2/4/2022 07:15

Palette of Personality

Starting another William Faulkner novel brought to mind the awareness that a storyteller constructs a palette of personalities as a tool for telling the story. Faulkner clearly did this not only within a single book but also across vast swaths of his imaginary southern county. There culture and family serve to justify the range of personalities selected. Faulkner never includes a character with my perspective or my experience. That somewhat limits my enjoyment of Faulkner's brilliance but it makes the story cohesive and comprehensible in a way that actual reality doesn't quite match.

In the almost literal, etymological sense an oil painter's palette is the selection of physical pigments the painter places on the physical pallette. The artist would never use all available pigments in the same painting; the result would be discordant.

(It is interesting to realize that "discord" is really a metaphor from music which I am applying to visual art and storytelling. The audible arts will have a metaphorical palette of chords and phrases.)

In my recent project to make a graphical outline of John's gospel I used a palette of colors including "wheat", "peru", "brown", and "black" with lesser uses of "blue", "green", and "yellow". I also used a palette of poster shapes, such as straight lines and quadratic curves, and of poster styles, such as large singly-colored spaces and simple lines.

A poster clearly does not encompass the whole of even a small slice of actual reality but neither does an oil painting nor a novel. No human creative work contains the reality it depicts; effective art opens a window to some place on reality's inside from which the audience can look outward and discern more than is present.

The best play in the actual reality game is to seek out the best vantage points and to pay attention to the reality which becomes observable but is not actually there.