Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Temptation of St. Anthony

"Well, we don't think much of your painting. I've seen better pictures done by a five-year-old."

Karabekian slid off his barstool so he could face all those enemies standing up.... "Listen--" he said so calmly, "I have read the editorials against my painting in your wonderful newspaper. I have read every word of the hate mail you have been thoughtful enough to send to New York."

"The painting did not exist until I made it," Karebekian went on. "Now that it does exist, nothing would make me happier than to have it reproduced again and again, and vastly improved upon, by all the five-year-olds in town. I would love for your children to find pleasantly and playfully what it took me many angry years to find.

"I now give you my word of honor," he went on, "that the picture your city owns shows everything about life which truly matters, with nothing left out. It is a picture of the awareness of every animal--the 'I am' to which all messages are sent. It is all that is alive in any of us--in a mouse, in a deer, in a cocktail waitress. It is unwavering and pure, no matter what preposterous adventure may befall us. A sacred picture of Saint Anthony alone is one vertical, unwavering band of light. If a cockroach were near him, or a cocktail waitress, the picture would show two such bands of light. Our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us. Everything else about us is dead machinery."
-- from Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut


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