IN THE HOUSE OF MESSER SCONFORTO
In the solarium can be found a famous representation of giants in chiaroscuro, singing and dancing and tromping about the earth. It is called Hymn to the Obvious. It is a mysterious work, an audible darkness, and it is unforgivable. In the sanctuary, to the right, is an oil painting in which Vitality is represented, wide-eyed at the moment of waking, saluting Death in the form of a toad sitting on his belly. It is an early example of that type of brushwork in which each stroke is called a snarl. Nevertheless, it, too, is an unforgivable work, scruffy and audacious, cheerless and fireproof. In the music room two busts serve as a pair of bookends. One portrays the young king Mithridates, who to make himself invulnerable to assassins, sampled poison every day; the other, the old Mithridates, who when he desired to end his life, could not find a poison strong enough. They are carved in stone. Very hard stone. But not that hard. In the dining hall the group portrait of a family weeping as they stand over a puddle of milk is by an unknown hand. Many presume it is waterproof. In fact, the application of the slightest pressure reveals it is painted on an enormous sponge that has recently been dunked. In the mezzanine, Sprezzante has painted The Great Cramp. Is it eternity, you ask, running your fingertips across the cool wall, or the loss of it? Facing it is his masterpiece: The Shrug.
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