Richard Bach’s timeless classic Jonathan Livingston Seagull has touched the hearts of many readers since it was first published in the 70s. I had first read this novella while pursuing undergraduate studies in Kolkata in 2006. Needless to say, it has left a lasting impression on me and my thinking patterns.
Therefore, when asked to develop on JLS for a design project, my point of entry has been through the recollection of the passion it kindled in me, at the time of my first reading the book.
The novel works on the principle of an analogy – inspiring creativity and endurance in the reader by exploring the struggles and triumphs of a seagull. Naturally then, the bird possesses uncanny human properties. The cause: to question and conquer the bodily possibilities; more precisely, the conventional notion of what is bodily possible. The grater cause: an ethical discourse on how life is to be lived; not in complacency and submission, but through exploration and learning.
My conclusion then was that the ideologies presented in the work are subject to subscription. And it was at such a point that the idea that JLS is a wearable ideology came to my mind; thus the design for t-shirts.
Three States of Being (all over again)
Further, I noted that Bach describes three general stages of development of JLS’ character: the first I see as the stage of hunger for knowledge, the second is one of losing all fear and finally complete command over self. I was also careful to note that there are not only large overlaps in these distinctions but also that the narration goes in a cycle, i.e. command leads to submission all over again.
White Blue & Black are markers of these three states of being.
And it is imperative that the wearer will graduate from one state to another and thereby move from one shirt to another: White to Blue to Black and then to White again.
submission: creative narrative design, DAIICT, Ganghinagar, 2011