our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a

2012/10/02

aspecta medusa

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: deborah conner <museredux@
Date: Sat, May 24, 2008 at 11:43 PM


aspecta medusa

Andromeda, by Perseus sav'd and wed,
Hanker'd each day to see the Gorgon's head:
Till o'er a fount he held it, bade her lean,
And mirror'd in the wave was safely seen
That death she liv'd by.
Let not thine eyes know
Any forbidden thing itself, although
It once should save as well as kill: but be
Its shadow upon life enough for thee.
~DGRossetti

Burne-Jones painting



*********
The weather continued to be warm, and the doctor had agreed after a reasonable amount of badgering to take the twins down to the beach. It had been weeks since they'd been there, and they spent a good while exploring the changes washed up on the shore.
After a time, he sat down by the cliff to watch them. He'd become their ever-observant tutor, studying them as they studied everything, and with as much time as he spent with them, he thought it odd that he still couldn't tell them apart.
But why should anything be predictable about them? They were not ordinary twins.
They were not ordinary at all.
They had developed quickly into robust, brilliant, amiable boys. To watch them, one would think they were simply exquisitely beautiful children, normally curious as they turned over and examined a great piece of driftwood in their serious way. They were copper-haired like their father, with great gray eyes and cupid mouths, as seemingly angelic as their names. But when they spoke, one knew that they were something more. Something extraordinarily more. Most three year olds didn't spontaneously read and write. Most didn't care about Shakespeare, Dante, Leibniz. Or write verse, or know what had been before, and the people and places they'd never seen.
Michael (or was it Gabriel?) came at last and sat beside him. "So, Doctor—It is soon to be the turn of the century," his little voice said, great with solemnity. "I understand that when the term fin-de-siècle is used, there is something more implied."
"Yes," the doctor began, thinking it a bit much to explain to one so young and trusting. "The century's end implies a great deal, no matter how you look at it," he said diplomatically. "There's a sort of a mood, an expectation people have when a century turns over. There's something—ominous about it."
The child studied him. "Ominous expectation. Then it's a forward looking thing."
"Yes," the doctor agreed. "But backward looking, too. People seem to give a lot of thought to where we've been and where we're going. It's an impetus to take stock."
The child nodded, and then rose—walking to the water's edge where his brother was standing. For a very long time they both stood looking out across the channel. The doctor got up, dusted the sand off his legs and backside, and joined them. Something about the look on their faces drew his concern.
"Doctor—do you see it?" one of them said.
"Eh?" he replied. "See what, child?"
"The end of one time," the other twin said, "and the beginning of the next."
Somewhere, far out on the water, he thought he saw a great silver cloud, a singular haze.
Then, Gabriel (or was it Michael?) bent down, and picked up the thing he'd brought with him. It was a round bottle—odd and old, sealed with lead—and inside were two small boats. He showed it to his brother—who nodded—and then threw it out onto the tide, which caught it—breathing it in, pulling it onward toward its depths.
*****
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*end -- excerpt from Gates, dmc 2000