Is the present truly more real than the past?

In June of 1898, world-famous graphic artist M. C. Escher was born to George Escher and Sara Gleichman in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden. Until the mid-1930s, Escher’s lithographs, woodcuts, and drawings depicted the landscapes and scenes of nature that surrounded him; it wasn’t until approximately 1935, triggered by the sight of some geometric tiling at Alhambra Palace in Spain, that he began to produce the mind-boggling work for which he is now celebrated: optical illusions that he called “mental imagery.” Throughout his life, Escher kept journals and wrote letters in which he ruminated on the world around him. He penned this entry as 1945 began.

The Diary Entry

Which reality is actually more powerful: that of the present, instantly absorbed by our senses and discernible, or the memory of what we experienced previously? Is the present truly more real than the past? I really do not feel capable of answering this. 

Further Reading

With permission, this diary entry is excerpted from The Magic of M. C. Escher, an amazing book published in 2000 by Thomas & Hudson Ltd and with an introduction by J. L. Locher, then director of the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague and once a close friend of the artist’s. Not only does it contain 380 illustrations of Escher’s, most in colour, but it also features countless quotable, often profound excerpts from his diaries and letters that shed light on his thought process. Highly recommended.

All M.C. Escher works © 2023 The M.C. Escher Company – the Netherlands. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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