“The work of art is an intricate interplay between concealment and un-concealment, secrets and exposure, and invisibility and visibility.”
In his article, The Arts as an Area of Knowledge, Louis Cheng explores Martin Heidegger’s thoughts on art as a means to know the world around us. It’s a two-way street of mutual discovery, one beneficial to both the artist and the audience. As Flannery O’Connor famously put it, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
Of course, step one is to get your audience’s attention. Withholding information triggers the imagination, and the reason this works is central to our nature. We’ve always been attracted to the interplay of the revealed and the hidden. Mystery fascinates us because it ignites the primal need to know what comes next — a basic survival skill. That’s why story tellers withhold certain details from readers, who must turn the next page to find out what happens next.
To quote from Flannery O’Connor again, “You have to make your vision apparent by shock — to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.”
Once your reader confronts those large and startling figures, they’re open to what you have to say. That’s when the real journey begins.