Monday, April 28, 2008

Jay Defeo

The first thing that my eye catches onto as I look at Jay Defeo’s painting, Cabbage Rose, are the reflections given off by the cabbage leaves and how it moves into the dark pit that is the center. At first, my eyes are drawn to conclude that the painting is of a blooming flower of sorts, but as I read the title, the cabbage allusion comes into play and the harsh lines of each leaf become more sensible.
Also, the harshness gives each leaf a metallic sense. When the light from the upper left hand corner comes in, it reflects the two leaves in the bottom center to be metallic and steel like yet the leaves directly on the left look to be jagged, almost as rocks. The rest of leaves are hidden in the shadows,
The light reflecting on the left sided leaves come off with a white smoke color that could be a fresh dew, however the rock illusion comes from the reflection of white smoke light from the leaves as well.
Being that the composition is balanced and equal, all the colors are on a grey scale being made up mostly of whites, zinc and cream and cold and light grays combined with the growing black in the middle. There are only certain shades of green that reflect mostly grey. The green shades contrast the life in the cabbage against the wintery light wisps, as seen on the upper left hand corner. The sense of frost is given and the darkness of winter as well.
The angle of the painting is a bird’s eye view, though it is peculiar in that Defeo’s abstract image also goes off the painting and out of the viewer’s sight, as to increase the magnitude of the cabbage so that the viewer does not know its size. Interestingly enough, the magnitude is not the only part of the painting that makes the viewer question their sight, the white speck or line in the middle of the dark abyss does as well. It is uncertain what the object is, whether it is a piece or vein of the cabbage, though the light source would not enlighten it.
The same abyss of darkness is highlighted by the angles the leaves are positioned from. Beginning from the middle, the leaves angle out towards the end. The two leaves in the bottom center seem to be coming from a different place than the rest of the leaves and as they veer off, the leaves become smaller and seem to be more realistic in that they curve and have bends, whereas the two front centered ones come off more abstract and metallic
Even the more realistic looking leaves, such as the ones on the right hand side, have a bit of an abstract touch. They are either almost hidden in shadows such as the leaves at the top right corner, or the wispy veins come off as shadows or they stand by themselves, such as the leaves on the middle and left hand side of the painting. As the painting comes full circle counterclockwise, the leaves become more abstract. Yet it is the leave on the right, that is the most peculiar and catches my eye the easiest and that is because it has the only non-grey scale color on it coming off the page. The leaf holds what looks to be an adobe red rose.

Another abstract painting I chose to describe was Defeo’s Makara, which like Cabbage Rose is a painting appropriately titled. This painting is indeed of a makara, only abstract in that the head of this makara does not resemble the dragon like image that most makaras portray. Instead, the makara in Defeo’s painting has a smoothe and unscaled face.
As the shades of gainsboro grays reflect throughout the makara’s top half of his body, the body and tail have shades of a very light purple and red. This light source also reflects the scales of the makara’s body. As the tail circulates, it is lost in the rest of the painting and flows into what seems to be a body water in the painting. Based off the ripples in the grey scales, the makara seems to be drinking the water. His mouth is open and his bottom jaw shows teeth.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Prayer For Owen Meany

Part I

It is arguably enough to say that Owen Meany, of A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving, is spiritually a gift of God as he identifies imself being "God's instrument" as well. This chapter, 'The Finger', is the primary example of the many things Owen Meany gives to John Wheelwright.
After years of friendship, the two boys have come into the time of the Vietnam War. Being fated to his death, Owen believes he must go to Vietnam. "I know that I am God's instrument. I know when I'm going to die. I'm going to be a hero! I trust that God will help me because what I'm supposed to do looks very hard" (416).
This fate leads Owen to join the army insistently, though his best friend, John, and girlfriend, Hester, object. "You've got to learn to follow things through-if you care about something, you've got to see it all the way to the end, you've got to try to finish it" (479).
John, unsure of his plans and himself, narrates the novel through memories ad present-day journal entries mostly discussing and bashing President Raegen and American politics, though he lives in Canada. Through his contempt, the reader sees that enlisting in the army is never an option, though he does not have many foolproof plans to escape the draft. Helpless to this injustice as Owen is helpless to his fate and the injustices of God, amputation comes as an important symbol of the novel. Because of this, Owen Meany amputates John's index finger. "Just think of this as my little gift to you" (509).
Using the idea of amputation, Irving builds the climax of this chapter by identifying many things along the book through amputations.
In the chapter, John tells the story of the Mary Magdelene statue and Owen's determination to replace it after the amputations caused towards the church's statue. "It turns out it's impossible to restore Mary Magdelene exactly as she was" (444). Mary Magdelene, as a statue is also helpless to the injustices of god that Irving portrays in his climax at the end of the book.

Part II

Being the most prominent theme of the novel, John Irving ties faith and doubt together in his last chapter, 'The Shot'. A "shot" gives the connotation of a chance and everything Owen Meany is a chance, including his birth, that of Jesus Christ. It is only appropriate that his life be filled with doubt, yet also hope. His unusual voice and small features lead to making a basketball shot seem impossible but because of Owen's fate, he believes he can make it. Thus, the two boys, John and Owen practice making the shot in the least amount of time.
Owen is also a symbol of the relationship of world and spirit. He works in a granite business, earthly in his nature, but also angelic in his heigh and features, including the glow of his skin. "He was the color of a gravestone; light was both absorbed and reflected by his skin, as with a pearl, so that he appeared translucent at times"(3). To add to the idea of Owen as a gift, as "God's instrument", there is also Owen's fated dream, his supposed birth, and precognitive powers.
Because Owen knew his fate, because he was comfortable with the idea of his death, he had faith in his actions and those of others. "Teach me to live, that I may dread the grave as little as my bed. Teach me to die" (520).
It is the doubt surrounding Owen that sets the stage for Irving's final chapter. Irving reveals John Wheelwrite's father as Pastor Merril, who knew of Owen's dream and fate as well. Irving uses Merril as a symbol of doubt throughout the entire book, through his stuttering sermons and refusal to believe in Owen as a miracle.
"It's easier for you to j-j-just accept it. Belief is not something you have felt, and then not felt; you haven't l-l-lived with believe and unbelief" (524).
Owen's shot, his fate, is the chance miracle of Irving's entire novel, climaxed at the end.