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SHROUD OF TRURO: THE ART OF MATTHEW BENEDICT

That profound Silence, that only Voice of our God, which I before spoke of; from that divine thing without a name, those impostor philosophers pretend somehow to have got an answer; which is as absurd, as though they should say they had got water out of stone; for how can a man get a Voice out of Silence?

Herman Melville, Pierre, or the Ambiguities

IN 1998, THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY hosted an exhibition called “Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou.” In the final section of the show, one came across several elaborately reconstructed altars, including one for the Haitian secret society known as the Bizango. There, amid carved phallic canes, shrouded machetes, and beaded bottles, was a jarring representation of Bawon Samdi, the Vodou lord of the dead: a twelve-inch figurine of Darth Vader. Samdi is usually shown in funereal black clothing, with a skull for a face and carrying a

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