Jorge Royan has floated off to his next adventure, and we who remain have much to contemplate about our remarkable friend, photographer, architect and artist from Buenos Aires. Looking for consolation, I turn to Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.
Siempre imaginé que el Paraíso sería algún tipo de biblioteca. (I have always imagined Paradise to be a kind of library.)
And the Mystery reveals itself immediately as I remember that last year C, my son-in-law, gave me a delightful present, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, by Jeff VanderMeer. Leaping from page to page, I came across the above photo, which is of the library at the Strahov Monastery, in Prague. The photographer was Jorge Royan! When my husband, R, mentioned this wonderful discovery to Jorge, he sent us a copy of the original image. I move that now, framed, onto my desk.
In The Aleph and Other Stories, Borges wrote,
A man sets out to draw the world.
As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces,
kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms,
instruments, stars, horses, and individuals.
A short time before he dies, he discovers
that the patient labyrinth of lines
traces the lineaments of his own face.
Like someone going back to search for scorched family photos after a house fire, I scroll through my 17,000, unfoldered (Holy Mother of God!) pictures in iPhoto until I come across that unforgettable day we spent with Jorge on Granville Island. R and Jorge had become good e-friends through online drawing groups, including Urban Sketchers, a collection of international of artists whose motto is “See the world one drawing at a time,” and later Sketching Workshop, created by Jorge. At last, they arranged to meet for a sketch crawl with a Vancouver, B.C. sketching group. I was invited to come along, as was our daughter, N, and her husband, Ch. Here is a photo of Jorge and R a few seconds after meeting in person for the first time. To me, they look like brothers. The day that Jorge died R asked me, “Do you think it’s possible that we were brothers in another life?” Yes. Yes, I believe it.
In the little gallery below I catch glimpses of the magic that occurred on June 7, 2013…precious moments we shared with Jorge drawing, painting, chattering like the sparrows watching us from nearby maples, listening, learning, and laughing at his jokes.
Jorge, Robert and Don McNulty, of Vancouver, Sketching
One Result of Jorge’s Effort
Jorge Demonstrating Watercolor Techniques
And a Portrait of Yours Truly Whipped Out in 5 Minutes
Our Last Group Hug, Forever
In looking at each picture, I hope to be comforted, and I am because of the life that still clings to it, like a feather floating through the air into the open window of a library somewhere in Austria, as a man sits reading, and another man named Jorge, quietly snaps an unforgettable image.
In Dreamtigers, Jorge Luis Borges wrote,
Leaving behind the babble of the plaza,
I enter the Library.
I feel, almost physically,
the gravitation of the books,
the enveloping serenity of order,
time magically desiccated and preserved.
!Qué te vaya bien en la Biblioteca, amigo! May it go well for you in the Library, friend.
-Jorge Royal generously donated the library images to the public domain. -Quotes are from the author’s personal library and Goodreads -Photos, other than the final one by Robert Dodd, are by the author. -Watercolor is by the author.