Sunday, 17 November 2013

Self knowledge and self portraiture

"The look in the picture does seem to be meant to be complicated, as if it issued from some process of inquiry; but it is also meant to be businesslike. There may be some epistemological anxiety about, but we are surely not supposed to take the subject as overwhelmed by it:  his look is poised, cool and craftsmanlike, the look of a professional. (These last are class attributes as well as professional ones, and the look of self-portraiture is shot through with signs of class and gender. It is the look of mastery: of containment, detachment, distance, sang froid, self possession....) Perhaps in the end, for all its coolness, this is a look that intends to break through the surface to some truth within. But we cannot be sure, and it is part of self-portraiture that we should not be; maybe the point or effect of the mirror is to let the look deal strictly with appearances. The look in self-portraiture never stops oscillating between these two possibilities, these two kinds of reading."   T. J.Clark The Look of Self-portraiture

Background: Painted in prison in 1794, immediately after the fall of the Robespierre regime. David might well have faced a death sentence but was spared. 

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy