THE COLORS OF THE ROUND TABLE
Another meeting of the Colors of the Round
Table had been called, and all the Knights and Ladies were gathered in the great rococo ballroom where the Round Table was situated, kissing, embracing and slapping each other on
the back. Summonses to the Round Table were always festive occasions because they always denoted the beginning of a new Project. And since the Colors, each and every one,
lived for the Projects, it was a time for celebration. The realization that they would soon be experiencing once again the adventures, pleasures, ecstasies and transports of a
Project stimulated the life force in each of them.
It was customary at these meetings to make outrageous predictions and
speculations about the upcoming Project.
“And will you be ushering me on wings of desire into the etherium once
again, Sir Orange?” inquired Lady Violet coquettishly. Some of the Knights and Ladies liked to pretend they were courtiers at Versailles in the 17th century.
“Yes, my dear, if that is the only place I can have you,”
replied Sir Orange.
“You’re going to be reigned in this time, Sir Orange, I’m
sure of it,” Lady Magenta declared.
“In any case, I will surely reign,” said Sir Orange, making a
crown with his fingers and sticking out his tongue. They laughed and continued talking with the animation common to each, until finally they began to sit down at their places to
await the appearance of the Conductor, who always gave the Colors plenty of time to get reacquainted before he called the meeting to order.
When the Conductor did appear, the first thing he did was to greet each of
the twelve Knights and Ladies, bowing to the Ladies, and saluting the Knights.
“How lovely you are looking, Lady Blue, so full of new life, grace,
and myriad benevolent influences, as always.” It was the Conductor’s habit to greet the three parental colors first, out of respect for their great accomplishments and
venerability. And of these three, Lady Blue, the matriarch of Colors, was always greeted first. Very often, the Conductor became quite flowery in his greetings to the Colors. It
was rumored that he felt compelled to talk with them this way.
Next was Sir Red. “You seem in fine fettle, oh fearless one. You are
ready for something special, I would guess? That is good.” Sir Red had been selected to be the de facto head of the Round Table. The Colors did not feel they needed a leader, but sometimes the meetings could become unruly, and Sir Red did have a strong and steady hand. He and his bosom pal, Sir Orange, were the subject of many legendary tales. Now and then they were referred to as “those two rogues.” The infamous affair involving these two and Lady Pink, who was eternally underage, had been recounted with hilarity many times.
The Conductor then looked at Sir Yellow. “Ah, my fine friend! Your
brilliance always gives me hope and reassurance. May it continue to spread throughout the realm.”
Now the Conductor began to greet the other Colors in a counter-clock wise
fashion, starting with Lady Magenta, who sat to the right of Sir Red. “How perfectly luscious and elegant you are looking, My Lady. Your magical ability to transport your
warmth and self-possession to all quarters will certainly be essential in the upcoming Project.” There were some smiles around the Table at mention of Lady Magenta’s
ability to spread her warmth to all parts. It was understood, of course, that every Lady of the Round Table was promiscuous, as was their duty. With the present Conductor, however,
Lady Magenta had become a star, appearing everywhere in roles both large and small.
Next to Lady Magenta sat Lady Violet. “Ah, Lady Violet, you always
pique my élan with your great beauty. I hope you are once again prepared to use your mysterious charm and sensuality in spectacular fashion.” Like Lady Magenta, under the
direction of this Conductor Lady Violet had risen to stardom, and her presence had become pervasive in many of the Projects of recent years. Once thought to be shy and somewhat
withdrawn, Lady Violet had begun to show a new side of herself, to the extent that just in the last two years dozens of stories had been circulating about her peccadilloes and
strange liaisons. She had even acquired a sobriquet, “The Adventuress.”
The Conductor then turned to Sir Purple, who sat just to the right of Lady
Violet. “Sir Purple, my faithful and stalwart Knight, you are looking quite noble and dignified as always. You will be a pillar of this new edifice.” Sir Purple was not
the liveliest of Knights. Although he had an impressive presence, he did not much exert himself. Behind his placid exterior, however, was a deep hidden passion for Lady Magenta,
and whenever a new project began he prayed to the gods of Color to be put together with the love of his life.
The Conductor had already greeted Lady Blue, so he went on to Lady Ultra,
who was next. “And Lady Ultra .... the subtle and luminous depths of your beauty always amaze me. Would that I could be closer to you, but alas! You are also something of a
mirage.” For some reason unclear to them both, Lady Ultra and the Conductor had always had a tenuous relationship. The reality of it was that Lady Ultra produced the effect
of confusion upon the Conductor. He blamed himself, and it left him in a quandary. He wanted to use her powers, which were considerable, but he was unsure how to do it.
Next to Lady Ultra sat one of the Conductor’s favorites, Sir Green.
“Ah! Sir Green! My fine and trusty friend. Whenever I see you I feel there is still hope for the world.” The purpose of the Knights and Ladies of the Round Table was,
and always had been, to save the world, and Sir Green had always played an enormous role in this great crusade, one whose outcome was very much in doubt.
Next to Sir Green sat a frequent subject of gossip, Lady Lime, who, having
always thought highly of herself, had long since decided that if others wanted to talk about her, she was perfectly all right with it. Each of the Knights and Ladies had been
forced to come to terms with being a celebrity. They were all despised by some and adored by others. Cruel things were said about each of them. Wonderful things were said about
each of them. And, as their fortunes waxed and waned over the years they learned to understand that there was no point in trying to change themselves in order to accommodate a fad
or fashion. They were who they were, and they respected each other for
that, and felt a common bond with each other, knowing that they belonged to a very important and
exclusive fraternity whose members had been chosen on the basis of color alone. Each of the twelve members of the Round Table had an extended Family, including distant cousins who
were seldom heard from or seen. Some of the Colors were troublemakers, and there were many disputes about what Family certain Colors might belong to. Many cousins had been arguing
for centuries about whether they belonged in the Family of Lady Magenta of the Family of Lady Violet. The Knights and Ladies of the Round Table were all spokescolors for their
Families, and tried to help them get work on the Projects. But it was a sensitive and complicated business.
In the end, what created their great sense of camaraderie and respect for
each other was the understanding that they were all working together in a valiant effort to save the world from destruction. Not only would the race of Conductors be wiped out, it
was even possible the Colors themselves might disappear from Earth.
“Ah, Lady Lime,” the Conductor continued, “you always
enchant me with those marvelous subcurrents you keep secreted away. Will you ever reveal them to us?” Lady Lime smiled.
Having already greeted Sir Yellow, the Conductor went next to Sir Cadmium.
“Sir Cadmium, my good Knight, you are looking very dapper today.”
“I prefer natty,” Sir Cadmium replied.
“Sir Cadmium, my good Knight, you are looking very natty today.”
No sooner had the Conductor finished with his greeting to Sir Cadmium than his face broke out into a broad smile, as he turned to Sir Orange. “There you are, my hearty old
friend. Your escapades do you honor, and serve you well, as they do us all. You will sound the clarion when we begin.” The Conductor made an effort not to show favoritism,
but the for the Colors, who had worked with him many times, his proclivities were well-known. Like all members of his species, he had his likes and dislikes. He did, however, enjoy
experimentation quite a lot, giving hope to all the Colors and their Families: This Conductor liked to mix things up. He was erratic and unpredictable, like all his species. It may
have had to do with their mortality, a condition that both disturbed and confused the Colors to some degree. There was something wrong with a reality in which they were immortal
and the Conductors were not. They all regarded the Conductors as deities of a sort (and some Conductors reciprocated). So why should the Knights and Ladies of the Round Table be
immortal and not the Conductors? It was a cosmic anomaly the Colors had learned to accept as a part of their very weird existence. Sometimes they would ask themselves why, if it
was their task to save the world, was there so much resistance and contradiction? Nothing really made sense, except of course the ecstasy they often felt while in the midst of
their work, when certain things happened that made them feel so sublime that when the Project was finished they often became depressed. Until they were summoned to another meeting
of the Round Table.
To Sir Orange’s right sat the vivacious Lady Vermilion, whom the
Conductor greeted warmly. “Well, Lady Vermilion, you are as rapturous and enticing as ever. Your radiant elegance never fails to astound me.”
Now the Conductor had finished his greetings, and gazed upon the assemblage
with a solemn yet mischievous smile.
“Ladies and Knights, you are about to embark upon one of the grandest
and greatest Projects you have ever undertaken. It will be a mural forty feet high and ninety-five feet long. There will be plenty of work for all of you and many members of your
Families. I can’t really tell you much about the linear composition or the color composition, but I can tell you that Sir Black will once again play a prominent role.”
Sir Black, the antithesis of Lady White, had been excluded from the Round
Table, along with Lady White, for technical reasons dating back to ancient times. All the Colors recognized the importance of Sir Black, and were even in awe of him for his unique
ability to make the Colors feel their individuality and their oneness at the same time. Being in the presence of Sir Black had the peculiar effect of making the Colors want to take
him by the hand and gaze into his depths. Sir Black was of course a mysterious and legendary Knight to whom all sorts of strange stories were attached.
“So all I can really recommend for you at this point,” the
Conductor went on, “is to bulk up. You’re going to need a lot of energy for this Project.”
“That won’t be a problem,” said Sir Green, breaking off a
hunk of bread and pasting it with butter.
“No doubt you will all do what is necessary. Now ..... are there any
Sir Green, bread and butter in hand, rose to speak. “Excuse me,
sir,” he said. “As you may know, my Family likes to say a little prayer before a Project if we are going to be working closely with Sir Red’s Family. If there is
going to be an unusually large amount of contact we like to recite a longer version of the prayer. My question then is do you think we should say the short prayer or the long
one?” At this neither Sir Purple nor Sir Orange could contain a guffaw, even though they had heard this question at every meeting of the Round Table for as long as they could
remember, which was a very long time ago, since Colors, unlike angels, have long memories, but memories that make them neither happy nor unhappy. The memories do, however, serve a
vaguely instructive purpose.
The Conductor chewed his mental cud for a while, then replied that he
thought the short version would suffice. Lady Blue then rose gracefully and asked if her sister, Lady Cobalt, who often played a major role in the Projects, ought to be apprised.
“Yes, of course, Lady Cobalt will need to bulk up, and there are many
others who need to be informed. This will be discussed in more detail at the next meeting. In the meantime, put all your Families on full alert.”
Lady Cobalt, though she did not sit at the Round Table, was a popular
celebrity and a favorite of this particular Conductor. They all knew they would be seeing a lot of her in the days to come.
Next Lady Violet rose, even more gracefully then Lady Blue, and asked if
they would be traveling far for this Project. “About a thousand miles,” the Conductor answered. “But no worries. All travel arrangements have been made for you
and your Families, and I doubt that any of you will be disappointed.”
Now it was Sir Yellow’s turn to make an inquiry. “Is there
anything we can expect from this mural? Will it be conceptual? Geometric? Figurative? Futuristic? Neo-Fauvist?” Sir Yellow was the most intellectual of the twelve, and
curious by nature, so it was not unusual for him to raise such questions, though he never really expected to get a straight answer. Nor did he get one this time.
“Well,” said the Conductor, after chewing on things a bit,
mostly for the sake of appearances, “the best thing I can say in that regard is that the mural will be similar to other things we have done together recently, only it will be
on a much larger scale, with more things going on and a vaster, more complex color composition.”
“Does it have a title?” Lady Lime chimed in.
“At the moment I’m calling it ‘Tales of the Cosmos,’
but that could change.” After a few more questions and some rather excited discussion, the Conductor announced that there would be another meeting of the Round Table in four
days. “Do please inform your Families. And I’m sure you won’t forget my suggestion to bulk up. You’ll need some fat for this one.”
“You heard the man!” shouted Sir Red. “Let’s eat!”
And the Knights and Ladies filled their glasses and reached for the savory
pastries, the cheeses, the breads, the butter and jellies, the pies, cakes, meringues with ice cream, the puddings and custards, the chocolate mints and candies, and all the things
they were certain would give them the strength they needed for the enormous, but delicious, task facing them. And as they ate and drank and celebrated with the exuberance that
accompanies the anticipation of pleasure, not once did they mention the word that tended to make them all a little crazy: Symbolism.