems through robbery. With the aid of the other words on the page and most importantly the last few words “…by the Furies,…” Greek goddess that enforce the law by protecting victims of crimes and punishing those who have committed a crime, the reader may assume that this man has committed a crime and the burning of this area is his punishment. Phillips’ addition of the word “…Israel…” places a classification upon the man, and the preceding words dripping with violence and anger, can indicate a division in race or religious beliefs in the community.

Continuing down the page, the viewers are hit with two extremely powerful words “…bitterness…” and “…banish…” Based on the fact that these two words are directly placed in front of the thickest and darkest area of the smoke, indicates the strong impact Phillips intended to make towards his viewers and with connections to “…the Furies,…” it appears as if the Furies were so angry with this man, they were driven to the point of wanting to banish him from the community, and the only way in which they could make such a monumental statement is through a fire. “…Harder…” and “…bitter…” are the next two highlighted words, and they are written in the same sentence, making this statement brief and condensed. At this point, it feels as if the man is trying to maintain his composure but the burning of his possession is causing him to feel bitter and angry towards those responsible. The placement of these two words, directly over the tip of the yellow flames, alludes to the increasing build up of frustration and anticipation he may be feeling due to the circumstances.

“…Hate…” and “…spurn…” are the next two words and although they are written in two different lines, there is one circle adjoining them, which emphasizes the importance of their meanings and collectively conveying a strong sense of anger and dislike that is lingering in the air. These words are placed directly in the flames and it appears that two circles have melted together to combine the words into once circle, which leads to the idea that the feelings of hatred have merged into one universal feeling for both the Furies and the man. The last three circled words are “…by the Furies…” and they are the people who punish those who commit crimes and previously in the sentence, Phillips’ mentions that “… the elements of his life appeared to him in some new combination like a telescope shaken by the Furies.” A telescope allows someone to focus on certain things that are far in distance and the man seems to be focusing on his life, but now he stands at a distance, watching everything he owns burning in flames. His life is being “…shaken by the Furies…” because he is now receiving his punishment in a brutal manner and it is as if the situation has turned against him, he took from others and now his things are being taken from him. Immediately underneath the words, “…by the Furies…” is a massive black square that consumes the bottom of the page, and not only does this last image reiterate the strict focus Phillips’ wants the readers to have on the text and the flaming images in the picture, but it gives the illusion that nothing else in the picture is important. The damage this man has caused creates a dark, ascending cloud over his life and everything will eventually be blocked out by this massive shadowy reminder of the punishment he received.

Although the image does not have a title, one could assume that this too plays into the major theme in the image. Without a title, the viewers obtain a sense of emptiness, as if a certain element should be a part of the image but yet it is not present. The same feelings are felt amongst those involved in the image, those who were robbed of their possessions, including the man’s, which are now engulfed in flames and a dark cloud of quilt. A missing title leaves a space of openness, but yet it is slowly filled with dark smoke and ruins.

Tom Phillips’ highlights select words buried in monstrous flames to convey the idea that priceless possession can be wiped out within seconds for various reasons, but the image and the feelings created from that disaster, will linger in the air for a long period of time. Seemingly enough, the harshest words such as “…hate…” or “…spurn….” will be the most difficult to erase, even burning them seems to just cause them to melt into one pool of animosity and despair.

Kristen W. said...

page 24


On page 24 of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillips demonstrates process of the human mind by scattered motions, single repetition, different sizes, and isolation. Each of these techniques draws the eye to a certain point of the page. Within the page are darks and lights to emphasize certain key areas. The overall design of the page simulates what a human brain would do in order to transfer information as well. Each portion of the page is just as important as the next; they each play a key role in the overall meaning of the page itself.

Upon first glance, my eye immediately shoots to the very top of the page. The pattern of darks and lights stands out very clear. The words in the dark boxes are unreadable, yet the ones in the lighter boxes are easy to read. If each of the lighter boxes are connected, the words and sentences make sense. It is as if the dark boxes do not matter. The words talk about “fear and struggle,” “hard work,” and “invention.” Each of these words describes what the human mind goes through. The mind starts with struggles but uses hard work to end up with some sort of invention or idea. That is the process. Next, my eye noticed words that were not horizontal like usual. Towards the middle of the page is a set of words written vertically. These words seem to be the credits of some piece of work. This also follows the brain idea. Within the brain are inspirations found throughout others. Ideas are not always brought up on their own. Outside sources need to help at some point or another. This is expressed through the credits that are rolling down the brain into what I thought was the center of the brain. The center to me was the one large box towards the bottom of the page. Inside was the word “Work” repeated twice. These words are the only two repeated throughout the piece. Hard work is the center of everything, including the mind. It was as if everything was falling into hard work to have it completed. The isolation of the words gives emphasis about how important hard work is for the brain to process anything. Underneath the box there are small curvy lines. These to me, were the nerves waiting to transfer the information to the rest of the body. The whole structure shows how the human mind functions and what is needed for it to function correctly.

The title of this page is a key in the representation of the piece. The title is, “A Human Document.” This provides information that it is indeed coming from a human and that the mind is the control of all humans. The fact that the title isn’t specific on which human, it shows that all humans are alike in a way. Their brains function in a step process that eventually allows information to be sent out to the rest of the body. A document is allowed to be changed. The human mind is the same way. Nothing is concrete. Changes are allowed to be made when necessary. The interpretation of the title is that one human made it. This shows that there was an understanding of how the human mind works. The fact that color was not added demonstrates that the each human mind does what it needs to and that is it. It is up to the human itself to add his or her own color to be unique. The title creates a stable analysis that shows that it is in fact a work of the human mind. Although nothing is concrete, the mind continues a process until it completes the informational task that it is designed to complete.

Within this page are ideas that a much more complicated than the images on the paper. Each of the images is simply and easily placed. Each is placed in a specific order though. The order continues to demonstrate how the human mind works and what is needed in order for it to be complete. The top of the page is unorganized as if it were scattered thoughts. Then, in the end, the ideas are placed into one organized box that interprets all of the data into a complete thought. Hard work is the main theme of this page. Nothing comes without an effort put into it. In the human mind, hard work is necessary for scattered ideas to become a whole. This page promotes the idea of organization and time to complete a task. Everything is in an organized manner and continues to fall into place as the eye wanders from the top of the page to the bottom. Without the idea of human self expression, every mind would just continue to follow this process and nothing unique would come out of it. Everyone has a common workplace, their minds. In the human mind, things become a whole and work together. Without the process demonstrated in this page, nothing would fall into place.

On page 24 of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillips demonstrates the use of organized structures to get a point across. He uses a form of size differences and isolation as well to emphasize certain key components in the brain function. Although some words are not able to be read, if the other words are connected they do indeed form a complete thought. This shows that not everything has to done according to plan and that things can be changed around to become something new. The human brain uses a strict routine when establishing information, yet things still may be altered. That is just how the human mind works.

Mary N. said...

Page 19

On page nineteen of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillips indicates that the sexual relationship between human beings is meant to be simple by nature, in which it only becomes a complex issue due to the human beings themselves. He reveals the factuality and the undeniable truth of this concept through the usage of symbolic diction, through a simple layout in descending order, and through basic colors. With these techniques utilized, the audience accepts the information Phillips presents without questions and without doubts.

Through suggestive diction, Phillips shows his audience the true simplistic nature of the sexual relationship between human beings in his image. The title itself, “A Human Document,” implies that the picture focuses on the human race. The word “document” shows the viewers that Phillips is recording some sort of characteristic or activity of human beings. As the audience continues to follow the image down to the next set of words, they realize that Phillips’ picture explores the sexual relationship of human beings. The lover in this piece suggests to another to “‘have one of mine…’” The phrase “to have one of mine” implicates reproducing another human being that originates from the two lovers. Only after the proposal does the lover “[produce] his own…and [offer] it,” which means that the lover has suggested sexual activities. Therefore, Phillips is stating that the purpose of sexual activities is to simply reproduce to continue the human race. However, he points out the complexity human beings have turned the purpose of sex into by leading the viewers down to another set of words at the bottom of the image: “the great Fanny.” Obviously, reproduction does not take place in the “fanny” of a woman. The idea of “[producing] his own… and [offering] it distended into the great Fanny” to “have one of [his] own” becomes one that is too complicated to understand. As a result, the audience would steer towards the simpler concept of engaging in sexual activities to reproduce.

What forces the audience to observe the piece from the top to the center and finally to the bottom is the descending order of the different parts of the image, which creates a vertical line. Vertical lines naturally create a top to bottom perspective. The title would, of course, be the first aspect the audience looks for, in order to get an idea of what the piece will focus on, the human race. Since the title is positioned at the very top and in the very center, the viewers would have to begin perceiving the piece from there. Placed immediately below the title is a rectangular box decorated with multi-colors, which draws in the audience even further and persuades them to continue looking due to its attractiveness. The second set of words in this image follows after the first rectangular box. This way, the viewers would grasp the idea that Phillips’ image discusses the human sexual relationship. Since this concerns them, they would continue to observe the image. In the next part, a white rectangular box that occupies nearly half the picture consists of a vertical path that roughly runs down from the second set of words to the third set of words. This path connects the two parts and draws the audience’s eye from one section to another. Through the continuous flow of sections following sections, the viewers have no option of questioning the image. They just keep observing the different parts as they are presented to them one after the other. In consequence, Phillips succeeds in persuading his audience to trust his perspective.

The first object that the audience sees upon observing this piece by Phillips is the multi-colored rectangle situated under the title. At first glance, the colors may be confusing and complex as they appear blended with each other. However, upon closer inspection, the viewers can easily identify the different tints and shades of the basic colors of red, blue, and yellow. This suggests that “A Human Document” may appear complicated to decipher and to understand at first impression, but with attention to details, it is actually a quite simple concept to grasp. As a result, the audience would not be discouraged to explore the purpose of Phillips’ image. Furthermore, as the viewers’ eyes scan down the image, they come across a huge white box. The color white would usually allow for imagination to take place. However, Phillips has drawn a rough vertical line running through it, which leads the viewers’ eyes directly to it to follow it up and down the course. As a result, the audience could not imagine any other interpretation as they are forced to follow the path from one section to another. In the last section, the white becomes the minor color within the orange and the brown background. The solid orange and brown colors bring attention to the white color that encompasses the last set of words. By doing this, Phillips achieves in drawing the audience’s attention to the words that would ultimately introduce them to the new concept that the natural and simplest purpose of sex is to reproduce.

Tom Phillips allows his viewers to develop a different perspective of the human sexual relationship. He successfully introduces to his audience the concept that the human sexual relationship is not as complex as everyone believes it to be through the usage of symbolic diction, a descending layout, and fundamental colors. He shows that sexual activities, in its most natural and simplest form, are meant to reproduce to continue the human race; it should not be any more complicated than that.

Mels1619 said...

Page 305


On page 305 of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillips creates the idea of solitude. He does this by placing “toge”, the only person on the image next to a window, which suggests the feeling of loneliness. The words around the image create a melancholy atmosphere; Phillips’ use of simplistic diction makes it easier for the audience to understand the purpose: the lost of a love one may result into isolating one self.

The image clearly indicates that the person in it is waiting for someone. Phillips placed the person next to the window to create the idea of loneliness. The person is also sitting on a chair which demonstrates how he/she spend most of the time waiting, waiting, and waiting. “A Human Document” like Phillips calls his book, demonstrates stages of a human being life. This image, in particular, demonstrates the stage of when you lose that special someone: the stage of isolation. The image also indicates the upcoming of age. Human beings, towards their middle age, began to feel melancholy for the past. Either the lost of someone, the lost of dreams, isolation is what most feel at that certain age. This is what Phillips is trying to convey.

Phillips incorporates words in the image. When reading it, the words create a melancholy atmosphere. With the help of the image, both create what Phillips is trying to convey: isolation. When looking at the image itself, the audience gets a clear understanding of loneliness, and the poem adds up to his purpose. The tone plays an important role in the purpose because it emphasizes melancholy. Melancholy for those who did not make it to your future; Melancholy for the things you lost; Melancholy for being alone. The connection between the image and the poem create the effect of solitude.

The simplistic diction use in the poem work effectively for the purpose of the image. The audience can easily understand the poet’s purpose. Phillips begins the poem with “only/toge alone”. The word “toge” is being detached from the actual word “together” creating the idea that “toge” is a person who lost his/her partner and now remains “alone”. Further more; Phillips mentions the word “loneliness” along with the word “watch”, suggesting that time passes and loneliness is all that is left for that person. Phillips then adds that there are two things left to the person in the image, “first/ my/ viola/ the other thing/ Your image/ I cannot get rid of it”. With this in mind, the audience can come to the conclusion that the person in the image is talking about the lost of a lover. The role of the “viola” symbolizes slow, romantic music, which contributes to the mood of the poem; melancholy. And the image that the person cannot get rid of, demonstrates a heartbroken waiting for that special one to come back.

In overall, everything continues to link to the placement of the image. Phillips carefully chose everything to fall in together. First, isolating the person next to the window indicates the wait for hope, the key role of the word “toge” being detached from the actual word “together” and placing it next to “alone”, making a synonymous and antonym clashed together. The title also connects everything together, “A Human Document” meaning that is documenting how the life of a human being works, recording every stage of it. The way Phillips chose to place the words in the image. He began with a simple quote on top of the image, following it with the key word “loneliness” which flows back below to where the person states that there are only two things left in life; music and memories. At the end, the atmosphere created by Phillips continues to be melancholy.

On page 305 of A Humument by Tom Phillips, suggest the unfortunate idea of facing solitude. With the help of a simple image, simplistic diction, and a melancholy tone, Phillips effectively delivers his purpose to the audience. The stage of solitude brings back memories, makes a person wanting to live again in the past hoping for the future to bring back what the past once had. Phillips wants the audience to relate to his image because at some point of life, every human being will face solitude.

Kayla P said...

Page 142
On page 142 of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips illustrates that loneliness can touch anyone at any time in their life. He achieves this by using a simple color palate, simple shapes, an unbalanced layout of text, and by utilizing a title which is unlike his typical title of “A Humment”. While the simple shapes and colors show the outward view of loneliness, the disheveled look of the text demonstrates the inward feelings of seclusion, drawing close to insanity. The title also plays a role, as it is different from the other titles, which creates the feeling of increased aloneness.

The title of this poem, A Human Document, is often the last thing the reader notices, though it is the first thing written at the top of the page. Despite the fact that Phillips often changed the title of his poems to “A Humment”, he left this one as it was in its original state. At first read through, it seems as if the speaker could be talking about the room itself, into which “once a year/ ron came.” Yet, the title seems to suggest otherwise. It seems to be signifying the bare and emptiness of a person who is often “alone in [that] aerial/ chapel…” and away from any other human contact. Much like the room he is in, the “toge”, who is Phillips’ protagonist, is “bare” and “Hessian ascetic”, clearly abstaining from all normal pleasures of life, as Phillips portrays in his drawing. Interestingly enough, “toge” is derived from the word “together.” Instead of togetherness though, it is clear that the character spends much of his time alone. Both the title and name contribute to the feeling of loneliness Phillips created in his poem.

At first glance, the reader’s eye is drawn to the large, flowing clouds. At the top, the sky is a dark, strong blue, but the clouds become laced with white and gray. The clouds give an impression of being high in the sky, because they are not above, but instead, right at eye level, which is generally much higher up than anyone else is used to being. Because of this, the toge would often be alone. The blues and grays lend to the feelings of lonesomeness, as both are often seen as somber colors. As the reader pans away from the clouds, the next aspect they will notice is the large splotch in the middle of the room. Though nothing in the drawing could be called “tidy,” the spot seems to be an even farther stretch into an imbalance than anything else. Different from all the other colors Phillips used in his palate, this tan blob could perhaps be the “obliterated…toge,” feeling quite alone and defeated. The reader’s eye is next drawn to the bareness of the room: a pale yellow room mainly made up of windows, with no furniture, which is “now and then varied by no incidents.” Nothing in the room changes, except perhaps the view. The color yellow, which is used top to bottom in the room, is usually thought of as one that is bright and cheerful. Yet, it has been proven that an excess amount may have a disturbing effect. A dull or dingy yellow is said to represent decay and sickness, which often follows a prolonged sense of loneliness. The next thing the reader notices is what appears to be a rug on the floor. This also consists of many varying yellow tones, as well as some gray spots. This adds, yet again, to the overall sense of isolation. Yet another aspect of the room that adds to the feelings of seclusion is the simple shapes that create the room. By using very few lines, with the most interesting use being that of the tan blob in the middle of the room, the viewer becomes increasingly aware of the isolation the “toge” must feel. As the reader continues to look on, they may notice that Phillips has not employed any proper vantage point, which is when an artist directs his lines to one specific point, making things look as if they are becoming larger or smaller, in turn creating a more realistic piece. This lack of vantage point adds to the feeling that something is imbalanced, but also lends itself to drawing the reader’s eye around the room, giving them the ability to take everything in. Of course, upon doing this, they will realize there is only emptiness to be found, aside from bare walls, and a dull floor.

The text also adds to the isolation, and the feelings that things aren’t as they should be. It begins at the top, with “bare/ obliterated/ Hessian ascetic” which are all negative connotations of giving things up and letting them go. There is a space between words, but then Phillips continues on, letting his words flow messily down the page. Again, there is focus on the bare and downhearted appearance of the way things are. The poem finally ends with words tossed in the last quarter of the left side of the page, saying “Once a year/ ron came”. Though it is the final aspect of the poem, it seems more like something that would be sandwiched between two thoughts. This leaves the reader with a better understanding of the loneliness that the character feels.

By using simple shapes, colors, and a different layout, Phillips was able to show the effects loneliness has both inside and out. The audience is able to see the isolation, not only through words, but pictures as well, helping them to relate to their own times of lonesomeness. Such simple drawings, paired with powerful, disheveled words led to a portrayal of feelings many people have, yet are not able to voice.

Andy V. said...

Page 92

On page 92 of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips shows that life is made by events in short bursts and that nothing lasts forever by using contrast of colors, one word lines, and the shapes that appear on the page. Each of these techniques Philips uses gives allows the eyes to easily see the quick and random bursts of colors and allows the viewers to see that verbs in the red explosions are powerful but swift. The image can be related to life, in which events in life can be powerful but swift.

Philips uses the contrasts of the blue, green, and red to give a contrast between the calm parts of the page and the exciting parts of the page. The blue on the page is a very relaxed color that many viewers can relate to as a calm color. The blue allows the red and green colors to stand out and make a strong statement in front of the blue. The red, which is usually associated with fire, passion, and energy, easily stands out in front of the blue back ground. The strip of green also separates its self from all the other colors by differentiating from the red and blue. The strip of green gives a break from the calm blue as well as the bursts of red. The colors are similar to life. The blue is the relaxed and calm parts of life. The exciting parts of life are like the red in the page, in which it breaks apart the relaxed blue. All the colors, or elements of life, are never continuous, giving the message that a part of life is never continuous.

Philips also uses quick, short, and positive words to further support the fact that life is never continuously one thing. All the one word lines like “feel,” “confide,” and “enjoy,” are all verbs promoting living life. The words are given in quick and sudden bursts showing how fast each word pops up and move on. Each of the words is spread randomly over the page, never in a constant order. The words are all different as well. Similar to life, everyday is a new day. Each day will not have the same placement and will not have the same meaning. The peculiar line in the middle of the page also supports Philips’ message. The small volume published by the speaker was soon forgotten because life moves on without our control. The short, quick, and meaningful words that never stay too long are similar to life. Events happen in people’s life, people eventually move on.

Lastly, the use of shapes in the piece of art allows the viewers to easily visualize the power of the one word lines and the break the strip of green gives. The oddly shaped shape around every one word line in the page gives the word an image of quick and sudden power. The shape is similar to an explosion, powerful but quickly over. The explosive color along with shape suggests action and excitement, like a fight scene in a comic strip. The shape is random and never exactly the same, similar to the words in the bubble, it represents the unpredictability of life. The melancholy straight lines and the green color are be over-shadowed by the explosive shapes. The straight lines give a small break, but also quickly moves on to the random shapes again. The shapes mimics life’s tendency to never stay the same for long periods of time.

Life never sits stills and never stays the same for long. The image of page 92 supports the fact about life. Life never stays a relaxed blue, but randomly explodes with the red of excitement throughout life. Life is also never one experience, similar to how the image never shows one word in an ordered way. The words also quick and random similar to events in life. The random explosive shapes mimics life in the way that it is never the same. Life is not static but random, colorful, and quick like the image on page 92.

Matt Z! said...

Page 302

On page 302 of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips creates a cause-and-effect relationship that explains his philosophical reason for the existence of hell. This view is presented to the audience by his simplistic, yet revealing, use of color and shape that depicts a descent into darkness, biblical references in the form of numerology, and interjections of staccato text, which appear as if they are interjecting thoughts in a degenerating psyche. Together, these techniques create a situation where the carnal emotions of man send the reader on a self-reflective journey to discover the darkest parts of their own nature, and the consequences for acting on such dark emotions.

At first glance, the most prominent object on page 302 of A Humument is, in fact, the only colored object on the page. Sitting in the center of the top of the page against a solid black background is an unnerving blood-red object. This irregularly-shaped spot extends about a third of the way down the page, terminating in a circular shape that oddly enough looks like a flow of blood pooling on a flat surface. The shape of this object both hints at the spilling of blood, and starts the downward progression of the observers eye which leads to the other objects in the image. Additionally, the color of the object (a dark blood-red), in combination with the black background of the piece, gives the entire piece a sinister tone. Phillips use of this specific shade of red is extremely important as well to the overall tone of the piece. Pure red is a vibrant color- used to show liveliness, energy, and passion. Blood-red, however, is a muddy and dark shade of red which hints at the corruption of this energy and passion. It symbolizes all of the darker passions that arise within human awareness, such as hatred, anger, and destructive feelings. Combined, all of these factors demonstrate that it is all of these darker emotions that contribute to the degeneration of the human mind into a hellish environment, which can be viewed as a method of self-induced quarantine.

Directly below this red shape is the most prominent piece of text on the page. In the center, slightly above the horizontal midline of the page, is “CHAPTER XXX” written in all capital letters. This holds a symbolic biblical meaning, as the number thirty (XXX read as a roman numeral) equates to divine order in biblical numerology. Also, these words are surrounded by a parchment-colored oval, which is the only circular object on the page. Circles are also interpreted to have an extremely spiritual meaning, as they represent unity, infinity, and perfection. This further strengthens the religious allusions present in this piece. Divine order becomes the driving force behind the work as a whole, and is philosophically hinted at more prominently towards the end of the observers experience with the piece. This selection of words is connected by two extremely thin parchment-colored lines, reminiscent of a lightning bolts, that shoot both upwards and downwards in order to connect the oval with “sorrow/ materials” above it and “the emotions of men” below it. In context, divine order becomes the unifying concept between all “sorrow/ materials” and all of “the emotions of men”. This reveals to the observer that when viewed through the eyes of a higher power, it is his/her own human nature that causes their own pain and suffering. Diction is also important here, as the blame is only placed upon the emotions “of men”, or in other words, those emotions that correspond to the darker side of humanity. Interestingly enough, these are the same emotions that are connected to the color blood-red.

Descending from “the emotions of men” is another off-white line which juts sharply downward into the black background before forking into two separate lines, each terminating at another piece of text. The eye’s descent down the page is both literal and figurative, as it also represents the descent into the darker realms of existence. One of the paths terminate in a simple phrase, which sounds more like an observation than anything else. Here, the observer learns that “hell is/ torments”, immediately being faced the horrible consequences of their darker “emotions”, which are prescribed by the divine order embodied by the number XXX. Ironically, the second pathway leads to a second observation, stating tersely “tongs, supplied”. Tongs are tools used by blacksmiths to manipulate metal at extremely high temperatures, like those associated with the burning fires of hell. The ironic message transmitted here is that thankfully, although a soul has found itself in hell, tongs are “supplied” so they do not burn themself.

Finally, at the very bottom of the page, is a block of text that is completely isolated. Fittingly enough, this text is “separated/ once for all”, and indeed it is the only text in the entire piece that is not connected to any other block of text. It is the lowest object on the page, and the last thing that the eye is drawn to. It reflects on the divine order theme hinted at by the roman numeral XXX, as well as eliciting a tone of quarantine and preservation.

It is here that a philosophical reason for hell is suggested at as well. When a person’s dark passions overtake them and they are sent down to hell, shown by the downward progression of the words on the page, they are effectively “separated/ once” from the rest of creation “for [the sake of] all”. Here is where the entire rest of the piece is put into perspective; where the cause (“the emotions of men” and all “sorrow/ materials”), the effect (placement into “hell”), and the reason interrelating the cause and effect (separation “for [the sake of] all”) is revealed.

Jenny L said...

Page 354

The lucidity of one’s memories is in a constant struggle against the inevitable darkness that comes with the fading of mortality as Tom Phillips depicts in his artwork. Phillips uses an excerpted page entitled the Human Document, to show the inevitable fade of one’s emotions and memories as time prevails. Through his contrasting use of colors, from vibrant to dark, thoughtful placement of his selective diction, and contrast of the artificial with the natural using specific images, Phillips is able to accomplish a mood of looming darkness and nightfall.

The brightest and most vibrant colors present on page 354 are shades of pinks and reds. These colors, dominate the major portions of the page, just as the most unforgettable memories may dominate the minds of its beholders. Such bright colors symbolize the most vivid experiences in one’s life. The color red possesses a dual meaning: with the brightness connoting joy but the redness connoting pain since it may allude to blood. With this duality in meaning, Phillips is able to portray the pieces that puzzle together to form the memories one holds: the feeling of happiness and pain. However, the bright colors Phillips uses is no doubt contrasted by the inking black that creeps up from the corner and is slowing engulfing the page. This contrast places emphasis on the two forces at hand. The force of the brightness of the piece, pushes for the prevalence of memory against the force of darkness as death slowly takes over. At the captured moment of the artwork, Phillips shows only a small portion of the page covered by the dead black color. Nonetheless, viewers receive an inevitable sense that the black color will soon overwhelm the art work as a whole, swallowing life and its memories along with it.

In addition to the contrast of colors, Phillips contrasts images as well through his use of perspective. He is able to depict life through cartoon like images of drawn flowers on the wall with a vibrant use of color, but he is also able to allude to life using natural colors of life, green and blue, shown through the small window. The perspective Phillips uses to draw viewers’ attention to the outside creates a focus on the distance of life. The outside, portraying an impressionistic image with a blue sky and green hill seems out of place and rather surreal. With the ambiguity of the shapes in the images of the outside, Phillips tries to show the blurring of one’s memories as “night” or rather death, looms near. Phillips shows the engulfing of one’s life along with its memories through the ebbing of the black color on the page, but he also uses a subtle blurring and darkening in the sky to foreshadow nightfall.

Phillips’s piece places words artistically to contribute to the sense of a fading memory of love as words trail listlessly down the page. Meant to illustrate the initial vividness of one’s memory, he groups together the majority of the words in his piece at the top of the page. However, the words soon become loose and separated just as one’s recollection of the past becomes vague and distant. Though death can envelop one’s memories, “loving [someone]…is contained in the record of the…night.” The “love” Phillips decides to incorporate in his piece suggests the immortality of the emotion despite physical death. The “love” is “recorded” despite the arrival of “night.” Phillips draws readers to the strands of words, as it protrudes through and contrasts the colors of the background. The speaker of the words seem to declare that since his memories has been swallowed by “night” he “can’t write anymore” and declares surrender as he “come…away”, departing from his memory. Since the words move off the page of the artwork, openings are created, leading to a leak of memories into the “night” the speaker refers to. The speaker surrenders his memories as the words “night” and “away” ventures off the canvas of the page. Like many of his other pages of artwork, Phillips uses the word “toge” to depict the separation of together. The memories of the past, whether it be emotions or experiences is now detached as death begins to overpower life.

Through the words he selects, he creates a parallel between night and death. Phillips depicts the overwhelming power of death as he uses night to show its fall upon light, leaving a sense of gloom and darkness.

The sunny facade that the picture portrays possesses an underlying and undeniable lingering darkness. Phillips utilizes both words and images to evoke the imagination of his viewers. As day turns into night, and as one’s life draws to an end, the memories one leaves behind must struggle against the darkness to be remembered. With clear distinctions between light and dark, contrasts between images of life and death, and diction placed to visually demonstrate the dominating struggle of the art piece, Phillips is able to develop the idea of not only life versus death, but the ability for memories of emotions and experiences to stay alive despite the death of its owner. As the title of the piece “A Human Document” suggests, Phillips’s art on page 354 represents a documentation of life and death along with the trail of memories left behind that struggles to be preserved.

Cynthia R said...

page35


On page 35 of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips demonstrates the evolution of human thought as well as the thirst for more knowledge through his use of color, his layering of those colors, his inclusion of roots, and his blurbs of words which allude to human history. By incorporating such aspects into his image, Phillips conveys the idea of how far the human mind has come and how it continues to thrive for more.

The very first aspect of the image that pops out is the use of colors and their layering. The bottom five colors of the image are very warm tones; orange, pink, purple, and brown. The closer to the bottom they get, the warmer the colors become. If the layers of the colors are thought of as layers of the dirt, one could infer that the warmer colors are getting closer to the center of the earth. The layers closer to the top become cooler but still resemble layers of soil. The way the colors are layered not only stands for the literal layering of soil, but more importantly, it symbolizes the passage of time. When archeologists dig up a site, they look for clues about what life was like hundreds of year ago. This image can be interpreted into a look as to how the human mind worked hundreds of years ago and how it has evolved. The light blue layer at the top of the image is the sky and signifies present time; where the human race is as of today. The layers of soil overall symbolize the passage of time and how human thought has evolved through the years.

Also important to the conveying the idea of the evolution of the human mind is Phillips’ use of what seem to be roots in his image. At the very bottom of the artwork there are white, wire-like, lines that point and stretch towards the top of the image. These lines could easily be interpreted as roots in the layers of soil; more specifically, these could be seen as the roots of the human mind. Since roots in an image often symbolize the beginning of something, the roots signify the beginning of human thought. The white blurbs throughout the soil can be viewed as seeds that are sprouting. Metaphorically the sprouting seeds are the ideas or thoughts that were born during the various time periods.

The words within the blurbs are probably the part of the image that most emphasize human thought and its progression. Although people are accustomed to reading from left to right and from top to bottom, it seems as though this page is meant to be read from bottom to top. Interestingly, to continue with the idea of how human thought has changed, it only makes sense to read the blurbs from bottom to top. The very first blurb says that, “children die of the Imagination.” This blurb could be connected back to times when individual thought was not valued compared to accepted ideas such as religious teachings. To say that things happened for any reason other than ‘because God decided it to be so’ was absurd, and thus, “children die[d] of the Imagination.” The next blurb says, “of two necromancers/ You were wrong. The real necromancer/ used to think.” The word necromancer refers to a person who practices black magic or uses a dead body to see into the future. Necromancy was popular for the Greeks, Romans, Medieval Europeans, Egyptians, Asians, and Africans and was a new way of thinking, which is why it is placed higher in comparison to the first blurb.

After the second blurb there is a wide gap before the next one which is a comment on the lack of development in human thinking during that time. In fact, the third blurb says, “waiting/waiting,” which probably refers to society’s need for innovation and new thoughts. The repetition of the word “waiting” places an emphasis on the amount of time that passed before the next breakthrough in human thought. Above and to the left of that blurb is the fourth in the sequence, which reads, “reality/ music”. On the surface of the soil is the blurb that reads, “the Golden Age is/ on the fiddle.” The Golden Age refers to the time in history when cultural advancements and enlightenments were at their best and a fiddle could mean a multitude of things since it has multiple meanings. It can be interpreted as the Golden Age having been on a rise or the Golden Age having been in movement. One could assume that the Golden Age is not yet over or at least that humans are still evolving each day and are coming up with new advancements since that blurb branches out and towards the sky.

The very last blurb, which is at the top of the sky says, “waiting for./ philosophy,” could be interpreted as humans still having the thirst for more knowledge. Since humans are naturally curious, they will always want to understand the “truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct,” as the dictionary describes it. Because the search for more knowledge is a never-ending process, Phillips placed that blurb at the top of the sky, almost as if it were a floating cloud. Overall, Phillips’ image conveys the idea of how far the human mind has come and yet how farther it will continue to travel. He does this well not only because of his use of color and layer, his use of roots, and his choice of words that allude to human history, but also because of how simple and esthetically pleasing the image is. Had the image been filled with more colors, shapes, and words, the point might have gotten lost, but instead Phillips communicates his message clearly and effectively.

Stephen said...

Page 307

On page 307 of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillips cautions against emotional detachment, as well as the fleeting entertainments that humans callously pursue in place of serious engagements. Phillips accomplishes this by his symbolic use of color, his blunt message given through the image, and his artful diction in addition to the way he structures the words he chooses to include in this image.


Phillips, on this page, employs only 2 colors. The reason for this is to emphasize the starkness between both, instead of having either color compete against a multitude of other colors. The contrast between the two colors, and their connotations, play a role in establishing basic themes in this image. The color black nearly permeates the entire image, with large portions of the image totally black. The exceptions are the center, which has a large red shape right in the middle, and on the bottom, where some words are highlighted. The connotations of black and red play a role in projecting meaning on this image: red obviously has a connotation of passion, feistiness, and strong emotion. Black shares the same concepts related to darkness- coldness, unfriendliness, and uncertainty. By using these two colors and no others, Phillips can set the theme of the image as a juxtaposition between coldness and passion, between unfriendliness and outpouring emotion. In this image, color itself, and Phillips’ choice to not use other colors such as blues, greens, and yellows, and oranges, lays out the first stepping stone toward understanding this image.


The black in the image forms no shape- it merely covers most of the image. The color is, however, shaped around the color red. Red is prominently displayed in the middle, in the form of a misshapen heart. The shape is imperfect, with bumps, lurches and valleys in the shaping of the heart. The black hugs the red shape, although the black also has bumps, lurches and valleys, almost fully encasing the red heart in black. The heart, coupled with its color, could refer to the concept of love in this image, while the heart’s imperfections refer to the flawed nature of love. The surrounding color of black can be interpreted in different ways. Black surrounding a red heart could symbolize passion and love stifled by negativity, coldness and unfriendliness. It could also symbolize a confinement of passion.


The words, both in the heart shape and on the bottom of the image, use the color’s connotations and the orientation of the shapes to further express his caution against distancing oneself from emotions. The words on the bottom, if read in a line from left to right and top to bottom, state, “As to your enclosure, a heart of stone, alarming.” The phrase “as to your enclosure,” if read as a part of this image, can refer to the real “enclosure” formed by the black mass around the red shape. Going further, the image is addressed toward an unnamed entity, as shown by the use of the word “your.” The connection of the “enclosure” to the entity being addressed would also connect the entity to the blackness of this image, along with all of its connotations, since the enclosure is implied to be the entity’s. This would mean that the entity is linked to the themes of coldness and unfriendliness associated with the color black. Phillips’ use of the words “a heart of stone” is very interesting. In regular language, “a heart of stone” is a term used in association with a person who is unfeeling, uncaring, or emotionally distant. Phillips paints an image of a misshapen heart being cradled by an enclosure of dark tendrils. This image is directly linked to the two sets of phrases: “a heart of stone” is surrounded by an enclosure of darkness. If this image as representative of a person, then the blackness represents a cold, and unwelcoming person cradling a “heart of stone.”


The second set of words, located directly inside the heart shape simply reads “lady play play,” or “play lady play,” depending on how it is read. The combination of the word “lady” and the repeated word “play” evokes the image of a carefree woman amusing herself. However, these words are placed inside the heart shape, and therefore are also surrounded by the black enclosure. This image can be tied to the theme of “heart of stone,” to a person who lightheartedly plays with the feelings of others. In association to the set of words below the heart, this makes perfect sense: the image is of a disfigured heart enclosed by darkness- imperfect love bound by negativity and coldness. The second image of a woman’s “play” tempered by darkness is consistent with the overall message of caution against lighthearted amusements at the expense of real emotional engagment.


The last word, at the bottom of the image is “alarming.” It, along with the rest of the words, is enclosed in “bubbles”. The word “alarming” itself, interestingly, is enclosed by a meandering strand of “bubble.” The winding strand of “bubble” could directly represent reluctance by the artist to address the entity, in a visual method. This reluctance is integral in the chastisement of the entity- it calls to mind a certain discomfort when addressing the entity, which is a necessary part of admonishing another. By visually creating the sense of reluctance, Phillips turns this image into a criticism.


Overall, in order to convey displeasure with the concept of emotional detachment from others and from events, Phillips visually illustrates an imperfect heart confined by darkness, picks two juxtaposing colors each fraught with meaning, and chooses succinct language that relates directly with the illustration, artfully arranged into different elements of the image. It is the language itself “As to your enclosure…a heart of stone…alarming,” that conveys the message of displeasure with emotional detachment and callousness. The arrangement of the words, coupled with the image of a heart enclosed in darkness only serves to reinforce the message of displeasure visually.

Pretty Lady said...
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Pretty Lady said...
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Pretty Lady said...

I pick Page 243

emily said...

page 159

On page 159 of Tom Phillip’s A Humument, Phillips creates an image that draws parallels between visual art and the written word as a form of artistic expression; he makes cohesive image that incorporates relevant text by using few colors, distinct lines and careful placement words.

The viewer’s eye is immediately drawn to the only color on the page, a large red block directly in the center. The wavy lines covering the expanse of the red part of the page are clearly meant to resemble lines of text; the viewer realizes at this point that these lines actually cover nearly the entire page. Upon closer inspection it becomes evident that the lines are drawn above typeface. These lines are also juxtaposed with the actual readable words written atop them. If the viewer does not begin to read the text on the red area, the next eye-grabbing component of the image is the large black scrawl at the very bottom of the page; this mark appears to almost resemble cursive handwriting, although an exact word is indiscernible. The last striking aspect of the image is the break between the block of white at the top of the page and the red rectangle in the middle; it is here that the viewer really begins to notice text, as this is what is causing the crack in the two colors. From here the viewer begins to read the words that are written all across the image, following the bold path the text takes as it squiggles down the page. Almost missed at the very bottom of the page is a small note in very small font.

The first few words in the image read “I dream with a pen balanced in my hand.” This statement is clearly metaphorical; rather than referencing actual sleep, the writer is using the word “dream” as a synonym for “imagine.” He here first begins to explain the idea that he expresses his creativity through writing; this is much like what artists do when they create artwork. The last words on the page tie into this idea as well; he writes, “I drew so many words.” A parallel is drawn between drawing and writing as he uses the two words interchangeably. This could also be read as a play on the word “drew;” in addition to meaning illustrating or sketching, it could mean to bring forth-perhaps a reference to the writer creating a physical manifestation of the thoughts he has inside his head. The fact that he chooses to incorporate so few words into this image leaves the art open to interpretation by the viewer.

The placement of the text on top of often parallels visually what the words say literally. First of all, the line written on top of the red piece of the page talks about a rose-clearly a flower of the same color as the backdrop. Also, just before the line breaks and begins to descend jaggedly down the page, the texts talks about “fragments of poetry;” the poems becomes literally this, fragmented. Not only are the words that follow fragments of sentences, but the arrangement of the words is dicey and fragmented. Placing the line “I drew so many words” at the bottom of his piece of artwork, Phillips essentially sums up the piece and closes the page; he ends the piece at the bottom by concluding his thoughts. The layering that Phillips creates in putting typeface under drawn words under legible font, he meshes the ideas of writing and art.

By creating a visual representation of the words, the Phillips furthers his idea that writing and creating visual art are very much similar. The text he chooses to include promote this theory; Phillips literally and with words creates a parallel between the two mediums.

Tzivia H said...

Page 244

On page 244 of Tom Phillips’ A Humunent, Phillips conveys to the reader an irrevocable connection between the natural and industrialized world, between the organic and artificial. Through industrial imagery, a dark, basic color scheme, simple shapes, and ironic writing, Phillips emphasizes society’s growing effect on the natural world. While man and modern society have not yet deteriorated nature’s beauty, Phillips notes with foreboding man’s growing influence on the natural world.

Upon initial inspection, the audience’s eyes are drawn immediately to the red structure, the central image in the piece. This structure, which consists of two half circles interrupted by a tall cylinder, is red in color, and the brightest image visually. The particular hue of red, rather than being crimson i.e., is very much an orange-red, and thus Phillips begins to draw parallels between his structure and a sunrise. The color serves as the first hint of this connection, as oranges are characteristic colors of sunrises. It is the formatting of the image itself that especially conveys this parallel. The structure resides behind a dark forest-green mass. In this manner, the red structure peeks out from hills, as if rising, representative of a sun. Nevertheless, Phillips’ structure does not immediately hearken to a sunrise based on its particular shape. Rather than simply creating a round, half-circle to represent a sunrise, Phillips uses two half-circles and a cylinder that closely resembles a rod and pistons; the half-circles represent the pistons, while the cylinder represent the rod. In this manner, Phillips leads the readers to the first connection between the natural and manmade world, through his rod and cylinder sunrise.

The other basic colors that surround the sunrise further attest to the natural setting of the image. The central red structure is behind a deep green, jagged image. The green mass hearkens to grassy hills, especially with the red structure rising behind it. Similarly, the blue that surrounds both the red and the green is used to a convey sky. The blue is a lighter hue near the red structure and gradually gets darker, merely providing more evidence that the red structure represents a sunrise, casting light on its near surroundings. The colors employed are basic: red, blue, and green and provide little variation in their hues or tones. This simplicity of color further adds to the simplicity of the image itself, which merely consists of simple shapes. Nevertheless, the colors are dark in hue and convey a somber, dispirited mood that ultimately provide a juxtaposition to the positive tone of his writing.

Phillips’ writing, located on the bottom of the page atop the grassy shape, very much provides a foil to the solemnity of the image. The writing is lyrical, even romantic in tone. He notes, “beauty,” “perfect,” “wonderful” which all attest to the idyllic, optimistic setting that is being described. However, such natural beauty is described in very much an industrial light. Phillips goes on to say that beauty in the natural world (represented by the sunrise) is a “ceaselessly sliding/ tower/ burnished piston/ -rising and falling,” a “huge cylinder,” a “measured/ rise and/ returning.” The connection is logical as the sun does rise and fall mechanically each day. However, beyond that, each description connects the natural world more further to the industrialized world. This idea is further cemented with the statement, “the perfect skill of man,” which denotes man’s impact within a naturalized setting. The structure of the writing itself becomes an integral part the image as the frequent separation of the lines conveys the rise and fall of machinery that Phillips described in his text. The word “wonderful” is also offset from the rest of the text, set in a smaller font size, and repeated twice. This greater emphasis on the word wonderful provides a sense of irony to the piece, that perhaps the impact of the industrial world on nature is not quite so positive as the writing would suggest.

The title of the piece, “A Human Document” further attests to the mass-experienced influence and impact of humans, in this case, man’s growing influence on nature. More apparent however, is the obscurity of the title behind the cylinder aspect of the red structure. The cylinder impedes the audience from fully reading the title, revealing only “A Humunant” if read together- the title of the entire book. The cylinder sunrise eclipsing the title adds to the connection between the human and natural world as it is a sunrise, a natural entity, blocking the word human. Thus, Phillips uses the title to draw further connections between these polar entities.

Phillips forges an image that emphasizes a connection between nature and the manmade world. His representation of the sunrise as rods and cylinders serves as the initial connection while the writing at the bottom of the page continues it, as he describes nature’s beauty through industrial imagery. His dually optimistic and reflective tone becomes ironic in the eyes of the industrial imagery and through his repetition of the word, “wonderful.” The solemnity of the color scheme also addresses the pervading foreboding of human interaction in the naturalized setting. Phillips establishes the influence of humans within nature through his image and suggests the negative of such through his use of ironic writing and dark colors. The cohesion between these elements conveys the unfortunate human features in a natural world.

Mario P. said...

Page 53

On page 53 of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillips conveys that true love can only be seen through the mind’s eye and can never be tangible, only imaginary. Phillips does this through his choice of diction that sets a dreamy tone, imagery that allows the reader to understand what is being said, and a symbol that runs through the poem helping the poet make his point.

Through diction Phillips makes the onlooker imagine themselves in a place in their minds, and make them feel as if they are in love. The first thing that catches the eye of any onlooker of page 53 is the exposed letters on top of the purple backdrop. Although there are grouped letters at certain parts of the image, the lone letters are the ones that attract the most attention; the letters are “S”, “U”, “Z”, “A”, “N”, “E”, and “V”. Arranged the way they are, the letters appear to form the name of a woman: Suzanne Neve. The remaining exposed letters form words which set a dreamy tone. Words such as “imagination,” “romance,” “new colours,” and especially “dreamland” give the reading the feeling of being in a place that isn’t real and is all imaginary. The seemingly first line of the poem reading “waking dreamland” juxtaposes itself, suggesting the speaker of the poem is waking up in a dream. In “dreamland” the speaker can see windows. Wanting to continue the train of thought, the eye searches for the next collection of full words which leads the eye a little more than halfway down the page where the next section is located. In this section the speaker describes imagination turning into colors. This is interesting because here, in dreamland, you have something that cannot be seen, turning into something more tangible that can be seen as colors. The last collection of words is located near the bottom and simply reads “romances into realities.” Romances suggest the union of two things, in this case imagination, and the fact that it is turning “into reality” shows that there is an imaginary union being made in dreamland.

The imagery on page 53 is a strange one, filled with soft colors. Purple backdrop, with blues purples and pinks surrounded by a green and yellow border create the image of what seemingly is a stained glass window. This can be inferred simply through the words “windows”, “shiver to new colours.” When one imagines colorful windows, one immediately imagines a stained glass window, which is what can be seen in the image. Even the exposed letters are arranged in a way that embodies the imagery of the poem. The “shape of the long imagination” “shivers” is seen in the letters that are used to form the name Suzanne Neve. The shape surrounding the letters is long, skinny, and shaking, almost looking like a snake shivering. The colors themselves are dreamy, and help accentuate the dreamy tone of the poem. The striking purple of the image drowns the onlooker into a state of peace and imagination; the pink engulfs the onlooker into a soft and loving manner. These together help the reader imagine love in dreamland.

There is more than the poem itself suggests, when combined the image and the poem expose a symbol. The speaker wakes in dreamland and sees a stained glass window, and through it sees their imagination uniting with reality and sees his love there, Suzanne. Even though his “romances” are now “realities” he is still separated by the stained glass window. His imagination is still unattainable, and cannot be reached by the speaker. Even in dreamland, true love in cannot be achieved. The stained glass window is a symbol of separation of imagination and reality. The speaker can see his love, but it is skewed; the colors alter it, and make the love more romanticized that it actually is. The speaker cannot see clearly, but also cannot feel or touch it; it is beyond the speaker’s means.
Love is something that is desired by all, it is a basic human need. On page 53 of A Humunet Phillip’s conveys that love is ultimately unattainable through use of clever diction, and brilliant imagery. The tale of a man waking in a dream to see their love become a reality, but still being separated by a stained glass window is a symbol of how man will never be able to achieve true love, because it will never be clear, but always skewed and romanticized.

sodaba said...

Page 27
On page 27 of Tom Phillips’ Humument, Phillips conveys the incomplete feeling one has when he/she is separated from a lover. The missing parts of the picture and the words in the fragmentary poem illustrate the dents a person has in their memories about another’s identity or the love they feel for another.
The first thing that one can notice, when looking at the visual, is the censored eyes of the man in the picture. Usually, that is done to hide the identity of a person, and in the poem it can be presumed that the man’s identity has been forgotten. This could be, because it is an “ancient English lover”, suggesting that there hasn’t been contact between the lovers, and they have lost the ability to understand each other. The cut out pieces of words indicate the man’s incomplete thoughts about the lover. When looking at the pictures of his lover, a certain part of the man feels “rigid”. He is perhaps trying to forget about his lover but the picture in his pocket has a lot of meaning for him and will not let him forget, although the picture isn’t so clear. The lover is among his “companions of the grape”, but still feels the need to take out a picture of his lover and reminisce over their times together.
The scattered parts of the lines of words represent the scattered thoughts the speaker has, about his lover, and the emotions he has running through him. The simple diction in those scattered lines helps the reader understand those thoughts and feeling. The lover is obviously feeling alone and therefore recalls his lover, but the certain part of him that is “rigid” feels otherwise. Since the lover is not with his lover, he wants to get rid of any thoughts he has of his “ancient lover”. This can also take you back to the eyes in the visual. They eyes could possibly be hidden to show that the lover is trying to hide them, to conceal his own feelings. Eyes can say a lot about a person’s feelings, n the lover wants cover up any feelings he thinks his lover might have for him.
The fact that the poem has no title gives the reader a greater chance to focus on the visual and figure out the poem on their own terms and perceive it differently and give it their own meaning. The author chooses “the lover” as the words to describe the speaker’s subject; the love could be anyone so that is why the poem is simply titled “A Human Document” and does not have a specific title.

Pretty Lady said...

Page 243

On page 243 of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips intricately demonstrates that although one might feel entrapped by isolation, if the desire for acceptance is strong enough, then help will be found. Using the solemn basic colors, black and white, five designs, and few words Phillips creates a contrast between the difficultly of being lost and finding a way. By utilizing two colors, two phrases, and two different shapes Phillips draws attention to the innocent and helpless white designs which stand out in the vast darkness of the black background.

At first glance, the audience would notice the four jagged white lines coming from the top, bottom, and sides of the picture which appear to be slowly moving towards the center where the white rectangle rests. The usage of only two colors produces a contrast between good and evil and between being in a multitude and being in seclusion. The black signifies the dark, ominous world the character lives in, as well as isolation, darkness, and confusion faced by the character of the picture (the white shapes and designs), while the white represents light, happiness, and innocence. Because black is the only color that absorbs all colors, and white is the only color that reflects all colors, the white rectangle in the middle is representative of an innocent and high spirited character being lost in the immense oppressive world of black darkness. The jagged lines are the attempt of hope finding and rescuing the solemn character in the center. Phillips' use of completely opposite colors create the idea of separation between the good (the white rectangle) and the bad (the black background), and the effort to pull away from the darkness (jagged lines forming towards the rectangle). Through the use of colors Phillips suggests that being more than just a single body is important, because it creates unity between the various characters and most significantly, the unity between the white characters rejects darkness and keeps isolation away.

Within every shape in the picture, Phillips incorporates phrases and part of a word. In the biggest shape, the rectangle, Phillips writes, "take a new turn. back to reason" and within the jagged lines the three letters t, o, and m are always used in that order. The phrases used in the rectangle symbolically encourage the character to find a way out of the darkness; to live differently, better-off, than it is currently living. The "back to reason" phrase pushes the character to be logical and not live in gloominess or secluded from help. The jagged lines, which are similar to the outlines of rivers, stand for the help that comes when one wants to be released from isolation. Because the rectangle wants to be freed from its seclusion and encourages itself to find a new path, the rivers thrusts itself towards the rectangle, pushing through the darkness and confusion of the blackness. The letters in the jagged lines represent the first three letters of the word “tomorrow,” and can be seen as the rectangle’s thoughts. Even though the rectangle is lost in the dark sea, its optimism to find a new, reasonable path drives the rectangle to go on another day; go on to another tomorrow. Eventually, when the rivers meet at the center, the shape of a cross will form.

With this, Phillips suggests that faith is the only way to go when it seems as though there is no other answer or option. Inevitably, the character cannot escape the blackness, or the evil world, but she can find hope and encouragement and not be so alone or isolated from the world.

Vanessa G. said...

Page 186

On page 186 of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips creates a contrasting, short poem between the ability of “clairvoyance” and looking forward to a melancholy day ahead. Phillips utilizes imagery, irony, and intricate diction to portray the theme of the poem. He suggests that those who possess the aptitude of clairvoyance (the literal supernatural power to see things that normal people wouldn’t be able to with their given senses) are rare to find and how much easier it is to be more pessimistic, only seeing what everyone else can.

Tom Phillips uses simple imagery to further stress his point on the rarity of people with clairvoyance. In the first half of his painting, Phillips creates a splotch of words with the borders spreading in different directions. The speaker states, “Amplify your/ unhappy/ to-morrow”. In the spreading of the edges of this line, he demonstrates how the feeling of pessimism can be magnified and unknowingly sought out by almost everyone in the world. Also, the meaning can be interpreted as to look beyond the sorrows and the unhappiness that tomorrow may bring, which the speaker expresses by having the border of the lines stretching out. But, at the bottom corner of the painting, the speaker states, “clairvoyance”. This word is put alone, in isolation away from the rest of the poem, and it is also incomplete in thought. It is possible that Phillips purposely isolated the word or also that it was just coincidentally in this location. Not only does Phillips seclude “clairvoyance”, but it is perfectly boxed in, with its rectangular shape. Another interpretation of his use of imagery is how he purposely surrounds the poetry in black color. Not only that, but the lines of the poetry are in white, making it quite legible and visible to the eye. His use of black represents total darkness and the clear or white color of the actual writing in the poetry represents the light. People of the norm are not equipped with the ability to see through darkness, which creates an unpleasant feeling. Hence, the speaker states, “Amplify your/ unhappy/ to-morrow”. The speaker describes the future as unhappy, which relates to Phillips' use of black color to envelope the eyes of the beholder. Society, at some point of their life, will experience pessimistic anxiety for what lies ahead and not knowing makes it even worse. These melancholy views of the future reason with Phillips use of blindness through darkness in color. Spreading the edges suggests to look beyond what is usually given to a person, beyond the darkness.

Phillips' utilization of irony would seem rather questionable by the reader because one would rather seek the optimistic point of view of what holds tomorrow rather than what may or may not happen. Pessimistic human anxiety is a part of mankind that is so inevitable, which is why instead of discouraging the negativity in the future, he encourages it. But, out of random, the speaker includes “clairvoyance” which force the first half of the poem into a state of contrast. This term is supposed to demonstrate a rare power in which one can see what others can't with their normal senses. But, possessing this ability can enable one to see the optimism in the present and future. This is also emphasized with his use of isolation of the word—towards the bottom left corner. Here, his two ideas are those that only see the the negativity in which everyone else is capable of seeing while the other is looking beyond that, possibly the positivity in tomorrow.

Finally, Phillips applies intricate diction in his poem to help portray, literally, the theme of his poem. His use of sarcastic diction makes the poem more intriguing and thought provoking. The speaker of the poem is addressing his message to almost everyone on Earth because he refers to his subject in second point of view when he states, “your/ unhappy/ to-morrow”. Since this poem relates to normal society, it is only appropriate that he uses second point of view. The speaker also uses exaggerated terms such as “amplify” and “clairvoyance”. Amplifying an object or in this case, an emotion, is increasing its size dramatically. But, since that first half of the poem seems to be spreading in all directions of the painting, it is only right to assume that it could spread to clairvoyance. He is probably trying to send out a message that people should seek a way out of the normal, everyday feeling of pessimism to opening up and enlarging the ability to see the brighter side of things—which most others cannot.

Tom Phillips' theme is implied in the poem with his use of exaggerated diction, dark imagery, and irony. His message to society is that clairvoyance is possible to possess if people can only see outside of their negative ideas of tomorrow, though he seems to encourage it—only because society makes it so inevitable since most people think similarly. But, his message reaches a point where the surrounding edges of the lines is making its way to clairvoyance.

Michaela I. said...

On page 136 of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips questions love’s supposed complexity and significance through his use of wordplay and a visual metaphor. In order to enhance the clarity of his message he strategically uses dynamic, contrasting colors that emphasize important aspects of his illustration. These elements combine to create a general message about questioning established assumptions.

Phillips uses a pun as the foundation of the page’s message. From this word play, the visual metaphor is developed. The word play deals with the word “love-match” which has a dual meaning in the context of the page. Normally one would interpret “love-match to mean a romantic compatibility between two persons. According to Phillips’s illustration, the word “love-match” is metaphorically depicted as actual lighted matches. This play on words allows the reader to draw parallels between the nature of a simple, tangible object, the match, and the nature of complex and abstract concept, love. The unusual nature of the wordplay further reflects the idea of questioning established assumptions. The initial, accepted interpretation of the word “love-match” is completely disregarded and an unusual interpretation is used instead. Also, wordplay can be seen as rather humorous literary technique. Humor lessens the seriousness of the subject, in this case love, therefore Phillips questions the assumed seriousness or significance of love. Overall, the word play introduces the basic theme of the page while supporting the other elements of the argument.

Arguably the most apparent feature of the page is the visual metaphor. The illustration of matches on the page symbolically reflects the idea of love discussed in the text. This metaphor is multifaceted and therefore serves several purposes. Again, the greater theme of the page is concerns comparing the tangible with the abstract, the simple with the complex. Matches are rather insignificant, discardable objects that eventually burn out. This suggests that love eventually will “burn out” as well and that love is also insignificant. Matches are simple objects too, insinuating that perhaps love is not as complex as assumed. It is clear that the matches symbolize love not only by the clear play on words but by less obvious visual elements. More specifically love’s unifying nature is exemplified through the illustration therefore allowing the viewer to conclude that the matches symbolize the nature of love. Generally, that fact that the illustration directly reflects the text gives the page a coherent and unified quality. The illustration represents the exactly what the text is describing, allowing the message of unification and parallelism to be clearly presented and emphasized. This theme of unification is also seen in the placement of the matches. The two matches are parallel to each other with significant distance between them. This was done in order to stress the disunity or solitary nature of two persons before they experience love. The smoke rises from both matches and begins to merge at the top of the page, symbolizing the unification that love induces. Since smoke has a flowing and unifying quality it is an ideal symbol for love. Visually, the viewer is able to see the comparison between love and the matches which makes the message clearer and more effective.

The colors in the illustration strategically direct the viewer’s attention to specific aspects of the picture. This puts emphasis on the message presented on the page. Phillips chooses to use the dynamic colors, orange and yellow, in order to direct attention to the rising smoke (or perhaps flames) produced by the matches. The vibrant colors against the pale green background draw the viewer’s attention to aspects of the illustration that symbolize aspects of the nature of love. The colors simply emphasize the comparison and make it more apparent to the viewer.

Perhaps by choosing such a metaphor, Phillips is trying to say that love is not as important as society makes it out to be. Love is obviously held in high esteem and seen as complex and would rarely be compared to tangible objects as trivial and simple as matches. The comparison is humorous and quite extreme which suggests that Phillips was trying to portray a radical message. Looking past love, perhaps Phillips is using this specific metaphor to draw attention to a broader idea. He could be suggesting the importance of questioning established thought. The techniques that he utilized on this page effectively suggest this message.

CarlaC said...

Carla Castillo
Mr. Gallagher
Period 2

Pg.307

Through out history the heart has been known as the one vital organ that allows a human being, animal, or any other creature to live. Though in literature the heart is not always considered just an organ, or a piece of the puzzle called the human body. The heart in literature is portrayed as the object that holds all honesty, desire, and wisdom. If Romeo had never followed his heart, and gave up all he had to be with his true love Juliet, one of the greatest love stories ever to be written would have had no meaning at all. In page 307 of a Humument by Tom Phillips by the use of dark colors, simple structure, and the use of spacing, Tom Phillips displays to his audience that people often destroy their own hearts by refusing to listen them.

In the poem of Phillips piece he writes “play, lady play, As to your enclosure, a heart of stone, alarming”. (Phillips-A Humument, Pg.307) In that small line Phillips is able to communicate so much to the reader. When he says “play, lady play” he is talking about a game, a game of the heart. Often people misunderstand attraction, and temporary distraction for true love or happiness. When in fact it is one of the loneliest ways to lead a life. Then Phillips says “As to your enclosure, a heart of stone, Alarming” what he wants the reader to comprehend is that from isolating a persons true wants and needs; they turn their hearts into “stone” a thing that has no emotion, desire, or life.



The painting aspect of his piece fits his poem perfectly; he creates this image of a battered heart, attempting to break through this darkness and emptiness that surrounds it. His painting is quite simple at first glance, only three colors are used black, red, and tan. By having only those three colors it allows him to have a very simple structure to it, there is no intricate design, just a simple tattered heart in a black space. It really gives his poem this eerie and incredibly isolated vibe. The isolation of the heart shows its vital importance, and how it alone allows you to live. By looking at his painting there is a clear struggle the heart is trying to over come. It almost appears to be trembling all along its side from the pain of trying to break through the seclusion and oppression it has felt. It is almost as if this organ is the soul of the person it belongs to.

By combing those powerful words, and image he shocks his audience with the struggle and pain a heart undergoes because of the neglect of its owner. A human heart stores all of its desires and by ignoring its calls, slowly but surely the heart cant decide what it really wants anymore. For example in the Great Gatsby Daisy and Gatsby were so madly in love with each other but by letting social class get in the way they chose to ignore what their hearts truly wanted so when they decided they wanted to try and get things right between them again it was already to late because they had ignored their hearts original impulses and were never able to completely retrieve them again.

In page 307 of a Humument by Tom Phillips by the use of dark colors, simple structure, and the use of spacing, Tom Phillips displays to his audience that people often destroy their own hearts by refusing to listen them. He does this visually with the image of an isolated heart in a black background attempting to break through its confines to get to its desires, and by his poem which translates to a person playing games and ignoring their heart, and as a result of this ultimately turns their heart to stone. Phillips truly was able to prove this to his audience the eeriness of his picture really seeps deep in to the readers memory which they are sure to not forget.