I am the wind.

Or What’s the point of learning literature? (Part II)

(Just to clarify that I’m neither a military nut nor a fanboy of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). I just have a keen interest in SAF-related issues for reasons I will not mention in public.)

I think the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has produced a good advertisement that makes use of the principles of literary technique to effectively communicate its message to the viewer.

Take a look at the advertisement here:

(Watch the video in a separate window if you can’t see the embedded video.)

The voiceover text, if you want to read it while the video is being played:

I am the wind.
On land, no blade of grass moves without me.
At sea, every rising wave is touched by me.
Wherever you are, I am high enough to see you
and strong enough to reach out to you 5
and place strength in your hand.
You may not always see me
but you will always feel me
for I am here
for a higher purpose. 10

I won’t discuss the visual semiotics because that isn’t the point of my post.

However, I’ll carry out a bit of literary analysis on the first ‘two’ lines of the text to demonstrate some sense of its literary merit as well as articulate some of the ideas that the advertisement aims to convey to the viewer.

As the “I” in the text represents the entity that is the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), the “wind” is used as a symbol of the RSAF’s ‘invisibility’ (i.e. how it can operate without being detected by the enemy), its speed, its power, and its versatility at being able to be both strong yet gentle in different times of need.

On one level, the line “no blade of grass moves without me” is an image which evokes ideas of the RSAF’s power – the RSAF has the ability to influence “move[ment]”, especially in inanimate objects that would otherwise not move on their own.

However, if we also imagine the “blade of grass” to be a metaphor for the infantry soldier, which is a symbol of the Army, then the line is also meant to convey an idea of the superiority of the RSAF in the SAF’s war-fighting capabilities: it is at the forefront of military operations in terms of intelligence gathering efforts and attack manoeuvers, to say the least. {This is reinforced in the “sea” imagery used in line 3, which I will not discuss now for want of time/space.) At the same time, the combined image of objects “on land” and “at sea” moving with the assistance of the “wind” also conveys ideas of the interconnectedness of the three arms in war-fighting operations.

Okay, I know this is somewhat wankerish and some people might think I am stretching the limits of plausibility with my analysis, but do me a favour: assume that I am right for the time being.

Now that we’re all on the same page i.e. my analysis is right, what’s the significance of this advertisement in the larger scheme of things?

A well-wrought out advertisement like this can achieve many aims. Besides its primary aim of enticing people to sign on with the RSAF, the advertisement:

  • Instils a sense of national pride in the SAF, from the point of view of the citizenry, thereby increasing national confidence etc., and
  • Acts as one form of deterrence (among other deterrence strategies that the SAF uses) to ward off would-be aggressors, from an external point of view.

So one doesn’t need to know literary devices or techniques in order to consciously or unconsciously receive the implied messages that are sent to the recipient i.e. the person watching the advertisement.

But one would need to have some sense of literary technique in order to be able to create an advertisement as good as this one to achieve said aims I mentioned earlier.

And that, my friends, is another reason why there’s a point in learning literature as a point of departure toward doing other things in life.

P.S. I know I said I wouldn’t discuss the visual semiotics of the ad. But seriously – jogging girl is pretty cute.

About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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