Spleen et idéal
the wonder of that brief abyss of absolute reality between two bogus fulgurations of fabricated life

Nattvardsgästerna [Winter Light]Ingmar Bergman 1963

Ingmar Bergman on the set of Winter Light.

Winter Light (1963) by Ingmar Bergman.

ingmar bergman & gunnar björnstrand on the set of winter light

Winter trees cough like old menabout death’s white nightmareswhile the rain talks in Latin.They cough about the sobbing tragicash, they bind valises for leaving,they darken—and in the chillof frost from the sun, the lungsbristle to see coffins hiddenin the dry capes of kings.
—Eugenio Montego, “Winter Trees Cough Like Old Men” (translated from Spanish by Kirk Nesset)Art Credit Joseph Mallord William Turner, “A Ruined Gateway”

          She knew if she loved him she could make himhappy, but she didn’t. Or she did, but it sankinto itself like a hole and curled up content.Surrounded by the blur of her own movements, thethought of making him happy was very dear to her.She moved it from place to place, a surprise shenever opened. She slept alone at night, soul ofa naked priest in her sweet body. Small soft hands,a bread of desire rising in her stomach. When shelay down with the man she loved and didn’t, theman opened and opened. Inside him an acrobattumbled over death. And walked thin wires withnothing above or below. She cried, he was sobeautiful in his scarlet tights and white facethe size of a dime.—Jayne Anne Phillips, “Happy”Art Credit Nikolaos Gyzis, The soul of the artist, 1897

“The figure should be natural and relaxed,”  asserted Mucha to his drawing class,but didn’t tell that he bent the Job girl’s fingers  back into a knuckle-breaking arabesqueand thereby crossed her smile with a wince,or how his son complained of feeling deformedafter sitting for his father. The truth isthat beauty pursued from a single angle  has never added to a person’s comfort.—David Bergman, “The Artist is no Physician”Art Credit Nicolas de Largilliére, Study of Hands, 1725

Who’s to say where the man ends,the world begins; what it isthat wakes him in a visible sweat,a thing shored on a tide of linen,though this much is clear: as sleepdrags its intimate figuresback into the blackened current,a magnificent lonelinesstakes its place. Then he looks upand sees his likeness astonishedinto the mirror above him,a ghost afloat in the elated room,flat to the ceiling and pinned there.Who wouldn’t feel uneasily blessed,to hover that way with your bedon your back, bearing up underthe weight of heaven, made gloriousin the ruffled wingspan of your sheets.And with a blinding adorationto gaze down at your own nakedness,cast out of the living skin,impatient to descend, jealous,as is the way with phantoms,of every body your body touches.You know the sensation: as ifyour flesh were the drinking glassforever chilled and gaping.Perhaps you see your story floatin the open hands of a book,thinking how distant the detailswhere they waver, how coldand fragile in their clarity.You are the breath flown outof them, hovering there,reading softly, the way a motherreads to a child at night.And like the child you savorevery minute, every grief that turnsto pity, that leans to the mirror’sbody to drink, becoming water.—Bruce Bond, “Narcissus”Art Credit Brett Amory