Da Vinci: Via Di Levare
Da Vinci called painting a via di porre (the way of accumulation or laying over) and sculpture via di levare (way of taking off or subtraction). Benveniste, being a bit of a genius, but also very bad with his secret habits, had ended up owing quite a bit of money to Heinrich. I had never met Heinrich, so sitting down at the hipster bar next to the office on a Wednesday and trying not to stare into his big, blackened, right eye, I said, "Okay, I'm over here, it's lunch so I'm not going to be drinking a bunch, but what is it you are so desperate to tell me." I know I sounded like a dick. I mean this was my buddy, the first person at MENTRA who didn't seem like a robot, though I later understood all that. "Look man," he said. "I know now that you have clearance you think you can just open the little people's briefcases and take a steamy shit in them, but I need you to do something for me." I smiled. I had forgotten how profane he was. It was like a breath of fresh air, though, of course, I couldn't help but picture sneaking about the office and shitting in people's briefcases. Words are funny like that. Though, I suppose this depends. It would only be a matter of time before working with the machine would begin to change me. But today I was just a little stressed because I didn't know what I was doing and my new boss was, kindly put, a raging asshole, and here was Benveniste with a big black eye feeling sorry for himself and demanding that I meet him and now probably going to ask me to do something I didn't want to do, but at least he was smirking and talking about office drones getting their briefcases doused in fecal matter. It had been a week since I had seen him at the office, and the last time I did see him, he seemed almost as nonverbal as all the drones at MENTRA. Except Sarra, of course. "How is Sarra?" he asked, as if reading my mind. "She's good," I said, hoping he would read in my tone that she was off limits. "Nothing like that crazy Peruvian, I'll bet," Benveniste said. "That was a mistake," I said. "The kind of mistake you hope to save somewhere on video for your lonely days as an old bachelor, ha!" The funny thing about Benveniste was that for all his shit talk and amazingly creative use of bodily metaphors, he was a family man. This is what worried me. It was one thing for us to get a drink and let off some steam after another day staring at our computers, it was another for someone to be beating him up. "Is it the online betting?" I asked, motioning to the eye. And because, he is a bit of genius, rather than just saying that Heinrich had slugged him, he explained that violence, in most cases, is not a case of Da Vinci's accumulation, not the via di porre, though the person is adding punch after punch. He lifted up his shirt and showed me the horrible purple and blue that seemed to seep out from between his ribs. No, this kind of thing is definitely Da Vinci's via di levare. "Has he talked to you?" he asked. "I've never even met him," I said. Benveniste looked at me and I could tell he didn't believe me. "Really," I said. "But you have clearance, don't you?" he asked. I nodded. "I've only had it for a few days." "Well," he said. "I don't even know where to begin. What have you seen down there so far? What have they told you?"