(4) Let thy feet be set in midst of knowledge and try together!

British Museum – Let’s look into the future and share dreams!

Great Court_London

Every single one of the more than 5 million visitors who enter London’s British Museum each year, will set his feet on the marvellous white floor tiles of the inner courtyard.  Yet, he will not look down to the floor but lift his eyes to the incomparable grandeur of the Great Court and the shining glass-made sky above. His view is magically drawn to the two majestic staircases which graciously encircle the magnificent cylinder of the former Reading Room. Step by step, the stairs lead his eyes upwards to take in the kaleidoscopic light from the miraculous roof which spans the inner court like a giant sail in the wind. It’s more than a museum, it’s a unique public square and an irresistible cultural domain – open to all and to be used by everyone! When after a while of browsing and grazing the mesmerized visitor can finally spare some time to take a look at the floor, he may find in words what he has already sensed as a unifying idea of the Great Court and the British Museum:

“And let thy feet be set,

Millenniums hence,

In midst of knowledge…”  Tennyson

And let thy feet(2)

So, let thy feet…

And let thy feet(3)

…regardless of shape, size or gender of feet, color of toes, eventual smells,

In midst of barefoot in sandal

… regardless of origins or boldness of shoewear, strange behaviour of socks and tights,

Knowledge and hairy calves

… and even regardless of feet being overtopped by hairy calves,

Millenniums hence boots

… yes, let thy feet, millenniums hence…

Bet set in midst flowery lady

… be set in midst of knowledge!

At the very latest, people should start in 2016 – just one week hence – and set their minds firmly on respect of humanity and peace. And why not try and do it together: Happy New Year, particularly to the school children at Neve Shalom – Wahat-al-Salam!

(3) A healthy-looking man from the country-side

Nightly Promenade

Nightly Promenade

After he had lost his grammar and no longer talked in coherent sentences he became more and more careless about explaining things to Rosa. He even forgot about his wholesome life in the countryside and preferred to stay in the house. He drew the curtains of his study during the day and reacted aggressively towards Rosa when she wanted to let the sunshine in. One day when Rosa had led him to the window of their bedroom which opened northwards onto the wide marshes and a milky-blue, vast horizon he restlessly shifted from one leg to the other, shielded his eyes with his right hand, blinked and abruptly tried to declaim his monologue about the “The breathing sky above the countryside” which Rosa had listened to so many times – but he broke off after only  a few tentative and stunted utterances like “I am breathing, Rosa” and “Sky-high, skylight, my love”. He had finally lost the thread of his endless story-telling. Something in the distance had silenced him, Rosa thought. Then she saw that he had to avert his eyes as if the openness of the landscape outside pained him. He turned away, took some steps into the room and sat in the easy chair with his back to the window so that he could look at the faintly expressionist oil painting of a landscape which had hung on the white wall opposite the window for nearly two decades. He stared at it for long minutes, sitting like a school boy, who had to decipher and read out messages from an ornamented canvas, messages from some painted trees along a narrow path which lost itself into a blurring horizon. Or was it a lake? Or the Baltic Sea where he had traveled several times? And wasn’t there a remote house with a white chimney? But he couldn’t make out the well-known patterns of the painted landscape and suddenly one of the trees, must be an oak tree, he thought, turned into the appalling profile of a wildly laughing, dark man. A grimacing face as big as a tree crown in heaven. It reminded him so irresistibly, so insistently of someone but he didn’t know. So he started all over again and looked at the trees with their late-summer foliage, the sandy path, the greenish bushes left and right, the white chimney, the shimmer of the Baltic Sea –  and again that face jumped at him, that vulgar, healthy-looking man, who peered and cheered out of the painting, again and again.

He went on like that for days and months until he lost his mind, completely and for ever. Rosa decided to give up the house and found a nursing home in the nearby town which had a garden with a bench against a white wall, for him to take rest in the evening sun. She told him to say good-bye to the countryside and the house. If he wouldn’t take a stroll along the river, through the village and around the garden. If he wouldn’t look at the rooms again. Come on, touch the walls and the furniture, feel the oak planks of the floor. She asked him if he wanted to take the easy chair and the painting to his new home. He seemed to listen to her while at the same time he was staring at the painted landscape and rapidly shuffling his feet. Then he grunted and, with a terrible vigour, he shouted at the painting:  “Who are you? Tell me! I want to know!” Afterwards he calmed down quickly and never said a word again when somebody was around. Rosa had  the oil painting cleaned and expensively framed for her new apartment in the city. Sometimes she used to stand very close to the painting and studied the vigorous brushstrokes, the layers of colour, the texture of the oil paint. “I will not tell you”, she would say.