online: 27 february 2005

27 february 2005 peace on earth

15:34 In the orangery at Kenwood, an 18th century room with a glass wall between columns ...named i suppose in a time of colonialism and of the appropriation of plants and animals from other climates - there are indoor trees here but i see no oranges... there is a view across a gravel terrace and a sloping lawn to an ornamental lake with the facade of an imaginary bridge to terminate the landscaped view. (The design of Humphrey Repton)...

this room is empty of people or furniture except for myself, and some benches ... but as i write this some small and noisy children come in try out the benches - until someone says 'Come along!'... which point the handheld signalled 'batteries low' and so i continued in pencil...

...before i leave this warm and peaceful place with its indoor/outdoor quality... that of artifice, and 'heated bower'... i realise that i like it - it shares the sublimity of a church, or of an art gallery, except for being empty of everything but a view... and because of that it is to me more sublime than church or gallery, each with selected things to worship or attend to... (though the view here is contrived)

...i see two swans on the lake, and two people on the lawn, and one person on the terrace... and i feel that these sights and presences are enough to comprise and to people a little eternity, or a paradise of sorts, a utopia on this earth such as was possible in the 18th century and still is... within limits, and in our presence

A young man comes to close the shutters and i go, pausing before the creaky 18th century door in the hall to read the last entry in the visitor's book:


...which tells me so much more of the one who wrote it than of the house or the paintings...

...and now outside i see a metal post beneath a rhododendron on which is written in English and in Chinese or Japanese:

may peace prevail on earth

I'd not seen it before and I thought immediately of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki... perhaps it does prevail, here and there, now and then, in our perceptions... and in the forgiveness of others.

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