Lapidary: The Sphere by Fritz Koenig

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The Sphere by Fritz Koenig The Sphere by Fritz  Koenig

This bullet is an old one.

In 1897, it was fired at the president of Uruguay by a young man from Montevideo, Avelino Arredondo, who had spent long weeks without seeing anyone so that the world might know that he acted alone. Thirty years earlier, Lincoln had been murdered by that same ball, by the criminal or magical hand of an actor transformed by the words of Shakespeare into Marcus Crutus, Caesar’s murderer. In the mid-seventeenth century, vengeance had employed it for the assassination of Sweden’s Gustavus Adolphus, in the midst of the public hecatomb of a battle.

In earlier times, the bullet had been other things, because Pythagorean metempsychosis is not reserved for humankind alone. It was the silken cord given to viziers in the East, the rifles and bayonets that cut down the defenders of the Alamo, the triangular blade that slit a queen’s throat, the wood of the Cross and the dark nails that pierced the flesh of the Redeemer, the poison kept by the Carthaginian chief in an iron ring on his finger, the serene goblet that Socrates drank down one evening.

In the dawn of time it was the stone that Cain hurled at Abel, and in the future it shall be many things that we cannot even imagine today, but that will be able to put an end to men and their wondrous, fragile life.

– In Memoriam, J.F.K. by J.L. Borges

20 thoughts on “Lapidary: The Sphere by Fritz Koenig”

  1. This blog made me flash back to reading in the NYT how Koenig came to New York soon after his ‘big baby’ had been crushed, and reflect on its birth and life.

    “Yamasaki [chief architect of the towers] kept asking me to make the sculpture bigger and bigger to compliment his design, but I wanted to make something in contrast.”

    “So, I designed ‘The Sphere,’ which some people said resembled a head wearing a helmet. Laughingly, I said to Yamasaki, ‘The helmet is there because when your towers fall, I don’t want my head to be crushed by them.’ I was joking, of course, but who knows why I said that?”

    Your post under ‘Lapidary’ makes my head spin with scales—the architect’s wish for the sculpture to be bigger, and the sculptor’s preference for contrast; to your bringing it down to the size of a bullet, killed by planes and towers much bigger, while what we’re left with is a crushed sphere, of which Koenig said: “It is an optical bridge between humanity and that which is inexplicable, which is out of reach,” a gem too heavy to be worn on one finger, but sizable enough for a lapidary statement not needing to be engraved.

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