Nov 212009

After reading the stories by the Great Author, a number of very learned, respected gentlemen declared that there was nothing in them. This was very concerning because on the one hand, these were, after all, learned gentlemen. Yet on the other hand, the stories were written by a Great Author.

Something, it would seem, had to give.

Nevertheless, it was hard to argue with the observation of the learned gentlemen. The stories themselves were in fact perhaps more impressive by what was not in them. It was almost as if something – the most important parts, perhaps – had been left out. As such, there was a pervasive sense that the stories were filled everywhere with blank spaces.

But this was precisely was what made the stories so great.

It was the comment of the Great Author, that he wanted “to write like Cezanne painted”, which helped me to see the stories in a new light, for I noticed one day that when you look at a certain Impressionist paintings, you will see colors that are not actually there. (It has been pointed out to me that the significance of Cezanne’s paintings is that he painted in broad strokes, not in details, but I mistakenly associated his style with another. I have left this error in the essay because it remains an apt image for reconciling the discrepancy alluded to above).

Cezanne (sic) had learned that by putting small dabs of complementary colors closely enough next to one another, the eye would mix these colors into a new color that is not actually there.

This reveals something very deep about the way we perceive reality. But in terms of the artist, the most immediate significance is simply this:

the true painting is finished, not on the canvas, but only in the viewers eye.

This may seem a mere cliche (if a tree falls in the woods…), and it is. But what a normal mind does with a cliche is perhaps quite different from what a genius might do. Thus the Great Author tried to do with his stories what Cezanne (sic) had done with his paintings.

In the end, I could not respond to the learned gentlemen who declared that there was nothing in these stories. After all, they were correct. I simply responded that I cared for these stories very deeply and we left it at that. But I was saddened that the learned gentlemen held such a view, for I could not but help to think that this criticism, rather than representing a failure of the author, represented a failure of the reader. And of that failure, there is no discussion possible. All one can say on the matter is whether one enjoyed the story or not.

Well, you may say that this is all a very highly subjective thing, and I would agree.

After all, this is the whole point of the matter.

related material:

How we see

 Posted by at 9:27 am

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