The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

unwittingly felt

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Laura K. Moran, pictured above, seems to be frozen in place despite the fact that she’s moving at a pretty good clip as evinced by the bow wake she’s kicking up. What’s happening is an interesting visual trick, something which I was clued into back in my comics artist days by the legend who was Will Eisner.

Eisner was a master thinker of visual storytelling, and knew every trick in the book, it was honor to be in the same room with him.

One of his imparted aphorisms was that if something was intended to describe speed, it needed to “follow the eye”.

from wikipedia

William Erwin “Will” Eisner (March 6, 1917 – January 3, 2005) was an American comic writer, artist and entrepreneur. He is considered one of the most important contributors to the development of the medium and is known for the cartooning studio he founded; for his highly influential series The Spirit; for his use of comics as an instructional medium; for his leading role in establishing the graphic novel as a form of literature with his book A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories.

The comics community paid tribute to Eisner by creating the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, more commonly known as “the Eisners”, to recognize achievements each year in the comics medium. Eisner enthusiastically participated in the awards ceremony, congratulating each recipient. In 1987, with Carl Barks and Jack Kirby, he was one of the three inaugural inductees of the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Justine McAllister, also moving “to the left” in the shot above similarly seems frozen, although she too is moving at a high rate of speed.

Here’s why.

For those of us who learned to read in a “left to right” pattern, our brains are wired to perceive anything moving in the inverse direction as either slowed down or as being in a static pose. In comic books, you’ll notice that Superman (for example) seems to be moving faster if he leaves the panel or frame to the right.

Televised sports coverage places the camera to the left of the action, which makes it appear that the fastball pitch is really moving. Those whose language training occurred in a right to left system have the opposite perception- for instance those who read the Japanese language natively would see these tugs as speeding along.

from wikipedia

Scripts are also graphically characterized by the direction in which they are written. Egyptian hieroglyphs were written either left to right or right to left, with the animal and human glyphs turned to face the beginning of the line. The early alphabet could be written in multiple directions,[10] horizontally (left-to-right or right-to-left) or vertically (up or down). It was commonly written boustrophedonically: starting in one (horizontal) direction, then turning at the end of the line and reversing direction.

The Greek alphabet and its successors settled on a left-to-right pattern, from the top to the bottom of the page. Other scripts, such as Arabic and Hebrew, came to be written right-to-left. Scripts that incorporate Chinese characters have traditionally been written vertically (top-to-bottom), from the right to the left of the page, but nowadays are frequently written left-to-right, top-to-bottom, due to Western influence, a growing need to accommodate terms in the Latin script, and technical limitations in popular electronic document formats. The Uighur alphabet and its descendants are unique in being written top-to-bottom, left-to-right; this direction originated from an ancestral Semitic direction by rotating the page 90° counter-clockwise to conform to the appearance of vertical Chinese writing. Several scripts used in the Philippines and Indonesia, such as Hanunó’o, are traditionally written with lines moving away from the writer, from bottom to top, but are read horizontally left to right.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Maurania 3, also presented as an example, is standing still in the shot above- yet appears to be sauntering along the Hudson River (despite the visual indication of the bow wake). Not to get all Oliver Sachs here, but this visual language has always fascinated me. Sachs makes a cogent argument that whereas there is a certain chromatic frequency which is something which we can all agree on as being the color red, each individual perceives their own interpretation of the color based on brain wiring and cultural training. This is something very interesting to me.

This highly technical and quite neurological Maritime Sunday edition of the Newtown Pentacle will now be exiting the frame to the right.

Big announcements this week- more walking tours and other ways for your humble narrator to annoy you in person are coming.

from wikipedia

Oliver Wolf Sacks, CBE (born 9 July 1933, London, England), is a British biologist, neurologist, writer, and amateur chemist who has spent the major portion of his career in the United States. He lives in New York City, and was professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University and held the position of “Columbia Artist”. He previously spent many years on the clinical faculty of Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In September, 2012, Dr. Sacks was appointed clinical professor of neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center, with support from The Gatsby Charitable Foundation. He is also holds the position of visiting professor at the UK’s University of Warwick.

Sacks is the author of numerous bestselling books, including several collections of case studies of people with neurological disorders. His 1973 book Awakenings was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film of the same name in 1990 starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. He, and his book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, were the subject of “Musical Minds”, an episode of the PBS series Nova.

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