Tuesday, February 5, 2013

who the fruit wants to die alone?

Room 9
Venice 1500-1600

Oscar Wilde said it best

There is sunlight streaming through through glass sun roof, bordered by the white and gold ceiling modeling. The walls are covered in bud green silk damask fabric-y stuff. The entire room has been transplanted from the marshy, watery city of Venice into the heart of the massive museum.

Titian's paint is applied in smooth layers to the canvas. Ariadne's robes swirl and sweep across the lower part of the painting. Bacchus leaps out of his cart. The song Some Nights comes on in my head, and as I listen to our tutor talk about the mythical meeting of the god of wine and the abandoned princess, I stare at the painting with laser vision, and hear the words of the song mix in with the lapis-lazuli blue of Titian's sky.

As I walked around the room, all the stories: the militant, suffering, and triumphant swelled with the drumbeat of Some Nights beating in my head. All the stories swirled around me, and were caught up in a symphony of their own unique harmony.

Each painting is a captured moment. But the beautiful aspect of painting is that the best artists put little hints of the past and signs of the future into the present. As you dive into the present moment the painting suggests, you discover that the author of the painting has created little portions that, with careful observation, reveal the story that lead to that moment. If you meditate long enough on the eternally present moment of that painting, you find a clue about the end of the story. The more we follow the paintings into the present, the more we learn of the story.

In Titian's masterpiece, Ariadne looks out over the sea, as she watches the unfaithful Theseus' ship sail off to Athens. That is how she got to this deserted island--that is the past. Bacchus eyes, meeting hers, draw us into the present moment of an amazing love springing out of terrible faithlessness and lies. Twinkling in the corner of the pristine blue sky is a circlet of stars, signaling their wedding and Ariadne's queenship--that is the future.

The present moment is where the story happens. Where we are allowed entry into the story.
And by entering into the present, we find that we have already found the past and the yet-to-be.

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