The first time I met Zev, who was then Dan Harris and may still be, for all I know, the conversation suddenly veered round to old and new souls. That Zev was an “old soul” I had recognized immediately. But what I wasn't prepared for (then) was the revelation he made me to the effect that this would be his last incarnation on this planet. Since that day, and I've thought about it often because I think about him often, I've come to the conclusion that there may be truth in this astounding assertion.
I mention the subject because the first thing I was aware of in his presence was that he was in the service of humanity. Perhaps I ought not to add the word "humanity". Just service, tout court. If it were a tree, a flower, an animal, a statue in need of aid, Zev would be the first to run to the rescue. Only very old souls possess this gift.
And so, before we say anything about the painter, we must speak of the man, the person, the strange human being who passes as Zev but who is probably one of the "lamed-vov".
In the outskirts of Monterrey, in one of those woe-begone districts aptly described as "terrain vague”, Dan Harris began building himself a home. The lot he had bought was anything but vast and the view, which was included free, left nothing to the imagination. But in this strange neck of the woods there gradually took shape a house which was absolutely unique and which, as we gradually discovered, was only the kernel or nucleus of more ramified structures, including citadels, temples, pagodas, fortresses, and so on, which, when reduced to scale, would give the illusion of an enchanted palace. The work proceeded millimeter by millimeter, it seemed, with one wall always missing. But what was finished was striking, even if it represented only the corner of a kitchen. Life went on just as comfortably as inside a bird cage. Whoever came to visit fell under the spell of the imaginary ensemble. What was unfinished was just as real as what was finished.