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Friday, 19 November 2010

Mirrors and Superstition


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http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/velazquez/velazquez.meninas.jpg

Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour), or the Family of Philip IV: Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, 1656-1657 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)


I'm not superstitious about mirrors.


File:Las Meninas mirror detail.jpg

Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour), or the Family of Philip IV (detail): Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, 1656-1657 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)


But then I avoid mirrors religiously,



Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour), or the Family of Philip IV (detail): Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, 1656-1657 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)


and I don't really know why this should be so,



Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour), or the Family of Philip IV (detail): Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, 1656-1657 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)


for in truth there is nothing to be feared from a mirror,



Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour), or the Family of Philip IV (detail): Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, 1656-1657 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)


perhaps it is merely because I am a religious person,




Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour), or the Family of Philip IV (detail): Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, 1656-1657 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)


not a superstitious one,



Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour), or the Family of Philip IV (detail): Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, 1656-1657 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)


or then again, perhaps it is because



File:Meninas detail Don José Nieto Velázquez.jpg

Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour), or the Family of Philip IV (detail): Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, 1656-1657 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)



there is so much to be feared from everything else.


London Character Shoes, business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. View into mirror

London Character Shoes, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, view into mirror: photo by Gottso-Schleisner, Inc., 1948 (Gottscho-Schleisner Collection, Library of Congress)

18 comments:

John said...

This is wonderful! Great to combine the poem with the artwork like this!

Julia said...

Fabulous!
And I just published a new post referring to your previous posts about mirrors and now there is another fantastic one!

lluvia said...

Hola....there is a supertition about this picture in our region
http://xbellox.wordpress.com/2007/12/20/el-nino-que-llora/

curtisroberts said...

I was wondering whether this exploration would take us here and I was really pleased to see that it did. The poem you've written, interleaved (if such a thing is possible in a pageview; it seems to be the only way to describe the sensation you’ve created) with the painting’s details (too bland and inexact a word; as with yesterday’s Piero della Francesca, these worlds within worlds can all be seen separately and together as part of the whole) fairly sum up my own feelings about and reactions to mirrors and to life. If/when you publish this in a non-web format, I’d almost rather see it as a stand-alone card (perhaps along the line of those ingenious Robert Sabuda pop-up books of Alice In Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz) with poem-as-message that could mark an event or accompany a gift than as a poem in a book. The messages on cards are always so awful, making recipients feel foolish and assaulted, but the lines you’ve written are psychologically acute and relate to everybody’s external and internal experience. I imagine people would keep the card forever and ignore the gift that came with it.

aditya said...

Wonderful !!
I woke up and straightaway read it.
Great poem. Again!

TC said...

Many thanks, amigas y amigos.


Welcome, John.


Julia, what a lovely post that is. I am honoured, and I do hope everyone will click upon your name and see what you have done.

(In fact I hope everyone will have been clicking upon your name and seeing the beautiful things you have been doing, all along...)


lluvia, the tale of the Child Who Weeps is quite affecting -- and quite strange.

"Como todo el mundo, yo escuché la historia, pero nunca tuve miedo."

(In those words, as in my own, there is perhaps a hint of what we call "whistling in the dark"...?)


Curtis,

For the better part of a year now your generous company has been prompting my attentions and helping me to try to articulate these word/image conversations in ways that might otherwise not have occurred.

And after all this time I must confess that I am more at a loss than ever as to how translate what is happening here into any other format without the essence of the thing being lost in translation.

(And for that matter, I have not yet discovered exactly what the essence of the thing is... as the rain sluices down the gutter a few feet away and runs off downhill to sink into and feed the thirsty roots of the ancient Sequoia sempervirens, one can only envy the natural processes and cycles and wonder how it is that our brief moment never quite manages to attain that kind of permanence-in-its-disappearance... "ars longa vita brevis" perhaps once meant something to someone somewhere, but in this ephemeral medium in which we find ourselves here and now, it seems that "blog brevis, vita brevis" might be the more honest description of the situation, for better or worse. )

TC said...

Oh, and Aditya -- I am happy that you have awakened.

When one day we climb together into the mountains that tower above you there, we will, on a rainy night like this, find a cabin with a candle in the window, where we can take shelter, and then you can teach me how to sleep.

TC said...

(Well, at any rate that would be consistent with your line of work: I recall from your profile that you are in the Education industry.)

aditya said...

Tom,

It must be two or three in the morning in California when these and most of all your comments pour in. Sleeping is not easy. Sleeping is not enough Tom. You have to sleep in time. These days there are no mountains here. Only towers. Sprawling all over the place. Do listen to this.

There is a room next to this one. I wish you were in there sometimes. I doubt you would be up reading all this. Life is uneven. The very naive mention of education industry on the profile dates back to me being a (psuedo) student of engineering not long ago.

ps-I had to make a drastic attempt last night to almost bury my face in to a tumbler of boiling water. Steamed! I slept wonderfully after that.

TC said...

Aditya, that is very soothing indeed.

Next I will move on to the steam (though I am a bit superstitious about boiling cauldrons.)

On the subject of industry, of course, I was only joking.

I am quite aware that you are industrious enough, but that your efforts, like my own, are restricted principally to the area of poetry; and that, nonetheless, neither of us quite qualifies for the "poetry industry".

Therefore we may speak as equals, which is what makes it so pleasant.

(However I secretly suspect you of from time to time actually maintaining gainful employment, which would of course violate the first rule of our slacker fellowship... were it not for the fact, that is, that temporary employment, unlike diamonds, is not forever.)

Yes, your calculations are right, it is very late here, in fact too late; and raining; and the butterflies' wings would be dripping, had they not wisely already migrated long since to the more hospitable climes south of the border.

aditya said...

Damnit Tom !

You have a great sense of humor.
You should sleep sometimes too. I intentionally missed to mention that I work in one of those huge white towers. I am working in an IT company but as you say that myefforts, like your own, are restricted principally to the area of poetry.

Temporary employments .. Some of them technically are not even employments as you would say. I have Zidane in my mind once I mention the word technically. I learnt to doodle and slightly sketch in the offices of my employment. You did make a painted Zinedine Zidane caricature once. liked it. DO you still paint or sketch ?

Julia said...

I share aditya's concern...
I have to leave now, but I'll be wishing that you spend a nice day

curtisroberts said...

"Blog brevis, vita brevis" works fine for me. As I've said previously, I think BTP is essentially a new form and a very good one. There's a reason, obviously, the expression "lost in translation" exists.

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Thanks for this look, as if in broken pieces of a mirror, of all these 'parts' of Las Meninas -- who are all these people? what are they doing t/here? what saying and thinking? who is being reflected, who standing there inside the painting? and who now here?


11.20

grey of rain cloud against top of green
ridge, golden-crowned sparrow’s oh dear
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

a kind of concealment which
has extended, is here

being, moves from something
that is, here present

grey-white of sky reflected in channel,
whiteness of gull gliding toward point

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Fine poem, Tom. Thanks.

TC said...

Thanks very much, everyone.

The painting is a sort of family snapshot, among other things, so it's interesting to look into the images that exist of these people in later times.

The "star" of course is the little blonde girl, the Infanta Margarita, whom we see surrounded by her entourage. Here she is five years old.

And here, in another court portrait group done ten years later, upon the death of Margarita's father Philip IV, we see her again, as an adolescent young woman of fifteen. A year later she would leave Spain, marry and go off to live in Vienna. At this point, sadly, her mourning clothes appear appropriate in another way; she had not much life left to her, and would pass away at barely twenty-two, in 1673.

In the backdrop of Juan de Mazo's portrait, through the doorway, one gets a glimpse of a group of household mourners who include Margarita's young brother Charles II, and the dwarf Maribarbola, whose unforgettable countenance we recall from Velázquez's masterpiece.

Robb said...

Loved this, Tom. It tickled my fribb in a way that was needed.

TC said...

Robb, to tickle your fribb was the purpose for which this was meant.