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Aly, Michelangelo's Son by Peter Cane
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Aly, Michelangelo's Son

by Peter Cane

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Epigraph
The account I offer at first glance seems full of familiar landmarks, but these are mirages and will lead instead to a world like no other: bizarre, incredible, surreal. So beware: entering my world may be like stepping through the frame of one of my grandpa Bosch’s paintings. Except for one thing… once you enter you will never be able to return. Whether you choose to believe what you hear told or not, the question you will discover in its shadows will be for eternity.

So if you, like most of us, prefer the comfort and security of the world you think you know, read no further. This book is not for you. If though, you dare to delve beyond the prison walls of your palace, hold tight my hand and read.
Dedication
First words
So - what is life for? Can you tell me? If you can, alas, it’s too late. I’m old, and being tracked by assassins.
Quotations
Fatima was very distressed to be thus abandoned, and Duda, still in Botticelli’s workshop, and with Maria no longer around to guard him, offered her a shoulder to cry on. As she then warmed to his charms, he again promised eternal love, started consoling her with other parts of his anatomy apart from just his shoulder, and she too got pregnant.
“The great secret,” Leonardo said, “is that all of this works in reverse too… As with most things in life, one can both-ways it. When you want to hide the true meaning of your work, O Aly, if you wish to camouflage it so only another artist, or the goddess Nemesis can see it, ah, then you do all this in the opposite direction, in reverse.”
"As a sculptor I know that the better one chisels at the angel to free it from its marble prison, to loosen it from its enslaving rock, the harder it is to see anything else within that block of stone that could have been waiting to be released. All other aspects of that ‘angel’ have by now turned to sand and dust, and have flown away into the creative shadows to be forgotten. All that is left… is a Trojan Horse filled with our prejudices and desires. Our chisels reveal only which ‘Truth’ we want to reveal…"
"When we then stare at our angelic revelation, the closer we hold our torch to it, the more detail we can see of the part we are examining. We think we are seeing more, but the closer the lantern the bigger the shadow the statue casts. It is not just what else it could have been that is thus obscured, but hidden too will be the parts on which the light does not shine… On our angel’s origin, its purpose, its context, how it affects those who see it, indeed everything else in creation, past, present and future. That is to say, the closer the light to our creation, to this mask of our presuppositions, to this Trojan Horse, the more expansive grows its surreptitious adumbration, and the further it spreads into the world beyond. Truth narrows our full experience to what we want to say, and thus is as inseparable from deceit as light is from shade.”
The fact is that we all live in worlds of our own creation, we all construct grand edifices, palaces (we think) of Truth and Certainty. But they are built using a framework of yarns, of narratives distorted by the retelling, cracked by misunderstanding, and plastered over with stale and ancient lies. We decorate them too, as we navigate our course through life, with pretty fictions to fool ourselves, and mislead others.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0995949719, Paperback)

In 2012, the image of an African slave boy was found hidden in the shadows on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, together with a note saying he was Michelangelo's clandestine son. Ghost-writing the boy’s autobiography, Peter Cane plunges us into a deeply researched, and hitherto unknown world that interweaves art, secret inscriptions, religion, ancient myths and the hidden mischief of language. Trusted history is overturned, our ideas of the difference between fact and fiction challenged, and sinister perils are revealed that we all wander blindly through day by day. As he introduces his story, the main character of this intelligent thriller immediately throws down the gauntlet to the great authors of the genre such as Dan Brown, Bernard Cornwell and Philippa Gregory… A new voice has been born. “What is life for?” Aly writes, “Can you tell me? If you can, alas, it’s too late. I’m old, and being tracked by assassins. All I can do now is to try to finish this, my tale, before they find me. By the time you read it, though, they will have done their work, so it is in you that my legacy lies, and it is for you that I’m writing. I’m not the one in danger now – you are, and those you love. The dangers you are facing cannot be told in one word, though. For my warning to make sense, I must reveal my most guarded secrets - and those of my kin too, princes, navigators, artists of the greatest renown, tricksters of outstanding cunning, and assassins of the highest skill. I grew up amid great events of which you will have heard, among people of immense fame that you think you know, but what I lived is not what you read, nor what you heard, nor what is written. My family, it shames me to say, were the supreme victors of my age - victors that none but the most evil should emulate, but victors nonetheless. And since they were the victors, they wrote their own history: they were the ones who painted the past we now believe. The tales they led everyone to trust, though, were very far from honest. I know, because they were my family, and because I was there. My little brother once wrote of me, in his book of artists: “He is accustomed to live simply and by a certain natural goodness, and knows nothing of subtleties or astuteness in his life.” Alas, this reveals an ailment that afflicts many younger brothers. I am his hero, a god-like being living a charmed and daring life: a life that, had it not been shrouded in deception, and split among a dozen aliases – would have glittered much as any of those whose legendary names echo now down the centuries. But my brother was wrong to believe in heroes. We are all most deeply flawed, and I was not the saintly being he saw me as, which you will quickly see. Nor are younger brothers alone in such self-deception. The fact is that we all live in worlds of our own creation, we all construct grand edifices, palaces (we think) of Truth and Certainty. But these palaces are built on foundations cracked by misunderstanding, their walls plastered over with ancient lies and pretty fictions, their roofs distorted by rumor, and their windows clouded by dusty legend. My tale will reveal just how duplicitous these ‘truths’ really are – not just my brother’s, or mine, but everything that pretends to be the ‘Truth’. My tale seems at first glance full of familiar landmarks, but these mirages soon fade to reveal a world that is bizarre, incredible, surreal. So beware: entering my world may be like stepping through the frame of one of my grandpa Bosch’s paintings. Except for one thing… once you enter you will never be able to return. Whether you choose to believe what you hear told or not, the question you will discover in its shadows will be for eternity. So if you, like most of us, prefer the comfort and safety of the world you think you know, read no further. This, my story, is not for you. If though, you dare to delve beyond the prison walls of your palace, hold tight my hand and read.”

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 16 Apr 2017 21:02:26 -0400)

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