Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jordan's Writing-1st person story of a Renaissance artist

Jordan is an interesting character. He is a thinker and a writer and sometimes I am totally surprised by where his thoughts and writing are taking him. Jordan has been studying the Renaissance period specifically the church, some of the ruling families and some of the artists. I gave him an assignment to write a first-person account of a Renaissance artist who has been commissioned by a nobleman to produce a great work. As he was writing one day, he said he wanted to throw in some of the political and moral climate found during the time. Here is his story.

I, the Painter, had chosen the colors wisely. Red like blood, black like sin, green like sickness, and grey like scandal and secrecy. Perfect for my commissioner's painting. No royal gold or shiny silver, nor the purity of white would touch this canvas; I made sure of that. Only the stiffest brushes were suitable for this work.

My apprentices and fellow artists called me mad. Crazy. Maybe they're right. I let my apprentices go free for I do not know what will happen after tonight when my "Great Work" is unveiled.

Unveiled. Revealed. No secrets. Yes. And with the revelation of my painting, another revelation will take place. A secret well known, yet not spoken of. But that facade will crumble tonight. Unveiled.

The Duke is a ridiculous tyrant. All the nobles know it, but dare not overthrow him. As if the Duke, like some Jove of Roman myth, will hurl lightning in their faces. Dare not.

I must be crazy...I dare.

A servant came in and lit the candles. The Duke and Duchess would be here soon, along with the the Nobles-Who-Daren't. I am ready. I watch the flickering flame of the nearest candle casting its light around the room.

Light. Light reveals the hidden things. Light shows the scared children what their spooks and boggles really are, and they fear no longer. Light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not comprehend it. Light.

Tonight I will be a light.

The magnitude of it all hits me. If everything were shown as it really is, no lies, no veils, no secrecy, who could come away from the revelation entirely sane? Your home could be a hole. Your food could be poison. Youth could be old age. Your doctors could be murderers. Your enemies could be your friends. And your closest friend could be a monster. Nothing would be certain. Light would change things completely.

I laugh to myself. Here I am, a painter about to publish his work to the world, and I'm having a mental philosophical discussion with myself. Interesting.

The doors open. First the Duchess comes in, all done up in the latest fashion with her nose in the air. She would probably drown if she was outside in the rain. Next were her maidservants looking for the world like a group of fat chickens constantly clucking and pecking and eyeing every "rooster" that crosses their path.

After them comes the Nobles-Who-Daren't. I can see in their faces years of fear and feigned reverence for the Duke and I pity them. Men should not fear what need not be feared.

Next, the Duke.

Fat. White. Sickeningly beautiful hands with long fingernails. A smooth, seemingly innocent face. A flashy smile of white, straight teeth as he greets me and the nobles. Oh, how well evil disguises itself! But look closer.

A finger aside the nose as he winks at his personal favorite among his wife's maidservants. She giggles and blushes. The Duchess pays no heed; she too has a special friend among the nobles. The whole scene is enough to make one sick. But I am used to it. Living in this household for as long as I have has educated me in the art of being a noble. I mentally listed three rules the Duke seems to follow:

Never let morality or God get in your way.

Power, power, all for power, and when you lose power get power!

Religion is to be used to get the populace to like you, but it is never to be taken seriously.

Ingenious, is it not? Yes, if your goal is to be a tyrant.

They are all seated. Now is my moment. I stand. My hands are shaking with excitement.

"My ladies, noblemen, and Most Esteemed Duke," I say, laying my hand on the silk veil that hides the painting from view, "I present to you my latest work. I call it 'The Duke'."

I pull away the veil. I revel in the look in the Duke's eyes as they take in my masterpiece.

"Yes," I say, "Look well upon it. Look well, you king with a crown of paper. Look, you. Behold yourself as you really are. See, and admit it is a goodly likeness."

As they sit in stupefied shock, I turn and look at my work. There is the Duke. Two horns stand out from his forehead. A slim, forked tongue is snaking out from between his lips. In the background, mountains are dwarfed by his shadow.

The Painted Duke's face is a sickly shade of green. Beneath his feet lay the nobles, armed for war, but their faces depict defeat. The Duchess stands to the Duke's right, but the Duchess's maidservant stands to his left. The Duke and the maidservant are holding hands.

The real Duke jolts out of his seats, his face red with fury.

"I paid you to paint a portrait of ME, not Satan!" he screams. His scream sounds like the whining of a pig.

"You and Satan are one and the same." I answer calmly. Then I turn to the nobles. "See? This is a painting of what you already knew! The Duke is a pig! You have always had the power to overthrow him, but you dared not. Why do you fear him? Why do you fear this...this weakling?"

"That's not a good painting of me," whines the maidservant.

"Silence, you Jezebel!" yells the Duchess, putting aside all thought of propriety and leaping at the maidservant.

A noble leaps up. Bertolli. The only noble the Duke ever fully trusted. He draws his knife from his belt. "My lord, Duke," he shouts over the noise of the fighting women, "It seems your rule has been living on borrowed time. You are free to leave now."

The Duke looks puzzled for a moment. Then he attempts to regain some sense of authority. "You too, Bertolli?"

"Me too."

The Duke looks stoic for a moment. Then he turns and walks out of the room, followed by the Duchess and the maidservant, both sobbing.

Thus ends the Duke.


Unknown said...

Wow! That is really good! I am a fellow writer, but I fail horribly at wrting for school... Strange how that goes... I like to write what I want to write and the subject I choose. I am working on a book about a Aztec man not really for school but I got the story line from when we were in that time in history.
Have a nice day and may God bless you!

Amy said...

Good job, Jordan! I like the way you wove the political and religious messages into the story.

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