“A Mural to Music, and Time to Come:…

….the future in “A Dance to the Music of Time” “: John A Gould.

“Imagine a man about to paint a mural. The wall before him is still under construction, being erected panel by panel, yet he walks back along its most recent sections and carefully begins painting images of Eton and Oxford and London between the wars. It is constructed from the lumber of all his experience, this wall. Anyone can see the similarities between the life etched on it and the mural overlaid; yet as he paints, he alters details, inventing or omitting events, conflating characters, revisioning even his own successive self portraits. The wall offers structure and images for the mural, but it does not dictate precisely what the man will paint. The wall is history, the mural art.

At one point the muralist moves backwards along the wall quite near its beginning to fill in an earlier scene, then returns to where he left off – by now images of World War II – and resumes work. After a long while he arrives at the last panel completed when he began (roughly 1950); then he continues over the more recently constructed surface, finally painting his way almost to his present (1971) and thus to conclusion. He stands back, silver haired and elegant, no trace of his labor on his hands or his clothes. The wall is still being constructed ahead; but he – and we – gaze back at the long mural stretching behind him, enamels gleaming, the work entire, finished.”

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