Friday, February 17, 2012

The Story of Jiko Giman, an Artist who Was Not Similar in Every Way to Everyday People.

An acquaintance asked me whether I had ever been to Mainz, Germany.  I replied that I had, but that was almost forty years ago.

The Cathedral of Mainz,
photographed with a 110-format
pocket camera in 1978.
"So you probably haven't heard of the famous Painter of Mainz?" he said. "You'll enjoy this."

And he proceeded to tell me about a moderately talented and promising young artist from the 2000-year-old German city who, in his earnest desire to paint the world as he saw it, began his career by placing over his head a large cardboard box.

On the inside walls of this big box the young painter created images of everything he could think of, and made them as he believed they appeared in real life. The problem, as you may have anticipated, was that he spent so much time inside his box painting that he rarely took the time to see much of life.

It even became his habit to go walking around the city of Mainz with his painting box over his head, so that he could find new subjects to paint. But unknown to him was a young lady, also of artistic interests, who had been watching him for some time and was fascinated by this rather unusual young man. One day during one of his forays into the streets of Mainz, she decided to try to meet him. She placed herself in his path and waited.

The painter stumbled forward on his habitual round and stopped when he became aware of someone standing in his way.

"Oh - who are you?" he said.

"I'm - I'm Lisl, I'm an art critic," stammered the nervous girl. "What's your name?"

"I'm Jiko Giman," replied the artist. An art critic, huh? I'll paint you." The painter then made an image of the stranger on the inside of his box using his brushes and paints. He gave her red eyes, black leathery skin, lots of bristly whiskers, claws for hands, hooves for feet, a spiky tail, and even added some green, gnarled horns to complete his picture, of which he was really quite pleased and proud when it was finished.

"Can I see it?" queried the girl.

"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you?" said Jiko sarcastically. "Not on your life."

Lisl, who did not have horns or hooves at all, and only a few whiskers to speak of, and was actually quite attractive by teutonic standards, ran far from the cruel artist so that he would not hear her sobs of disappointment. Who knows - they might have had a friendship, or maybe even more, if he had only seen the person she really was.

But the artist blithely walked on, painting the inner walls of his box according to his assumptions and judgements of the people and things he encountered. At one place, he discovered there was a crowd of people on the footpath, all apparently waiting for something.

"This is a poor part of the city," he thought to himself. "It's probably a bunch of bums waiting for a handout from a soup kitchen." He then began painting an image of disshevelled, shabby people crowding against the side of the building, some holding bundles of rags, some pushing old shopping carts.

"Hey, you're that artist," said one of them. "Would you like to paint my portrait?"

Jiko did not bother to hide his disgust in his reply, "Get a job, you filthy bum!" He then turned his footsteps elsewhere.

The "filthy bum" raised his immaculately groomed eyebrows, adjusted his tophat, polished his diamond cuff links and patted the theatre tickets in the breast pocket of his tuxedo before glancing at his solid gold watch. "What a pity," he added. "I would someday like to become the patron of an aspiring young artist. I suppose I'll have to find someone else to give my money to."

The young painter, determined still to paint the world as he saw it, continued on his walk, and came to a quiet, peaceful place. He immediately judged it to be a park of beautiful trees, expanses of manicured lawn, and beds of wildly colorful flowers.

"What a perfect scene to paint," he exclaimed. But as he moved forward to find the best vantage point, as he supposed it, he stumbled and fell headlong into the municipal dump.

Lying there among the rotting banana peels and broken microwave ovens, injured but by some fluke still wearing his box, he heard some movement nearby. "My rescuers!" he said. "Over here! I'm injured, come and help me!"

But the rescuers were really a pack of wild dogs that lived at the dump, and they ate him.

Needless to say, Jiko Giman's career as an artist went into a steep decline at this point. There is really not much more to say about him.

So this is the end of the story.

To discover how self-deception could lead to YOUR downfall and subsequent consumption by wild dogs, I recommend that you read this before it's too late:

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