A Traveling Merchant, Selling Pieces of Stone

Alexandra Seidel


     "Look at this grotesque. It is a piece of stone surely, hand sized and soft where teeth or claws don’t bite your skin, but also so much more. Look at it. Consider what you see. Begin by describing the obvious: stone, gray as anything you’d find by the side of the road, a figure, crouching, looming, waiting perhaps. It looks humanoid because it has a face, it seems pensive, the set of wings and back and neck make it appear melancholy almost. It has no eyes. Its eyes are holes. Is its soul therefore emptiness?

     Look harder now. The grotesque seems like it folded in on itself an so, it appears smaller than it should be, like a hunchback ringing bells. The word forlorn comes to mind, unasked for, uninvited; even so, those two syllables stay.

Do not let your eyes stray, foolish things! Look; when you are done with what is obvious, kindly ask yourself what isn’t. What was the hand that brought the grotesque from the stone, delivered its sight to your eyes? Pondering this makes you wonder if suicide is common among sculptors. The grotesque’s stony tongue would tell you, if it could.

     Do not stop looking at it and take the piece of worked stone into your hands. It’s not a heartbeat that you feel, it’s a chisel’s echo. The grotesque is warm to the touch. Tell yourself it’s because the stone holds the sun’s warmth, although you know full well that the sun didn’t shine at all today.

     Look at the grotesque. Smile. Cry. Be confused and fear. The stone is yours now, and vice versa: now there, that’s the trick! The abyss looking back at you, eh! What a piece you are, what mastery of hammer stroke upon hammer stroke. You’d almost think it lives!"

     [The merchant picks up the two grotesques, puts them back onto his small, rickety table.]

     "You over there, come closer, take a look at this grotesque and tell me what you see…"
Danse Macabre has never met Alexandra Seidel in person, but we imagine her as beautiful and slightly ominous, much like her work in DM here and here and here and here. 

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