I went to see The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus yesterday. The theme of the movie is, as the title suggests, the importance of imagination, its role in how you think and live. It begins with a fetching idea: of storytelling being what sustains the universe. In many ways it is: in truth, non-truth, and consequences. Some stories have more “imagination” than truth; some, like what painting is to me, are all “imagination”. And there are so many possibilities within the realm of imagination: a whole new world. Even fantastical, as in the movie.
The movie itself revolved around a very enjoyable story about the consequences of personal choices. In many situations, the choices had extreme results, a matter of life or death. If only politicians were more in touch with the truth of the stories they tell us, of the choices they make.
The painting process is all choices. One of my favorite stories is from when I was living in Duncan’s Cove, along the coast of Nova Scotia. One of my neighbors was a scientist who seemed to like to stop by just as I was sitting down to dinner. So then, sometimes, it was dinner for two. Once he said he thought artists and scientists were basically the same. Both working with the premise: “What if . . . ? If I do this, then that will happen. And then I may have to do something else.” It’s about choices–and deciding what the painting is supposed to do, it’s role, it’s function, it’s life.
Then, as it was beginning to snow as I left the theatre, my big decision was (taking a line from the movie) whether to take the high road (the highway) or the low road (the country road). I took the highway. It was clear (of snow).