Saturday, August 30, 2014

Love? Lust? Or decadence?

"Having sent my spiritual advisor on his errand and Benaiah on his mission I run down to the King’s Gardens and back up again, bringing with me a huge bouquet of freshly picked Jasmine flowers, which fills my chamber with a sweet fragrance. It is then that time takes a strange, unexpected turn. It slows down. 
I have no idea how much of it I have wasted since the beginning of my wait. All I know is that it feels without an end. 
And despite knowing that I have arrived, that I am at the prime of my life, I feel, once again, like a teenager. She loves me, she loves me not. With a flick of my wrist, white petals start scattering across the marble floor.
I go out to the roof and pace to and fro. Already, there is chill in the air. The rays of the setting sun give a last flicker before darkness, before a sensation of fear sets in. Then they withdraw, hesitating to touch the tabernacle of God down there, below me.
Coming back in I set the twin sconces, left and right of the chamber door, aflame. Which is when, to the quickening of my pulse, I see it opening. 
There she is, lifting her little foot and setting it across the threshold."

David in A Peek at Bathsheba

In this excerpt I explore the moment of anticipation, before Bathsheba comes to David. He can still back down from going ahead with this forbidden affair, which is why I make frequent mention of the presence of the tent of God, the presence of his conscience. 

Is this a moment of pure love? Lust? Decadence? I explore all these possibilities, because the relation between David and Bathsheba is so deliciously rich and complex. My writing is greatly informed by works of art throughout the ages. Compare how these three artists saw the relationship between David and Bathsheba.

Gustav Adolf Mossa ((born 1883) is a French Symbolist painter. He depicts the relationship as one of decadence, and describes the lovers in French attire. There is an age difference between the two, and their conversation is depicted as sharing a hushed secret.

Ernst Fuchs (born 1930) is an Austrian painter, draftsman, printmaker, sculptor, architect, stage designer, composer, poet, singer and one of the founders of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. Here, too, David and Bathsheba face each other, they meld together in the heat of passion, David taking over nearly the entire space, and her as well. The scene is depicted in an exotic manner, and modeled after Egyptian wall paintings.

Marc Chagall said, "Will God or someone else give me the strength to breathe the breath of prayer and mourning into my paintings, the breath of prayer for redemption and resurrection?" And indeed, in his painting he expresses great devotion, a love that is meant to be. David and Bathsheba face each other, foreheads touching gently, he caresses her shoulder as if to comfort her.

Gustav Adolf Mossa, David and Bathsheba

Ernst Fuchs, David and Bathsheba

Marc Chagall, David and Bathsheba

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