The thousands of mirrors that reflect me


Self Reflecting as a fortuneteller (according to my husband) on the tram in Sarajevo

For I do not exist: there exist but the thousands of mirrors that reflect me. With every acquaintance I make, the population of phantoms resembling me increases. Somewhere they live, somewhere they multiply. I alone do not exist. Vladimir Nabokov, The Eye

This is not solitude, ’tis but to hold

solo

To sit on rocks, to muse o’er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest’s shady scene,
Where things that own not man’s dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne’er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o’er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude, ‘tis but to hold
Converse with Nature’s charms, and view her stores unrolled.

But midst the crowd, the hurry, the shock of men,
To hear, to see, to feel and to possess,
And roam alone, the world’s tired denizen,
With none who bless us, none whom we can bless;
Minions of splendour shrinking from distress!
None that, with kindred consciousness endued,
If we were not, would seem to smile the less
Of all the flattered, followed, sought and sued;
This is to be alone; this, this is solitude!

George Gordon Byron

Photo: Flying to Poznan, June 2016

Solitude

Reinterpreting – Marchesa Luisa Casati

Casati was born Luisa Adele Rosa Maria Amman on January 23, 1881

Determined to become a “living work of art”, she lived her life as a reaction to her horror of the mundane, crafting herself into an otherworldly creature whose image was her voice.

Christian Dior Spring 1998 Couture

An outsized personality, hers was a life lived in performance.

Christian Dior Spring 1998 Couture

She was in herself and in her creations an unforgettable spectacle, and although by the time of her demise she had ceased to live a gilded existence, her legacy was not about to fade away

Christian Dior Spring 1998 Couture

But life as performance seems to bear the ingredients of tragedy. As described by Jean Cocteau,

As soon as she came out of her dressing room, the Marquise Casati received the applause usually given to a famous tragedian at her entry to the stage. It remained to act the play. There was none. This was her tragedy.


Is it the common choice of those who don’t feel that they belong or are seen (or feel themselves to be) as inadequate to choose being the performance of self over being oneself?

Tilda Swinton by Paolo Roversi

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety
William Shakespeare 

Anthony and Cleopatra

References

An Ode to the Singular Marchesa Luisa Casati

Anarchists of Style: Marchesa Luisa Casati

Marchesa Casati Goth, Glamorous and Wild 

http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-1998-couture/christian-dior

Maybe it could be different

 

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It’s Not This Time of Year Without… insane traffic, crowded shopping malls, the premature  stress of shopping and last minute to-do lists enhanced by premature decorations,accelerated consumption, marketing created traditions, the same songs playing in loop, awkward get-togethers and the promises that next year, yes, next year it will be different.

Horror Vacui

The fear of the empty space, most times understood as “ridiculous to the excess”.

Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels. Francisco Goya


Historically understood as an expression of Catholic Anti-Reformation propaganda, Baroque art is normally understood as lacking the reason and discipline associated with neoclassicism and the sophistication of more refined  mannerism styles. In the 17th century, Baroque emerges in Europe as an extravagant, impetuous reaction against religious wars, the Reformation and the Counter Reformation, The 30 Years War, economic crisis and other ills and plagues form its historical backdrop. Going beyond the balanced and orderly representation of the world, it is an aesthetic of distortion, deception, complexity, and over-elaboration:  the novel inside the novel (Don Quijote [1605 and 1615]), theater inside the theater (Hamlet [c1601]), the painting inside the painting (Velázquez’s Las Meninas [1656] ), mirrors inside mirrors, etc. An emotional response to emptiness and disenchantement.

Leonardo da Vinci’s simplicity as the ultimate sophistication has become the norm in a society overwhelmed my the amount of visual information and material possessions that seem to clutter our minds and dominate our living spaces The claustrophobic in me has tried often times to convert to the minimalist / sophisticated imperative with no success. The maximalist in me can’t resist the emotional drama, radical spirit and aesthetic vertigo of the horror vacui.

Photos (mine) San Nicolás Church in Valencia, Spain,  A Gothic structure invaded by Baroque extravaganza.

 

 

References

Radical

Vuelvo al Sur

I was born in the Southern Hemisphere and live in Southern Europe although my current city is geographically “up North” and people here tend to passionately identify themselves as “northerners “.

For a while I lived in Brighton, also the South in the North and then moved to London and to a more northern lifestyle. I did identify with England mainly because of the music that nurtured me through my teenage angst and bouts of dramatic isolation from the rest of the world. I miss my English life often, I miss the politeness and the freedom of being foreigner but accepted, or at least tolerated. I even miss the pebble beaches and the custard and the days spent in libraries and trying to find a proper espresso. I miss wandering around with nowhere to go. I miss feeling lonely in London and still quietly happy. I miss the quirkiness and people not staring at you because you look different. I miss talking to street performers and photographing them. I miss spending a fortune at Joe’s Basement in Soho to get contacts printed.

I could have stayed. I left and felt that I really belonged there. Up North. I don’t. My landscape is now far from the green grass, blue eyes, grey sky and the gothic lines that I  only revisit when travelling Northbound. Now I marvel at  the marble collonades, the porches and patios and baroque pearls of the south. Red soil, black eyes, blue sky.

 

son dos pozos de estrellas tus ojos negros

 

Geographies aside, I’m intellectually from the North and culturally and emotionally  from the South. Not the place. The set of values. The feeling. That different dimension where one floats and feels whole and at home in all “souths”. The olive tree souths, the palm tree souths and the fern souths.  The Atlantic souths and the Indic souths, the Mediterranean and the Gulf souths. The carnation souths, the azahar souths, the magnolia-scented souths and the lavender souths. The jacaranda south. The iced tea souths and the wine and manzanilla souths. The beignet souths and the cannoli souths. The pistachio colored souths, the turquoise souths and the ochre souths.  The south of Tango and the south of Blues. The rhythmic south. The south of Duende.

Llevo el Sur,

como un destino del corazon,

soy del Sur,

como los aires del bandoneon.

The Belles souths and the Amazons souths. The Maria souths and the Carmen souths and the Tallulah souths. The polite souths and the loud-mouthed souths. The south of dark hair and lustrous eyes and cadenced walks and throbbing charm. The south of apparent frailty and unbreakable strength.

The orange souths, the mango souths and the strange fruit souths.

The lazy, laughing South
With blood on its mouth.

The cruel south. Not a geography. A metaphor of all the pain in humanity. A testimony of decadence. The fatalist souths and the combative souths.

The emotional souths and the passionate souths. The souths of private virtues and public vices. The south of sin. The south of absolution.

The souths of Homer. The south of Faulkner. The souths of disquiet. The lazy Apollonian souths, the dancing, graceful, spontaneous, impulsive souths. The eternal midday, clear, still and in the moment South. The nostalgic, embracing South.

And still, the yearning for the lost South. “And there were other ways to live…”

Se você tem uma idéia incrível. É melhor fazer uma canção. Está provado que só é possível. Filosofar em alemão.

 

References (in a very random order)

Astor Piazolla, Caetano Veloso, Camaron de la Isla, Jorge Luis Borges, Eugene Walter, Langston Hughes, Agustina Bessa-Luís, Fernando Pessoa, Susan Sontag, William Faulkner, Billie Holiday, Oswald Spengler, Nietzsche

South.

Sometimes it snows in April 

and, sometimes,  it never stops

Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad

O. died yesterday. Last time I saw him was in 2013 after a long hiatus in our conversations on art and music and books. We met at a conference on photography and it was like our conversation had never really gone mute.

If you look into someone’s face long enough, eventually you’re going to feel that you’re looking at yourself

We promised to reconnect and go out for coffee,  rekindle our platonic passion for Auster and New York and let our words wander to beautiful spaces. We never did. We exchanged texts wishing each other a happy new year and thought we would have time to keep our promises.

Every life is inexplicable, I kept telling myself. No matter how many facts are told, no matter how many details are given, the essential thing resists telling. To say that so and so was born here and went there, that he did this and did that, that he married this woman and had these children, that he lived, that he died, that he left behind these books or this battle or that bridge – none of that tells us very much.

Even if we know it’s a part of life, death is inexplicable as well. O. died yesterday. His heart just stopped on the same day of his birthday. The day he had given up celebrating a long time ago. Mr. Vertigo left the same day he arrived. Like a time traveller.

The emptiness inside your body grows lighter than the air around you. Little by little, you begin to weigh less than nothing. You shut your eyes; you spread your arms; you let yourself evaporate. And then, little by little, you lift yourself off the ground.
Like so.

References

Prince

Paul Auster, Mr. Vertigo

Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy

Photo: Central Park CC0 Public Domain