Monday Morning Wake-Up Call (Okay!)

“Okay!” said Dorothy out loud, stressing the exclamation. She retrieved the toolbox from under the kitchen sink and located nails and hammer. A change would do her good. She hung the mirror on the wall, horizontal-wise. She stepped back and noted with satisfaction that she could no longer see below her neck.

Christine Smallwood, The LIfe of the Mind (Hogarth, March 2, 2021)


Notes:

  • Inspired by: “A recent survey of more than 3,000 American adults, by the American Psychological Association, showed that 42 percent of those surveyed had gained more weight than they intended over the past year. The average weight gain was 29 pounds (the median amount gained was 15 pounds). Millennials reported the largest average weight gain – 41 pounds.” (via Food & Heath Facts)

when she looked in the mirror in the morning, she liked what she saw

Eudora Welty’s biographer, reports that Katherine Anne Porter said to Welty, “You will never know what it means to be a beautiful woman.” The comment reveals more about Porter’s conception of beauty than Welty’s appearance, though one hopes it earned Porter a few centuries in some lower level of Purgatory. And yet plenty of plain people partner and/ or marry. What’s going on here is something more profound than mere mien. Even in early photographs, Welty is radiant with her unabashed horse-toothed smile—somehow she found in her youth the self-possession to embrace it as her signature feature. In meeting her I felt overwhelmingly that, when she looked in the mirror in the morning, she liked what she saw, because what she saw she had consciously created. She was her own spouse.

— Fenton JohnsonAt the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life (W. W. Norton & Company, March 10, 2020)


Notes:

  • Inspired by: “I have been sick and I found out then, only then, how lonely I am. Is it too late? My heart puts up a struggle inside me, and you may have heard it, protesting against emptiness … It should be full, he would rush on to tell her, thinking of his heart now as a deep lake, it should be holding love like other hearts. It should be flooded with love… . Come and stand in my heart, whoever you are, and a whole river would cover your feet and rise higher and take your knees in whirlpools, and draw you down to itself, your whole body, your heart too.” — Eudora Welty, from “Death of a Traveling Salesman” in The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Feb 1, 1982)
  • Portrait of Eudora Welty, Nov 15, 1970, from the Paris Review via hottytoddy.com

When you are alone and you look in a mirror you never put on a pleasing smile. Well, you don’t, do you?

David Hockney was way ahead of today’s ubiquitous selfies. In the 1980s—already famous for his painted landscapes of California pools and suburban houses—he threw himself into drawn, painted and photographed self-portraits…

At first the Hockney self-portraits showed vulnerability and self-consciousness, according to Dr. Brooks. But over the years, he adds, they showed intense self-examination. Mr. Hockney has depicted himself with his mouth wide open in surprise, with a scowl or with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth at an angle.

The results, as well as Mr. Hockney’s wider interest in photographic collage, are the main focus of “Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney,” a celebration of his turning 80 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, opening in two stages, June 27 and July 18. Most of the versions of Mr. Hockney on view, though, don’t make for a cheery celebration. “I usually only draw myself in down periods,” Mr. Hockney told London’s Telegraph newspaper in 2001. “I suppose that’s why I often draw myself looking grim. I just think, ‘Let’s have a look in the mirror.’ When you are alone and you look in a mirror you never put on a pleasing smile. Well, you don’t, do you?”

~ Alexandra Wolfe, from Self-Portraits and Photos for David Hockney Birthday (wsj.com, June 23, 2017)


Notes:

  • Photograph top: David Hockney with ‘Blue Terrace Los Angeles March 8th 1982’.
  • Drawing: David Hockney ‘Self Portrait, 20 March 2012 (1219), iPad drawing printed on paper, mounted on Dibond.

 

Mirror, Mirror, on the…

mirror-laura-zalenga

What doleful thing
man has devised!
Standing before it
means standing before oneself.
One who questions in front of it
at once finds himself questioned.
Moreover,
why is it you have to step backward
in order to move farther inside?

Kikuo Takano, “Mirror” in Like Underground Water: The Poetry of Mid-Twentieth Century Japan

 


Notes – Poem via Schonwieder (via 1910). Photo: Laura Zalenga

Spaces of Otherness

Tigran Tsitoghdzyan,painting

Heterotopia is a concept elaborated by philosopher Michel Foucault to describe spaces of otherness, which are neither here nor there, that are simultaneously physical and mental, such as the space of a phone call or the moment when you see yourself in the mirror. Foucault uses the idea of a mirror as a metaphor for utopia because the image that you see in it does not exist, but it is also a heterotopia because the mirror is a real object that shapes the way you relate to your own image.


Notes:

Monday Mantra

misty-mirror

What kind of mind is odder
than his who mists
a mirror and then complains
that it’s not clear.

Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, “You Foolish Men” 


Credits: Photo – aspiringmama. Poem: bostonpoetryslam via schwonwieder

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