The Woodring Layer
Dreamed 2008/7/7 by Chris Wayan.
For, of course, Jim Woodring
I've been reading Oliver Sacks's new book Musicophilia--the part on musical hallucinations. Many aren't psychotic OR based in the ear; they're confusion in the filters and pattern-recognizing circuits in the brain. Often, the cure's not rest or silence (they can worsen it!) but hard musical challenges, forcing a brainwide upgrade of your audio modules.
Then I read a long interview with Jim Woodring, the tormented, visionary cartoonist of Frank and The Book of Jim. He really does see crazy stuff, and draws what he sees... as I do with my dreams. Whether or not people believe us! They're the visual equivalent of the musical hallucinations Sacks describes: complex patterns, both creative and involuntary. But are they really hallucinations? Or perceptions of real patterns usually drowned by static in the busy, hasty modern mind?
I meet a girl who's drawing a city skyline. Towers all round us. They climb til the tallest fade into a dense fog...
But I see them capped with Woodring objects! Ornate radial hallucinations--ribbed, gleaming, multicolored, lurid and dreamlike as diatoms. Up to 100 m across, they cap all the tallest buildings, at about the same level, as if the towers pierce a layer of fog that grows strange spores... But they're too big to be real. They'd bring the towers down.
"You see those too?" I ask.
"Oh, yeah," she says. Well! If they're hallucinations, they're shared.
"Gonna put them in your drawing or not?"
"I dunno yet. If I put them in, I look crazy. If I leave them out, what do I draw for tower-tops?" Good point. The Woodring splines hide the final spires--if the towers have any.
Could we be seeing a true interface between two realities? A material city so tall it pokes into a higher world of Woodring rules, floating like a fogbank? If so, and the fog lifts, the towers may now have no tops to draw.
The larger question: should art reflect your sensory world, with its beautiful idiosyncracies, distortions, delusions? Or is art about truth? At least, the truest layer of truth you can pierce...
What I infer, or what I see? And then I wake.
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