Monet in Reverse

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The first time I saw a Claude Monet painting, I sidled up from the side and got a real close-up look. My first impression was this:

What the hell? Was this guy drunk when he painted this? I can flick little dots of paint all over the place. That doesn’t make me an artist. What did he do, snort some blue up his left nostril, pinch his right, and blow? Did he fill his cheeks with yellow until he looked like a chipmunk in a bag of nuts and then slap his cheeks and spew? Did he dip a coffee straw in red and thump the tip at the canvas like a heroine addict with a syringe? I am not impressed.

Humph. Monet. What a hack.

I decided his paints must have contained hallucinogenics and just as I was going to test lick Water Lilies, a security guard grabbed me by the arm and pulled me about fifteen feet back. Breathless, I beheld the painting. I cried, wet myself, and collapsed, weak-kneed at its glory. The security guard asked me to leave, but not before I got my test lick. I can say, definitively, that Monet did not use hallucinogenic paints.

Or if he did, time has rendered them inert.

Sometimes I feel like an unimpressionistic writer, an anti-Monet, Monet in reverse. I get fixated on a single detail and tinker with it endlessly until I’ve lost all perspective. Sure, that one sentence, paragraph, or chapter is flawless in its execution, staggering in its beauty, and riveting in its own right, but in context, it doesn’t make a bit of sense. It’s as if Picasso came along and put a 2D three-eyed naked guitar playing river nymph right there on one of Monet’s lily pads.

Man, is it hard to cut stuff like that out. I guess that’s why writers, sick bastards that they are, often say “kill your darlings.”

Henceforth, I shall kill my darlings with much vengeance, cleaving their limbs like tree branches and painting my Monet in the gratuitous sprinkle of their blood. Amen.

Ooo, this reminds me of one of my favorite books on writing, The Forest for the TreesI just discovered that the author, Betsy Lerner, has a blog: Will wonders never cease!


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