Adih Respati's Reviews > Cikibawawaw: Kumpulan Cerita Nggak Penting

Cikibawawaw by Adiputra Singgih
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's review
May 13, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 01-picturebook
Read in May, 2009

Reconsidering Cikibawawaw

Cikibawawaw claims to be a collection of picture-stories of no importance. I beg the opposite. I’ll try to make my case one argument at a time.

Psychologist Noam Chomsky proposed a set of structures that construct a language: surface structure (deals with grammar and syntax; minimizing the ambiguity of message delivered) and deep structure (pragmatism, to manage how the message on delivery is intended to be responded; it deals with the transfer of meaning). If I want to express hunger (deep structure), I would say “I am hungry” (surface). This, I suspect, applies to all forms of languages; sign languages included; and the same, I again suspect, goes with visual communication. I’m quite sure that its surface are forms, shapes, shades, lines, etc; and its deep is/are also the intended message. On the surface, Cikibawawaw is undeniably neat all -- lines, shapes, colors-- looks articulate, if not perfect; almost all in good proportions. This, readers would agree. But on its deep is where I think its creative triumph really is, but what is its deep structure --its intended message?

Anyone would spontaneously dubbed Cikibawawaw a creative product, and they’d be right. But note that creativity is largely defined as an act of making something new and useful. Since the author himself has dismissed the importance of the stories he composed, its creative status is skating on thin ice. It is either he is being modest, or just plain wrong.

Experimental psychology found that when creativity occurs, two common ideas that are unrelated at first, become related; its peculiarity is where the novelty taste comes from, and we love novelty. Our society unfairly high-praises people blessed with creative personalities. However, creativity is more of a learnable ability than personality. Thus, theories of grooming creativity have been proposed by numbers researchers, and its methods by self-help authors and trainers. Most of these exercises encourage brainstorming; and the most difficult thing about brainstorming, especially for untrained adults, is keeping oneself from prematurely censoring his/her own thoughts. The fresh, meaningful value of creative products depend on this temporarily overlooking all socially learned rules. This is, to borrow Chomsky’s perspective, where deep structure of a creative communication lies, where meanings --original ones-- are constructed. And this is where Cikibawawaw shines.

I dare not say from which element Cikibawawaw started; the words come first or the pictures do (I do not know the author that well). His ideas may come from the mental sound of the rhymes already buzzing in his head, and that mental speech song --the prosody-- gave birth to its words. However, the author being a visual communication practitioner, the whole thing could come from scattered images brought together --images upon images. Either way, it is the rhymes that send Cikibawawaw home; not because they’re perfect, but because they’re not. The story bears little significance, but the rhymes hide an immaculate richness. Each rhyming word needs not reality check. They are almost merely a continuous sequence, without any moment of hesitation. It is the linguistic version of Will Smith’s Men In Black dance; smooth and flowing.

More importantly, these rhymes reflect almost no inhibition along its production. No censorship --what comes out, comes out, and the author openly accepts. The stories are made as they go --real time-- as if almost without self-criticism (itself is a sort of self-kindness). That is brainstorming at its purest. Creativity in its most fun possible. Production in the fastest lane. As if the author breathes creativity. Cikibawawaw is Putra’s playground (in playground, you never think twice, you just run around until you find another thing fun to do. It’s his freedom land. That’s why Cikibawawaw is fun to follow. And fun, by the way, turned out to be the hidden message: its deep structure. So hidden, it is now probably Putra’s reflex (thus, probably why the price he put on his small book is ‘not important’), when in fact his very experience, is the envy of all authors, illustrators, composers, even leaders, and me included.

I mentioned that creative product must bear usefulness; and Cikibawawaw potentially does. I personally hope, if not suspect, that all sorts of creative items are contagious. In fact almost anything an individual does is contagious. Yawning, for one, is contagious. It was said that it is so because when one yawns, he/she exhales carbon dioxide, which then is inhaled by others and caused him/her yawn along. But the explanation turned out false. Yawning isn’t contagious to others, it is copied by others. Our mirror neurons make this possible. Everybody is equipped to yawn, and when we see someone contracts his/her jaw to the max, our mirror neuron recognizes and understands that person’s experience, and ignites the similar set of neurons the do the same, and we ourselves thus yawn along. It is the most primitive form of imitating behavior, and, later on, empathy.

At a more complex form, when we consume a creative product, our brains responded in a similar way with the neural process originated from the creator’s brain. Here where Cikibawawaw gets funky. When you read it, your brain mimics --little by little-- Putra’s way of thinking. Since the stories almost bear no significance, what emerges is the liberating rhymes. And what you’ll copy is Putra’s free, fast, and full of acceptance; his genuine nature in brainstorming. Read it multiple of times, you may get lucky to inherent his creativity (and if you’re a school-age kid, your in the best of luck). One other thing: you inherent it wirelessly (how cool is that?).

If this is so, maybe its unimportant status needs reconsideration.

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