Their ladies behave like peasants: they have no refinement. I thought I had hidden my disgust at their common manners, when Zora told me that my face did constantly reveal my true thoughts and that the ladies were offended but hadn’t dared to tell me. She told me that there was much more going on between them and between us than I knew. “There are so many signals,” she said, “and some of them even I don’t fully understand.” Apparently there are signals for the following: when to cast down your eyes. When to speak. When not to reply with words but to respond by levitating. When not to touch. When to bow almost imperceptibly, with a flutter. When to wave your hands. When not to cross your legs. And so on. As it turns out, while I was judging them, they were judging me just as harshly, which is a relief. “What should I do?” I asked Zora, and she said time would heal the rift as long as I kept an open mind. I didn’t know what she meant by that, “keep an open mind”. Was that a local pet? She laughed. Didn’t I know that the mind could be closed—she made a face and indeed, she looked like a smooth stone surface, impenetrable and indistinguishable. Then she opened her face: “Look at this,” she said. Her whole demeanor changed, as if she stepped out of a dimmed room into the light. Now, her eyes said “I will follow you anywhere.” I saw what she meant and I tried it myself. When I unclose my mind now, it includes everybody and everything around me: there’s no space for judgement when I’m busy keeping the gate open.
#72/100 days 2011. Illustration: Philosophy Presenting the Seven Liberal Arts to Boethius (detail), miniature in a French manuscript of The Consolation of Philosophy attributed to the Coëtivy Master, about 1460–70.