The following is a side-story excerpt from Nails Jane.
“There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.”
“I can’t think of what to create,” said the Painter. He grimaced at the empty canvas.
“Well…” replied the Sculptor, “is there nothing certain that comes to mind?”
“No,” said the Painter.
The Painter paused after giving his answer. The Sculptor – she rarely experienced doubt or question.
“Why must there be?” he asked.
“Why must there be what?” replied the Sculptor.
“Why must there be certainty?”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “Certainty is all I work with. I am certain that this clay will become a woman. I am certain about everything I create.”
“Are you?” asked the Painter.
He lifted his brush to the canvas, digging deep through his mind for certainty on what to paint. He envied the Sculptor’s conviction that all creations came with a guarantee – a prepackaged blueprint giving every last detail of the creation, down to its finest point. How the Painter wished he had this certainty. How he wished he could tap into such psychic absolutism.
How he wished…
His canvas remained untouched. The Painter put down his brush, and turned away from his easel. He watched the Sculptor intensely as she molded her clay, determined, all knowing… certain.
“You’re wrong,” he said.
The Sculptor stopped her work and turned around on her stool. Indignant, she glared at the Painter before challenging his words.
“What do you mean by that?” she asked.
“You can’t be certain about everything you create,” he said.
“Why not? I am. My certainty is fact. How can you argue that?”
“You believe that you know what will become of your creations. You mold a woman and there, you have a woman. But you do not look deep enough,” he explained.
“Excuse me?” asked the Sculptor. Now she felt rather threatened.
“What becomes of your woman?” asked the Painter. “Is she to rot in the basement or be put on display? What changes about her? Every crack and chip throughout her medium is a change that you could not predict. Between air, moisture, and rain – erosion takes its toll. Your statues crumble and become lighter in weight, more fragile in structure. Their pieces fall to the earth and mix up in the soil. Then you go poking around for clay, dig it up, and those pieces of that woman – they are mixed into a mold that will be shaped into something else.”
“And how would you know this? Are you so certain of this?” asked the Sculptor.
“No,” replied the Painter. “Of this, I am not certain. But I have a theory, based on evidence. If I monitored the weight of your creations, checked for cracks and fallen dust over time – I theorize that I would find evidence of erosion. And if I sifted through the soil, checking for bits of fallen statue – I theorize that they may be present in the sample I take.”
“And what if you’re wrong?” she asked.
“There is a chance of that. And I, unlike you, am not afraid to admit it. That is what makes it a theory, based on the collection of evidence and scientific analysis,” explained the Painter.
“So what is your point?” asked the Sculptor.
“My point is that you cannot be certain of what you create. You are not certain what will happen to them, or where they came from. Bits of your woman may have fallen from a statue of a horse. Now you have mixed the horse with the woman. And who knows what else? But you can’t be certain. You can’t. The soil is too deep for you to be certain as to what is buried beneath it.”
“Well,” reasoned the Sculptor, “I wasn’t talking about what is in the soil. I was talking about my creation. I know what I create. I know what I am going to make. I know where it came from. It came from my image. My likeness. My ideas.”
“Yes?” asked the Painter.
“Yes,” replied the Sculptor.
“But your ideas are based on other ideas. Your ideas are not original. You create a woman because you are a woman. You know what to make because you have seen it before. Can you create something that you have never seen?”
“Sure. I’ve never seen a Unicorn. I can create that.”
“Ah but you have seen a horse. And you know what a horse looks like, for it is a real animal. And you have read that a Unicorn looks much like a horse, but has a horn on its head. And you know what a horn is – there are plenty of animals who have them. Rhinoceros, ram, buffalo. That’s not much of a stretch.”
“Then what is a stretch?” asked the Sculptor, feeling a little annoyed.
“What if I told you to create a Stickagamble?” suggested the Painter.
“What is that?”
“Well I don’t know. I’ve never seen nor heard of it before. What could it be? What would it look like? Can you sculpt it?”
“I can make something up easily. Yes.”
“Brilliant. Then indulge me. Describe it – describe the Stickagamble.”
The Sculptor tilted her head, resting her chin in her hand. She thought a moment on how to piece together the image.
“Well I could give it four paws and a fish tail and…”
“Nope, nope, nope,” said the Painter. “You can’t give it bits and pieces of other things you’ve seen. Then you’re just creating a chimera. I’m talking about something new.”
“What is your point in all this?!” demanded the Sculptor.
“My point is that your certainty is flawed. You claim that you have ridiculous powers without basing the claim on facts. Then you try to exercise those powers based on facts around you that are neither fantastic nor yours. They are things that exist. You are certain of your creations because you create them based on ideas you have adopted from your environment. You are not certain about anything out of your element. You have no grasp on it. How could you? You are not certain about what a Stickagamble is because you have never seen one. Yet you claim certainty over your creations, which is not yours to claim. Random assignment originates the composition of your medium. Deterioration takes over your designs as they succumb to exposure. In other words, Chaos is the certainty behind your creations. Not you. You are not certain of anything. You think your creations come to you magically, through divine intervention. You are foolish.”
“And how do you create something through Chaos?!” demanded the Sculptor. “Just how in the hell do you expect to create something through random nonsense, using only theories to back up what will happen?”
At that moment, the Painter turned away from the Sculptor and faced his canvas. He picked it up and violently threw it to the ground. The canvas cracked down the center. Then he lifted his paints and dumped them on top of it, splattering liquid everywhere and leaving behind bits of broken glass. Every color the eye could capture streamed together, flowing in a beautiful, random motion. In the end, this created a piece of artwork both neither the Painter nor Sculptor had ever seen. It was new, unexpected, and they could not take their eyes from it. The paints worked their way around the broken canvas, finding their own direction, delicately pursuing the gravity that pulled them into one another. Fusing, mixing, and overlapping. The Painter, satisfied with his work of art, nodded to the Sculptor and walked away. Without looking back, he gave his final word.
Link to Nails Jane trailers: http://www.youtube.com/sixletterpress