The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 59

Writing, Art, and Lies 

Rich walked through the back door and passed through Dennis’s office and into Peggy’s studio and shop. She stood in front of an easel dabbing a brush in paint on her palette and adding features to a painting of the moon casting its light upon the water.
“What do you think?” Peggy said.
“It’s beautiful,” Rich said.
She rolled her eyes and bounced her head back and forth. “No, what does it make you think and feel.”
“Well if it were done,” Rich chuckled and thought seriously. “It’s romantic. Two lovers are looking at that moon and the light of that moon reaches right across the water to the hearts of the lovers.”
“You’re such a romantic,” Peggy said reaching up and ruffling his hair. “I never dreamed you’d come up with that. Paintings are not about what you see, it’s what they make you feel.”
“And because I see romance, I’m a romantic?” Rich said.
“Well, yes,” Peggy said.
“But if that is what you want me to feel, I may not be a romantic,” Rich said. “It may be that you are able to paint is such a way that is the only thing that can be felt. Making people feel what you feel, that’s quite a gift.”
“Or manipulation,” Peggy said.
“Isn’t that what we all do?” Rich said. “Writers distort events and call it fiction and painters distort reality and call it art.”
“Interesting,” Peggy said, “but don’t artists transform the ordinary into beauty and the writer exposes hypocrisy and bring to light truth?”
“No offense, Peggy,” Rich said, “your painting is moving and beautiful, but it‘s not real. I can stand out on that beach in that bay a million moonlit nights and what you have painted really never happens. Things are manipulated to make me feel a certain way.”
“And I suppose journalists are the only purveyors of truth?” Peggy said dabbing the painting and brushing it on the painting.
“Frankly,” Rich said. “That is something that troubles me. Sam is the truest and most honest man I’ve ever met. He said the thing that keeps him awake at night is the lies he has written; lies not intended, but nevertheless lies. He told me when I write something and it’s as good as it’s going to be; it’s like leaving the house for the day, go back and check one more time to make sure you leave a light on and make sure you left the cat out. Light is truth and cats are lies. Butch is a good journalist, but I’d see him strain and work hard to insert a certain word or phrase that cast shadows that are too long.” Rich stooped and looked closer at Peggy’s painting. “Your shadow is too long.”
“It’s sort of poetic license,” Peggy said. “Writers and artists use it all the time.”
“I seem to be in a sour mood,” Rich said. “I came here to be refreshed and it seems I’ve gotten into an argument and possibly insulted your art.”
Peggy raised her hand to Rich’s chin and turned it. She kissed him on the cheek. “Art and writing often covers the pain of reality; it makes things come out the way we want them to. They justify the hypocrisy we live with each day. Someday I will paint something that will be absolutely true.” Peggy paused and looked deep into Rich’s eyes. “Then I’ll look for the cats. You come out here to tell us something. Someday you will.”
“I think I know that place,” Rich said to change the subject. “It’s from an island on the bay isn’t it.”
“If you know that place and it is romantic, why not take a pretty girl there some moonlit night?” Peggy said.
Rich shyly said, “The only pretty women around here are too smart to be romantic with a poor newspaper guy. They’re looking for somebody whose daddy has a big lobster boat.”
“Summertime ’s an opportunity to find a girl on vacation up here from Boston or New York. Don’t pretend you haven’t noticed.” Peggy smiled and began to put her painting utensils down and clean up. “I suppose you’ll be wanting something to eat before long.”
Dennis called from his study, “She won’t take me there until the painting is done.”
“We have a small boat and I go out there when the moon is just right to paint,” Peggy said. “I’ve worked on it for a year. I started late last summer, but the weather prevented me from finishing.”
Dennis stood in the doorway between his office and the studio. “That was quite a conversation. It reminds me of when I worked for Sam. I said the head librarian was exasperated when she commented on the number of books not returned. Sam said that unless she said she was exasperated don’t say she was; for all we know that’s the way she talks all the time. He talked to me like I was one of his students. He said wherever you found a lie you find enslavement whether it is to a cause, ideology, or a crime, but truth is the backbone of freedom. And he wasn‘t talking about political freedom. He said all governments enslave. He said we must have the freedom to think freely and only truth can accomplish that.”
“I think that’s one thing he is trying to teach me without coming right out and saying it,” Rich said.

Someday he will,” Dennis said.