One face, one fact

Trace Elements

How does one choose? What invisible decisions does your brain make? Or your mind? Or your soul? The decisions that occur before awareness? Before you even know you’re making a choice, it’s made.

“Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none,” writes Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay “Self-Reliance.”

The face stood out to me. As I walked toward a Buddhist frieze exhibited at the Freer Gallery in Washington DC, one face in particular caught my notice. The whole sculptural relief is a badly worn surface from whatever prior life it had before its inclusion in a museum. The faces had nubby surfaces, chipped here and there, or eroded by wind and water. Museum lighting adds another random element, casting parts willy nilly into shadow or prominence.

Time is the last factor. We were pressed. The frieze was the last thing…

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