Friday, November 14, 2008

Impression, internets

So often when I write, I'm trying for the same effect with language that the Impressionists attempted with light. Obviously, I fail more often than I succeed; the generic yin to their genius yang, I suppose. And given that at least a third, if not a half, of The Novel From Hell® takes place in Argenteuil, I would be remiss and a deserving candidate for rendition to a dusty, faraway prison if I didn't mention that today was the birthday of a man who lived and painted à cette banlieu for more than a few years, one Monsieur Claude Oscar Monet.

Nothing can top autumn, but let's try some snow.

That's better. Oh, what the hell, here's some summer, you bastards.

The water was nearly a blinding white. The sun had, without fanfare, begun its descent, moving closer to rest, saturating the earth and all her inhabitants with its penultimate throes of brilliance as I sat motionless on the ground, squinting as I explored the undulating shapes of the current streaming past, blue-black behind me, a glittering pane of orange glass ahead. I stood up and walked down to the edge, dipping my finger in the warm water to see if it was as fragile as it seemed to be. The mirror rippled, then cracked, splintering my image, making it even more difficult to dismiss the increasingly disturbing belief that I alone – not through any arcane process I had stumbled upon within my small library or, more likely, one of the ancient texts housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale, but through the day-to-day observation that we all, even if subconsciously, participate in – knew the secret and that I was, perhaps, afraid to handle the unexpected revelation of Madeleine: that a kindred spirit did exist, in the form of, all things, my ideal. How could I arrive at such a conclusion on so little, I wondered to myself, most probably aloud, the way one is shocked upon seeing an exceptional painting of a minor master consistently left out of the catalogs or in hearing a piece of music written by an unknown composer performed in the home of a vague acquaintance or distant relation and you, by a whim of the fates who feel especially beneficent that day, discover through your audible surprise that rarest of commodities, a being who shares the same passion for this obscurity as you, is drawn to the many of the same brushstrokes and measures, sharing the same sentiments that cannot help but be associated with these particular creative fragments, so elusive to others – so vital – and where an individual detail or chord may strike the one more powerfully than the other through the inherent differences we all share, even those of us so closely attuned on an unseen preternatural level, that once its effect upon you is explained without resorting to thickly applied histrionics better suited to the classroom but instead a few choice words, a silent glance or even a knowing smile, they immediately understand.


Frederick said...

That's it Dude, I give up writing.

(Very nice, BTW)

Christopher said...

The impressionists are awesome.

While I tend to embrace Picasso more, the impressionists (like Monet) are a more emotional experience and invoke a yearning for a place I've never been before.

Anonymous said...

Heh... I love it when you go stream of consciousness on your readers. Oh yeah, wish Monet a happy birthday when you channel his spirit in another post like this. Nicely done, sir!

Liberality said...

and you, my friend, are a word painter!

Dean Wormer said...

Monet, get back.
I'm all right jack keep your hands off my stack.
Monet, it's a hit.
Don't give me that do goody good bullshit.

The Storialist said...

I really like this...a section of a larger piece or is it short-short fiction?

I love what you've said about process...all good art needs some sort of process, and it's helpful to set one up in our own creative work.

Thanks for the images, seasonal and unseasonal.

La Belette Rouge said...

Like Monet, in rereading your pieces at different distances I had a different experience and each read brought a differing awareness. I was left most profoundly with these details:

and you,... discover ...that rarest of commodities, a being who shares the same passion for this obscurity as you, ... sharing the same sentiments elusive to others – so vital – and where an individual detail or chord may strike the one more powerfully than the other through the inherent differences we all share, ... that once its effect upon you is explained ...a few choice words, a silent glance or even a knowing smile, they immediately understand.

Yes, exactly. :-)

Randal Graves said...

frederick, thanks, and don't!

christopher, that's their big draw I think. Something recognizable, yet transient, different enough to want to explore. Not that Picasso is bad!

spartacus, I can't imagine writing short sentences. Like this one. Or that one.

liberality, but I don't own a beret!

dean, should have known that was coming. ;-)

storialist, merci. It's a very small piece from a quite unwieldy whole. Oh, the process, simultaneously beautiful and terrible!

LBR, see, understanding ain't that hard. ;-)

Tom Harper said...

Nice paintings. I'm also a Fall and Winter person, much more than summer. Glad I'm not the only one. I've been a much happier camper since I moved from California to Washington.

MRMacrum said...

Me, well I like dogs playing poker. And the occaisional velevet Elvis painting of course.

It is indeed a rare occurence to find another who is completely in sync with you. Someone who, without words passing between you, will feel joy and pain the same as you. I have met only one in my life. Too bad for you Monet is gone. I am sure you two would see eye to eye.

As usual your prose blows my mind.

Randal Graves said...

tom, I hear ya. If summer lasted a few weeks, I could handle it, but that's about it.

mrmacrum, everyone loves velvet Elvis. Et merci.

I'm sure Monet and I would've gotten along fine, even with my horrid French, but I'd kinda hope the whole in sync gig would be with a woman.

Utah Savage said...

You don't own a baret? For shame. All men look sophisticated in a baret. Women, too.

Nice writing. Posted on Writer's United?

susan said...

It's strange being stuck in these little packages we call 'Our Self'. It's more like being in a string bag than a box.. bits leak out and stuff comes in. Who am I?

The Cunning Runt said...

Our local Clark Art Institute hosts in its permanent collection one of the most exquisite assemblages of Monets on the planet. I've embarrassed myself many an afternoon, moved to silent tears in front of each of them in turn.

And as for the writing, you're doing quite well enough to discourage s mere mortals from even trying!

Anonymous said...

And now? En Francais.

Mauigirl said...

I love the Impressionists. And your prose was awesome!

Describing yourself as an impressionist with words is very apt.

Randal Graves said...

utah, I'm not really a hat-wearing kind of guy. And shit, no I didn't.

susan, that's a most thoroughly excellent way of putting it.

TCR, merci, and if I ever get around to traveling, checking out the art museums of the world is high on it, and here's one more to see!

dcup, ha ha ha, tu es drôle, mon amie.

mauigirl, I could look at their stuff all day, and often have. Sure beats watching the talking hairpieces on the tube. ;-)

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

I find that long sentences force one's reader to pay attention. and yes I agree you are a word painter.

S.W. Anderson said...

The impressionists are my favorites, and your examples are magnificent.

There was a sensuous verve in their work that's probably not possible any more because of photography. The new technology can readily simulate it, but really only as copy work.

dguzman said...

Randal, it's posts like this that make me love you.

Dr. Zaius said...

I think that you just like really long paragraphs.

Randal Graves said...


I do.