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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Mystery

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There is painting hanging in the National Gallery in faraway Edinburgh that has haunted me for years. But I do not know who painted it, and I do not know its name.

Perhaps I did once, but neither stuck: whatever filaments I ever had to sniff-out paths from short to long are many times exhausted? Now, like Algernon at the cusp or a sudden flash of lucidity amidst some slow descent, I am left to fret, to know what I no longer know, to remember only what it is I have forgotten. In a head jammed full of inconsequential trivia there is no place left for name or number. One is compelled, instead, to puzzle and worry piecemeal fragments - an image, a sense, some elementary principal - to congeal into something, typically porridge.

I am not helped in my feeble reconstruction by the Gallery itself, whose website is as close with its collection as we scots are said to be with our pennies? How sad, how unexpected from an otherwise welcoming place? I could, I suppose, hop on a train across the bridge as I used to do, and hobble my way up the Waverly ramp and half-way along busybody Princes Street, all the way to the Mound, and then walk in for free? - But no! Och No! - I'm forgetting the station's six thousand miles away. Damn.

But.

As muse Serendipity would have it - as she often does - I think I've found a clue, a pointer, a tell-tale sign? This is her town, Los Angeles, this is where she lives: and ever since I landed she's been good to me. She delivered me directly to a Goddess and a bold new life. She laughed in the face of those scornful homebodies who promised me "You'll find no culture there!". Here, she whispered, here at the shallow-end of the Pacific, here the barons ran-out of rail. Here they built mansions, and collections. Getty for your wonder fix. Norton-Simon for your Rembrandt self-portraits, continuing the series you discovered back there, and for the Hindu carvings you've never seen before. The Huntingdon for portraiture and gardens. Even municipal LACMA for your old socialist fix, and for weekend diversions with your kids?

I digress. It's late. You're tired. I ramble. Here at her home in Los Angeles, then, her fingers dance around my keyboard, weaving a web that led me to the picture above. To Stephenesque, to DarkoV to Drawn! to Vitriolica, a blog whose every entry is drawn by hand.

So what?

So. The painting I seek, my long-lost nameless fatherless ghost, depicts a youth, a boy - an imbecile I'd say - who is singing, arms stretched wide, singing over a corpse, laid upon a table top. Singing sweetly, innocently, without a care for caustic-tongued relations looking on. Singing something old, ancient. Not an opera.

So close: as close as Lisbon is to Edinburgh, and quite as different.

2 Comments:

Blogger DarkoV said...

Isn't Vitriolica a Hoot! Not that Stephenesque is a slacker...but, to be funny and also to convert that wit to drawings on an almost daily basis? Trolling on the 'net can occassionaly be rewarding. BTW, thanks for your visit and your link. Reciprocation will come shortly.
I enjpy your Scottish perspective from the Land of the Lotus-Eaters.

5:04 AM  
Blogger F.C. Bearded said...

Thank you for the pointer: marvellous site.

And though I may have become fat by eating all the pies, it is the Lotus that sustains me these days.

7:58 AM  

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