The Monument

Once upon a time, a traveler came through the village, and stayed for a day, selling beads under a straw parasol out on the roadway. Nobody had ever seen such kindness, heard such tales of wisdom or enjoyed such good company in years. Everyone went out to see him. After he left, everyone lost their beads, forgot the tales and life went on. Some decades later, word came that the traveler had perished in distant mountains. Everyone mourned for days and days. And then at last a great stone monument was built on the roadway, right where the traveler had traded in proverbs and stones.

The Dead

After some introductions, cigarettes—enough time for their eyes to almost get used to the darkness—the dead began to speak of the universe. What was it like for you? asked one. One of them quickly and nervously spoke of the great night of stars, multicolored planets, symphonies, paintings, cafes and X-rays, radios and compact mirrors, indigo streets of echoing footsteps, and flashing amber traffic lights. With their newly acquired level of consciousness, the others could picture these things, even though they were imagining or seeing them for the first time. One of the other dead described an infinity of bottle washers, tinfoil trees, circumambulations of helium, the descent of notes blown from an infinite woodwind, the motion of whirlpools and infrared eclipses. Another spoke of what sounded like an endless rainfall of raindrops, plum blossoms, gravel, umbrellas, and fireworks. Others could only recite numbers, and others strange patterns of tactile sensations, emotions or scents. One of the dead began to worry. Would this dialogue complete a picture puzzle, or just generate more puzzle pieces? It would be difficult to predict whether or not this would get monotonous, as there was no space or time for monotony. It was best to pay attention for now.

The Formula

The formula having been written on the blackboard, the distinguished professor wiped the chalk from his hands and said that you must never press the button to hold the elevator door open if you hear footsteps in the corridor. This not only adds unnecessary wear to the console, but it also interrupts the intentionality of the machinery and the rhythmic flow of destiny.

The Iron Age

Fired for his inflammatory articles and for refusing to incorporate critical theory into his lectures, the art historian sat down on the flagstones of an inner city courtyard to begin a staring match with a stone pallas that only ended when his eyelids closed for the last time of his life, just as the elegantly but inaccurately undressed statue raised her left eyebrow ever so slightly.

The Sandbox

When the heavens created us, the immortal masters, they were kind enough to bestow upon us the great game. Our earth is a great sandbox inundated with the game. There are many variations, but the tools or pieces are always the same. One can play with a whole set, fragments of sets, or a single piece. With one piece, you can dig, sculpt or thrash the beasts. With two or more pieces, you can play dice or hopscotch, and so on. One set contains between 206 to 270 pieces if complete. There is a large orb at the top, followed by a pair of shovels, a cage made of sticks, hinges with balls and sockets, smaller, spidery-looking hinges, long poles and other indefinable shapes that can be used in a variety of ways. The long serpentine rope that supports the set has many possibilities for play. The almost orb-like, pear-shaped part at the top is especially fascinating. These can be stacked into pyramids, built into walls, used as drinking vessels, kicked around in football and polo games, or employed as lanterns and candle-holders. You can also line them up in furrows and pretend you are growing cabbages! Some masters have tried to use them to speak to the heavens, as if they were musical instruments, but the heavens do not answer back, and the silence seems greater and more fearful then. There seems to be no shortage of sets in our world, and so we are always at peace, each immortal master playing with his own game. Sometimes we play together and share our tools in
various games, subplots that form part of the great game of the sandbox. One of our favourites is to stage puppet shows with our tools, and pretend that the puppets are immortals, although this requires considerable imagination given the lack of resemblance. Another is to play at banqueting, for these pale implements are edible and better than any beast or plant to eat. We stretch the sets out in great rows and sit down to feast. Our all time favourite is to play at building museums of abstract statuary, positioning the shining white things in various positions or sculpting them into new configurations. They appear to be made of some mineral or stone. Once in a while, the sets, which we affectionately call slaves, crumble into dust, but watching dust blow into the wind can be a very poetic and beautiful way to pass an evening.

The Escape

On the morning of your arrest, which could lead to a discrete execution on a bizarre machine outside of a castle you have never visited, it would be most convenient to discover that during the course of the night you had been transformed into a gigantic cockroach, as a result of your frequent fasts and obsession with panthers.

The Orphan

Standing on a wrinkled map of the city and some faded monochrome photographs that had fallen from his hands, the man who was looking for his missing wife screamed “O angel!” as a blade from his mysterious double, a renowned painter, dove into his lungs while the lights of a small, private museum near the bus depot switched on to welcome an oil-gray twilight of falling snow with their soft apricot glow.