Rheinhold's Philosophizing Monkey
Derry, Julian F
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When a human is depicted holding a skull it is usually a comment on mortality and the inevitability of death. Famously, Hamlet bereaves Yorick in one instance ("Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him…") but is soon repulsed by this macabre souvenir as it brings him face-to-face with all life's grim destiny. But, for Rheinhold's monkey it is something quite different. The monkey is engaged in assessment and measurement (confirmed by the callipers held in a paw). The countenance is not one of sorrow through personal loss nor is it melancholic through an encounter with such a physical embodiment of quietus. Is it studious indifference in the gaze, or has a whimsical consideration led to a risible parenthesis? Has the ape chanced upon the measure of man?