Context and Reference

Walking in one of Prague’s many interconnected parks, it’s possible to spot this little blue head perched on a wall in someone’s house. In a museum, sterile and possibly behind glass, one might pass this by, or at most see it as one piece among many. But here on this wall, there is something moving and tender about this sculpture.

L1030275Perhaps it’s the red brick behind the head or the matter-of-fact way it faces the road. Regardless, you stop to look back. You ┬ásee the subtle asymmetry in the face in the way you might see your own face in a mirror. Character emerges from that face, as meaning emerges from Sis’s book, arising from its context, “quietly shimmering, motionless, as if frozen in time.”

The Three Golden Keys yields plenty of meaning all by itself. But reading it while walking through these streets, I’m moved by the power of place. Setting is more than an element to employ in fiction. Used with skill, setting is story.

Time as the Guide

The cobblestones stretch into the distance. Houses lace the horizon line. “We are heading toward the castle.” Peter Sis’s Prague is a place of magic and mystery.

And its traces are everywhere, like this little map I spotted in a restaurant, like the clock tower itself, like the endless cobblestones. Over the next few days, I’ll be exploring this city through the prisms of Sis’s picture book love letter to the city of his childhood.

Unlocking the Mysteries

In the final stage of this month-long European ramble, here are the cobblestones, the windows, the patterns of Prague. 

No city has art like this one, art in its structures and lines, art as elemental to its every twisting street. I have brought with me a copy of Peter Sis’s exquisite love letter to the city, The Three Golden Keys.  In my own bumbling way, I plan to “…unlock the mysteries of Prague very, very slowly.”