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Cartoon Physics, Part 1

In-depth analysis of the poem "Cartoon Physics, Part I" by Nick Flynn
by

Mark Kissinger

on 5 October 2012

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Transcript of Cartoon Physics, Part 1

Cartoon Physics, Part I By Mark Kissinger Reading of Poem •Born 1960, South Boston

•Rough experiences growing up

•Many family issues

•"Detached" attitude Biography Children under, say, ten, shouldn't know
that the universe is ever-expanding,
inexorably pushing into the vacuum, galaxies

swallowed by galaxies, whole

solar systems collapsing, all of it
acted out in silence. At ten we are still learning

the rules of cartoon animation,

that if a man draws a door on a rock
only he can pass through it.
Anyone else who tries

will crash into the rock. Analysis (pt. 1) She knows

the exact spot it will skid, at which point
the bridge will give, who will swim to safety
& who will be pulled under by sharks. She will learn

that if a man runs off the edge of a cliff
he will not fall

until he notices his mistake. Analysis (pt. 3) Tone -
• Starts out cynical, condescending
• Shift - very endearing, upbeat & funny

Structure -
•Regular free verse (short stanzas), but...
•ENJAMBMENT
Breaks at natural pauses
Child's thought structure
Future events - indicates shift in tone Tone & Structure Children under, say, ten, shouldn't know
that the universe is ever-expanding,
inexorably pushing into the vacuum, galaxies

swallowed by galaxies, whole

solar systems collapsing, all of it
acted out in silence. At ten we are still learning

the rules of cartoon animation,

that if a man draws a door on a rock
only he can pass through it.
Anyone else who tries

will crash into the rock. Ten-year-olds
should stick with burning houses, car wrecks,
ships going down -- earthbound, tangible

disasters, arenas

where they can be heroes. You can run
back into a burning house, sinking ships

have lifeboats, the trucks will come
with their ladders, if you jump

you will be saved. A child

places her hand on the roof of a schoolbus,
& drives across a city of sand. She knows

the exact spot it will skid, at which point
the bridge will give, who will swim to safety
& who will be pulled under by sharks. She will learn

that if a man runs off the edge of a cliff
he will not fall

until he notices his mistake. Sources (pictures, text) http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/758

http://iheartwallstreet.com/2011/03/15/brokerus-stockus-wile-e-coyote/

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1086.html

http://daedelus.typepad.com/blog/2011/06/the-roadrunner-project.html

http://superpunch.blogspot.com/2010/09/september-art-contest-calvin-and-hobbes.html

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/nick-flynn

http://www.saharamet.com/desert/photos/photos.html Analysis (pt. 2) Ten-year-olds
should stick with burning houses, car wrecks,
ships going down -- earthbound, tangible

disasters, arenas

where they can be heroes. You can run
back into a burning house, sinking ships

have lifeboats, the trucks will come
with their ladders, if you jump

you will be saved. A child

places her hand on the roof of a schoolbus,
& drives across a city of sand. Analysis pt. 1 - kids can't comprehend the vastness of the universe or how small we really are in the grand scheme of things. All we know at that age comes from TV + childish naïvety; allusions to old Hanna-Barbera cartoons so it can be nostalgic, personification of space shows how big the universe is

Analysis pt. 2 - children are always optimistic and think it will work out. Adults have lost that by the time they have grown up, so we need children around to believe in miracles. They genuinely believe they can do anything; visual imagery shows children's power, diction is very simple, avoiding the complications we always pile on

Analysis pt. 3 - taking it a step further and saying not only what's possible but also what will actually happen because of that positivity. Last line says mistakes only matter and you only fail if you give up and turn back; direct allusion to old cartoons with the last line, and the situational irony comes full circle here: we discredit children so much for being "uninformed" that we overlook the fact that they have an important skill we lost long ago

endearing tone - "Where did your imagination go?"

choppy lines - line breaks any time something is about to happen in the future

new stanzas generally have new tones Notes
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