Mirror, A Photograph

“We discover that we do not know our role; we look for a mirror; we want to remove our make-up and take off what is false and real. But somewhere a piece of disguise that we forgot still sticks to us. A trace of exaggeration remains in our eyebrows; we do not notice that the corners of our mouth are bent. And so we walk around, a mockery and a mere half: neither having achieved being nor actors.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke


8 thoughts on “Mirror, A Photograph

  1. Here I feel compelled to leave you a Fernando Pessoa’s sonnet written originally in English, as it seems to me to meet your Rilke’s quote. Pardon me if you already read it:

    How many masks wear we, and undermasks,
    Upon our countenance of soul, and when,
    If for self-sport the soul itself unmasks,
    Knows it the last mask off and the face plain?
    The true mask feels no inside to the mask
    But looks out of the mask by co-masked eyes.
    Whatever consciousness begins the task
    The task’s accepted use to sleepness ties.
    Like a child frighted by its mirrored faces,
    Our souls, that children are, being thought-losing,
    Foist otherness upon their seen grimaces
    And get a whole world on their forgot causing;
    And, when a thought would unmask our soul’s masking,
    Itself goes not unmasked to the unmasking.

    • “How many masks wear we, and undermasks,
      Upon our countenance of soul, and when,
      If for self-sport the soul itself unmasks,
      Knows it the last mask off and the face plain?”

      This is beautiful, Antonio, and no, I have not read Pessoa. However, I certainly will be.

      Thank you for sharing this beautiful and poignant piece of work. It is much appreciated.

      • You’re welcome, and I have to thank you also for Rilke’s quote. I’d say that the whole theme seems to fit in that psichology concept of “brain-scripts”, related to the stories we tell ourselves about what we are or did, or we’re doing, or what we plan to do. Scripts. And Rilke and Pessoa seem not be able to find the primal brain-script, or the metaphorical pen that such scripts write.

        As for Pessoa’s work, Richard Zimmler seems to be the best translator, and also is an expert on Pessoa. His introductions to what one is about to read or to Pessoa’s heteronyms are precious, according to my experience.

        • I’ve ordered The Book of Disquiet, translated by Richard Zenith just now.

          From my scant reading so far, I would say he appears to be much like Rilke, who takes me so deep in the sea of myself, that I get lost in his words.

          • And what do you recommend me to order from Rilke’s? I’ve only read loose texts so far. And, yes, Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet had the effect on me that you attibute to Rilke’s words above.

            I am glad you got the right Richard. Sorry about that. A tired brain is my only excuse.

          • I would recommend “Letters to a Young Poet” – it’s beautiful.

            I was just given a book of his selected poems as a gift and it is also quite lovely. But his letters resonate with me

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