Paradoxical Directions

Sotheby's Collection
Van Cleef & Arpels

There was a pause of around three seconds, immediately after which I experienced the sudden and remarkable sensation that I was being elevated at great speed. The extraordinarily active light began at my feet and swept over my entire body in an electrifying wave.

The brilliance in the room – the total change in quality of light – was totally apparent even with my eyes still tightly closed. Indeed, it seemed so bright that I dared not open them for fear of going blind. It was as if someone had adjusted a vast dimmer switch on the greatest lantern.

My heart was beating fast and I felt truly ecstatic; each tangible quality of sensation and atmosphere informed me subtly of a change in dimension. There seemed to have been both a quantitative and qualitative change that could only really have been brought about through an extreme alteration of altitude.

Brilliantly intense, the occurrence stimulated my senses in unprecedented style, so my whole mind was filled with awe, and my body with a sensation of pure bliss, as if all material was somehow being experienced as a factor of light energy.

The first clear notion that came into my head I vocalized with words lighter than air: “I’m in heaven!” I had inspired.

The only obvious mystery I was able to discern was that I had felt myself to arise drastically but the light had noticeably – even from behind closed eyelids – begun at my feet rather than my head or whole body at once.

I have only just considered whether I may have been immersed in a depth of light and it must surely be true that on a round planet which rotates for a living, ‘up’ and ‘down’ are paradoxically named directions.

Who can say?

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