So let's leave the visual arts for a moment and reconsider the title of the film. In fact, its English version ("Through a Glass Darkely") is not really up to the task, in my view. Can we guess the origin of this phrase! No? Well, it could stem from a well known romanticist author. In one of his novellas he is pointing out that the true meaning of one's existence could be glanced only by considering your life to be a theater play. But why not let the author speak for himself:
"... it was necessary to find, in a little world known as the theater, a couple of people who were not only animated by true imagination, true inward humor, but were also capable of recognizing this state of mind objectively, as though in a mirror, and of introducing it into external life in such a way that it should have the effect of a powerful spell upon the great world which surrounds the little world. Thus the theater, if you like, could after a fashion represent the well of Urdar, in which people can look." ("Princess Brambilla", in E.T.A Hoffman, The Golden Pot and Other Tales, Oxford University Press 1992).
This movie still staying in my thoughts, I wonder whether other folks than great artists have the same ability of introspection. Are there mirrors to be found by us too, allowing us to explore our innermost being and make us, as well as others, aware of the often convoluted and sometimes frightening personality we really are? Of course, I cannot answer for other people. But, come to think of it, my old negatives that I mentioned in Shades of Gray, laboriously acquired in forty years of large format photography, come to mind. Aren't those like small mirrors that permit me to look into my soul?
As I have told you already in Shades of Gray, I have begun taking out my old negatives of the cupboard and bringing them to life. Looking at the result, I often feel forced to take a step back and consider what I am working on. It is as if I am looking down a deep well (or mirror, if you prefer) and discovering hidden traits in my personality that I hitherto have happily suppressed. To emphasize that point, why not take a look at this picture of an apartment building on Hornsgatan in Stockholm.
I feel inclined to dedicate this picture to my father. He grew up under atrocious circumstances during the Great Depression and came to adulthood in the inhuman depravations of WWII. Ever since he strove hard to overcome the wounds afflicted to his soul, so that he could shape a decent existence for himself and his loved ones. But, at not so uncommon occasions, you could see the hardly controlled facade cracking and the horrors of yore shining through.
Whom am I kidding? Is it not so that children inherit the traits of their parents? Am I not bound to always keeping a tight control of myself, like my father, to get to grips with a turbulent and hurting interior? Is this picture not really holding up a mirror, showing me my own troubles and despair?
But enough of these intriguing thoughts! Sorrow be gone! Time to cut loose from our journey into the Underworld, "instigated" by E.T.A. and guided by Ingmar. There is a more joyous theme to pursue yet before this post is finished. Have we forgotten that today is solstice day? As I am writing this, the longest day of the year is slowly journeying into evening; the sun is already hiding below the horizon but still in touch with the northern clouds, illuminating them with a rosy shine to raise our spirits from the deeps.
Tomorrow will be a big day of joyous festivities, when the Stockholmians get off their back and hurry out to sea, on boats ranging from the big vessels of the Wasa Fleet to the smallest barges full of festive parties.
HAPPY MIDSUMMER – GLAD MIDSOMMAR to all my readers!