A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

The Mirror Spied Upon Us
Wednesday, June 24, 2015



My first moment of the realization that I was an individual happened when I was around 6 when I looked at myself in a mirror. I silently thought, “That is me.” Since then mirrors have been a big part of my life.

I remember my mother trying, with futility, to attach false roll so she could have her trademark bun. She did this in front of the mirror and lost her patience.

I remember my father using one of those special cups that he pressed on his eye, and then on the other. It was small and it was made of dark blue glass. My guess was that he removed his eyeball so as to wash it well. He did this in the bathroom mirror of our Buenos Aires bathroom.

Since I was 20 I have been reading all of the output (that I could find) written by Jorge Luís Borges. He wrote many poems about mirrors. One of his most famous short stories is the one that I reproduce below both in Spanish and in English.

Of late I have been taking pictures of the people who pose for in my home studio getting themselves ready in the guest bathroom. It is small but I manage to include myself in these double selfies.

In 2008 while teaching at Focal Point I had two very good students. One was from Mexico the other was local. They had unusual looks. As soon as they were no longer my students I inquired about taking their pictures. The Mexican girl posed for me for a couple of years and we explored themes that were part of our memories and nostalgia about Mexico.

The other young woman (both were very good photographers) was named after one of King Lear’s daughters. She posed for me twice and then lost interest. Of her I took (over 100 exposures) some of the best photographs of my life using mirrors and or taking pictures of her taking her own picture in front of an Ikea mirror. Alas! I cannot show the majority of those pictures and you can salivate in your imagination. I did manage to photograph the two together with the Ikea mirror (see below).

We were not aware that we were preceding with style the age of the selfie.

Both at Focal Point and in my studio I had a very beautiful wide margined wood mirror (the only quality stuff I ever bought at Ikea). When I closed my studio four years ago my son-in-law was able to bring my psychiatric couch in his Toyota Liftback. But he stepped on my mirror and that was the end of it.


I hope to return to the subject soon.



I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror and an

encyclopedia. The mirror troubled the depths of a corridor in a country house on Gaona Street in Ramos Mejia; the encyclopedia is fallaciously called The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia (New York, 1917) and is a literal but delinquent reprint of the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1902. The event took place some five years ago. Bioy Casares had had dinner with me that evening and we became lengthily engaged in a vast polemic concerning the composition of a novel in the first person, whose narrator would omit or disfigure the facts and indulge in various contradictions which would permit a few readers - very few readers - to perceive an atrocious or banal reality. From the remote depths of the corridor, the mirror spied upon us. We discovered (such a discovery is inevitable in the late hours of the night) that mirrors hare something monstrous about them. Then Bioy Casares recalled that one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had declared that mirrors and copulation are abominable, because they increase the number or men. I asked him the origin of this memorable observation and he answered that it was reproduced in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia in its article on Uqbar
Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, Jorge Luís Borges

Debo a la conjunción de un espejo y de una enciclopedia el descubrimiento de Uqbar. El espejo inquietaba el fondo de un corredor en una quinta de la calle Gaona, en Ramos Mejía; la enciclopedia falazmente se llama The Anglo-American Cyclopaedía (New York, 1917) y es una reimpresión literal, pero también morosa, de la Encyclopaedia Britannica de 1902. El hecho se produjo hará unos cinco años. Bioy Casares había cenado conmigo esa noche y nos demoró una vasta polémica sobre la ejecución de una novela en primera persona, cuyo narrador omitiera o desfigurara los hechos e incurriera en diversas contradicciones, que permitieran a unos pocos lectores -a muy pocos lectores- la adivinación de una realidad atroz o banal. Desde el fondo remoto del corredor, el espejo nos acechaba. Descubrimos (en la alta noche ese descubrimiento es inevitable) que los espejos tienen algo monstruoso. Entonces Bioy Casares recordó que uno de los heresiarcas de Uqbar había declarado que los espejos y la cópula son abominables, porque multiplican el número de los hombres. Le pregunté el origen de esa memorable sentencia y me contestó que The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia la registraba, en su artículo sobre Uqbar.

My two ex-students & the Ikea mirror


The conjunction of a mirror
Memphis Britannica  
¿Porqué nací entre espejos?  
Espejismo 
Rain is a thing that happens in the past 
Espejos 
Mirrors are not more silent 
El espejo 
Los espejos 



     

Previous Posts
A Sequence Of Three

The Camphor Babies

My Father George

A Pleasant Silent Dialogue @ The Initial Gallery

A Fine Comedy With No Errors - Sexy, Too!

A Gentle Prod To Ballet BC From A Dance Amateur (T...

Summer Solstice At Mountain View Cemetery

Dahl's House - June 11 2015 - Arts Umbrella Dance ...

Martha Graham, Judith Garay, Desirée Dunbar, Artem...

Eligy To My Pet Monkey



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11/29/15 - 12/6/15

12/6/15 - 12/13/15

12/13/15 - 12/20/15

12/20/15 - 12/27/15

12/27/15 - 1/3/16

1/3/16 - 1/10/16

1/10/16 - 1/17/16

1/31/16 - 2/7/16

2/7/16 - 2/14/16

2/14/16 - 2/21/16

2/21/16 - 2/28/16

2/28/16 - 3/6/16

3/6/16 - 3/13/16

3/13/16 - 3/20/16

3/20/16 - 3/27/16

3/27/16 - 4/3/16

4/3/16 - 4/10/16

4/10/16 - 4/17/16

4/17/16 - 4/24/16

4/24/16 - 5/1/16

5/1/16 - 5/8/16

5/8/16 - 5/15/16

5/15/16 - 5/22/16

5/22/16 - 5/29/16

5/29/16 - 6/5/16

6/5/16 - 6/12/16

6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16