23 July 2011

SIXTY-FIFTH

A. "Achillas answered, 'I could tell you that I would not do it because I had no time, and you would not be vexed. But if I did not do it for this monk, he would say, "The hermit has heard my bad reputation and for that reason has refused to make me a net." So immediately I set to work with the string, to soothe his soul and prevent him being sad.'"

B. "He had a look at the pictures. Some of them belonged to a school of art with which he was already familiar. There was a portrait of a young woman who held her mouth wide open to reveal the fact that the inside of it was thickly overgrown with hair. It was very skilfully painted in the photographic manner so that you could almost feel that hair; indeed you could not avoid feeling it however hard you tried. There was a giant mantis playing a fiddle while being eaten by another mantis, and a man with corkscrews instead of arms bathing in flat, sadly coloured sea beneath a summer sunset. But most of the pictures were not of this kind. At first, most of them seemed rather ordinary, though Mark was a little surprised at the predominance of scriptural themes. It was only at the second or third glance that one discovered certain unaccountable details—something odd about the positions of the figures' feet or the arrangement of their fingers or the grouping. And who was the person standing between the Christ and the Lazarus? And why were there so many beetles under the table in the Last Supper? What was the curious trick of lighting that made each picture look like something seen in delirium? When once these questions had been raised the apparent ordinariness of the pictures became their supreme menace—like the ominous surface innocence at the beginning of certain dreams. Every fold of drapery, every piece of architecture had a meaning one could not grasp but which withered the mind. Compared with these the other, surrealistic, pictures were mere foolery." — Lewis, That Hideous Strength, Ch.14