Art of darkness, mirrored light

Section 64 concludes Chapter 3 of the Nonsense Filter. Here it is in all its glory.

When Vernon looked into his own looking glass that night he realised his thoughts were still uffish. What if he got offered a job? Could he take it? Should he take it? Would Nsansa come too? There was something else… another question which hovered over his head like a visitation from the grave or a sighting at sea of the dreaded albatross. It was something he’d forgotten, something niggling, like a splinter that snags on silk; only now, with the conference tomorrow had it made itself distinct. It stepped into the limelight and he gasped.

Vernon shuddered involuntarily and sat down heavily on the edge of the bath. He hadn’t mentioned his plans to Claire, to Daniel or Pippa. Not explicitly. Sure, one day when they’d been braving the bitter cold at Colchester Zoo, somewhere between the narcissistic orang-utan and the manic meerkats, he’d asked if they would mind him going away for a year or two. Daniel had only shrugged; Pippa alone had truly registered his remark.

“You can go daddy, if you really want. We’ll be alright. It’s not as if we see you often is it?”

“Wouldn’t you miss me?”

“Do you want me to?” said Pippa.

That question mark that had hung over Vernon’s thinking for quite a while then, returned now with a vengeance, smiling with spritely spite. He’d written a song at the time. ‘Don’t return till I’m missing you.’ Wasn’t this somehow parasitic too? And yet, art often flowed from his deepest wounds. Should it? Still in front of the mirror, Vernon stroked his beard and pondered this second question; should it?

Slavery; unmitigated evil. What could it contribute to design?

Slavery; unmitigated evil. What could it contribute to design?

That same question had hung over the article he’d read in the morning funnily enough; an article which he had retrieved from the Independent supplement entitled, with black humour, ’The Art of Darkness’. It sounded like a category his music would be archived in. The article reviewed an exhibition which presented itself uncomfortably as the truth about the shadow of slave trading on contemporary art and design. The review questioned the validity of an exhibition which could gloss over the sins of the British Empire as if its historic crimes no longer cast a shadow into the present. As Vernon climbed exhausted into bed that night, he made a mental note to speak to his children as soon as he returned from London. As his consciousness began to hand over the night-shift to his subconscious he drowsily pondered visiting the Victoria & Albert exhibition. Both were to feature in his dreams.

Nothing could make sense of slavery, Vernon was convinced.

Nothing could make sense of slavery, Vernon was convinced.

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