Mirrored

 There are no lies 
in the morning
no cheating of age

an illusion of eye
smoothing skin over bone.
No portrait hidden away becoming skeletal and demanding release.
Another day to face, my confessor, so laugh at this charting of years.
Mirror by Adrian Greene
Photo: dresses by Gilbert Adrian at the LACMA

 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

The Wharton School –  a critical house tour


Pictures representing life and action often grow tiresome when looked at over and over again, day after day.

There are but two ways of dealing with a room which is fundamentally ugly: one is to accept it, and the other is courageously to correct its ugliness.


Where much pattern is used, it must be as monotonous as possible or it will become unbearable.

Plain shelves filled with good editions in good bindings are more truly decorative than ornate bookcases lined with tawdry books.

Not only do mediocre ornaments become tiresome when seen day after day, but the mere crowding of furniture and gimcracks into a small room intended for work and repose will soon be found fatiguing.


The money spent on a china “ornament” in the shape of a yellow leghorn hat with a kitten climbing out of it would probably purchase a good reproduction of one of the Tanagra statuettes or a plaster cast of some French or Italian bust.

That cheap originality which finds expression in putting things to uses for which they were not intended is often confounded with individuality; whereas the latter consists not in an attempt to be different from other people at the cost of comfort, but in the desire to be comfortable in one’s own way, even though it be the way of a monotonously large majority.

It is one of the misfortunes of the present time that the most preposterouly bad things often possess the powerful allurement of being expensive.

Wharton rallied against the “black art” and “dubious eclecticism” that was the house decoration of her day. Thick curtains, dinner tables covered in velvet, bric-a-brac of the era, and “a great deal of gilding” were, in the mind of Wharton, totally out.

I still haven’t found the perfect velvet curtains for the living room.

References

Edith Wharton by Design

Lapham’s Quarterly

Exposure

Coloring by words 

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees

This was beautifully handwritten inside a birthday card given to me by my summer course English teacher in Cheltenham the year I turned 18. These words (and the card) have stayed with me since then and I even had them embroidered on a dress. Who wouldn’t want to live like that? These words felt like the perfect “how to” to life at that time.

They were also responsible for the immense love I feel for a language which is not native to me but has always understood me better than my own.

Before these words, all the poetry in songs, from Morrison to Morrissey, the texts of disquiet, the Stranger’s paragraphs all seemed to work as companions to a growing existential hole, some sort of solace to an awkward confrontation with reality. And then these words, out of their natural context, as quotes are usually presented, showed a sunny alternative and I still tend to hold on to them as way of seeing a brighter tomorrow.

Other words, other poems, other texts have found their way to me because of their music when read aloud or because they are the words that I wished were mine and because, in a way, I still need words as a compass even when those same words make me feel overwhelmed and scared that in the midst of all the quotes living in my head I will not be able to find words that are mine. And again I borrow, from Beckett when I try and fail and vow to fail again better, from Jung while trying to take control of my own narrative, from Emerson while I try to go on being myself, from Camaron de la Isla when trying to come to terms with all the anger and honey that I too seem to carry with me.

And still none of those words have resonated as strongly as the realization that

tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
I carry them on me. So I don’t forget.

Quote Me better late than never