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Let us paint a portrait that speaks a thousand words. This portrait is of a people painted upon a landscape of gardens; green fertile gardens of citrus, dates, vineyards, and olive groves. The painter is an avant-garde experimentalist by the name of Cyrus Truman who, sensing a divine hand upon his work, becomes infatuated with his chosen subject and embellishes his creation with colorful imagery of milk and honey pots and lustful sanctuaries. The portrait is proclaimed to be the artist’s best work. An aesthetic masterpiece. And the people, the subject of the fantastical portrait, fall madly in love with this artistic concept and even more with themselves. “Aren’t we pretty?” To which the artist and his great friend, Lord Cham, reply, “Yes. Pretty as a picture.”

So taken with their own beautiful image are they that the people whimsically wish to sell their souls for an exchange of reality; that the portrait age and decay in their stead and they, oh glorious they, remain ever glorious and ever special. And so it happens that the portrait upon a landscape of gardens begins its barren decay, while the very celebrated people are reborn in the person of Dorian Eretz who chases after a hedonistic lifestyle, plunging deeper into debauchery as he becomes more enthralled with Lord Cham’s world view that the only things that matter in life are fulfillment of myths and distortion of life’s true beauty.

Dorian discovers Lady Liberty in a crowded torch lit island, performing theatrical renditions of Shakespearian themes as if all the world’s a stage. They fall quickly into a mad love affair that leaves Lady Liberty obsessively entangled in her passions, unable to perform her libertarian acts upon the stage. But Dorian Eretz does not return her unshakeable bond and views the lady as a mere muse. Disheartened and broken, Lady Liberty laments the unrequited love and drowns in a sea of corruptive acid.

When Dorian learns of his mistress’s death he washes his hands of culpability and declares himself to be a new beacon of liberty. With flight of return he looks at the portrait of a landscape to find it has changed, upon his face a sinister sneer. Affirmed in his wish for a new reality, he charts an ever wider course of image over truth, knowing the portrait will bear the burden of his decay even as it serves as a reminder of each sin committed. The landscape within the portrait will reveal the effects upon his soul as disfigurements of its once beautiful form.

Thus it goes for decades. A trail of lamentations, of misery and death left in the wake of corruptive vice. But Dorian Eretz, with each expansive step taken, never accepts his own blame. Instead, he accuses his victims for failing to control their own passions, and he blames Cyrus Truman for painting him in such a landscape.

In a fleeting period of restraint, Dorian Eretz attempts to rein in his own expansionist desires and marvels at such a virtue. He wonders if this great act with which he refrains from utterly shattering the hearts of a new conquest might return the portrait to its original beauty. Unveiling it he finds it has, in fact, become more hideous. His image ever more scarred and twisted, he realizes his self-perceived charity was yet another act of immoral vanity; his own dabbling in new frontiers to satisfy his unsatiable appetite for the thrills of other people’s high ground.

Enraged, Dorian Eretz stabs and tears at the portrait in a futile attempt to destroy the mirror of his own soul. Thus did Dorian Eretz destroy himself.

©RCiuffo 2012