There’s nothing like the City on a warm sunny summer’s day for wandering aimlessly and for getting lost amidst the crowds, the buildings, streets and parks. Perhaps—if you persist long enough, walk far enough, stopping now and then for a drink, whether coffee, tea, or beer, read enough pages from enough books before taking to the sidewalks again—perhaps then you just might find yourself….
However that might be, the day and night long ago now I’m thinking of lingers in my memory like a dream, it’s edges all blurred but the substance solid…or as close to solid as are the dreams which visit us at night.
It was dusk and I had stopped again, sitting down in an out-of-the-way pub to quaff a beer and rest my legs. The waitress, dark haired, bespectacled and indescribably lovely to a lonely wanderer such as I was, delivered the glass and looking down at the books at my elbow asked what I was reading. “The History Of Art,” I told her, “by a guy named Elie Faure.” “Interesting,” she said, smiling.
After finishing the beer I paid and, gathering my things together, noticed a business card left on the table. Picking it up I read: “The Art Of Man”, and below it, “The Last Art Gallery.” That was all. Pocketing the card I returned to my peregrinations.
Sometime later in an unfamiliar part of the City I stopped to get my bearings, my head swimming slightly with the beer. There in front of me, sandwiched between a bank and one of those dark urban sub-culture clubs with names like ‘The Cavern,’ or ‘Underground’, was a plain door with a simple sign overtop announcing ‘The Last Art Gallery.’ I tried the door, and after discovering it to be unlocked, entered.
Inside there was a small open space containing a desk which held a computer monitor, keyboard, and a pair of glasses. “Could they be the same pair as those the waitress wore?” I wondered.
Hemming in the open space was a dense mass of potted plants. Small colorful flowers, ferns, thick leafy shrubs, and small trees all crowded in, but as I looked closer there seemed to be something of a path leading through.
I followed it, and it wasn’t long before I heard the gentle purling splash of water. The path moved toward the dribbling sound and a few more steps brought me to an opening. In it was one of those garden fountains of stone which circulate water up from a brimming basin till it falls gurgling and splashing from one tiny pool to another. Beside the fountain was what looked like an altar, about six feet across and also made of stone, on which were two stone disks, one at each end. The disks were a foot across and three or four inches thick, and there were nine or ten more ranged in a neat semi-circle on the floor in front of the altar. As I approached I saw words painted on the floor beside each stone disk. “Sumerian Man” was on the left, then “Egyptian”. Beside others were “Indian Man” and “Chinese Man.” I stopped next to the disk labelled “Classical Man” and pondered the entire scene.
My shoe was untied, so, placing my foot on the stone disk I bent down and retied it. Straightening up again, my foot still resting on the disk, I immediately noticed a strange glowing mist gathering on the left hand stone disk atop the altar. I removed my foot and the tiny glowing cloud disappeared. Intrigued, I tried it again. It worked, and then the shimmering light disappeared once more as I lifted my foot.
I stepped onto the stone with both feet and this is what I saw. Again the glowing puff of cloud appeared, but this time it grew brighter, thickened. It became a shining hologram-like coalescence of light, blue and gold, and slowly it shaped itself into…an egg. It seemed to pulse with light and energy, and as I stood there watching in amazement it began to tremble, gave a shudder, cracked, and fell open.
That’s it for part one. If you’ve followed me thus far I thank you. Where’s the overarching pattern when we survey the works of art bequeathed to us from the past? Where the ordering principle, and the key to what it all has to teach us…about ourselves, where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going?