36. XXXVI. THE LAND OF CULTURE.
Too far did I fly into the future: a horror seized upon me.
And when I looked around me, lo! there time was my sole contemporary.
Then did I fly backwards, homewards--and always faster. Thus did I come
unto you, ye present-day men, and into the land of culture.
For the first time brought I an eye to see you, and good desire: verily,
with longing in my heart did I come.
But how did it turn out with me? Although so alarmed--I had yet to laugh!
Never did mine eye see anything so motley-coloured!
I laughed and laughed, while my foot still trembled, and my heart as well.
"Here forsooth, is the home of all the paintpots,"--said I.
With fifty patches painted on faces and limbs--so sat ye there to mine
astonishment, ye present-day men!
And with fifty mirrors around you, which flattered your play of colours,
and repeated it!
Verily, ye could wear no better masks, ye present-day men, than your own
faces! Who could--RECOGNISE you!
Written all over with the characters of the past, and these characters also
pencilled over with new characters--thus have ye concealed yourselves well
from all decipherers!
And though one be a trier of the reins, who still believeth that ye have
reins! Out of colours ye seem to be baked, and out of glued scraps.
All times and peoples gaze divers-coloured out of your veils; all customs
and beliefs speak divers-coloured out of your gestures.
He who would strip you of veils and wrappers, and paints and gestures,
would just have enough left to scare the crows.
Verily, I myself am the scared crow that once saw you naked, and without
paint; and I flew away when the skeleton ogled at me.