Fine art: a philosophical dead heat on a merry-go-round

by LJ Frank

There are narratives in our blink of an eye existence that no matter how transparent in appearance, are curiously crafted with only suggestions of a truth… and truth is never singular. It’s always in relationship to context… like an ambiguous film noir with flashes of color as if there exists something beyond that which we see with our eyes.

Starting points are never what they appear in life… they are embedded in human cells, character, personality, genetics, our environs, and situation. Details may only give hints to something more profound and textured like an unrecognizable or illusive meaning in a marking on a work of art.

And one must consider other threads like a temple, cathedral, or synagogue that on the surface are places of worship… yet are not the residence of God… the architecture points to that which is ultimately invisible to the eyes but not to the heart. That which is hidden may choose to be hidden for reason. The architecture is a metaphor just as art is.

And then there is this that I have cobbled together to make sense of the precarious situation in which I find myself. 

My situation initially began with questions. What happens if assets in the form of a list of works of fine art finds its way into my miniscule bank account that I opened up in another country decades ago (1970s) and never really paid attention to except on an annual basis? And what happens when my passport and other documents are stolen earlier in this century and were used to identify me as the owner of the fine art? During that lapse of time, I had to reestablish my identity and an enigmatic and eccentric person of the similar age and name I discover had an account in the same bank. 

Life is uncertain filled with the vicissitudes of the day. I emailed the bank and followed with a long-distance call. A bank official verified they had received an envelope from a lawyer who hand delivered it to them.  What details in life does one take seriously?

There were technical details but suffice it to say I queried the official if there was a mistake. He said no. Though no one at the bank had ever met me or the eccentric billionaire that allegedly owned the fine art. So, I hesitantly accepted his word after asking him three times. Three is an ancient magical number in varied fields of interest such as fairytales, sporting events, serving of meals, and of course the Holy Trinity. That sounds silly and spiced with romantic notions but much of life I have found is… it’s related to the human condition and situation in which she or he lives and dies.

I am a philosophical libertine and an intellectual slut who sleeps with a different idea every night. Those who know me can attest to it. I also believe my situation is also an essential factor and combined with my genetic makeup that affects my actions. Emotional reaction and reasoned response overlap.

The challenge… it wasn’t my assets though I suppose you could rationalize it was anyone’s who paid more than their fair share to arrive at their current station or situation in life. Self-deception.

 Any number of billionaires become billionaires because they are selfish or born into it and become snooty as if somehow, they are self-entitled and better than the pawns surrounding them whether in or out of uniform. Little do they know.

Tangential thought – you see I appreciate that the Republic in which I live was founded mostly by male property owners and that self-entitled themselves to be the primary voters. The Haves and Have-Nots were philosophical threads in the original fabric of representative democracy. Life was and is never fair. It’s situational and genetic based from my perspective. I digress.

The other tangential issue I have is the problem of lying – to others and myself. Self-deception is a precarious business. And, with tongue in cheek, the art of lying, well, is decaying. The good lie is like a forger selling you a painting that you both know is a reproduction but you are purchasing it to be used as a gift to a politician, their mistress, and like mined acquaintances… and the artist may be a lover with a guileless presence but you both know the truth. You have a conscience. Whereas a bad lie is undependable, narcissistic rooted, conscienceless. and pathological – it may look familiar as a good lie but the liar is like a person who bargains with Lucifer mistaking him for God. And there is no liar’s purgatory, heaven, or hell… except in one’s mind.

I offer all these tangential perceptions as the list of assets transferred to my account were written on one sheet of paper I later discovered. The lawyer that gave the bank official the envelope noted that on the masthead of the letter was the Greek symbol for Alpha and Omega, the first and last letter of the Greek alphabet. The lawyer said I would understand. I am an agnostic as I have no proof of an invisible God. No one has ever seen God according to St, John. I was puzzled. In the face of the absurd the Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, in his work on Fear and Trembling observed, one makes a leap of faith. My leap is not as spry as it used to be but as noted situation and generics. My mere existence is one of those situations in which I find myself in. Is this the hour I make a leap? 

The official did add that since they received the envelope a well-dressed woman of Mediterranean complexion inquired about me. The official told her he never met me and knew very little, nor was it his privilege or responsibility to divulge any information that they might possess about their clients.

Subsequently, I updated my passport which took longer than anticipated and eventually boarded a flight to the country in question.

Upon visiting the bank, I proceeded to sign some documents along with having a brief discussion with the bank official that I had been in contact with. I was then handed an oversized business envelope and departed the bank. I also realized my head was damp. It was a cloudy day.

I visited a nearby coffeeshop not far from a gothic cathedral where I opened the envelope and looked at the sheet of paper with a listing of paintings. I knew the price of such exquisite works were relative to the market. My namesake had already passed away a year earlier. There had to be a mistake. Details.

There were four paintings listed. There was also a smaller envelope with a key in it wrapped in a piece of paper with a street address. I checked the street address on my android phone and then my laptop computer. It listed a place of worship at that location. Were the paintings inside in a locked room or closet or what? Or was that the correct address? I noticed that the building listed next to it was a storage facility. 

And now? I am writing this on my laptop computer in a coffeeshop, and also trying to establish contact with a colleague/friend whose home base is in Germany. And also wondering who the woman was that inquired about me.