Friday, 16 August 2013

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Le Ballon (1870)

At the beginning the World is created without a plan. The globe simply emerges, out of an infinite void that cannot be defined as darkness, and without much stir it dwells like a Great Tome, or an age-old rock, on which mosses run riot. We have no memories of how we arrived on this earth, nor do we know how we gained awareness of the surrounding, how we opened our eyes and got accustomed to a world composed solely of Light and Sands. From time to time we witness men rising from out of the soil with much difficulty, like sprout trying to yank itself up amidst a roaring storm, and thus we deduce how in the self-same fashion we were born. Drawing a cross before our hearts we express gratitude to the Divine Someone, for robbing us of every vestige of our memories, for willing us to forget the pain and the agony experienced through the laborious process of our Genesis.

There are also times when those that are standing beside us moments before suddenly slump to the ground like fallen trees. Their skin crease and wither until the stocky carcasses shrink into a pool of fleshless mess. Knowing our ends will unlikely be something contrary, we murmur a long hymn of bliss- grateful of having still the privilege to roam around the earth with no signs of Death beckoning us, grateful of being yet seized by an corroding numbness, that our noses still itch when detecting the aroma of the soil, burnt submissively under a scorching sun.

So what will happen if one day some of us refuse to follow any longer the Golden Rules? Those who derail spot the differences amongst an arrayed of perfect similarities. That is when Evil emerges, formless and intractable, and instills into our ears words of poison that will no sooner become the incontrovertible Truth. Crime and Lust come after. The barren earth transforms into a riotous playground. We plunge into raucous merrymakings, which last three days and three nights until the collective sweats of our heated skin evaporate into white smoke, and white smoke disperse to thin clouds. The clouds slowly drift towards the moon and the light that illumines our crimsoned faces tiptoe out like our Golden Years sifting irrevocably through our grasps. The continuous gallops of a troop of Winged Horses approach. The Divine Someone is furious.

It is always on the point of demise, or at least, departing that something still remains questionable- that the Devil so intent on putting our lives in peril can turn out to be the Saviour. Why on this vast earth even when our faces change everyday we can still find the Old Familiarity lurking around the corner? Why we always speak one thing, act otherwise, and feelings fail on us insentient beings? But always on the point of leaving someone will still hold the gun and root himself on the ground, reluctant to go. That person will wave until the Black Balloon is no longer in sight, and everything before him is all but an infinite haze.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Henri Fantin-Latour, White Lilies (c. 1883)

The beautiful and the terrible mingle. The horrible and the delightful- the flower that blossoms in all its loneliness into a beauty incarnate. Setting against the ugly and the homely, like a harmonious melody that courses through a hubbub of ceaseless clanks and clangs, one need not strain his ears and the music will flow into them like honey. Modesty the flower knows not. The flame of its beauty coruscates even in the depth of night, when the whole town is plagued by endless sleeps and ravaged on the point of crumbling away. Those who are inexorably licked by the flame allege that the flower is the vessel of the Devil.

Still-lives often take on the appearance of an artificial nature. What is depicted is no longer something that bustles with life, as life is frozen for the sake of art. Therefore we see, on closer inspection, how every leaf of the lily seems to tremble as its last breath is on the brink of slipping away, or some might fancy that they hear the flower letting out a long but faint hiss of remorse. Impeccable beauty often comes with the price of an ephemeral existence. Even before the flower starts to bud we prophesy its decay. And the process of its decaying can be painfully long for spectacle: it is akin to witnessing a molten wax model melting away to its demise.

“And thus whenever I toss and turn, unable to sleep when my head is too weighed down with heavy thoughts, the balmy night wind will always be there to calm my restlessness with his affectionate caress. This little gesture of ready charity never fails to transport me to sublime happiness. In return to his kindness I sway my supple body like a serpent navigating his way to a disarmed prey, or an undulated sea, the choppy waves making periodic appearances like numerous crescent moons. He will be so ecstatic that together we sing a duet of a merry elegy, until the music abruptly ceases as we are out of breath, and silence, and the whole earth, is peopled only by our thrumming echoes,” the flower confesses.

The flower lives perennially with her beauty immortalised fresh as if she is just on the cusp of her youth. Myriads hands rub her petals, savagely or tenderly, in their sweated palms yet beauty is indestructible. Veins still betray a pale red even when the flower is withering. Confidently she whispers to herself that her heart still palpitates.