Portrait of the Artist and a Young Man

Words breathe life into a world otherwise unrealized. A city, a park, an afternoon. In terms of emotion, the setting draws heavily from Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, but the details are decidedly more American in essence. A pond serves as an opportunity to flesh out the scene later. Look, a child toddles over into the arms of his father where he is lifted up in the air. Central Park, a familiar location for any audience and a good choice. We come upon a park bench seating two artists, one younger and one wiser. Action.

“What do you wish to write?” The wiser brazenly asks, both catching the younger off guard and serving as an awful transition in conversation from their prior remarks about bipolar weather patterns as of late. As the younger searches for an answer, he sees the wiser’s patience declining at an exponential rate.

“Well, I think a lot about the meaning of everything,” the younger’s eyes drift into that no man’s space they always do when he’s trying to speak in his writing voice. “Not to sound cliché, but my focus remains intrinsically bound to the questions of what ‘this’ is all about. With regards to art, socio-economic hierarchy, solipsism… I am talking serious ontological navel-gazing here.” With the younger’s line of sight perpendicular to the wiser’s, there is a great deal of eye-rolling on the wiser’s part missed by the younger during his soliloquy. “I know this all sounds strange and forced on my part, but as technology advances I find myself connecting less and less with our ideologues of years past. The world feels cold even when it looks most alive. Why am I here?”

The younger brings his eyes back to the wiser’s and is heartbroken to notice the wiser was not paying attention at all. In fact, the promise of a return is kept as the wiser watches a string of ducks navigate to the pond’s center. “See, and I am unsurprised this has yet to occur to you, the only person who gives a damn about your understanding of the world is yourself.” The ponds of central park are both cute and iconic in their presentation. “People want a good story, something they can take in with their own understandings of the world. What you are talking about,” the fountain of the pond turns on and the sight is something to behold, “Is crafting their understanding for them. People want to be told what to look at, no necessarily how to go upon looking. As a writer, you present the ‘what.’ If I were you, I would leave behind your notions of grandeur instead of continuously failing in some attempt to formulate a panacea for mankind understanding of itself.”

The younger is staring down at his shoes feeling most humbled. Scans of any semblance of a counter-argument are interrupted by the wiser. “Before you go and try to ‘win’ back this discussion, it is critical that you understand this: You know nothing. You know only what it is like to feel confident in your beliefs and not even know with certainty what those beliefs really are.”

Has someone ever rejected you so heartlessly that your ego evaporates and your esteem becomes a cruel punchline and your emotions are no longer felt but recalled? The wiser saw such anguish in the eyes of his younger and felt half-assed remorse. “You’re something else though, I’ll give you that kid. Can’t say I recall meeting a fellow like you in a while. So terrified and bold in your naïve attack on the world at large. Reminds me of my own youth, to be quite honest. And still to this day I know nothing now. So perk up, enough of the long face, you still have time yet. A virtue not all of us have.” And the man died right there in that very spot after finishing his last “have.”

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