Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A Portrait

(Frans Hals, Catharina Hooft with her Nurse)

Hand, delicate like a bud stippled with spring dew, gently brushing off an apple- an equanimous dismissal of so radiant a temptation. For her heart is flooded with extreme merriment, such merriment that is ineffable for whatever form of expressions. I stare into the front, rigid my facial expressions into sheer solemnity and at pains to contain my fizzy exuberance. Why the stiffness of the dress always impedes the outburst of my inner joy?

She is told to reduce her smile into a mere smirk, as conforming to the ever-celebrated tradition of portraiture. I take yet another sigh of impatience and waiting for another flash of light, exploding straight before my face. My nurse holds an apple and is told to stage a performance of offering me the prop. I, doubtlessly, am supposed to convince the viewers that a reject of the apple is retorted. My nurse bundles through the dumb show, while I, being as adept as a good actor can be, fail to reveal any discomfort, except the slight droop of an eye.

Somebody prisoned her in a portrait, and forgot it altogether somewhere high above the mantelpiece. Viewers, you are not permitted to touch or hold but simply to possess the picture with your eyes. Your eyes of exuding lustiness penetrate not of my heart, which is callous and impassive like a mountain which is ever immobile. The spikiness of my adornment ironically parallels with my heart, whose sole wish is to be locked in an impregnable fortification.

I opted to be put in a portrait, I am obliged to say so without any tinge of regrets. They took away my soul and terminated my life for the sake of perpetual beauty, but they could hardly take away my gaze, which is now transfixing on you as sharp as the slant of light on a snowy morning, truncating a block of ice and leaving no vestige of clemency. This gaze shares the perpetuity of the preserved beauty.

Does her gaze show any hints of wanton entreatment? Some stared at the portrait so long that they felt they were drawn into it unconsciously. Some said her innocence was like a rose poising on a snow-encrusted street- the only thing endearing in comparison with the palpable dismalness. The viewers were thus deluded by the illusive beauty displayed before them. And the frozen portrait burns, like a fire visible in a darkened room, and a flame of blue it flickers.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Visible Darkness

(Francisco Goya, Un incendio)

She fancies imagining herself dropping into an abyss. She wants to experience the tangible darkness, to be able to witness throngs of them skid pass her like clouds. Colours are no more than a sense of contrast, so light is never blocked by darkness, nor is darkness relieved by light. It might be more appropriate to say the two compensate each other: light humbles itself for the sake of darkness, and darkness cedes its territory to light. She never shudders at the suggestion of not seeing anything but herself.

It is not a reflection if you see yourself in the dark. It is certainly you that you stumble into. According to the aforesaid light/dark theory, it should not be a discovery if darkness lights up something you never know. She once heard a story of a plunger, who found throngs and throngs of human flesh pile together at the pit of a cave. “Who are you and what are you doing?” the plunger asked with voice trembled of horror. One of them wrinkled a smirk and said: “Why, sir, we are you.”

Some says that once you rebel against a thing you hate, you will gradually see yourself becoming the hatred. Therefore, you see a corpus of you on one side, and the object you target on the other, and you, the hatred, posit in the middle but you are never in-between. There you see the two arguing and you are itched to join the heated battlefield, but the judge, where he comes from should not be an issue, declares that you are categorically unqualified. Same as those who rebel against darkness; same as those who dismiss the light. You are lost somewhere in the murky cave.

Back to the plunger who turned his back gratefully to face the outbreak of light, whose diagonal slants trumpeted a hopeful augur. But instead he saw mountains of people huddling together, and still mountains of them stretching into the very pit. They all stared at him like how he stared at them, eyes bloodshot with fear. He foolhardily triggered the light, and the light amplified the dark. A visible darkness encroached all over him, not with much sound but with a bold determination. He was last remembered as an aspiring cave painter.

Bearing a torch on hand she ventures down the cave. Someone has already warned her, that it has been decades for the next audacious one to plunge into such riskiness, to awaken the dark in such a frisky fashion, such recklessness. Her courage, however, amasses. Once she is certain she has reached the pit, she wields her torch like a greedy emperor wielding his scepter. As the light creeps upon the dark, erodes it, feasts it in rapacious gradation, and the dark, unfurls its blanket, races toward his opponent, and casts it with the blanket before he can hear any sobbing, or pleading, she eventually paints the cave.