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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fernando Del Paso

Venus de Milo
Ancient Greek Statue
"Literature and music exist in time: they have a beginning and an end.  Painting and sculpture exist in space. . . . Where does the Venus de Milo begin: in her navel, in her breasts, or in her head?  Where does an abstract painting begin: in the lower left corner, or in the center?"

Mexican Novelist, Painter and Poet
1935 -

Back of
Venus de Milo
De Paso has raised a very interesting question:  where does a painting or a sculpture begin?  When analyzing a painting, people often identify at what point the eye is drawn into the painting.  At what point do we the viewer enter into the picture?  But that point of entry is not the beginning of the painting.  In fact, paintings and sculptures have no beginning.  They just are here and now.

The flip side of this question is:  where does the novel exist?  In the head of the writer?  On the pages of the book it is printed in?  In cyberspace somewhere?  Or in the head of the reader?  And what novel are we talking about?  Is the novel that is in the writer's head the same as the novel on the page?  Is the novel that is in the reader's head the same as what is in the writer's imagination?  

Fernando Del Paso
How many times have you as a reader altered the novel on the page by changing the looks of a character or the physical location of the story.  Unlike the painting which is concrete and visual, the novel is nebulous and changing.  Yes, we can impose our stories upon the painting, but the painting still exists outside of us.  We change the novel as soon as it enters our brain.  We have altered the story as imagined by the novelist.

Have you ever wished that a novel would not end?  You may even have slowed down your reading so that the ending would be delayed?  Novels exist in time and have a beginning and a ending, but we can continue to revisit them through our memory.