Thus, the painter could have felt cheated out of much of his biography. But the loss did not go as close as he had feared. The big nausea did not occur. Perhaps he had thrown up enough in his previous longevity. Maybe there was nothing left that could irritate him. On the other hand, he had put a lot of effort into some of his painting. It had been a content. From an early age on he had wonderd through the Italian landsacape of art – rather conventional-and had looked at everything there was to be seen in painting. Often he had been looking south from the top of the tower of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, in anticipation. From there and back in the past all was lost in a fog. Time and again, he had studied and meditated over the paintings: the Last Supper by Tintoretto in Venice, Giorgione and the Tempest in the Academy, the frescoes of Piero in Arezzo, Signorelli in the cathedral of Orvieto, da Vinci in Milan, the Campo Santo in Pisa. He had read his Burkhard, though he found him less instructive and a trifle stilted.The Renaissance had passed, human proportions had been reduced to an artificial style in a dodgy way, it seemed to him. Irrelevant, of course. Especially the physiognomic aspect had reached a distorted level: So many faces in the tourist masses of the Lagoon and yet sheer emptiness of expectation and curiosity between two strokes: nose and mouth.
The painter wondered where his future had gone. He could no longer see the beginning nor could he see the end. Perhaps he had never seen anything. His muse at the time …Melinuse. No real muse. Maybe she was just a distant friend. But she understood paintings often better than he. She had an unerring intuition and looked into some colours in a way which he had thought unimaginable. Sometimes he dreamed of her interpretations. Where was the young student of art history now? Somewhere with her head in the clouds? No. She had been taken care of by a psychiatric clinic near Munich for at least three years. At some point a McDuck had turned up, had made her round bellied and then left her on her own. Must have been a thorough McDuck, as some of them are. She did not want to tell what had happened to the child. She got into trouble with her family. In the course of the disorder, as she once called the affair, she had taken to sniffing, and as it seems to go with more sensitive minds, she ended up in a drug psychosis. All this had happened long ago. The painter had often visited her in the clinic, but she could hardly remember any connections and confounded the name of the pictures. When he came out of the hall it often seemed to him as though he was moving through a hole in the dark. His right foot aked again, and when he worked with spray, he sometimes suddenly paused and looked up, for the mist caused by the material seemed like a veil through which he could see the watery fields that had streched in the distance when he had looked down from San Giorgio with anticipation.