Thursday, 19 July 2012

The art and the soul

"My gallery?" She leaned back on the window ledge, causing the curtains to sway behind her, and took a slow breath. "My gallery. You must mean my collection. All those paintings, poems, all those things of yours I gathered over the years. It was hard work for me, but I believed in it, we all did in those days. So you think you know what it was for, why we did it. Well, that would be most interesting to hear. Because I have to say, it's a question I ask myself all the time." She suddenly switched her gaze from Tommy to me. "Do I go too far?" she asked.
I didn't know what to say, so just replied: "No, no."
"I go too far," she said. "I'm sorry. I often go too far on this subject. Forget what I just said. Young man, you were going to tell me about my gallery. Please, let me hear."
"It's so you could tell," Tommy said. "So you'd have something to go on. Otherwise how would you know when students came to you and said they were in love?"
Madame's gaze had drifted over to me again, but I had the feeling she was staring at something on my arm. I actually looked down to see if there was birdshit or something on my sleeve. Then I heard her say: "And this is why you think I gathered all those things of yours. My gallery, as all of you always called it. I laughed when I first heard that's what you were calling it. But in time, I too came to think of it as that. My gallery. Now why, young man, explain it to me. Why would my gallery help in telling which of you were really in love?"
"Because it would help show you what we were like," Tommy said. "Because..."
"Because of course"--Madame cut in suddenly--"your art will reveal your inner selves! That's it, isn't it? Because your art will display your souls!" Then suddenly she turned to me again and said: "I go too far?"
She'd said this before, and I again had the impression she was staring at a spot on my sleeve. But by this point a faint suspicion I'd had ever since the first time she'd asked "I go too far?" had started to grow. I looked at Madame carefully, but she seemed to sense my scrutiny and she turned back to Tommy.
"All right," she said. "Let us continue. What was it you were telling me?"
"The trouble is," Tommy said, "I was a bit mixed up in those days."
"You were saying something about your art. How art bares the soul of the artist."
"Well, what I'm trying to say," Tommy persisted, "is that I was so mixed up in those days, I didn't really do any art. I didn't do anything. I know now I should have done, but I was mixed up. So you haven't got anything of mine in your gallery. I know that's my fault, and I know it's probably way too late, but I've brought some things with me now." He raised his bag, then began to unzip it. "Some of it was done recently, but some of it's from quite a long time ago. You should have Kath's stuff already. She got plenty into the Gallery. Didn't you, Kath?"
For a moment they were both looking at me. Then Madame said, barely audibly: "Poor creatures. What did we do to you? With all our schemes and plans?" She let that hang, and I thought I could see tears in her eyes again. Then she turned to me and asked: "Do we continue with this talk? You wish to go on?"

(From Capter 21, Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro)

What if, after all, we're all just a product of an accident? I cannot just be happy to think that we should just be simply happy that after all it was just after all.

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