Wednesday, 23 December 2009

... a story of the unreachable.

So my friend had written half of a story a year back but never got around to finishing it. But when informed of my aspirations he asked if I would like an attempt at finishing it. So here is the finished effort. I have marked where he ends and I begin.

One day an artist was painting, he painted until he came to the stark revelation he had finished. And when he finished he stood taken away by what he had created. He knew at first glance it was the most beautiful thing ever painted so he put down his brushes and told the world "this is the most beautiful thing ever painted."

And humanity looked and agreed, and all the other artists put down their brushes. Why paint when the most beautiful picture has already been created?

Done with painting, they started composing and singing and writing music until one day they stopped--they had created the most beautiful composition ever heard.

And humanity heard and agreed, and so they all put down their instruments, what's the point of music if they can just listen to this piece in it's perfection?

Done with music they started acting--seeking to convey their emotions in the most eloquent form possible until one day the director stopped and said--"We've just created the most beautiful act ever.", and so they played it out for the world.

And humanity watched and agreed, and so they all quit acting. What's the point if these people have already perfected it? “Why we will just watch” they spoke.

Out of all this, they decided they only needed buildings to watch, listen, and look at these perfections. And so they called a master architect, and they told him, "You must create the most beautiful building for us to use". When he had finished, he didn't need to tell him it was the most beautiful building ever designed, they presumed.

And so they sat. No one did anything. They watched. As time moved on, various new media for them to watch arose and they watched in many different ways--but it was all they did. Society didn't want any more. No artists tried to create beauty or convey the messages in their hearts, they felt they couldn't compete; no musicians played their instruments or sung, nor composed symphonies, nor even tapped out a beat--and thus they lost their rhythm so no one even danced; no one sought out to convey their feelings through acting, they didn't even attempt to express their feelings to their loved ones, they felt numb as they couldn't express their love as well as the beautiful actors; and they all sat in shacks no more cosy homes, apartments, mansions, condos, nothing as all the architects felt no need to design buildings when the most perfect building had already been erected.

But critics arose, and they said to the people "These can't be perfect, there must be better!", but the people wouldn't hear it. Eventually, these remarks were taken offensively--and all the critics were slaughtered. One critique was heralded however, the critique that no writer had comprised the perfect story. And so the people took the youth of this perfect society to find the perfect writer, and found the most qualified writer they could.

The Writer had many ideas, but as a youth of the perfect society he decided he'd be able to quickly write the perfect story through the consistence of all things already perfected. To do this, he decided, he would need to talk to all those who had created perfection, and so he went to The Building where they all resided to speak with them.

To start of unifying these arts, he figured he'd begin with The Painter. So he walked to the building and when he saw a desk with a lady behind it wearing a name tag reading 'Mrs. Soothsayer', so he asked, "Hello, Mrs. Soothsayer, do you know as to where I could find The Painter?", and she responded aptly, "I can tell you where to find The Painter, who will tell you where to find the The Musician, who will tell you where to find The Director, who will tell you where to find The Architect but I must warn you first: there is no where to go but up from here."

So The Writer went off to the floor and room she had given him.

(Where he ends and I begin)

Here, he found not the painter, but the musician. The writer questioned the perfection of the building that did not hold its tenants where they were supposed to be. But he felt no need to move on from the musician in search of the painter until he had heard of this man's equation to perfection. So he asked of the inspiration for the piece to which the musician replied quite simply; “The Painter's art.” With this answer, the Writer did not feel that the Musician knew what it was to perfect something, so he asked if he knew where he could find the painter; “The Director knows of his whereabouts.”

So off went the Writer in search of the Director who was to blame for the loss of self expression. He was in the room that the Musician had spoke of, directly one floor above his own. When asked of the inspiration to his act, the Director said “By listening to the most perfect piece of music ever created I could see my act unravel in my head.” It was then that the Writer asked how the Director felt, knowing that he had caused physical indifference. However the Director disagreed and responded with what he thought was the answer; “When people complain that time moves too fast, that we have no choices, they think of us. Perfection gives us a reason to stand still. It stuns us into stopping and looking at the world around us; we can reflect.” The Writer thought that the word reflect in that sentence was more appropriate than the Director would ever know.

From talking to the Director and the Musician, the Writer realised that their work was no more of a perfection that it was of a recreation. A plagiarism. He knew that he would not find the answer in the disciples, only in the teacher would he find his equation that could create his new perfection. So he asked the Director where he would find the Painter; “Only the Architect knows which room the Painter resides in and he is in another floor above.”

The Architect was different from the other two. He was the closest to success as he was the last person to have left it behind him in his past. He had a clearer memory of how he had gotten where he was and he was more tainted by his perfection. He spoke of his building with little care; “They called upon me to create this beauty. It was already decided that it would be perfection in its largest form yet. I acknowledge the fact that I had a hand in this misery and for this I am filled with sorrow and hatred; self pity that I have to live in my mistake. But it's hatred for the Painter that keeps me going. Step up to the floor above, that is where I built his room. He will tell you what it is that makes perfection.” and with that, the Architect handed him a key.

So the writer walked up the next flight of stairs, up to the top floor of the building. He slid the key into the lock and turned. He was about to come face to face with the man who created perfection. He twisted the handle and pushed the door open, not to see the painter, but himself. On the opposite wall was a mirror from floor to ceiling. Corner to Corner. He walked into the room and then into the next; a second room completely covered in mirrors. But this time there was another man who joined him in his reflections; The Painter. He stood by a single window that reached from floor to ceiling, that overlooked the entire city, he turned to look at the Writer and in a monotone voice said “I know why you're here. Do you know why I am here?” The writer replied with what he knew was the answer. “Because everything that became perfection after your painting was just a recreation of your work. You started this.”

The Painter nodded and turned back towards the window. He spoke softly, the kind of softness that could only come at the end of long hours of contemplation. “If something is beyond our grasp it will seem superior to what we have. We will take everything that is made; songs, stories, plays and we will try to relate to the situation because this is what we need to enjoy something. We need to feel. However people cannot relate to perfection because it is not within our reach.” The Painter then lifted his hand and motioned towards the fabled painting that had started the Writers quest. The perfected painting. No one knew what it was of, it was just an array of colours that were so stunning it made you stand still, like the Director had said it would. The Painter turned away again and began to speak. “The painting isn't of anything, it cannot be related to in any way. It is difficult to describe what makes this painting so beautiful. The understanding is beyond our reach, we are just like moths to the flame. When I finished this painting, I believed in its beauty so much that I had the nerve to call it perfection. It wasn't something that had been done before so it was easy; if you create the definition then you make up the rules.” The Painter opened the window and a cool breeze swept in. “I am to blame for the downfall of this city. If there was no limit then people would keep climbing. But I set that limit and I now sit at the top observing myself being reflected over and over again either when I look into the mirrors or down onto the city. There is no where to go but down from here.” He turned to the Writer, smiled and said “Perfection isn't everything.” Then took one step forward and fell to his death.

So the Writer knew what to do. He sat down and wrote his story in the room that showed a 100 replicas of him. Every single mirror showing a perfect forgery of him. He wrote the story of how the Painter had thought he had found perfection and how in turn the Musician, the Director and the Architect had made the same mistake. But in fact the Painter had only found what he thought to be perfection and the mistake that the city had made was to believe him because they themselves did not know the meaning of it. The Writer wrote of how perfection is actually in the eyes of the onlooker. That every person has a different definition of beauty. How every person must try to find their definition as one day they will die like the Painter had, his definition left behind in his painting. Every person owes it to themselves to leave behind their one little piece of perfection.

And with this piece the Writer had created his. The last recreation of the Painter that would come from his city. With the Painter and his perfection at the bottom, sprawled out on the street with broken bones and his blood seeping into a wider and wider puddle, the only way to go from here was up.

And so the city climbed.

And with this I give you a story of the unreachable.

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