Friday, April 17, 2009

TC: White Monkey

The Monkey

Das Affchen (The Little Monkey): Franz Marc, 1910 (Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhhaus, Munchen)

Every day there are moments that do not seem to lead directly into the next moment.
It must be those isolated moments, laid end to end, in which Zeno's arrow tries to cross the sky.

Since Zeno's arrow exists only inside his paradox, it can never land, and since, in those isolated moments, we too begin to take on the immateriality of a logical demonstration, there is no use in further discussion of that arrow.

A silence falls over the room.

All this is happening in a dream, or perhaps as if in a dream.

This is not the loud logical silence of a glacier but the muffled baffling silence of a dream. In the dream there is a forest, and in the forest there are monkeys whose bodies give off light.

We'll never visit the forest.

It makes more sense at the moment to think of a white monkey slowly fading back over a period of many long years into and gradually being absorbed by the surface--linen, paper, copper, wood--on which it is painted.

Or, perhaps, to think of the final note in a piece of music. The ripples of sound ebb away and finally there is no hint of reverberation left anywhere, silence fills the room.

This is not the cold silence of a paradox but the warm silence of a terrarium kept continually alive and in motion as in a dream without the isolation of sleep. As this silence takes hold of us it appears we're meant to experience life on a dying planet by becoming aware of other life. But this will not be easy.

If a lion could talk, we would not understand him.

Whether or not the white monkey also has such dreams we shall never know.

Study of Birds and Monkeys (detail): Circle of Jan van Kessel, 1660-1670 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

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