The Art of Cheating Death

July 31, 2014 4:54 PM

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The Art of Cheating Death

I was kidnapped once by a deranged knife wielding artist who demanded I look at his work. Once inside his studio he questioned the sincerity of my admiration - which was, admittedly, given under duress - and, looking me straight in the eye, began methodically slashing his paintings to ribbons. I suggested a trip to the local convenience store for a six-pack, and he and his knife accompanied me. Once the beer was on the counter, I dashed out the door, rolled over the hood of a cop car (whose inhabitant completely ignored me), and tumbled into the back seat of a miraculous idling cab. The last I ever saw of that artist was his forearms pounding on the hood of the cab as it sped through a red light. But his art, or specifically, the experience of witnessing its destruction, has stayed with me to this day. I was a witness to a suicide by proxy during one of my closest calls with death.

Art that has outlived its creator exists beyond the reach of death, and its ultimate purpose may be to preserve the high marks of human consciousness for unborn generations. It is at its core a very human attempt to outwit death, or at least to protect those divine flashes that are too new and fleet...

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