Revealing and Concealing

What I’ve noticed through writing and with painting, is that while I reveal some things, I  conceal others.  I’ve also noticed how as a reader or as a viewer of art, my mind seems to supply what is “missing.”

This is interesting to me.  Especially noticeable when I complete a painting, I see how my mind’s eye supplies what it assumes is there.  Like say I don’t get the ear just right, my mind adjusts what I see to fit with what I have seen or seem to know of how an ear should look.  Does that make sense?

With writing, while you give plenty of details in describing person, place, circumstance, you also don’t want to have to spoonfeed your reader.  You want to trust that you’ve lead them far enough down the path that they can then fill in that which you, as the writer, haven’t directly stated.

Does this holding back make for more interesting writing and art?  The secrets that underlie our protagonist’s behavior–the intrigue–do they ever have to be fully revealed and disclosed to your reader or viewer?  Maybe yes, maybe no.

Think of some films that you’ve seen or books that you’ve read. In the film, Cast Away, what is the significance of Tom Hanks meeting the woman at the crossroads?  Are we supposed to just get it?  Are we going to be left with the question?  Don’t filmmakers who are planning future sequels leave us with unanswered questions?  In writing a novel, doesn’t the writer end each chapter with an intrigue of some sort, thereby building suspense and forward impetus?

I’m thinking that we can supply enough to satisfy our readers or viewers and then leave something to the imagination. We then maintain an aura of enough mystery to let our reader conjecture.

The critique has been that with films especially, we take away the imagination of the viewer.  We want to encourage that imagination, don’t we?  How many Hollywood films do you recall that tie up all the loose ends by the conclusion of the film?  I frequently appreciate a foreign film that leaves me with something to ponder.


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