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What does the highlighted expression mean, is it a dramatic effect?

SIGHTS During: a car in one’s lane or a barrier approaching, the frightened faces of the people in the oncoming vehicle right before impact, hoods crumpling, glass fracturing, passengers being thrown forward in their seats, airbags deploying in white clouds, each moment in time cut into small flashes rather than a conscious stream

  • This sounds like something from a screenplay -- although from what I've read you're not supposed to put the descriptions of actual shots in there, as the director will have his/her own vision. It's certainly dramatic, although I'm not sure what you mean by "dramatic effect". – Andrew Dec 12 '18 at 18:40
  • You can think of it like viewing a stop-action film running in slow motion, seeing individual images rather than continuous motion. Why this happens is more of a psychological question. – user3169 Dec 12 '18 at 19:16
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    Also the source of your quoted text needs to be added. – user3169 Dec 12 '18 at 19:17
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What we gather from the surface, the description relates to cinematography or screenplay (screenshot) what goes by the name 'stage direction' in plays. It is all about an impending and imminent accident on road or an aircrash. It is a direction to the camera where scenario is fragmented into bits to heighten the dramatic impact and severity. Not only the bold portion but the whole description is dramatic. The highlighted portion gives the intended effect to be conveyed : Time is arrested, it doesn't seem to move at all with the heaviness of lead and is fragmented and falls asunder.

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Is this phrase a dramatic effect?

The highlighted sentence in the context it's presented seems to describe the way the memory of a traumatic event may be recalled, i.e. as a series of images and impressions, each distinct and not necessarily within a clear linear framework. This typifies the type of imagery that can be triggered in post-traumatic disorders.

Whilst the whole scene is dramatic, the effect created is a series of clauses with no verbs; approaching, crumpling, fracturing, being, deploying - these are all functioning as gerunds. It's not until the final highlighted bit that these staccato chunks are unified and explained, rather cleverly mimicking the experience of the person viewing it. Rhythmic mimesis perhaps.

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That passage is not a sentence but a series of fragments, one following the other without connectors. This syntactic feature is known as asyndeton. And as the syntactic features reflect the subject matter being discussed, we could say that the passage is mimetic. Mimesis is sometimes considered a dramatic effect.

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