July 10, 2006


He paints tiny enamel figures with brushes as fine as cat whiskers, paints mountains and rivers the size of fingernails. Signs his name in letters so small he has to look through a microscope to write them. Collectors visit his little studio, a cottage between two high-rises, cluttered with inch-long paper sketches and thimble-sized jars of paint.

“Do you ever do anything bigger? I have a wall I need to cover.”

“This is my metier. I love small things. If you look closely, you’ll find as much here as in any wall-wide canvas. Why should I waste the extra materials?”

They sigh, and understand.

He goes home to his one-room apartment, stares at himself in the mirror. “Small. Everything you do is small. Puny, lightweight, feeble. No scope, no breadth, no depth, no stature. Insignificant, invisible, shrunken, cringing, trivial.”

He goes to the pantry, pours a big glass of rum, turns on the stereo full blast, sings as loud as he can, and wakes the whole neighborhood.