Nuance and Ambiguity

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I have thought a bit about my tendency to overgeneralize, to leap to conclusions and I have concluded that it comes from my excessively strong "J" aspect personality. I like rules. I like black and white. I don't have much use for the myriad shades of grey, though I admit they exist. I don't care much for nuance in living.

Which is odd because in art I admire fruitful ambiguity--an ambiguity that is deliberate and which gives rise to multiple layers of meaning. But Art is not life, it is not about fashioning a rule-book. Properly done, Art is about discovering the rule-book, uncovering what has always been known through revelation, but making it new again. Art is mimetic, but it is ambiguous in a way that gets us to think and to consider.

There again, I go with the generalizations. Art is probably none of that, but great Art gets at that. Whatever the case may be, I love Art because of the insight I get into God and his mercy through it. I despise nuance because I see it too often misused to side-step the unpleasantness of moral requirements. If one spins it just right. . .

But it is useless to pretend that nuance does not exist and that every rule is always and everywhere exactly the same. It is comforting, but useless. But my role, as artist and even as poor thinker that I am, is to articulate the black and white and leave it up to better thinkers to fill in the shades of grey. We all have our roles, and mine the most humble, but it is mine and it is how I am constructed. No matter how I try, I will be looking for the black and white in everything--and I will accept gladly notification of the shades of grey others discover in between.

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I'm much the same way. In my case, I think I have a taste for ambiguity in art precisely because I prefer clear lines elsewhere: it makes art a sort of harmless holiday, or perhaps recreation; one that can be taken as seriously or playfully as one pleases without any penalty either way.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 1, 2006 8:15 AM.

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