James Ensor to Albert Einstein

March 16th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

“Between us, allow me to salute a guest of substance, a neighbor haloed in importance. Block of science wreathed in flowers by a colleague of the coast, perched atop a dune. To you, great thinker, handsome caster of convincing rays, your silver mane emits millenary illuminations.
Yes, celestial bodies irradiate the paradise of Rotarian relativities, light the limited field of our table where glasses, cups, crystalware, decanters reflect the sequins, the cries of silk and delight from tipsy young stars; where firecrackers, candles, rockets set our senses ablaze and burn the spirit of our thoughts.
But you, man of light, you reflect suns, inventory the planets, invent moons, invite comets, illustrate the constellations. Moreover, and better yet, you douse the lazy stars, rein in the asteroids straying from their descents.
Mesdames, Messieurs, please forgive my free expression, my humbly pictorial language, my inappropriate words, shrill or ambiguous, anti-mathematical; I’ve always condemned boring worlds and their multiplicity.
Our Rotarian brethren in China and America belch while smoking; we muse while eating, and think while drinking.
Here, dear friends, let us drink and fraternize beneath a sun glazed with the gray of indecisive weather.


Alas and alack! Painters, slaves to vision, remain resistant to positive rays as they do to positive reason, to calculations, to probabilities; between reason and understanding, between the appearance and the content of things, a deep discrepancy remains.
And you, eminent scientist, will tell me 6 isn’t 9. And I will say, ‘When with a little kick I upend a 6 that makes a 9,’ and when you tell me that 6 and 8 make 14, I will reply that 6 and 8 make 68; in this case, Mesdames and Messieurs, all is relativity.
We have always said ‘There are more relative truths than absolute truths.’
Let us justly appreciate the old opportune Belgian motto: ‘Light bursts forth from the collision of ideas.’


Dear great master, accept my salutations. Forgive these words flavored with feeling.
To you, my friends, thanks from my heart and my hand with its curved line of life and joy.
From the great incandescent hearth of my heart, which sometimes muddies matters by striking two at noon, but a masterpiece, no less, of the divine watchmaker.


Let us all promptly praise the great Einstein and his relative orders, but condemn algebraism and its square roots, the surveyors and their cubic reasons.
I say that the world is round, like god the sun and the lady moon, round are cheeks, round are smiles, round are pupils and round posteriors, round are pastries and round plates, round are goblets but let us sing out squarely this time, Mesdames and Messieurs, all together if you please:
‘Einstein alone reigns in the heavens.’ ”

First appeared in Le Littoral, 8/26/1933. Found in My Writings, or Self-Important Swaggerings, ed. Hugo Martin (Éditions Labor, 1999) » Read the rest of this entry «

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