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MIMESIS IN VENICE
BY BRAD LIENING
Someday I will have you over to my house. When you arrive I will ask for your coat, if indeed you are wearing a coat. Then I will ask you if youíd like something to drink, and I will tell you your many options. 

Probably you will want something to drink, having come a long way to see me, which was nice of you. Perhaps it is cold out and youíd like a whiskey or a hot toddy. Maybe youíd like a seltzer with a bit of lime. Mulled wine. No matter. I have it.

I will retire to another room to prepare your drink, but not before I ask you to please sit and make yourself comfortable, indeed as if you were in your own home. 

That will be difficult, however, because you soon realize that I have furnished my home exclusively with hard wooden chairs. 

There arenít even any tables or rugs, and the chairs are not conducive to reclining; in fact, you must virtually perch on the end of your narrow seat.

At this point I will re-enter with your drink of choice. I will also be carrying a platter of burritos, each with an exotic ingredient: curried yak, chicken feet, fish cheeks.

The air will be a riot of different scents, none of which you can place, because that would be like trying to smell the warmth of the sun. Itís something you can only sense. It just is.

Initially you will be wary, but in due time you will succumb to curiosity (even if it is only feigned interestóafter all, you are not rude!), which in turn transforms into surprise and then delight as you find each burrito more delicious than the last! These burritos utterly consume you! 

It is as though I have seen the secret dream in your heart and then made burritos out of it. Itís like you were a formerly adrift planet that has finally found its star and moon. 

Itís hard to say exactly because life is mysterious, which I think is one of the main things that makes it beautiful. 

Like for example the relationship between cruelty and beauty, or the possibility of falling in love with a total stranger, or suffering in general.

How you can slip out one night for a quick pint and never return home, or wind up in a cemetery kissing someone for the first time and then spending the rest of your life with that person. 

And thereís a sacrifice inherent in such an abdication of self thatís beautiful precisely because itís so mysterious. Because really, who on earth would do such a thing? 

Thatís also the problem with art. You give and give and give, and what do you get in return? Mostly a lot of frustration is what I think. Youíre finally ready to walk away from the whole thing because youíre like, this is for the birds, but then boom, beauty smacks you in the face like a plump burrito.

The next thing you know itís full dark and far too late to make the journey home. How much did you eat? Your legs are unresponsive from hours of contorted perching and your hindquarters are numb. Your spine is a column of ice. 

But your pain is offset by the loveliest of burrito-induced glows, and Iím sitting across from you, coolly examining you over the rim of my drink, memorizing every detail for my masterpiece.

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