“Don Quixote’s Entrance into the Sea” circa 1955, PSW
[Reviewing, it is obvious some could see this offensive for language or not being PC. Consider it NSFW for those reasons.]
I have to stop doing that – chuckling to myself. I am a pompous twit. Not all the time. Often enough to consider I should grab my brain by the seat of my trousers1 and make a few adjustments in my willingness to judge people and what people do.2 That realization amuses me. But it’s too late to go back to the roots of the problem, my problem, to make repairs. No one would really benefit, and likely, I’d waste a lot of time. Time, I suspect, in relative short supply.
Of course you want a concrete example
So as not to offend or require the NSFW banner for this post, let me momentarily dismiss the really juicy examples and take one which while indefensible makes me chuckle. Hence the blog title. Clever dude, eh?
Lots of folks fancy themselves artists. Illustrators, cartoonists, sculptors, painters, photographers, three-dimensional compositors, actors, mixed media geniuses, filmmakers, caricaturists, conceptualists, yadda, yadda, pardon me while I throw up. Well, yes, writers, too. No judgements. Could, but not today.
The amusement offered as a sample comes from watching, listening to, and reading “critics” of visual artists. Specifically, art critics. “Art” being paintings by, well, painters. Realists, surrealists, cubists, abstractionists, modernists, muralists, taggers, deco, nouveau, pre, post, and naked impressionism, realism, surrealism. Do you begin to get my drift?
Art critics I suspect by-and-large are not artists themselves. Most people can’t draw a straight line or a circle unaided by a ruler or compass. Could be wrong. Don’t care. Irrelevant. Art critics are masters of slinging mountains of dung and by virtue of their authority (real, but generally self-assumed) feeling they’ve said something significant.
Art goddammit, is art. You either like a piece or you don’t. What you think a piece is, what value or beauty lies in it, is all that matters. It’s unimportant what the artist intended. All the same, give a listen…
Love the use of texture here to signal transformation, transformation from the exuberant frolic of youth to the sedate calm of age. [The artist’s paint was old; ever frugal, he wanted to use it up; it refused to be thinned to the texture he wanted. He used what he had. And his fingers and a putty knife.]
This constant interplay between sharp lines and blurred edges speaks to me of the struggle between what man wants to do and what he knows he must do. [Interrupted in mid-work Monday, Senor Miquel abandoned his original crisp intent because his patron wanted the painting Tuesday for a cocktail party; it became a rush job.]
These raw, bold colors are symbolic of the rise and fall of emotion. [This is from her early years, when she’d not yet mastered the colors of her better efforts.]
Nearly imperceptible bleeding of one color unmolested through and metamorphosing into its opposite, sometimes complimentary, sometimes discordant color, is the struggle between good and bad, love and hate, and in the very end, life and death. [Grandson came in and piddled with the canvas while Adolphina was inattentively on the terrace smoking with her latest lover.]
She is a master in deployment of vast acres of emptiness to conquer confused civilizations of color and shape, suggesting the return to original purity of soul. [What the hell was she thinking? Is this abstract spaghetti?]
Just look at the conflict raging between the vibrant female reds and the dusky male blues! [This was Georgio’s primitive phase; he’d sworn off all colors but blue, red, and green as evils of colonialism.]
Art is interpretive. Period. Up to you. Art critics belong at the tail end of the unemployment line.
“E-e-e-w! What bugs crawled into his oatmeal?” you ask.
This is all true. I’m guilty of it. So I chuckle. What boobs we all are.
Other “art” forms a little tougher to poke at. Maybe.
Also applies to written “art”
I am reminded of an anecdote.3 I wish I could cite a source. I cannot. Let it be known this is not original…
Seems a college professor in lecture was analyzing a short story by an author who at that time rode a wave of popularity, widely considered part of literati’s elite. The professor was all atwitter as that author sat in the balcony of the lecture hall, half asleep, having agreed to deliver a post-lecture surprise reading. Asleep? Who understands the postures of great minds at work? Or at rest?
Lecture interaction went into an aside about the meaning, the symbolism, of a particular phrase, “the inky black skies…”
Students and professor alike tossed about speculation on deep, dark symbolism. Fear and darkness in the protagonist’s heart. Impending personal failure. Foretaste of tragedy. Depths of despair before redeeming light. The intractable forces of nature and the very soul of man.
Our professor, willing to reveal his surprise early to put debate to rest and segue into introducing the author, declared, “Well, let us ask the author exactly what the ‘inky black sky’ meant.” Clearly addressing the question to the balcony, directing all eyes from the lower floor to that balcony, and rudely arousing the author, our professor asked, “What is the symbolism of the ‘inky black sky’ good sir?”
The author stood. Leaning over the balcony rail, facing the lower lecture hall floor but addressing the professor, he loudly spoke sounding somewhat perturbed, “No symbolism. Means the god damned sky was black! Was threatening rain, you ass!”
A few words to ponder. Authors have been known to write what they mean. Read it, enjoy it. If it bothers you, you don’t understand something, it may be the author meant not to have you come to a certain conclusion, the author’s conclusion, but perhaps to think, to draw the telling4 to a conclusion that best suits you. Talking about fiction here. Or maybe it was in fact, threatening rain.
When it comes to factual recounting, or op-ed pieces, that’s a different story, obscene pun intended. Realize sometimes “factual reports,” and opinion underpinned by “irrefutable empirical evidence,” are at best fiction. Non-fiction predicated on fact or fantasy, and intentionally disingenuous should teach you, encourage you to think. If you’re bold, to ask questions.
For some of us, thinking, preliminary to asking a question, is a new experience.
I find myself chuckling again.
Most writers profess, “All writers are idiots. Except of course, you and me. Well, sometimes I do wonder about you!”
When a writer leaves something open to interpretation, that calls for thought on the part of the reader. There is no right or wrong. Too often, hidden, disguised, or underlying meanings exist only in the reader’s mind. If obscurity was intended my friend, that is the badge of a fine author and rare, cultured skill. If ambiguity was unintentional friend, that is the hallmark of an exceptional writer and innate, unlearnable ability.
Today I welcome a couple of fellow bloggers new to the list of those intrepid enough to put up with my foolishness. I’m quite taken with their blogs. In spwilcenspeak, they’re “good reads!” That is, what I’ve managed to make time to read so far. Except for the fact I’ve not yet a necessary understanding of who they are, what bull snot they’ll brook, or how private they think their blogs are, I’d introduce you to them. In time perhaps.
Visiting wag plays Wordplay
Sh-h-h! A jolly giant of a man, an engineer, visited. Aside from the fact he follows this blog, he’s sane. He is well-educated in more than engineering and has a crisp and incisive sense of humor. He watched me worry over possible “Wordplay” subjects. I gave it up for the evening.
He asked, “If a podiatrist is a foot doctor, podiatry is foot medicine, what is ‘podiagraphic’?”
— Notes —
1 There’s a nasty and undeniable tell in that. Don’t ask me to explain if you don’t get it. I won’t in this particular case, even if you ask real nice. Those unfortunate souls out there who’ve followed me any length of time (which is itself a really obscure and illogical allusion) know I am deep bordering on insane. One or two have picked-up on it, asked questions, and I’ve answered. A few have picked-up on it and understood, in which case, I feel for them. A few picked up on it and were scared to death, or embarrassed, or too shy to ask for explanation. Gotta offer this for everyone, intrepid and fearful alike to ponder: The oceans are deep and scary. We nonetheless venture out, skimming the ocean’s surfaces to harvest delectables for supper. We might even fully immerse ourselves in those waters believing it therapeutic or pleasant, so long as we can still see to the surface or believe, need be, we can get there in a hurry. But there’s a lot of ocean we’ve never seen and likely never will. Is that an unfortunate waste or legitimate caution?
2 Or don’t do. My convictions based on the egonarcistic lunacy of people. My chagrin, and to my credit, my amusement, an audible chuckle from realizing, I am a people.
3 Original version had the “professor” a lady which as I am perceived a male chauvinist lends an air of “isn’t that often the case” to the tale. That is frankly unfair. I’ve known more male boobs of this water than females. Probably because (due to my chauvinism or whatever) I’ve known more men than women in my life well enough to feel I could understand their motivation or thinking. Let’s just stick with “college professor.” That will placate my conservative peers without completely alienating my liberal associates.
4 As a pretend writer, I play with words. You’ll see me make nouns of verbs, verbs of nouns (get my drift?) create words for a purpose, which, unless you’re paying attention, are largely nonsense. If there are words handy to my purpose, I’ll use them, if not, I’ll create what I need using real words or bits and pieces of words. “Telling” in this case meaning a story.