A man once fell in love with pictures; and since he was very rich, he would set out to buy the most beautiful pictures in the world. For twenty years he travelled everywhere, looked at everything, and by then he knew which were the most beautiful pictures in the world. So he bought them. He bought them all, for he was very rich; and he took them and placed them in his house. But somehow they still weren’t his. He could look at them, he could touch them. But other people could do the same. So he took them into a private room where no-one else could see them, and he locked the room. No-one else saw them or touched them. But they still weren’t his. They were separate from him. They were with the room the whole time but with him only some of the time. So he shut himself up in the room and stayed there for days. But they still weren’t his. So he took them all off the walls and placed them all around him. He lay on the floor and pulled them over him till they pressed right down on top of him. He stayed like that for a long time. Only the pain of their weight pressed on him.
After some time the pain got less and he remembered that the point of the most beautiful pictures of the world was that they should be looked at. After all it might be the most ugly pictures in the world that were now pressing on him. So they still weren’t his. Then he threw them off and lit a fire and burnt them one by one till there were none left. Then he realised that they still weren’t his and that the fire had gone out so he could not even throw himself into it.