One of my favorite excerpts from Henry Miller’s, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, begins slightly after Miller has an encounter with a fragment of Bosch’s painting The Millennium. Blown away by the hallucinogenic/preternatural state of the oranges, Miller asks his friend, Jack Morgenrath, “why it was that these oranges, so preternaturally real in appearance possessed something more than oranges painted.” To which Morgenrath replies, “it’s because of the ambience.”
Bosch is one of the very few painters–he was indeed more than a painter–who acquired a magic vision. Seeing the world through his eyes it appears to us once again as a world of indestructible order, beauty, harmony, which it is our privilege to accept as paradise or convert into purgatory.
The enchanting, and sometimes terrifying, thing is that the world can be so many things to so many different souls. That it can be, and is, all the same at once.
The millennial oranges which Bosch created restore the soul; the ambiance in which he suspended them is the everlasting one of spirit become real.