marshall arts

Totentanz: Death dance

It was a Monday morning in March of 1980, and I was standing nearby as Jon Singer was on a phone somewhere in Nebraska, talking to his boss back in Boulder, explaining that he wouldn't be in to work that week. "The word for the day is 'Totentanz'." He was in the habit of jotting a new word on the lab blackboard every day. He added, "That is the German word for 'death dance.'"

In one of those flashes out of nowhere, an image popped into my mind:

original: 9"x12", ball-point pen, circa 1980-81

He went on to explain that his father had died the previous day, and that he would be going straight to the airport from home, as soon as we arrived back in Boulder. We had been at Wiscon science fiction convention in Madison when he'd gotten the word, and he had been driving all night to get us back to Boulder as quickly as possible. (I don't drive, so my contribution was basically financial support, and keeping the driver awake.)

Took me most of year to finish this piece, mainly because of large areas of dark. But this was the first time that what actually wound up on the paper satisfactorily matched what I saw in my head. If I thought I could ever sustain the effort, this has always struck me as being an potentially interesting starting point for a tarot deck.

--25 August 1997

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Last modified: Mon Aug 25 20:06:15 MDT 1997