Stone of Escape | logarithmically's Blog
"Interior of an imaginary palace: The Pantheon of an obscure hero. The end of a dream, where fantasy becomes reality." "The work of giants." "Remember: Will is power." ...
For Forty Years I Dug
To Make This Faery Palace
Rise From The Earth.
For My Idea's Sake, My Body Has Confronted All:
Time, Ridicule, The Years.
Life Is A Swift Charger
But My Thought Will Live On In This Rock.
He was Ferdinand Cheval, a postman or facteur... The Factuer Cheval (as he is usually called in his village of Hauterives) had done nothing remarkable for forty-three years of his life. But one day in 1879, on his delivery round, he picked up a pebble. It was a piece of the local greyish-white molasse or tufa, gnarled and lumpy, about four inches long - his "stone of escape," as he later called it. He put it in his pocket and, from then on, began first to collect more odd-looking stones, then tiles, oyster-shells, bits of glass, wire, iron, and other junk. Back in this garden , he began to lay foundations and build walls. He was, by his own account, bored with "walking forever in the same decor, and so:
...to distract my thoughts, I constructed in my dreams a faery palace, surpassing all imagination, everything the genius of a humble man could imagine (with grottoes, gardens, towers, castles, museums and sculptures), trying to bring to a new birth all the ancient architectures of primitive times; the whole thing so beautiful and picturesque that the image of it remained alive in my brain for ten years at least... but the distance from dream to reality is great; I had never touched a mason's trowel,... and I was totally ignorant of the rules of architecture.
He began to take a wheelbarrow on his round, collecting more and more of the bizarre stones of the region, rock-collecting by night, building in the morning and evening, delivering letters by day, and sleeping very little. This routine went on for a third of a century...
It took this proud and certain man, by his own reckoning, 10,000 working days (or a total of 93,000 hours) to finish his Ideal Palace. When he did so in 1912, he at once set to work on the construction of his tomb in a cemetery nearby, which he also finished well before his death, at the age of eighty-eight, in 1924.
And so too everyone has it in themselves to one day wake up, ("stone of escape") building and making from their dreams an Ideal Place of their own.
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