Friday, October 8, 2010

Pop and Simplicity

On an on-line forum I briefly discussed Sylvia Plath's "Daddy" as an ideal poem. What I like about it is its clarity, its apparent simplicity. Yet by being simple, with astute structuring, the poem fills with thematic complexity. It's like a modernist painting within which the viewer can see many things. Depending upon the angle from which it's approached. Another example is the four Gospels, which approach one subject from four different angles, and in their simple language create a compelling, three-dimensional portrait.

It's a paradox of nature and art that often the greatest art is the most apparently simple. I tell you, there are many more depths to "The Wizard of Oz" than to "Citizen Kane." One goes to the heart of the subconscious, while the other remains on the intellectual surface. It's the simple things-- a children's jangle, perhaps-- which unlock the treasures of the mind. Another example is H. Rider Haggard's "She," a straightforward adventure tale which was praised by both Freud and Jung. Surface artistic complexity often serves to hinder the artistic experience, while traditional tools like a narrative line can drive a knife into the psyche.

In other words, as they say in sales, "Keep It Simple!"

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