Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Better than accurate: This Perfect Day

In reading The Hunger Games trilogy, I remember, again, a phrase that has stuck with me over the years, from another nightmarish Orwellian society--a glimmer of a memory of words from a novel read many years ago. I couldn't remember its title, but I remembered a term: "better than accurate." That's how one of the characters describe's his roommate's drawing. The horror of that particular Big Brotherish society, where a fellow whose drawings are not "accurate" must keep his shameful passion for art a secret, haunts me. After a brief search, I've found the novel: Ira Levin's This Perfect Day.

The character Karl's  "not accurate" charcoal drawing of a horse inspired Chip's compliment of the artwork as "somehow better than accurate." What Chip saw was "a rearing stallion...charcoaled darkly and vigorously. Muscles bulked under its gleaming hide; its eye was wild and rolling; its forelegs quivered. The drawing surprised Chip with its vitality and power. He had never seen a picture of a horse that came anywhere near it."

But the lack of accuracy in Karl's drawings has kept him from being officially classified as an artist. Once, when he has gone through his quota of sketchpads, Chip is daring enough to claim one for him--an act apparently equivalent in morality to obtaining drugs for a junkie, or liquor for a minor child. Since Chip's enabling behavior leads to even worse offenses by Karl, Chip eventually turns his roommate in to the authorities.

I shudder. I shiver. Scarier than a zombie movie! Never gonna happen, though. Wait... Didn't science declare creative people to be schizotypes? Wouldn't that mean... we're sick?

Should I worry? Meh. Think I'll head downstairs for my daily quota of milk toast.

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