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Friday, June 28, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, parts 1763 - 1766

 1763. “The martyred saints are the good ones,” said the Yardman, “Saint Sylvester is seven hundred, and the Saint Jerome would be seven fifty, but I couldn’t possible sell you this other one for anything more than a hundred dollars as I only paid twenty-five for it and it was only just painted last year at a Russian Orthodox monastery not far from here.”

1764. “You see, if I charge you more for it, eventually someone is bound to point out to you the difference between it and the old icons from previous centuries,” he explained.

1765. With that he turned the icon over and showed Proctor the back of it, which was just a plain piece of pine plywood. Then he took the others off the wall and turned them over also. The backs of the old icons were more intricate than the fronts. In an effort to keep the old wood from warping the entire back was carpentered with interlocking slats of walnut, hand carved with great care.

1766. Again Proctor was made to feel ignorant about something painfully obvious. Although Proctor preferred the new cheaper icon, he had made his trip to the salvage yard to spend seven hundred dollars, and so, in a rather confused way, he changed his mind and decided to purchase the Saint Sylvester, even though it was not his preference. He was victimized by the superior knowledge of the seller, and forced to change his mind, discarding his initial judgment out of intellectual embarrassment.

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