Mirrors & Shadows

“Ten times a day you must overcome yourself.  You must want to burn yourself up in your own flame.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche-

The Shadow, Andy Warhol
The Shadow, Andy Warhol

“the lesson is clear: one is multiple, the same is different, the representation is the negative of the person…both original and copy, identical and different, they are the same and the other, interchangeable and monumental…In the dark room of his studio, Warhol develops himself.  In so doing he ‘unmakes’ himself.”

-Victor Stoichita-

Shadows, Andy Warhol
Shadows, Andy Warhol

“Death follows artists around like their shadow and I think that’s one of the reasons artists are so conscious of the vulnerability and nothingness of life.”

-Francis Bacon-

Children singing choruses.  Joyous chants and rhymes.  Distant.  Repetition forming memory.

Chasing shadows, or running from.  Self-same body blocking sun.  To be sought, to be feared.  Identical and strange.

Known alone in traces and reflections.

I say that “I” was young once.  That it’s only patterns of light, only the passing of time, only angles of vision.

I repeat myself.

Each day reassembling, developing, dissembling, to reassemble again.  My body a gathering post.

Mirroring image has gone from the closest thing to self-awareness we might uncover to a flat reflective surface full of nothing.  Ephemeral and changing by the second, dependent on the looker, a vacant mirage.

Shadow has proceeded from a designator of real presences to an outline of actual vacuity.  From a measurable symbol of substance to a vague hint of objects passing.

Voices like a bag of small bells and grass.  Something shaking and stirred.  Snippets of a tune, the catchy parts.

What I can tell I read, observe, attend and consider, opening a dialogue of days.  But I only get to see in glimpses and portions.  A hand moving, holding an instrument here; flat feet from crossed legs there; a shoulder, some hair of a beard, the frames of glasses.  I don’t see myself seeing, nor see myself as seen.

There’s the mirror and the shadow – intangible, eminently interpretable and malleable “things” – emphases of the transitory.  Receptacles like language – merely signs or indices – pointing back at absence.

Moment, moment, moment…now then now then now…endless fantasies of dissection moving round the room, faster than shuttling clips of film.  A self presenting / representing itself after again, appearances only, shimmering skein mingling veils of light…

While they sing like breezes dreaming – “Who sees?” and “What is seen?”

He who has ears let him hear,

bypassing illusion,

in marks and gestures



shadow composition

Approach the page with no idea.  No secondness of reality or facts.

See what the words will do.  Like spontaneous sex with your lover.

What happens next.  If you’re lucky.

What words will come?

Look closely.  Draw the pen near the paper.  Remember, you’ve no idea, like what I’m writing.  Language finding synonyms making thoughts.  Perception in the body.

Something already in the clear, or on it.  Never clear.  Do you see it?

Don’t let the first mark frighten you, it is already done, everything coming after you can edit: crossing out, crossing over.

See the line?  To chase or avoid, either way, impossible to capture or erase.

Look again – do you see it?  Hover but don’t inscribe, what is it waiting there?

I’m not being mischievous or rhetorical, facetious or mystical.  I want you to see what is always already there, predividing your canvas, filtering the open before you engage.  What you cast out around you, the shadow of your general ‘self.’

See it there gathered at point of pen, shading back toward your physical hand and pooling around it?  The absence of your presence forming incorporeality.

You are visiting here.  Your shadow is the record.  What you make out you make up.  But it’s never the first word or the beginning line.  Reality comes before you and spreads out, interfering and refracting the light you wish to use.

At times a bulky blot, at others barely discerned, evidence nonetheless that you are, in fact, tracing.  Operating in a kind of cloud of substance, adding lines and loops, particles, threads.

They say art (and representation) began in shadows, with shadows – recognition of other and presence and beyond.  Likely a myth that is true.

For starters, notice the outline, letting it outline itself/yourself, the visible ghost informing your are

Now, since you’ve already overshadowed what’s next, begun what’s begun, press down and press forward, press on…

Vicente Carducho, tabula rasa. engraving, 1633



“The Artist, he who even takes the shadows of things in hand…”

-Macedonio Fernandez-

“He who imagines will never know non-being.”


A morass of shadows.

A repletion of blips and flashings.

An absence : I understand.


I swipe my hand through the shadows.  I sense disturbance, but my palm returns empty, save the moisture of fog in dark woods.  If even.  There has been dust.

I stir the ashes.  I kindle the fire.  The brain a roadmap of chaos.  And intricately precise.  Subject to accident and lesion and a cross-pollination of impulses and energies beyond present calculations.  Not withstanding infinity, of course, which hardly makes sense, given the matter.

A squalor of shadows.

Currents of whispering air, of motion.

A ubiquity that trembles.

I open my mouth to the world.  I emit and inhale.  Shouting resonant within, because I have ears.  Equipped with particulars.  Apparatus.  Other cells stay quiet but do not cease, I lack the equipment to hear.  Stone, lizard, mushroom.  Light in its veils.  I cry out.  Echo =, tree hardly cares.  I’m remiss and listen myself for response.

Breathing the smoke.  I stink and I cough and I smell.  My hand passes through without ashes or mist.  I am not everywhere.  I do not know my ends.  If a melody came through like a sight or a sound, I would not name it.  I am emptying full.


As shadows thicken and disperse.

Objects as subjects and objects again.

Something live in the darkness.


That is darkness for me, not the night owl or mouse, salamander or bat, not the tree.  No, it is me, I, we, that conjure the “darkness” as difference from “light,” however similar, however same.  As if emitting symbols.  As if meaning to manufacture.  I construct a sign and call it poem, collaborate a you and a me.  We converse.  I begin.

If doubt incites a thought, thought conspires doubt to further action.  As if shadows were transparent.  And meaningless was choice.  Eye – mouth – hand : open to the world, the world opens.  I begin in signs and gestures, a collaborative entanglement, reentered.


In dispersion shadows reconvene.

Clearly thickened by old growth.

Body minding nets.


Would I make a “here” it would be “we.”  A desire for presents is relation.  What its plural ought to be (“presence”).  I unwrap unable to view the gift.  Tell me of it, will you?  “Inside” is lost in shadows.  What’s perceptible from “there”?  Tree, raven, sky.  Plastic object pulsed in heartbeat or emotion: what could I learn from “there”?

What isn’t simultaneous?  And how like the infinity we are constrained not to absorb?  Enclose me.  Lend me a form, a border, a threshold.  Entangle.  Experience may come.

“the silence of the page allows us to hear the writing”

-Octavio Paz-