Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Story and Myth

Recently I was chosen to exhibit a painting at THELMA Center for the Arts in their "Member Spotlight" project. The painting is one I did some time ago and recently tweaked.  I have always liked it, though it is an odd one.  Strange and eerie and one straight out of my imagination (I guess.)
I never begin with an idea when painting or writing and only come up with a title after staring at the finished piece for a bit.  This one is titled "Color in the Myth"  I remember starting with my favorite color, yellow ochre laid on over a deep blue-black surface. While fiddling with the composition a wall of buildings suddenly seemed to surface. From there came more compositional tweets and it was finished.  The painting reminds me of my time in the Middle East where my daughter lived--Morocco and Egypt, and has the basis of story in the foreground.  I called it "Color in the Myth' to invite the viewer to come up with their own story.  it was great fun!

Yesterday I  finished reading the excellent "The River of Consciousness' by Oliver Sacks.  It's a group of essays published just after he died.  He is a favorite of mine, and everything he writes about has depth and interest for me.  One chapter "The Creative Self" examines memory, story and myth.  You can see why it speaks to me.  He says, "Storytelling and myth making are primary human activities, a fundamental way of making sense of our world."
I agree.  My poetry and writing works in much the same way.  I see something or someone and create a story. At one point I was on the subway in NY and watched a man and a young girl interact in a very loving way.  Here is the story I derived from that scene.

Theory of String

 Every other Saturday she came in on the subway from Queens. As assistant curator at the

museum she was required to work in the lab two Saturdays a month.  The museum room she

occupied was a cool and soothing windowless place. The crowded train made her skin itchy

and hot.

She invented a travel game to fend off the boredom of the ride. The game was to see how quickly

she could strip a human figure of skin and fat, down to its bones. She’d studied sketches of

mummified kings and qπueens, had developed a knack for imagining them fleshed out, fully

dressed. Her Saturday exercise switched the game around.

A thickset, red-faced man and small child sat across the aisle. The girl was tiny with dark braids

that just touched her shoulders, shiny, as though oiled, carefully tied, not with ribbons but with

string, the kind of string used to truss a leg of lamb in a butcher shop. He was a large man and

oddly handsome, his beard, elegantly shaggy with errant silver-gray strands.

The man held the girl’s hand with a gentle fatherly reverence, her fingers snug in his big hands.

A small scar curved across his left eyebrow, another thin, calloused line circled his index

finger—a cut from another time. They both are blue eyeed and bear similar smiles. She must be

his daughter. A butcher’s daughter. They live above the shop.  It’s a Saturday outing. The sign in

his window says CLOSED. The regular customers are annoyed. 

She will leave them alone. Today, she will look out the window and name the trees.

So if anyone is reading this blog, would you please come up with a story today.  I'd love to here it.  My email is mkwehner@icloud.com.  If i can do it, you can do it.

1 comment:

  1. Your post reminded me of a passage from Virginia Woolf’s: “But, whatever the reason may be, I find that scene making is my way of marking the past. Always a scene has arranged itself: representative; enduring. This confirms me in my instinctive notion: (it will not bear arguing about; it is irrational) the notion that we are sealed vessels afloat on what it is convenient to call reality; and at some moments, the sealing matter cracks; in floods reality; that is, these scenes – for why do they survive undamaged year after year unless they are made of something comparatively permanent?” (emphasis added). She asks, “Are other people scene makers too?” but turns from considering this question and discloses, “in all the writing I have done, I have almost always had to make a scene, either when I am writing about a person … or when I am writing about a book” (“A Sketch of the Past” in Moments of Being: Unpublished Autobiographical Writings, p. 122). We make scenes as spontaneously as we try to make sense of our experience and imagining how the lives of individuals are intertwined (say, two people one happens to see on a subway) is one of the ways we make sense of life. We are storytelling animals and indeed story-shaped selves. This is nowhere more evident than in our irrepressible tendency to imagine scenes in which, say, an almost imperceptible gesture of affection carries a large, enveloping significance. [Please delete Pinging]