Monday, February 01, 2016

Fear of mirrors

Sigmund Freud thought he saw a stranger entering his train compartment. "I hurried to help him but was quickly taken aback when I realised that the intruder was none other than my own image reflected in the mirror of the connecting door. And I remember that this apparition gave me profound displeasure".

The Summa de Officio Inquisitorii of 1270, warns of the evils of all reflective surfaces: lacquer, glass, jewels, swords, water. It advises readers to avoid anything which might catch their reflection. It's more than a warning against vanity - it's a distrust of the mirror-world. The devil, or something analogous to that, controls the kingdom of reflections.

17th century thinkers are equally disturbed by the doubling -or tripling- of their own image, A French orator named Jean-Benigne Bossuet asks in a sermon, whether in anguish or curiosity it isn't clear:

"What is this image of myself that I see more deliberately still, this lively apparition in this running water? It disappears when the water is disturbed. What have I lost?"

Mirrors existed in antiquity. The Ancient Greeks and the Romans prized them though they were a poor relation to what we know now - nowhere near as big and clear. They were handheld, darker, with a dimmer reflection. Their reflections really were like ghosts, fainter than ours, more a part of the texture of the reflecting surface. Emperor Nero, so they say, had a mirror made of emeralds.

After the hall of mirrors in Versailles, something changes. Mirrors become commonplace and our own reflections stop being astonishing. Because now everybody has mirrors and cameras and film. No one is aware of the symmetry anymore, the dividing line between them and it. Other than the smallest children, we've mistaken our reflections for a part of ourselves.

Friday, September 11, 2015

the best of the Clientele record

oh yeah, forgot to say - this is out on LP and CD:

And the Clientele are playing a one-off show at Islington Assembly Hall on October 23rd, with none other than psychedelic legend Mark Fry supporting us!

We also made an extended spotify list of our favourite songs which didn't make it onto the LP. In case you wondered. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Never anyone but you despite stars and loneliness
Despite the trees mutilated at nightfall
Never anyone but you will follow her path which is mine
The further you go the bigger your shadow gets
Never anyone but you will greet the ocean at dawn when I, worn out with wandering, 
coming through dark forests and nettle bushes, walk towards the foam
Never anyone but you will put her hand on my forehead over my eyes
Never anyone but you, and I renounce lying and unfaithfulness
You may cut the rope of this anchored ship
Never anyone but you
The eagle imprisioned in a cage slowly gnaws on the patina of the copper bars
What a deception
It's the Sunday marked by nightingales singing in the tender green woods the boredom
of little girls staring at a cage a canary flutters around in while in the empty street 
the sun slowly moves its thin line along the hot sidewalk
We'll cross other lines
Never never anyone but you
And I alone alone alone like withered ivy in suburban gardens
alone like glass
And you never anyone but you.

Never anyone but you - Robert Desnos, 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Illness and art

A great cover of the old Clientele song 'From a Window' reminded me all of a sudden of this passage by Proust:

'Nearly midnight. The hour when an invalid, who has been obliged to start on a journey and to sleep in a strange hotel, awakens in a moment of illness and sees with glad relief a streak of daylight shewing under his bedroom door. Oh, joy of joys! it is morning. The servants will be about in a minute: he can ring, and some one will come to look after him. The thought of being made comfortable gives him strength to endure his pain. He is certain he heard footsteps: they come nearer, and then die away. The ray of light beneath his door is extinguished. It is midnight; some one has turned out the gas; the last servant has gone to bed, and he must lie all night in agony with no one to bring him any help.'

Swann's Way p.4 tr. C. K. Scott Moncrieff