The shallow hole the boy had dug became deeper with time as he scooped out the red colored clay the ground was made of. He filtered it through his hands, taking out stones, sticks, decomposed leaves and roots. Punching and smoothing it he compacted the clay to one block, thus slowly building up a monolith from clay. He devoted great care to this process, making sure that he would have a structurally sound mass with which to work. Over the course of building hundreds of small people from mud he had gotten quite skilled at this craft. Only when he was content with the sound that a slap against the block produced, a deep, saturated thud, would he proceed to sculpt. With deliberate slowness he worked from the general form to the details. Many times a form had collapsed when he had tried to overemphasize a movement or had placed the limbs too far outside the center of gravity. In the beginning he had tried to use sticks to support an arm reaching out or a leg stepping forward and though technically that solution had worked he didn’t like that the figure now seemed to defy the laws of gravity that nature put on the material and form. It was thus almost impossible by the mere use of sticks and clay alone to sculpt an outreached limb that looked natural. So he had returned to work from the inner core of the material and to rather hint at a movement that – though invisible – the eye would project into the empty space. He was always intrigued by what he could see without seeing it. He liked the way his sculptures randomly related to one another, all he had to do was to quietly look at both sculptures and discover this relationship of forms. Something deep inside him stirred when he looked at his creations and their silent endurance. He could see the form of the space in between two physical forms, it was nothing and yet visible if one cared to look, it changed constantly, stretched and diminished, even disappeared. It was actually easier for him to comprehend the properties of this in between space than the form itself. You could get out of the trajectory of any moving object if you controlled that space. If you made that space in between adhere to your inner voice you did not need sticks to build a figure. Why, you barely needed your hands, all you had to do was to look long and hard, look at the clay monolith and make some slight adjustments. Soon his people were crouching, stretching, running, turning. He took great pleasure from this.
His father began to take notice too. One night when he had returned home from the workshop the little garden patch had first caught his attention. In the twilight the clay sculptures his son had build in the afternoon had a strange quality of perfection. There were seven fresh sculptures, six of them crouching on the ground, the seventh a small figure in flight, emerging out of a block of brick-colored earth, running.
From a distance it had seemed that all sculptures possessed distinct personalities and bore individual facial features. Something about these features seemed oddly familiar to the stonemason. Upon closer inspection he realized though that the impression of an actually sculpted face dissipated from a nearer perspective – but reinstated itself the moment he stepped back like a magical trick. The inability to confirm his initial finding, to come closer to the truth, was intriguing to him. He asked himself how a not yet six year old child could have created such a sophisticated illusion. He didn’t ever doubt that the impression was created deliberately. He studied the people his son had made for a long time. Inside the house the light from the boy’s bedroom shone dimly through the drawn curtains.
“I will be back.” Was it even meant to be a promise or rather the a mere, impulsive expression of an intent? The gargoyle pondered this question over many days, even weeks after the mason had left. He remembered the … Continue reading →
He was but a gargoyle, a stone image. How the gift of sentient observation had come to him he did not know any more than man knew where the soul originated. From his place on the roof he observed … Continue reading →
Time, unmoved by his suffering, resumed its course. We cannot keep close to our losses even if loss is all that remains of our loved ones. He had been bound to his companions by circumstance and habit, by outer design … Continue reading →
A picture taken by Charles Negre in 1853. Of Henri Le Secq near the ‘Stryge’ chimera on Notre Dame de Paris. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Embedded in the otherwise raw stone was the face of a little boy. The details were not worked out but still the image unmistakably was that of a child. His eyes were almost closed; he had round cheeks and a high, equally round forehead. The face was still and yet there was something disturbing in these childish, lovely features, a hint of pain not overcome.
After a protracted moment of meditation, like a period of silence between two people who do not know how to talk to each other but do not want to part ways just yet, the mason had taken up his tools and finished his work. Within the hour he had transformed the boy into a beast by adding spiked ears, pointed horns on his head, a hairy body, large hands and feet and a curled-up tail, all roughly fashioned. He then had put down his instruments, and without evaluating his just completed work again, had turned away from the boy and had left.
The last winter before the completion of the new church he had an encounter with a stranger who had called upon him repeatedly and who was staying at the town’s only inn. He was dressed in simple, yet elegant clothes, … Continue reading →
the death of his unborn son, for the stonemason it felt like a betrayal. death was to be a professional matter, something to take place in the realm of his customers, who commissioned him with carving memorial stones for their … Continue reading →
He had seen them in the far off distance of the long street that moved towards the shop. Something in their movement had caught his attention. Two tall men moving oddly synchronically, not just the spacing and timing of the … Continue reading →
I’m looking for the face I had
Before the world was made.
Yeats, A Woman Young and Old
The little Gargoyle was sitting, the last of his kind, still as usual, listening to the faint sound of human voices from down below that the wind today seemed to be determined to carry in another direction. The Gargoyle sighed. Many days now he sat unmoved by the simple signs of social life the parish displayed on the little stage of his vision field. Sometimes he thought about the times when the others had contributed to his own observations with descriptions of what they could see. They all had had places of much greater exposition and had enjoyed a better view of the human spectacle down below. His own place in the shadows of the rear entrance suited the much less elaborate work that the artist had employed by carving him, basically not intending much more than creating a somehow sophisticated rainspout.
One might have thought that his first decades of existence must had been filled with envy or humiliation as his far more artistically executed companions had not failed to point out the aesthetic and social difference that clearly existed between his own simple self and their proud display. The truth was though that his nature was as simple and good willing as his face and that he had always preferred listening to talking and had been glad of their companionship despite their arrogance. Over time as boredom had led to an increasing tendency to quarrel among the more prominent members of the little society they chose him to confide in when their antagonists were drifting off to sleep, a deep, dreamless sleep, not unlike death, but the little gargoyle – clearly a failure in this respect as well as in his aesthetic execution – unable to retrieve his thoughts had been sitting alert and looking out into the night waiting for another morning that should restore his companions to him.
When they were all finally hovering quietly in their respective darkness he had often asked himself if the stonemason had known that he had been awakening the stone with his hammers and chisels and had he known would he still have chosen to give life and then abandon his creation? The little gargoyle of course had the patience and endurance of all stone creatures and one night, one week, one month of silence meant little to him. But he found that by never being able of sleeping he had lost some of his countenance, his stone nature, and during his long nights of silent thoughts while the others where embedded in an enviable state of coma had developed an inner life that didn’t seem quite suitable for a simple gargoyle.