“So, what do you think Charles? I think it’s my best one yet.”
“Look Bill, I like it, you know I do. I like all your work, otherwise you wouldn’t be published here, now would you? But I just can’t get my head around something about this main character. I get that we all have this fear of dying. Jesus, I guess my 1973 Carrera might pretty much be a temple for it, now that I think about it. But I don’t get the ending. Why the church Bill?”
“Do you attend mass on Sunday Charles?”
“No I don’t. Why would I, you know I don’t believe in God? I just think that, if you want to talk about mortality, eventually you need to get him out of the picture. Otherwise what’s the point, right? I don’t believe anyone here on Fifth Avenue would want to sincerely contribute his or her life’s work to God, you know. And Bill, what’s with the bird in the end? Isn’t it a bit cliché? It’s just … you know. Everybody gives them this grand meaning, but they’re just birds Bill, as you said, they don’t sing for us, they do it because that’s just what they do. Why point it out? It’s just a bit too Werther-esque you know.”
“You miss the point Charles. It’s not a church, it’s a gallery. It’s all there in the text, you just need to give it another read, that’s all. The concept of God as we knew it is dead Charles, it’s been dead for quite a while now, but even a rigorous atheist like you sees him in places where he never was and ironically at the same time you stay blind to where he is right now. I know you go to art shows, and I see your collection every time I come over for dinner, it’s a beautiful collection. I especially love the new Basquiat you got last year. But you never seem to quite grasp why you do it. And don’t give me that impress-my-friends or being-a-patron-to-arts nonsense, we both know you’re smarter than that. That’s why I thought you’d appreciate my new script the most. I mean the piece isn’t titled The Last Art Show for nothing.”
“What do you mean Bill? I really do like art, it gives me enormous pleasure. And sure, showing off and supporting the artists I collect isn’t exactly why I do it, but come on; everybody’s preaching the same story and I don’t see what’s so bad about it, even if Christie’s takes most of the cash, the good artists still make a lot — just look at Koons or Murakami. And even the smaller ones can have their share. Jesus, you know there are thousands of upcoming Rembrandts and Duchamps just in New York? And for them to be able to make something so pure is just amazing, and because I can afford it, of course I’ll buy my share of it. Why wouldn’t I? After a long day it really takes the edge off to just pour yourself a good scotch and relax in a room full of such masterpieces, you know?”
“But that’s exactly what I’m going at. We both agree art has this special aura. But you never seem to ask the right question, and who could blame you? What you’re doing here is an amazing job, I’m not just saying this as a writer but as a friend. And after 12 or 14 hours of shuffling bureaucracy — and I know deep inside you know it’s a necessary evil, otherwise people like me wouldn’t have a chance to do our work. And I’m grateful for that, you know I am. If it weren’t for you I’d probably be working nightshifts at some shabby bar trying to scrape together enough money to xerox my scripts and sell them on E-bay.
But as I was saying, after all the work you do, you usually come home at these ungodly hours, and you find solace in your collection. But I don’t work that much, and probably because I don’t, I also don’t have a collection to come to in the evening. I have a few prints on my wall, but you know what I mean. And because I don’t have one, whenever I see yours I don’t see it as a haven from the world, I see it for what it is. It’s all a lie Charles, albeit a necessary one. Without it, I don’t know what people like you and me would do in this world.”