Read with Eyes, Feel with Heart

It was difficult to decide which pages to trace as I did not know what I should be looking for. Therefore, I marked three to four pages in each book that I found somehow unusual and interesting and read them carefully. I quickly decided the page for Spinning, in which a complete picture was intentionally divided into three panels, but I failed to find a similar one in Stitches. Albeit far from being able to articulate the special features in them, I eventually made my choices simply because of the special feelings I had when looking at these pages. As I would find out later, this selection process contributed to the development of my thesis that these two pages serve to let readers not read but feel the stories and also the title, “Read with Eyes, Feel with Heart“.

They are in fact observations at different times from different perspectives.

Despite previous careful examination, tracing definitely helped me figure out how both authors managed to confuse and overwhelm their readers and create feelings so that they could empathize with the protagonists through “choice of frame”. The comics’ “all-at-onceness” was in effect as well, as I tried to make visual connections between panels only to realize, after tracing them, that they were similar but depicted from different angles. As for the page from Spinning, before I traced it, I thought the three overlapping figures on the right of the page were observations at different times of a continuous movement, but from a fixed perspective. However, when I tried to imagine the movement in my head while tracing it, the sizes and distances of these figures did not match. Then I concluded that they were in fact observations at different times from different perspectives. The tracing process forced me to experience the uncomfortable feelings the authors designed for these pages and identify the reason behind at the end.

The inductive way of writing was hard at the beginning, like forcing a right-handed person to write with the left hand. I could not help but try to look for evidence to support my thesis. But what was my thesis? I had no idea at that time. With a vague idea about perspective in mind, I decided to analyze the two pages separately first. This approach turned out to be fruitful, as I soon identified the direction I should follow. Furthermore, the inductive way of writing shortened my time to write because I did not first commit to one thesis and then struggle to find evidence. And with all the evidence ready, there would be more room to develop interesting arguments.

StitchesThe biggest takeaway from this assignment is how versatile the comics is to influence readers. As Chute states in her book, Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere, “the comics gestures conspicuously to the reader’s active and involved reading”. Authors can use words, visuals, panels, and so forth to put their readers in the protagonists’ shoes. These elements work altogether to affect the readers, often unconsciously, through the special feelings they create. With the dizziness in mind, it becomes understandable that David runs away from school, break laws, and waste electricity just to annoy his parents. Tillie does not appear demanding when she is angry with her mother’s indifference after I have experienced the tough test with her. Appealing to emotion is more powerful than mere repetition to make the readers understand and accept the authors’ messages.


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Vase? Rose? Vase Rose?

Vase RoseThis is an easy assignment in the way that there are so many things you can combine together. On the other hand, this is not easy at all since most of the obvious ideas have been exploited by others. There was no methodology I employed to come up with this idea. I just sat in front of my desk, served myself with some yogurt, and let my thought flow. I had thought about the window, earphone, ceiling fan, and dragonfly before a pink rose came into my mind – there was absolutely no connection between them. The closest thing to a rose was probably the strawberry in my yogurt. And then I thought, “A rose. A rose in a vase. What about a vase in a rose?”

I had some experience with Photoshop so did not encounter many troubles to realize my idea. Although the modification was not just cropping and putting them together, the backgrounds of the original photos were simple, making it convenient for me to edit.

In the hindsight, it is counter-intuition that makes this photo interesting, as my intuition led me to the vase when I saw the rose. The way that my brain usually works helps me eliminate “abnormal” and thus “useless” information, in which creative and interesting ideas may hide.


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Sketch 4: Combophoto

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Visual Note Taking

Sketch 3
Visual Note for Strategic Management: Porter’s Five Forces

It is the hardest assignment so far in this course. Different from the last sketch in which I struggled with coming up an idea, this time I found the perfect topic – Porter’s Five Forces – as soon as I learned it in the Strategic Management class. Developed by Dr. Porter at Harvard Business School, Porter’s Five Forces is a framework widely utilized to examine the industry and help people understand the market forces that shape the landscape. I naturally took a visual approach to learn the concept and thought Porter’s Five Forces would be a great topic for this visual note-taking assignment.

I employed an analogy to better illustrate the concept. The beauty stands for a customer demanding the best product in the market, representing the power of customers. Knights fighting for the love of the beauty stand for companies fighting for the customer’s money, representing the competition in the industry. The blacksmith stands for a supplier selling armors and weapons to the knights, representing the power of suppliers. The knight away from the fight stands for a potential new competitor, representing the potential of new entrants. Finally, the rich man persuading the beauty to give a higher priority to money than physical strength stands for substitutes that can also meet the customers’ needs, representing the threat of substitutes. Altogether, these five forces determine the profitability and future of an industry.

The hardest part is to put my thoughts on paper because I am not artistic at all. I had not done any drawings since high school, and this was my first time drawing on an iPad, even though I bought my Apple Pencil a long time ago. At first, I just wanted to use some symbols and icons and complete the assignment. However, after seeing Sulaiman’s and Joyce’s works, I decided to push myself and actually draw something. It was very frustrating at the beginning as I had no sense of scale and curvature and failed several times. Then I decided to google some examples and learned from them. At last, I managed to depict my own characters and complete my visual note for Porter’s Five Forces.

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Reflection: Literacy Narrative, Part 1

In my narrative, “Visualization, Imagination, and Immersive Experience”, I come to the conclusion that my language learning experience and my personality have led me to read and write with visualization and imagination. They bring me immersive reading and writing experiences from which I derive a lot of enjoyment.

Reading and writing are so common in the daily life that I was not aware of the typical way I read and write until I reflected upon my past experiences. Therefore, the pre-writing before I read and thought about the prompt was a crucial step. It helped me identify patterns, develop my thesis, and support my arguments with my own experiences. The way I write also manifested itself during the process – “I would first think of a scene as detailed as possible and turned it into words.” In pre-writing, I elaborated on three scenes that went as specific as “Through the leaves and branches, the late summer sunlight came from the windows on my left, leaving light spots on my favorite book, Stories of the Romans.” Visualization and imagination are pivotal elements of my reading and writing habits. Even now when I am writing this reflection post, I have the pictures of me in my head sitting in a booth and drafting my essay.

With the materials in hand, I started to work on the literacy narrative. I identified my language learning experience in my childhood and my introversion to be the most influential factors. The structure, however, was a little bit complex. Not only did I have two factors to discuss, but I also had two subjects – the way I read and the way I write – to analyze. Furthermore, the two factors seemed to shape my reading and writing habits in different periods of my life, of which I was not aware at the beginning. I felt weird reading my first draft and resorted to a writing tutor. The tutor also found the structure complicated and suggested drawing it out on paper. As I pointed out in my essay, visuals helped me think and communicate. I drew a graph that divided my essays into six parts, and we discussed and moved around those blocks to make the logic flow smoothly. And it worked pretty well.

Using Dan Roam’s terminology, I am a visual thinker, yet just a “Yellow Pen”. I employ visuals and imagination to process the information, like reading or writing, but I am far far away from an artist. As a result, I depend heavily on words even when I am making a graph or illustration. I really enjoy the class readings so far and look forward to the following assignments that require more visuals and creativity.

My Avatar


My avatar is a combination of the bat symbol and Gotham’s silhouette, resembling a searchlight that shines into the dark sky. Batman has been one of my favorite superheroes since my childhood. After I grew up, I found the philosophical meanings behind the stories very interesting. They pose serious questions on human nature and the concept of justice.

Despite the multi-universe setting of the Batman series, the character of Batman always has multiple facets – a crazy rich, blithe playboy during daylight, an invincible superhero ruthless to villains, but also a soft and melancholy soul due to his traumatic childhood. Like most kids, I was first fascinated by his physical prowess and his dedication to justice. Being one of the few superheroes that do not have inherent superhuman powers further excited my admiration. Back then, Batman was perfect in my mind. However, with the timeline of Batman’s life rolling out through various productions, such as comics, films, and video games, Batman became less a hero or an idol to me, but more a concrete human being. As my age grew, I started to understand and empathize with the conflicts inside him. These conflicts are the philosophical questions that people have been trying to answer for thousands of years – about family, society, justice, and the best approach to it.

The combination of the bat symbol and Gotham’s silhouette reflects a philosophical thought I hold – the world is about balance. Gotham was founded to buttress more wealth and supposedly a better life, but too much wealth eventually led to corruptions and crimes. Excessive evil then contributed to the emergence of Batman (Bruce Wayne created the Batman persona and committed to justice after he witnessed the murder of his parents.) and his allies like James Gordon to balance out itself. On the other hand, the superior power of Batman was more than enough for mobs and corrupted police, resulting in the appearance of super-villains like the Joker and Mr. Bloom. These super-villains do not focus on material benefits but commit crimes because of their pessimism towards human nature, the antithesis of Batman’s belief in good humanity and justice. Batman and the Gotham City shaped each other and cannot be separated. As said by an ancient Chinese philosopher, harmony, or a more modern word, sustainability, is the balance point between good and evil. 

“Where there is darkness, light.”


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