Thursday, December 14, 2006

i wonder how many fingers god has

I was thinking
as I zoomed around
behind my life
God--to coin a cliche--1) must have a sense of humor 2) must have anticipated the need for representational art--understood that humans would need to try to draw the world around them.

I thought this because I was looking at an illustration that had a four-fingered hand on it, and I was thinking about Homer with his four fingers, and Peter Griffin with his four fingers, and then I thought about that art-class cliche that you can tell how good an artist someone is by how they draw hands, then I thought about Da Vinci's sketchbooks full of hands.

And I thought about how hard it really is to draw hands (there's a reason Homer has four fingers). It's not how you expect the extremities of the human body to end when you are trying to represent them, trying to follow the energy of the shape (of the human form). You almost have to shift gears. Crank back. Cram all that long, stretched-out energy from the human limbs with a screeching halt into these too-small, mutable, individually yet collectively expressive bundles of digits that are like whole exponentially complicated bodies unto themselves, that deserve a separate drawing for each. Subjugate them.

We know when we're in the human body how neccessary our fingers are, how they work, how the strength of our bigger limbs works with them. Viewed from our head they feel more like appropriate ending punctuation for our limbs rather than strange, disproportionate fringes, but when you're on the outside looking in, you think...hands. HANDS. How can I ever draw hands? Why do I have to slow down and draw these? On a good day, a hand can be an easily-rendered, simple, sensible shape, but most of the time: rather than finishing the flourish of a limb with an organic gesture, you have to tie it off in an incredibly complicated knot.

I thought today that God anticipated all that, probably found it funny, probably knew all the ways we'd try to get around drawing hands. Also that he knew how important hands are and that deep down we can't get around it.

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